The teaming of Hope College Catering and the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce has led to recognition from the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS).

Hope College Catering has won the silver award for "small" schools in the "Catering - Special Event/Theme Dinner" category of the association's 2004 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards contest. Hope has won for its work with the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, held on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Evergreen Commons.

The award recipients will be recognized during the NACUFS 46th National Conference, to be held on Tuesday-Saturday, July 6-10, in Las Vegas, Nev.

More than 400 attended the Chamber of Commerce event, which featured a "Travel the Globe" theme. Instead of the formal, sit-down dinner format the chamber had followed in years past, the event offered multiple "grazing stations," each with a regional emphasis: Mexican, Italian, Pacific Rim, U.S.A. and Asian.

Menu items developed by Chef Tom Hoover ranged from fiesta lime chicken breast, to baked garlic bread, Caribbean fruit punch, sirloin beef tips and made-to-order sushi. In addition, desserts designed to match each region were provided by the Sinful Cheesecake Company of Hudsonville.

Program highlights coordinated by the chamber included performances by three local groups -- Christian Celtic Dancers, the Los Bandits musicians and the Pacific Island Dancers -- and a year-in-review video presentation emceed by Lee Van Ameyde of WZZM-TV 13.

While the catering service won the award, the recognition honors the night as a whole, according to Tim Blackburn, who is catering manager at the college. "To qualify, the event has to be one in which the food, the theme and the other activities all mesh together," he said. "It was terrific working with the chamber in this respect; they really helped to pull the event together and take it to a higher level."

Chamber of Commerce President Jane Clark complimented Hope College Catering for its role in producing an event that she considered a winner even before learning about the NACUFS award.

"The food was delicious, the decorations were fantastic and the whole Annual Dinner went off without a hitch thanks to the work of the Hope College Catering team," she said. "We took a risk using the 'grazing' format, but thanks to their expertise the event flowed very smoothly. Our members had a great time, and afterward raved about the changes."

Open to all institutional members of NACUFS, the contest features six categories: "Residence Hall Dining - Standard Menu," "Residence Hall Dining - Special Event/Theme Dinner," "Catering - Standard Menu," "Catering - Special Event/Theme Dinner," "Retail Sales - Single Stand-Alone Concept/Outlet" and "Retail - Multiple Concepts/Outlets." Competing schools are considered in three divisions based on size - small, medium or large - with Gold, Silver and Bronze honorees named in each division. A grand prize winner will also be named from the Gold award winners in the small, medium and large classifications.

The contest was designed to promote creativity and sound nutrition in the areas of food presentation, menu variety and merchandising. The event is named for Loyal E. Horton, a former NACUFS president and founding member of the association.

NACUFS is the trade association for food service professionals at nearly 650 institutions of higher education in the United States, Canada and abroad. Founded in 1958, NACUFS is devoted to promoting the highest quality of food service, and supports its institutional and industry members with a full range of educational programs, publications, management services and networking opportunities.