Richmond Chamber wows with chefs event

For Your Chamber, Innovating Chambers

When the Richmond Chamber hosted its inaugural "From the Kitchen to the Boardroom" event January 28, the goal was one many Chambers can identify with: enhancing Chamber relevance.

"We wanted to bring some style and relevance to the Chamber," said Matt Pitcairn, Richmond Chamber's president and CEO. "Success, for us, was to have people talking about the event the next day."

The event featured four local chefs, including Vikram Vij of Vancouver foodie favourite Vij's, and included a panel discussion with the chefs about the business of restaurants, plus a meal of four sumptuous courses, each prepared by one of the chefs, with ample opportunity for conversation and networking.

Pitcairn said the event was born from a chance encounter and conversation with the charismatic Vij on the Canada Line. He said two ideas drove the event: that food brings people together, and that successful chefs are also successful business people with stories to tell.

Pitcairn said the biggest behind-the-scenes challenge to the event was having to build a brand new event concept, with complex aspects such as heavy audio-visual requirements and having the chefs coordinate menus and bring in and cook their own food at the venue - all from the ground up.

But Pitcairn said the Chamber's hard work has paid off, judging by attendees' rave reviews. He said the Chamber will bring the event back next January.

How can other Chambers launch their own unique, relevant events?

"Have the confidence to go outside the box," Pitcairn said. "As Chambers, we have to get outside of our comfort zones. Think of something engaging and fun, something that you'd like to go to. Time is valuable - make sure the event is worth people's time."

He also advised Chambers to look for the right event partners.