Tablescape competition sets the mood

The Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events conducted their sixth Tablescape Championship as the midterm project for the Event Catering Strategies course on March 9. Tablescape is a term that is used to describe the top of a table containing linens, tableware, a centerpiece and other trending décor to set a mood.

The winning table of this semesters midterm was group four’s creation, “Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.”
Photo by Micah Wheeler •

According to their mission statement, the HTE Department’s goal is to “provide demonstrated leadership and excellence in its baccalaureate, professional and technical programs and to render service to the students, citizens, and hospitality industry of the State of Colorado.”

Professor Andrea Peterson is the brainchild that developed the class and the midterm competition. The students are formed into groups and are given a $75 out-of-pocket budget to produce a themed food and beverage table for a fictitious nonprofit event.

“It was designed as a group project to bring together major components of learning fostered so far in the course, allowing the students to exhibit what they have gleaned from studies and guest speakers.” Peterson said. She explained that students must display creativity, teamwork and ingenuity as they fit
items into their theme.

The Tablescape Competition is judged by faculty members and staff of the HTE department. For Department Chair Carol Krugman it was difficult not to smile.

“Next to graduation, this is my favorite day of the semester.” Krugman said.

Judging the competition is based on six categories: theme, incorporation of unique items, proper description of event, use of color, visual interest and a cohesive menu that fi ts the theme of the engagement. Each category is scored on a 1-10 Likert scale. Fifty percent is calculated by the instructor and the other 50 by the visiting judges.

Each table was given one hour to set up for the show. Calculations take a week after the competition is finished and winners are announced. Students Cynthia Davis, Ariel Keener, Lauren Elden and Mikayla Hudak were announced as the winners with an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party themed table.

The largest prize is having “bragging rights,” for firrst, second and third place, which includes a certificate. There are also “best of” categories issued to most participants. All these certificates define a
passing midterm grade, chance to present the skill based test in a portfolio for themselves and an opportunity to work with professionals the second half of the semester.

“Typically, two to three groups are chosen by a member of the HTE food and beverage faculty to work with them exclusively on events,” Peterson said. “It is a huge honor and opportunity to showcase our department and all it has to offer.”

The competition is legendary in the HTE Department. It is a great opportunity for students to exhibit their creativity, talent and knowledge.

“This provides tactical learning and gives them a chance at real-life exposure. The goal here is how to use a budget and communicate a concept within a team.” Peterson said.

The students did just that. Everyone can breathe and the semester continues with guest speakers from the industry and valuable lectures from Professor Peterson, in her event catering strategies class.

Author: Rita DeCamilli

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