At the tender age of 23, Caitlin Seib is a one-woman catering powerhouse, currently shaking things up on Hong Kong’s event management scene. Brooke Chenowith explores the sweeter side of party food entertainment and event catering in Hong Kong with Exclusive Events with Caitlin.
Caitlin was born here, and then spent her primary school years in Australia, before moving back at the age of 13. Despite her Aussie roots, Caitlin calls Hong Kong home. “Living here has given me many opportunities,” she says, “like being able to travel and to appreciate what life has to offer. It’s just a constantly buzzing city with so much to see and do. It’s home to me – I love it.”
After graduating from Les Roches School of Hotel Management in Switzerland, Caitlin took a sideways step from catering with an internship at law firm Baker & McKenzie. It was during this time that she realised her true passion lay in event management and catering. She returned to Hong Kong and began job hunting, but it was while organising her mother’s birthday celebrations that she was struck with the idea of starting her own company with dreams of party food and canapes dancing in her head.
Photo by Helen Jenkins
Caitlin says, “I did some research and realised no one was catering a candy buffet in Hong Kong. Most of the party food trends I was seeing at events in Australia and elsewhere in the world were completely bypassing Hong Kong.” Caitlin seized the opportunity to do something unique in catering, and Exclusive Events by Caitlin was born.
A buffet by Caitlin is now in demand across Hong Kong, especially in the lead up to catering major occasions like Halloween and Christmas. Each buffet is tailored specifically for the event, and Caitlin manages every last catering detail herself, ensuring a truly personalised experience. The process of creating a unique buffet and catering the event for someone begins with a consultation via email, where clients can discuss their catering preferences for themes and colours. Most of the time, Caitlin says, she has free reign to then go on to choose the party food candies and layouts for the buffet that she thinks will work best.
“Most people are happy to let me take over as they prefer to be surprised on the day. They get really excited, especially when they see candies they haven’t seen since they were kids.” Caitlin says one of the best parts of her job is the reaction from people to her party food and canapes collections in her catering. Some hold back and admire the buffet display while others dive straight in and sample everything on offer. For those who don’t indulge their sweet tooth at the event buffet, Caitlin provides goodie bags for guests to take their candy party food home in.
Caitlin has had the opportunity to bring her distinctive style of event management and catering with sweet party food and canapes to a number of exciting events across the city recently, including a breast cancer awareness fundraiser at the Australian Consulate. Not only did this event introduce her to a new audience, it also drew credit from Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry. “To have someone like him tell you that he likes what you do is a dream come true!” says Caitlin.
All of Caitlin’s party food candies are imported from America (because “no one does candy like they do in the States!”). She has spent a lot of time researching the best distributors to ensure that her clients get value for money, and she has also recently started importing candy – or “lollies”, that is – from Australia too to round out her selection of canapes and party food. While she hasn’t yet had an opportunity to personally visit candy buffet suppliers and sample their wares, it’s a trip she would one day love to take.
Exclusive Events is gradually expanding and Caitlin has started introducing baked goods, like cupcakes, brownies and coconut ice to her party food buffet selections. As with her candy canapes, she puts a lot of work into finding the right party food recipes, and she believes that what’s under the icing is just as important as the decoration on top. “There are a lot of companies in Hong Kong doing cupcakes at the moment,” says Caitlin. “Some have delicious cakes but basic frosting with little to no decoration on top, while others focus on the fondant and decoration on a very basic cake. I want to deliver nicely decorated, well-made cupcakes at a reasonable price.”
Expanding on her catering range of party food with cupcakes and including more baked goodies in her buffets is just one of the plans Caitlin has for the future. She has also started creating hampers, using reusable mason jars filled with treats, colour themed for an event or special occasion as a compliment to any event.
Whatever the cause for celebration, catering a candy buffet by Caitlin is sure to be welcome addition to a party, and a definite conversation starter. With the help of this young entrepreneur, the future of event management in Hong Kong is looking sweet!