Aspiration: Top 20 - Caterers

Only the thinnest sliver of courgette julienne separated the Top 20 winners in this, one of the industry's most competitive areas. Standards are always phenomenally high, so let's find out just whose souffle has risen the most.

1. RHUBARB

Like a well-oiled machine, Rhubarb never fails to provide a slick and efficient service. As part of London's catering elite, much of the company's success can be attributed to the fact that it will transform an event into a flawless food occasion, regardless of size. A dinner party at a client's home is just as important to Rhubarb as a film premiere. Its chefs have come from restaurants such as Petrus, The Savoy and Le Gavroche, and a bespoke menu service is offered.

Founded by owner Lucy Gemmell, who has consulted for major events including the Sydney Olympics and the Rugby World Cup, Rhubarb's clients include 20th Century Fox and the recent Ice Space. At the latter attraction, guests were treated to ice-themed dishes including mini ice creams and carpaccio soup.

Most impressively, the 10-year-old company is accredited to an extensive list of venues, from country haunts such as Blenheim Palace to London's Tate Modern. Contact: www.rhubarb.net

2. CANAPEUM EVENTS

A specialist in innovative canapes, Canapeum launched in 1996 and such has been the company's popularity that last year the business expanded to have its own event management arm. The development team is also available to work with clients to discuss, create and deliver bespoke menus to suit their needs, however unusual.

Canapeum's work in the industry has been lauded by a range of corporate clients, including Jaguar event manager Hilary Braithwaite. "Our event was a great success," she says. "The canapes were absolutely delicious and were complimented by many of the guests. We were very impressed with Canapeum and would not hesitate to use its services again, or indeed recommend it to others." Contact: www.canapeum.com

3. CREATE

The catering arm of the Concerto Group, Create has more than 16 years' experience in the industry working on parties for clients such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, 02 and Reuters. Create prides itself on sourcing from smaller producers, and buying natural and organic ingredients wherever possible. Contact: www.createfood.co.uk

4. MOVING VENUE

Launched in 1984, Moving Venue is one of the most popular caterers in the creative events industry, working on events that have included the Cirque du Soleil premiere party for Dralion and the Bluewater Festival. It is also the preferred supplier for a number of high-profile venues across the capital. Contact: www.movingvenue.com

5. ALISON PRICE

With clients ranging from Rolls-Royce to the BBC, and with accredited venues such as Ministry of Sound and Alexandra Palace, this caterer is a favourite in the industry. It has also secured the contract for this year's Booker Prize. "Alison Price delivers incredible service with style and elegance," enthuses the Goldman Sachs events team. Contact: www.alisonprice.co.uk

6. RED SNAPPER EVENTS

In May, this relatively new catering company provided the food at the 10th anniversary party for celebrity rag OK magazine. Other clients have included many FTSE 100 companies, while Red Snapper has also catered for events such as London Fashion Week, and for movie director Michael Winner. Contact: www.redsnapperevents.co.uk

7. DISH

Dish is only two years old but has an enviable client list including BAA, Kodak, OC&C, EMI and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is listed at more than 22 London venues, including Clarges House. "Dish provided that most elusive of things: the perfect event," says OC&C Strategy Consultants events organiser Tricia Fraser Romer. Contact: www.dishcatering.co.uk

8. BY WORD OF MOUTH

By Word of Mouth's reputation for style and innovation has put it at the cutting edge of party design, with every menu individually designed for each event. "I have never heard so many compliments about the quality of the food - our guests were extremely impressed," says Bovis Lend Lease event manager Linda Raffe. Contact: www.bywordofmouth.co.uk

9. THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON

Run by industry stalwart Johnny Roxburgh, The Admirable Crichton has supplied food to some of the world's biggest events, such as the Athens Olympics, and organised countless high-profile parties. Its client list reads like a Who's Who of the corporate and celebrity worlds and features Louis Vuitton, Orange, BAA and Moet Hennessy. Contact: www.admirable-crichton.co.uk

10. LETTICE

A regular supplier at London venues such as The Serpentine Gallery, The Hayward Gallery and Old Billingsgate, Lettice has also worked on events for Penguin, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the 02 i-Mode launch. It offers an event management team and uses various materials to create unusual atmospheres for its food and parties. Contact: www.letticeparty.com

11. KAI CATERING

A partnership between a chef and designer with more than 20 years' experience, Kai Catering, which fuses Pacific Rim, pan-Asian and Mediterranean flavours, is a major player in the industry. It has a strong client list and has recently joined forces with a host of suppliers to launch Shebang, an event management arm. Contact: www.kaicatering.co.uk

12. Crown Society From the London Dungeon to Tottenham Hotspur FC, Crown Society has been charged with delivering a vast range of food to very different guests. The caterer has also been involved in providing the treats at celebrity events that include the Guards Polo Club and the Bridewell Foundation Campaign. Contact: www.crownsociety.co.uk

13. LAST SUPPER

Last Supper has become a major caterer since it launched three years ago. It provided an a la carte meal for Helena Christensen's recent party and the canapes at the premiere party for The Chronicles of Narnia. Other clients include singer Katie Melua and the Proud Galleries. Contact: www.lastsupperltd.co.uk

14. THE RECIPE

One of the big success stories of this chart, The Recipe only launched this year but is already held in high esteem by RSVP readers. It delivers fresh and modern twists with traditional ingredients, which has seen the company work for clients including Yellowdoor, Brand and Deliver and agency The Persuaders. Contact: www.the-recipe.co.uk

15. INN OR OUT

Under the control of MD Lena Bjorck, Inn or Out has managed everything from small parties to lavish events. Its high-profile client list includes the President of the United States, one of whose aides wrote to thank Inn or Out for "the greatest food the White House has ever had on a foreign trip". Contact: www.inn-or-out.com

16. EAT TO THE BEAT

Whether it's nibbles for The Who or a lavish five-course meal for a top corporate event, Eat to the Beat has established itself as a premier caterer within the industry. It is a regular supplier at events including the T4 Poll Winners Party and the Isle of Wight Festival. Contact: www.eattothebeat.com

17. YES PLS

Yes Pls, whose clients include Adidas, the BBC and Benetton, specialises in creating bespoke menus, while its styling, floral displays and designs are created in house. "We have worked on many events with Yes Pls and it delivers the goods every time," says Modus Publicity fashion director Narmin Mohammadi. Contact: www.yespls.com

18. RICHMOND

The caterer at high-profile London venues including the National Maritime Museum, Richmond was also the supplier for the Shockwaves NME Awards 2006 ceremony. Future projects include a Highland Games for 1,000 competitors in Greenwich, and a dinner for the Mushroom Growers Association. Contact: www.richmondcaterers.com

19. MINT

With more than 15 years' experience in the catering industry, MD Pete Phillip's ability to run an event with military precision is legendary. Recently launched Mint is already an accredited caterer at venues such as Old Billingsgate, The Music Room and Trocadero. Contact: www.mintcatering.co.uk

20. TURTLE SOUP

Few companies can claim to have worked at Buckingham Palace, even as a one-off. Turtle Soup, however, boasts a five-year contract providing the food for the palace's garden parties. This year it has undertaken a number of jobs where it has been responsible for the entire production, as well as the food. Contact: www.turtlessoup.co.uk.


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