Requirements For a Successful Event (Plus...Llamas!)

Jon Wool and Gregory Wool at Bovinova

How far would you travel for good barbecue?


I never thought I'd hop a plane for grilled meat, but Bovinova 2012 changed my mind. Held annually in Greenville, South Carolina, this unique event raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project and celebrates the thrill-of-the-grill in grand style. This year's menu included lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, whole pigs, 1 whole cow (approx. 1,200 lbs), and 1 whole llama. There was also great paella and numerous side dishes for those actually seeking a balanced menu. Add the generous contributions of home-brewers passing pitchers of their latest creation and you have a food festival well worth the airfare.


This event was miles away from Villeroy & Boch china and tuxedoed waiters, but I observed many parallels to the more traditional catering model of our consulting clients. Event planning, at its most cohesive, isn't unique to any specific style of entertaining. Although Bovinova took place in the great outdoors and was as casual an event as you can imagine, the same principles for exceptional event orchestration were in play. I witnessed creative menu design, careful quantity control, and safe food handling. There was the coordination of essential equipment, tents, lighting, and the installation of specially designed racks and rotisseries for those whole roasts. A team of proactive and well-instructed staff managed the location, music, and other entertainment. A strong outreach effort had attracted sponsorship and TV crews from The Cooking Channel, and a concentrated social media campaign ensured healthy ticket sales to an eclectic and fun-seeking group of patrons. All of these elements added up to a fun event benefiting an important cause.


Whether you are serving BBQ or truffled foie gras, the success of any event is dependent on attention-to-detail, enthusiastic service, and a menu that exceeds the highest expectations. Kudos to my friend, Jeff Bannister, and the entire Bovinova team for hosting a wildly successful event. Lastly, if you are interested in tasting the llama for yourself, check out and put the 2013 date on your calendar.

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