A “Wow” Virtual Gala Experience

Residents who have included Deerfield in their wills and trusts are members of the Legacy Society. These residents are recognized at a Legacy Dinner each year and 2020 marked the 11th year for the celebration. Traditionally, up to 125 people including members of the Legacy Society and Deerfield Board of Directors would gather for a 5-course meal, “pulling out all the stops,” explained Adam Lamb, Director of Dining Services.  

“So the challenge, as posed by Director of Philanthropy Michelle Wooley, was, ‘How do we do this when everyone is in their own spaces…how do we provide our Legacy Society residents a 5-course menu with a synchronized program and keep everyone properly distanced and follow the CDC & HHS guidelines during a pandemic?’” Adam said. “So our team – including Chef Randall Landreneau and Dining and Catering Manager, Sandra Barrett – came up with the idea for a meal kit and a virtual Zoom program as a safe alternative.” Deerfield’s Administration and Sales departments delivered a large outer box to each resident’s apartment or cottage the afternoon before the evening’s festivities on Sunday, October 11. 

Packaged inside were separate smaller boxes containing an appetizer, dessert, charcuterie plate, cocktails (Rye Manhattan), wine, sparkling waters, the main entrée, as well as the menu and Meal Kit Instructions tightly timed out so that everyone was ready to participate in a Zoom call at the same time.

“Everything except the main entrée was prepared and ready,” Adam said. “The main course was seared and in an ovenproof container, so all they had to do was pop it in the oven at designated times.” Main entrée options included Provimi Stuffed Veal Chop with Prosciutto di Parma, Forest Mushrooms and Cognac Demi-Glace, Saffron “Bronzed” Chilean Sea Bass, and Wild Mushroom Duxelles in Phyllo. 

To ensure all of their residents clearly understood, instructions were outlined with a timeline for action steps– from unpacking the large box to preparing the elements inside. Cocktails began at 5:00, when the Zoom program started with a live musician being broadcast, then the formal program rolled out. 

“Our residents said it was by far one of the best events we have put on and the members of the Legacy Society felt recognized for their special contribution to Deerfield’s continued growth and success,” Adam said. “It’s through teamwork and thinking ‘outside the box’ that we were able to come up with this workaround alternative to still honor our residents who have been so generous with Deerfield during this challenging year.”