by Tom Isler | March 01, 2009

This web-exclusive article accompanied Lobster Trap by Tom Isler (M&C, March 2009), about the falling price of lobster.

A lobster dinner or clambake is an obvious catering choice for meetings in New England, but the event team at the 424-room InterContinental Boston turned the meal into a truly memorable experience for 120 members of the InterContinental Hotels Group food-and-beverage department, in town for a recent leadership summit.

"We pride ourselves on providing guests insider experiences whenever possible," says Stephanie Loeber, the hotel's director of public relations.

Here's how it played out:

In the evening, attendees gathered in the lobby of the hotel, which sits on Boston's historic waterfront, sampling caviar blinis and vodka. Then, in shifts, the group was escorted on a short stroll along the waterfront to James Hook & Co., a large lobster distributor and a family-owned operation for nearly 85 years. The hotel had arranged for the Hook brothers to greet attendees and talk about the history of the company, the evolution of lobstering in New England, and the economic impact of the industry in Boston. Attendees were shown to the live lobster pounds, or giant holding tanks, and each pulled out a crustacean that was packaged for carrying back to the hotel.

Once there, attendees traded their catch for a flute of champagne by placing the lobster inside a trap, tended to by hotel staff dressed as lobstermen. The party continued in the hotel's Rose Kennedy Ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the harbor, while the staff took the lobsters to the kitchen. A few minutes later, dinner was served. -- T.I.