McCormick Place Hosts 2012 Presidential Election Night Celebrations

Convention Center holds second event with POTUS in 2012

  • by Linda Domingo
  • Published: November 28, 2012


Viewing party inside one of the suites at McCormick Place, Chicago.

McCormick Place and Savor hosted more than 15,000 ticketed guests, along with media and, of course, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their families and friends for election night celebrations on Nov. 6.

According to Connie Chambers, Savor general manager at McCormick Place, the building and staff had about three weeks’ notice to prepare to host the event.

“It’s definitely a compressed timeframe,” said Chambers, adding that normally they would have several months in advance to get ready. However, McCormick Place had hosted the NATO summit just six months prior, which familiarized the staff with working with and the expectations of the Secret Service. Chambers added that some of the Secret Service agents who worked the election night event were the same who worked the summit, which made things easier. “We’re really trained … I hate to say [it’s] easy because it really isn’t,” said Chambers. “But, certainly we knew who we were going to go to and what their expectations were.”

Security was tight, even from a foodservice standpoint. Chambers explained that Savor had to submit background checks for everyone who worked or needed to be onsite for the event, which added up to about 200 credentialed individuals. All of the equipment had to be onsite before a full security sweep, which took place Monday night until Tuesday morning. Even the keys for every vending machine had to be available for the Secret Service. “The largest component around doing anything for the president is around security, so having that piece as something we knew how to navigate was huge,” said Chambers.

In addition to security concerns, the McCormick Place and Savor team was faced with catering to the needs of hundreds of international press members, many of whom were preoccupied with Hurricane Sandy coverage and were not able to submit requests for catering until the 11th hour. “We had about 2,000 onsite from the media … [and many] were delayed in getting hold of us and saying ‘Oh, we actually do need catering,’” said Chambers.

“It did take a little bit of planning and we had to ask everybody to order off a specific menu so that we could execute at a high level, but within certain guidelines, which people were totally understanding of.” Members of the media were served Connie’s deep dish pizza, lasagna and sandwich platters.

Savor also catered receptions for 3,000 guests including President Obama and Vice President Biden, which featured a reception menu of roasted vegetable skewers, blue crab cakes with remoulade sauce, garlic ginger lime chicken brochettes, shrimp, andouille sausage, pepper kabobs, and roasted tomatoes with grilled country bread.

For the ticketed guests, Savor served menu items that focused on local flavors. About 2,500 slices of Connie’s deep dish pizza, 700 barbecue sandwiches from Chicago’s Robinsons Ribs and 600 Chicago-style hot dogs were served.

Interviewed for this story: Connie Chambers, (312) 791-7000

  • by Linda Domingo
  • Published: November 28, 2012