Wednesday night Katy and I had the opportunity to take advantage of one of the perks of being an “Event Planner” in Milwaukee – open house events hosted by some of the best caterers in the city. This one was one of the most unique I’ve been invited to over the years – Zilli Hospitality (zillihospitalitygroup.com) invited us to join them on the Milwaukee Boat Line (mkeboat.com) for an evening on the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan.

We were welcomed onto a lovely boat with a large interior cabin and open air upper deck. The cabin had a bar, buffet station and 7 or 8 tables which seated at least five each – a surprising capacity and very comfortable.

Throughout the 2-hour cruise there were passed hors d’ovures including sesame peanut lollypops, olive, tomato and mozzarella skewers, eggplant cheese pinwheels and my favorite: watermelon bites filled with goat cheese and topped with a balsamic reduction.

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We didn’t expect such a meal, especially on a boat, but the main course really won us over. It was a cleverly arranged glass with rich cheese hash browns in the bottom, topped with a sweet BBQ pulled pork and coleslaw. The icing on the cake was a sliced pork tenderloin sandwich.

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This is a situation where I wonder how they do it. We are on a boat with limited space – how in the world does this food taste so fresh and perfectly prepared? We asked the question, and found out that there is space below deck to prepare food, so everything was cooked on board.

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Overall, I was quite impressed with this event. The ambiance was perfect – not too crowded, plenty of food, no lines, and the beautiful city and water. I didn’t believe you could really do catering well in a situation like this, but the folks at Zilli proved me wrong. Katy and I are grateful for a perfect evening on the water – thank you for the opportunity Zilli Hospitality!

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