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South Bound

When German carmaker Audi wanted to introduce its new TT Coupe sports car to 400 potential buyers at Atlanta's Fernbank Natural History Museum, the company chose to inject Southern charm into the event.

"They wanted a menu with a Southern feeling, but very upscale and innovative," says Tim Lundy, CSEP, owner of Atlanta-based catering company Distinctive Design Events. The event producer, Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Extraordinary Events, brought in Lundy's team to cater the event with less than six weeks of planning.

The food budget was $45 per person. For the menu, Lundy chose local items such as Atlantic Coast shrimp, sea scallops and Georgia tomatoes. "We began with regional foods and blended them with Southern flair."

Following appetizers, the guests were treated to a seated dinner and a showing of Audi's new TT model. "The first course was a show stopper," Lundy says of the colorful scallop appetizer. "It is a beautiful presentation in a geometric design. We line up the scallops in a column, dollop purple potatoes in a crisscross pattern, then scatter mango salsa on top."

One of the entrees was beef tenderloin "marinated in Tennessee bourbon mixed with brown sugar and soy," he says. "It has a wonderful sweet flavor." Distinctive Design Events also prepared grilled Atlantic salmon over smoked corn and crab salad.

When it came to the new coupe, the guests ate it up-literally. "We actually styled dessert in the shape of the sports car," Lundy says of the genoise cake. Each table of 10 received its own cake, served with assorted fresh berries

Forty round tables covered with moss green linen and set off by brass-colored chiavari chairs surrounded the silver sports car, which was elevated on a black stage.

"We used two colors of steel charger plates treated to look like marble," Lundy says. A printed copy of the evening's menu topped each charger plate, along with a linen napkin with a red rose in its fold.

Before the night ended, one lucky woman found a new way home. Audi drew her name for the sports car parked in the middle of the room. Talk about Southern hospitality!

Passed Hors d'oeuvre Dill-Garlic Atlantic Tiger Shrimp

Artichoke Heart and Tomato Tarts with Gruyere and Parmesan Cheeses

Saffron-Brie Custard in Phyllo Tarts

Wild Mushroom Cigar Rolls

Seated Dinner Seared Rosemary Scallops over Purple Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Mint Salad with Mango Salsa

Warm Goat Cheese and Dried Cherries over Mesclun Greens with Sherry Vinaigrette

Bourbon-Marinated Roasted Tenderloins of Beef, Grilled Portabello Mushrooms and French Croutons

Grilled Salmon over Smoked Corn and Crab Salad

Dessert Station Audi-Shaped European Genoise Cakes with Raspberry Filling and Buttercream Frosting

Distinctive Design Events 2400 Coronet Way N.W. Atlanta, GA 30318 404/351-9333

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