We started as a catering company in 1996. Owner Robert Vidra, a trained chef, came to Calgary determined to open a catering operation that met the specific needs of the business community. He talked to everyone from receptionists to the CEO’s of Calgary’s largest companies, designing a catering company that would best meet the needs of the Calgary culture.
The business developed a reputation for providing excellent food, outstanding service and tremendous value. In fact, the service was so good that Simply Elegant’s clients encouraged the company to move into events, because of their unwavering attention to detail. Simply Elegant expanded into events in 2005, adding a nationally recognized, award-winning designer and events planner to the staff.
Now, instead of having to deal with a variety of vendors, clients are able to turn over everything to Simply Elegant, right from the early planning through to the decorations, catering, entertainment, execution and clean up.
Our people are what makes the magic possible. Looking for opportunities to join a great company in Calgary? Let us know.
C.E.O and Owner
Robert is a certified chef and has worked in the hospitality industry for over 35 years. He founded Simply Elegant in 1996 and designed each division to complement each other. He named Simply Elegant after Albert Einstein’s theory “if we can describe the universe in a ‘simple but elegant way’ we can understand the universe.” Simply Elegant has prospered due to Robert’s belief and nurturing the staff community. With his leadership Simply Elegant has grown from its humble beginnings as a catering company to a full-range hospitality firm.
Director of Special Events
Sharon is a Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) and has been a manager with Simply Elegant since 2004 in the roles of operations manager, florist, decorator, wedding and event planner. Prior to Simply Elegant, she owned a successful Vancouver floral and event decorating company. As a key note speaker and educator in the event industry, she has been a member of the International Live Events Association for over 25 years. Sharon is also an educator at Mount Royal University where she teaches the Business of Weddings and Social Events.
Director of Food & Beverage
Peter received his “top drawer” training at the Hotel Management School in Leipzig, Germany and honed his skills during his 8 years at Kempinski Hotels and Resorts, one of the oldest European hotel chains. His previous experience ranges from being a tea expert to an extensive knowledge of Champagne. His calm, professional demeanor is perfectly suited for coordinating large, international catered events to small, intimate dinner parties. Our clients love Peter’s attention to detail and personalized service when it comes to menu selection for their events.
Toni oversees our marketing department from design work and social media programming to implementing other digital and traditional media campaigns for Simply Elegant. With more than 20 years experience in marketing and branding, Toni is also involved in marketing research and ROI estimates. She is experienced in measuring performance indicators for events. Plus she’s been an adjunct professor for 10 years at MRU teaching courses in marketing, research and branding. Toni has a BA in Economics and an MBA in Marketing.
Jason started his career in the hospitality industry in 1997 and graduated from SAIT’s Professional Cooking Program in 2001. Jason has worked his way up from a Garde Manger at well-known hotel chains to the Executive Sous Chef at Fort Calgary before joining our team. Armed with innovative ideas and creative food menus, he sources fresh produce from local suppliers and makes everything in-house from scratch. We’re proud of this work because he’s elevated the Simply Elegant brand with his unique approach to preparing quality food for our customers.
Office & Accounting Manager
Shelley is the person behind the scenes keeping us organized by handling both the office and accounting functions. Shelley came to Simply Elegant with over 25 years in the industry where she did everything from being a short order cook, to serving and managing a downtown pub. Ten years of working at the famed King Eddy taught her a great deal about music and, more importantly, people. After 10 years with Simply Elegant, Shelley is a calm force during busy events. She has an eye for detail in our proposals and makes sure all the numbers add up.
Event Production and Design
Jade has been active in event planning for both corporate and private functions since early 2006. In addition to years of related experience, Jade has pursued additional professional training and is a graduate of Mount Royal University’s Event Planner Certificate program. She continues to learn and build her event planning and management skills by interacting and consulting with other event professionals and peers. Her combination of creativity – anchored in many years in fashion design – energy, and experience contributes to Jade’s unique and thoughtful event designs.
Ed is a P.Eng. and an MBA who graduated from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Advanced Studies, in Mexico. With over 20 years of Information Technology consulting experience in North and Central America and the Caribbean, Ed is in charge of our Information Network. As part of our team since 2003, Ed has developed our information infrastructure onto a private cloud system which integrates communications, productivity, collaboration, data protection and security. He makes sure all of our internal systems are efficiently managed.
Digital Marketing Manager
Alex has over 10 years experience managing marketing campaignsthrough digital channels such as display, paid search and social media advertising. He previously worked on client accounts including Rolex and Mercedes-Benz USA. Alex has a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) degree and is a certified professional in Google AdWords, Inbound Marketing by HubSpot and Social Media Marketing by Hootsuite. Alex has worked with Simply Elegant for the past 5 years and is responsible for website development and our online marketing.
- Hospice Calgary
- Médecins Sans Frontières HK / Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
- Canadian Red Cross
- David Suzuki Foundation
- World Wildlife Fund
We actively listen in order to understand the corporate culture and needs of our clients and create events that reflect their brand and values. We do not believe in “one size fits all.” Rather, we customize events by working collaboratively with our clients. We never take for granted the trust that our clients and vendors put in us.
Simply Elegant staff are experts in their field. Numerous employees have enjoyed long-standing careers at Simply Elegant. We value their loyalty and support their continued education.
We have established strong, working relationships with our vendors and treat them how we want to be treated. We believe that honesty, integrity and social responsibility are vital to our corporate culture and seek out vendors with similar values. Our future includes caring for the planet and we actively seek ways to lessen our footprint on it. We are mindful of the environment as we design our events.
- Leadership starts at the top. It has always been the core principle of Robert Vidra to accept responsibility for all that happens and not blame others; all of our staff follow that same conviction.
- We enjoy what we do by creating fun and a little magic.
- Our business is not an object but a live entity; we are a community of people who love to work and socialize together.
- We believe that change is inevitable and by accepting the evolution of change, we can inspire others.
- There is nothing more important than communication.
- We are open to accepting constructive criticism.
- We accept that each person has strengths and weaknesses; we recognize the strengths of others and minimize their weaknesses by providing support and working as a team.
- Success is directly measured by those around you; we cannot be what we are without our staff and vendors – it’s the people we work with that make us great.
- Each person is required to work in other departments so they understand the other divisions.
- We share in the joys of others and their lives.
- We are community minded and give time, money, food and services to the Calgary community.
- We believe in doing the right thing even when it is not the easy thing.
- We believe business is earned and trust cannot be abused.
- Enlightenment through education brings out the best in us.
- We give employees company money to go out for dinners and experience new things that make them happy.
- Supporting strong policies since 1996; we did what was right before most people cared.
- We recycle, reuse and reduce.
- We do not take advantage of our vendors; it is through collaborating with them that we can succeed.
Simply Elegant’s Green Initiative
There’s no point being a premiere events and catering company if we’ve run out of planet to live on. So we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.
Here are some of the ways we work towards sustainability:
- We support and purchase from local food products and suppliers
- We use organic vegetables where possible
- 90% of the meat we purchase is from Alberta, including free range fed chickens and turkeys
- 25% of all produce we purchase is grown locally in the Pacific NW
- 90% of the fruit we buy comes from North America
- We provide biodegradable disposable cocktail and lunch plates
- We provide “green” cutlery at client’s request
- Since 1996, we’ve used chaffing dishes (not tinfoil) for all hot food
- We use plastic platters, which are sanitized and reused, instead of disposable ones
- Our food is presented on china by request
- All cardboard and office paper products
- Kitchen cooking oil
- Bottles and cans with proceeds being donated to local community groups
- Straight line food delivery for “green routing” to specific downtown corporate buildings to reduce fuel consumption, minimize vehicle exhaust plus conserve gas.
- Strict maintenance programs for delivery vehicles
- Kitchen freezers, fridges
- Air conditioner units
We’re glad a healthier environment matters to you too. Thanks for wanting to know more about our green philosophy. We’ll keep striving to find new ways to lessen our footprint on the planet.