Five Trends from the 2013 Catersource Conference & Tradeshow


Welcome back, caterers! Here’s hoping you had a marvelous time at the Mirage and the LVCC and took away many trends, ideas and connections that can help make your business better. We picked up many ideas that we’ll use throughout the magazine and on during the year. Here are five trends that we heard on the Tradeshow floor and in our sessions.


The winning entry from the AFR Design Challenge demonstrates elegance with splashes of cool color.

Dan Smith's designs from the Harmony Party bring thematic elements to floral designs and cool colors.

Dan Smith’s designs from the Harmony Party bring thematic elements to floral designs and cool colors.

1. Colors and Design: Cool glam. Perhaps inspired by green light and cool blues of The Great Gatsby or strictly rooted in the predictions of the wizards at Pantone, we spotted greens, blues and purples all over the Tradeshow floor. Color expert Kate Kovalick Patay at Creative Coverings showed off a glamorous mannequin dressed in elegant cool colors on the Tradeshow floor and talked about combining simplicity and luxury; the furnishings at the AFR Design Challenge reflected her predictions.

2. Trendy New Ingredients: In the session Haute Food Trends for 2013, Karen O’Connor predicted sweet and savory oats would burst onto the scene. Gluten-free, versatile and delicious, O’Connor’s been experimenting with oats at the trendsetting as the executive chef at Daniel et Daniel in Montreal, QC, maintaining that they’re usable in more than just oatmeal and cookies. (We’ll start compiling some recipes in Catersource, but in the meantime, stay tuned!)

3. Hybridizing a Tablescape: Get prepared to combine hard, mechanical elements of your design into more natural elements. In many of the tabletop competition entries, as well as in some on-stage designs, the hardness of metal and ersatz human creations was nestled into an abundance of flowers. Wires and glossy metals flowed into overabundant florals. Call it Steampunk or Natural Hybrid, it’s an aesthetic that I can get behind.


An entry from the Tabletop Competition

4. Demanding Your Worth: This is always a theme at Catersource, but many sessions and speakers at the Conference focused on keeping the clients that you want– while charging them what you’re worth. With the past few years in hindsight, our speakers discouraged discounts and encouraged businesses to go after healthy profits. We know you love what you do, but it’s the going after what you love that makes it all worthwhile.

5. Slow and Low Cooking Styles: Whether it was Sous Vide or Smoking, caterers espoused styles that could keep food tastier, juicier and well preserved for longer. Get ready for an article on Barbecue and Smoking in the March/April issue of Catersource magazine for more information.


13 Hidden Gems on the Tradeshow Floor

Whew! Yesterday was busy. I’m a little bit worn out, and you may be too. But I’m super excited about visiting the Tradeshow today. There are so many cool products, and some grab your attention right away, in addition to the hidden gems you find that are the perfect fit for your business. Here are some band new products  that I’m totally into:

Magnificent Glassware from IEP-- 10% off at the show

Magnificent Glassware from IEP– 10% off at the show

I’m a huge fan of gold-rimmed glassware, and the new Magnificent Collection from International Event Products is right up my alley. It’s classic and elegant and not too over the top; booth 1513.

La Tavola's Charade Petal and Cristal Vision Petal from the Milano & Pompeii collection

La Tavola’s Charade Petal and Cristal Vision Petal from the Milano & Pompeii collection

If you somehow missed La Tavola’s gorgeous booth, you should schedule a special visit. It was like being transported into a magical elegant wonderland of stunning tables, kindof like the Oz of the Tradeshow floor. Well, one of the Oz-spots. Several locations on the Tradeshow floor remind me of the Emerald City. This table was my favorite, but you really need to see the whole stunning shebang at booth 1713.

Vertical Fruit Stands at Tablecraft

Vertical Fruit Baskets at Tablecraft

New on the show floor this year are these fabulous vertical fruit baskets at booth 1113.

PreGel's evolution glazes

PreGel’s evolution glazes

PreGel’s booth is always a bundle of sweet fun, and their new Evolution Glazes bring a coloful shine to desserts. Can we make Shiny Desserts a trend for 2013? It doesn’t matter if it’s a cupcake, a verrine (like the ones above) or a macaron, as long as it’s got that sheen… They’re in booth 1321.

A preview of Verterra's to-go containers

A preview of Verterra’s to-go containers

All the green products at the Tradeshow make me excited to be a part of this forward-thinking industry, and the new variety of to-go boxes from our Green Sponsor Verterra bring incredible variety and simplistic beauty to sustainable disposables. Visit booth 1249 for more solutions made from fallen leaves.

Fresh Origins flavor crystals

Fresh Origins Herb & Flower crystals

Whether floral, fennel or basil, the Fresh Origins Herb & Flower crystals are a gorgeous accent to any event: organic, luxury or just plain cool. They’re in booth 2536.

Cambro's Combo Cart Plus

Cambro’s Combo Cart Plus

Extremely versatile for both hot and cold applications, the Cambro Combo Cart Plus holds everything from sheet pans to pizza boxes. Booth 1313.

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Adorable and sustainable disposables from Bamboo Studio.

With shapes like a pig, frog and monkey, Bamboo Studio’s new disposable collections for kids are incredibly cute in booth 1649.

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The Craft Collection from Steelite.

There are so many fantastic options for small plates on the Tradeshow floor, but these bold yet earthy dishes from Steelite struck my fancy in booth 2221.

New sizes of square bowls from Anchor Packaging.

New sizes of square bowls from Anchor Packaging.

Reuseable and recyclable, not to mention sleek and functional, Anchor Packaging is now offering a variety of sizes of its square bowls in booth 1327.

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Display Table from Accent Decor

I definitely loved this Display Table from Accent Decor, especially since I could see it at either a quirky vintage- or svelte, modern-themed event. In booth 1329.

Freeze dried berries from Chef Rubber.

Freeze dried berries from Chef Rubber.

Chef Rubber are the kings of molecular cool on the Tradeshow floor and these freeze-dried berries are right on the top of the tart flavor trend in booth 1256.

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The Tapas Tree at 10 Strawberry Street.

It’s not a new product, but I love the usage suggestion for this product from 10 Strawberry Street. Last year the same product was a chandelier of wine glasses; this year it’s a Tapas Tree in booth 913.

Let’s see what else I find at the Tradeshow today… stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for more updates, and have a wonderful final day of Catersource. We’re really enjoyed having you here.

Notes for Attendees: Wednesday, March 13

Good morning! It’s the last day of Catersource.
NACE Facility Tours depart from the Registration Rotunda beginning at 8:00am.

The Tradeshow opens at 9:00am and runs until 2:00pm.

Meet the Catersource Magazine team in the Catersource Lounge from 9:30am to 11:00am.

Meet the Event Solutions Advisory Board in the Event Solutions lounge from 9:30am to 11:00am.

Remember to visit the Design and Culinary Exhibition Stages on the Tradeshow floor to learn even more, plus take your shot at winning prizes and free samples.

Day Two of the Tradeshow begins!

Day Two of the Tradeshow begins!

Vote for Tabletop and AFR Design Challenge winners by the Event Solutions Lounge.
Then, join us for the closing session at 5:00pm in the Grand Ballroom and find out the winners of the Buffet, Boxed Lunch and Tabletop awards and cap off your Conference & Tradeshow with Colin Cowie.
Thanks to all attendees, sponsors and exhibitors for making this such a great show!

From Calm Reflections by Scott Conant to Bangin’ Harmony at the Hard Rock

Monday at Catersource is always a busy day. In addition to lunches and the Monday night party, we host the general session and hours of education. As an editor, it’s a little exhausting, but I can imagine what it must feel like as an attendee.

Mike Roman and Meryl Snow hosted the general session, where they presented the ACE awards to our awesome winners. Congratulations to all winners and finalists; the awards and nominations are much deserved! You will be hearing more from all of these talented companies on this blog, on and in Catersource magazine.

Scott Conant onstage at Catersource.

We heard Scott Conant talk about his past as a young chef who slept on the floor so he could work in the restaurants he wanted to work in and rose to the top on his own convictions. Conant was refreshing, calm and so inspiring. Is it ok if I say “like a cool drink of water?” Is that weird? In any case, after that speech I have even more admiration for Mr. Conant.

I stopped by the Xperience Stages and checked out the Servewise collection from FOH, who sponsored yesterday’s awesome collection of 30-minute sessions. I learned new branding tricks from The Knot’s Laura Cave and popped in to hear how Adam Gooch thinks it’s about time canapes had a resurgence.

Fifteen plated dinners were served up in the Grand Ballroom from chefs like Jamie Keating and our own culinary columnist, Stewart Lane. Steph Zilli outlined his picnic strategy (soon to come in Catersource magazine!) and top caterers packed the house for a discussion about cost-saving strategies in a time of rising food prices.

Fifteen Plated Dinners, featuring Salmon! Onstage at Catersource.

And then the Boxed/Buffet Lunches and Harmony Party? Oh gosh, I can’t even begin to talk about all the amazing things we saw yesterday right now. Read this blog, our Get Fresh newsletter and Catersource magazine in the coming months to find more ideas, recaps, images and more from the Conference and all our events.

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The Harmony Hot Wall, made possible by Cambro and American Metalcraft. “You can tell they’re hot because they’re moving,” said Bill Pannhoff gleefully last night.

All in all it was an amazing day… and there’s still more to come! See you on the Tradeshow floor, I guess, and at the Spotlight/CATIES, and perhaps while I’m on the Featured Speaker stage interviewing David Tutera. I’m definitely nail-bitingly nervous right now, but I’ll see you around the show!

Notes for Attendees: Tuesday, March 12

Join us this morning for education at the Conference, then hop on the bus to the Tradeshow.

The Tradeshow opens at 11:00am at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Check out some show floor specials below and watch for cool events like the AFR Design Challenge, the Spectacular Sweets Pastry Showcase, live ice carving and Exhibition Culinary and Design/Media stages, our 30-minute counterpart to Xperience stages.

Cones, Risers, Lights and more from the Harmony Party will be available at American Metalcraft, booth 1549.

Cones, Risers, Lights and more from the Harmony Party will be available at American Metalcraft, booth 1549.

This morning at the Mirage, crews will be filming for a national television show. If you would like to attend the Conference but would prefer to remain anonymous on camera, please visit the Information Booth.

Tonight are the Event Solutions Spotlight/ICA CATIE Awards. The show begins at 7:00pm and is open to all attendees.

Did you attend Harmony last night? Send me your photos at to be included in the wrap-up, which will be published online next week.

Facility tours will begin tomorrow at 8:00 am, departing from the Registration Rotunda.

Please check your Show Guide or the Catersource app for the full Tradeshow schedule.

Shop til you drop today! Let us know what you like on the Tradeshow floor through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at #cses2013 #catersource

Notes for Attendees: Monday, March 11

Monday is a day full of education, punctuated by some of our very coolest events.
Sessions begin at 7:30am.
Xperience Sessions– 30-minute sessions designed for quick, informative tidbits on Culinary, Design and Business– begin at 7:30am as well. These are located in the Carribean Court– the rooms of Trinidad, Jamaica and Antigua.

Join us at the Xperience Culinary Stage for intimate demonstrations, like this one on Gluten-free cooking.

Join us at the Xperience Culinary Stage for intimate demonstrations, like this one on Gluten-free cooking.

Our General Session, featuring Scott Conant and the presentation of the Catersource ACE Awards begins at 9:00am in the Grand Ballroom.
The Buffet/Boxed Lunch begins at 12:30 in Event Center A (the other side of the room where the Attendee Lounge is located.)
The Ask Me Anything Lunch also begins at 12:30 in the restaurant formerly known as B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Bill Pannhoff and Bill Hansen will continue their Perfect Fit track in Event Center C2.

Bill Pannhoff and Bill Hansen will continue their Perfect Fit track in Event Center C2.

Buses for Harmony at Hard Rock will begin leaving the Registration Rotunda at 7:30pm and will run continuously throughout the night. Please note that this event is at the Hard Rock Cafe and *not* the Hard Rock Hotel.
Enjoy your Monday! Comment below with what you’ve learned.

Sunday, March 10: Serving Up Excitement

The excitement is palpable down the long hallways of the Mirage: Catersource has begun.
Attendees hovered around Show Guides and planned out their days, trickling into the opening sessions and then hitting the Conference with a Big Bang right at noon. We heard about Haute Food Trends (oats, anyone?) and the keys to retaining Rock Star Staff (comp time to counteract long days).

Jeffrey and Robin Selden of Marcia Selden Catering on retaining Rock Star Staff.

Vigorously taking notes at sessions and making new friends, most attendees revved up throughout the day.  A session on company culture from Footers Catering in Denver, CO was packed to the brim as Anthony Lambatos and Colbert Callen shared their tales of awesomeness. In fact, many of the sessions that attracted large numbers of attendees were operations- and staff-focused. We haven’t written about staff culture recently in Catersource, but the Conference trends make me think that it’s something worth addressing.

I also met caterers of all stripes: those from military facilities, several from hotels around the globe, off-premise, educators, students, restaurants with a catering division… all come together to learn from each other and from the pros.

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The day culminated with two intensely cool social events: the Into the Wild party in the Attendee Lounge and the Welcome Reception by the pool. Sponsors WNA and Tablecraft provided fantastic disposables and buffetware (respectively) We chatted, shared experiences and wound down. I got tons of ideas for the magazine today; here’s hoping you gained just as many for your business.