6 Late Summer Menu Ideas and Presentations

Last year’s Art of Catering Food conference in Denver was almost a full year ago — it’s hard to believe. And, as the editor of Catersource, I’m still finding a wealth of information from last year’s conference that we haven’t been able to cover in the pages of the magazine or even in our social media content. There were just so many ideas that I’m still digging through and finding great ones. I wanted to highlight and revisit these six showstoppers that really made our tastebuds tingle and our eye pop with admiration in 2012.

Torched meat station from Culinary Crafts

Torched meat station from Culinary Crafts

1. What better to add to the heat of a summer barbecue than a little bit of fire? The Culinary Crafts team broke out the butane torches and set to a phenomenal presentation that had attendees gasping with delight. Although the torched meats were finished before the event, the finishing “torches,” if you’ll pardon the pun, gave ordinary barbecue a nice crisp exterior and created a huge draw for event guests. This photo from their presentation was accompanied live at the show by a demonstration and step-by-step instructions on how they put this station together. What chef doesn’t love to play with fire in front of an audience? It’s a chef station that doesn’t require too much convincing to sell.

Passionfruit pisco sour

Passionfruit pisco sour from chef Elgin Woodman of A Joy Wallace in Miami, FL

2. Have a sip. With custom mixology still on the top of everybody’s trend list, chef Elgin Woodman introduced a creative cocktail with a twist on the Peruvian pisco sour. Pisco, a refreshing grape brandy, is given an even more exotic twist with a Passionfruit Pisco Sour. Woodman presented this in her Beyond Ceviche: Peruvian Cuisine class. This year, she’ll continue presenting new culinary trends with Spice Up Your Menus with Latin-Inspired Dishes.

Custom bread display from Footers Catering

Custom bread display from Footers Catering in Denver, CO

3. The custom vertical bread displays from Footers Catering. On a site visit to the fun-loving events powerhouse Footers Catering, the team demonstrated that dynamic presentation can come down to every part of the menu, including presentation of dinner rolls. Their house-made metal spirals bring a wow factor to even the earliest element in the meal, and the whole team’s brightly colored creativity and impeccable service shone through at their facility tour.This year’s facility tours are at three diverse but trendsetting catering facilities in Philadelphia: Feast Your Eyes, Garces Catering at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Feastivites Events. What surprises will they lead with?

Deep-fried poached egg

Deep-fried poached egg

4. The deep-fried poached egg from last year’s Breakfast & Learn was one of the most popular samples, especially when it appeared the morning after the Skin & Bones party. At breakfast– or really, at any event– a deep fried poached egg adds a bit of flavor and flair to an otherwise basic meal. What will our presenters come up with the morning after the Culinary Concert party this year? I hope it’s something similarly fantastic. Whatever it is, there will be samples for every attendee.

Brioche clam rolls

Brioche clam rolls

5. Clam mania — two stellar clam menu items emerged from the Art of Catering Food. One combined fried clams with home-pickled watermelon rinds, from Catering by Design in Philadelphia, and the second, pictured here, showcased delightful mini clam brioche rolls with a caper remoulade. Chef Mark Gagnon from Starr Events created these delicious hors d’ oeuvre, providing detailed instructions on this signature item to attendees.

Chicken and waffle ice cream

Chicken and waffle ice cream from Daniel et Daniel

6. The last hit of the Art of Catering Food was the Chicken and Waffle ice cream, created by the stellar culinary team at Daniel et Daniel. With a fried piece of chicken topped by waffle-flavored ice cream, the Art of Catering Food closed with a tasty take on an old-school trend.

Prepping chicken and waffle ice cream samples at the Art of Catering Food 2012

Members of the ICA’s Culinary Council prepping chicken and waffle ice cream samples at the Art of Catering Food 2012

Attendees received recipes for each of these ideas as well as step-by-step demonstrations, samples and instructions. This year’s showstoppers are yet to be seen… which sessions will be the winners in Philadelphia? Join us on August 11-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to find out!

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