Art of Catering Food: Cracking the Salt Crust and the Next Big Fusion Trend

It’s like catering chefs have a sixth sense for buffet awareness. The second our lunch buffet was set up on the Grand Ballroom floor, every chef’s ears perked up. The immaculate setup drew contestants in our photography contest almost immediately, and kindly Ken Barrett and Linda West let attendees photograph the buffet setup for 10 minutes before mealtime. Since the buffet was filled with ideas for room-temperature meals, it could withstand the culinary paparazzi.



Before and after chefs photographed, they got a barrage of culinary education. Today we were stuffed full of info, from the ever-popular Plug and Produce Apps session — with 20 easy and amazing hors d’oeuvre ideas– to the session on pies from around the world.


Here were some of today’s highlights:

 1. Sponsor giveaways. Bamboo Studio and SternoCandleLamp drew attendee names for their selection of products– and attendees were psyched! There will be many more giveaways tomorrow, so this was just the first taste.


2. Chefhacks from Chef Adam Gooch, who taught cave cooking and techniques for organizing shipping processes. Colored totes, cave-style cooking on site with SternoCandleLamp, mashed potatoes in pastry bags and more to answer the demand “I Need That Now!” 

3. Pies! Chef Ken Barrett, who has been pumping up the jams in the kitchen, presented an excellent session on sweet and savory filled pastries.

4. Cracking the salt crusts. Cracking isn’t necessarily the best sound at an event, unless Andrew Spurgin and his acolytes are there. Spurgin presented an awe-inspiring class on salt-crust cooking, evoking soft applause from the audience as a salt-crusted fish was CRACKED open on stage. It was a fantastic presentation that applied just as well to a pineapple.

Salt crusted beet from @andrewspurgin

Salt crusted beet from @andrewspurgin


5. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate — hooray! Robin Selden taught us the difference between Tuile and Hippenmasse, shaping chocolate desserts beautifully.

Chocolate desserts from Marcia Selden Catering

Chocolate desserts from Marcia Selden Catering


6. The next big fusion trend from chef Elgin Woodman alerted us that the next big fusion trend is probably coming from the Southern Hemisphere. THe pulled pork arepas were delicious, but when chef Angie from Catering by Design mentioned Siberian Nachos featuring wontons and caviar– I was intrigued. Also alluring: a plantain dumpling in cilantroconsommé, which is the Latin version of Matzoh ball soup apparently. 


Pulled pork arepas on EMI Yoshi plates

Pulled pork arepas on EMI Yoshi plates


And now we’re off for the biggest surprise of the day… the Culinary Concert party. Excited to see what the Feastivities and the JDK Group have put together in Catersource’s biggest-ever party on the East Coast. Follow along on social media tonight at #aocf13 or #CulinaryConcert or wait for next week’s Get Fresh E-newsletter for the full story.



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