With a torrential downpour in Philly this morning and caterers tired from the night before, the last morning of Art of Catering Food got off to a slow start, but our opening panel brought the energy up slowly, discussing how they keep labor and food costs manageable.
Then we got into the action, moving around the room to get the blood flowing for the Action Station Round Robin. Six high-profile catering companies built elaborate stations that got attendees buzzing. Some highlights:
1. Ceviche variations. Not only did Robin Selden chat about how she sells her ceviche station, she talked about how she creates ceviche stations that make her company unique. Filled with tips for upselling and making stations very profitable in a demanding market, Robin rocked out the round robin with a memorable citrusy sample.
2. Spice tasting. Since letting an audience of 400 chefs taste 15+ spices on stage would be quite difficult, Keith Lord from H Events brought his presentation to each chef individually, letting them try every spice he presented and answered questions about preparation.
3. Construction. Purple Onion Catering’s Chef Adam Gooch not only created a delicious short rib station, he detailed how he built the station, featuring everything from PVC pipe to tape.
4. Churros. It was the early morning, so everyone in the audience was ready for a little bit of fried dough. Jeffrey Miller Catering’s staff presented a churros station filled with sugary variations for attendees to add to their menus.
5. Farm to Table. The Classic Catering People constructed an organic cheese and mushroom station with fresh herb vases and multiple samples of local cheeses. Attendees crowded around the gorgeous decor and had their fill of culinary samples.
6. And finally… the Philly Cheesesteak! While we had a cheesesteak donut sample yesterday, Feast Your Eyes presented an actual cheesesteak with truffled cheese on a pretzel roll. Positively scrumptious and an amazing sample for all of us! We also had some flavored shave ice with syrup — a take on Italian Ice, or as Philadelphians like to call it, water ice. (I grew up in the Philly area, and I still don’t know how the term “water ice” makes any sense, but it’s sure quirky!)
As the end of the day approached, EMI Yoshi gave the room a burst of energy with a tumbler stacking contest, and we learned that the Don Strange Grill Pardner baby needs a name (hurry! the contest ends August 15). Most importantly, we got ready for the Catersource 10th Anniversary issue! Chef Dan Smith created a cocktail called the #10andnow, featuring 10 ingredients and a whole lot of celebration — look for more on #10andnow in the coming weeks.
catersource.conferencespot.orgThanks for everyone’s hard work on this event, especially Linda West, Ken Barrett, Karen O’Connor and the ICA Culinary Council. They pumped out so many samples and shared so much information. Thanks to all the presenters, all the chefs and all of the attendees. Remember that you can access conference materials at catersource.conferencespot.org