Q. What do you get when you put 400 catering chefs in one room?
A. Deliciously sweet and salty donut sandwiches that seem almost healthy… and a whole lot of other fantastic ideas.
In Catersource’s second year hosting Art of Catering Food, we’ve headed to Philadelphia to bestow the East Coast with our culinary and events knowledge. We’re in the city, we’re seeing the sights and we’ve brought hors d’oeuvre.
This morning’s sessions were incredibly informative, with Cade Nagy giving us an in-depth photography seminar and Keith Lord going over the many exotic spices of the 33rd Parallel. Highlights of the morning included apple pie with smoked whipped cream — courtesy of Chef Rubber’s Smoking Gun and the team from Aaron’s Catering in Miami — as well as incredible tips on HAACP regulations in a session sponsored by sous vide superstars Fusionchef. Lon and Stewart Lane gave an in-depth tour of their prop room organization system, going over every shelf and form that they use for each event. And yes, we debated whether the crostini was dead and acknowledged that the cronut is very much alive with the spectacular folks at Blue Plate, who were the purveyors of the donut sandwich and 24 other canapes that packed big flavor. Blue Plate’s Corporate Chef Paul Larson plated each one up on stage, and attendees tried samples from the events.
For lunch, we all invaded Reading Terminal Market, a farmer’s market that hosts fresh meats and fish along with lots of amazing restaurants. Caterers waited in line for cheesesteaks and cookies, sampling the wares of Amish producers, who were artisan hundreds of years before it was cool.
The facility tours — always a highlight for me — brought us to three wildly different venues. My tour started in Kensington with Feast Your Eyes’ lovely venue Front & Palmer. Originally designed as a bar mitzvah venue and a Kosher catering division, Lynn Buono and co. realized that the building really appealed to the DIY chic warehouse-with-a-luxury-sheen couple. The incredible wedding venue was decked out with late summer flowers that complemented the exposed beams. Sous Chef Mick Ortiz explained how he worked his way up from a dishwasher in his 19-year career at Feast Your Eyes, and the team took us through the most well-lit catering kitchen I’ve ever seen. (I realize that the kitchen is not where you want to put your lighting budget when renovating your venue, but I was impressed!)
We then headed down to Feastivities in trendy Manayunk, where Catersource style director Meryl Snow and her team took us on a groovy tour of their complex. “Food, please” echoed over the house speakers, and we made our way through her impeccable warehouse, which was organized alphabetically and filled with the most amazing selection of vessels. We also saw the sales staff’s motivation board and rocked out in the floral design division, Offshoots!
Finally, we made our way to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, a phenomenally gorgeous Philly venue that hosts Jose Garces’ catering team. We explored the glass-embellished facility, which was completely decked out with wood floors and stunning views.
We can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds! At Feastivities I snuck away to see what kinds of preparations I could shake up. But, like a little kid searching for Christmas presents I couldn’t find much.
See you tomorrow!