Update: Deborah Carver is no longer blogging here, but her posts will remain online as an archive. Watch for stories from the new Catersource editor at catersource.com in the coming weeks.
This post is sponsored by Creative Coverings, who provide their support for Catersource’s original content.
Catering and events trends come from all across the board; they’re a strange amalgamation of what we see and hear in popular culture and what works for our businesses. Here’s a few ideas that you might want to add to your rosters this fall.
1. Scarlet, samba, oxblood and burgundy: Shades of red are all the rage this fall. The runways and the September issues of all the fashion mags are brimming with passionate hues that evoke the falling leaves, like the below Dolce & Gabbana coat that might look fantastic as a table runner at a holiday party. (We recommend contacting your preferred linen partner for more affordable options than using the designer coat right off the runway. 😉
Pantone also has a selection of fall colors that includes a variety of shades, including a number of muted greens and a stunning grey called Turbulence, but the red on the pages of magazines really stands out as something we’ll expect to see at events in the coming months.
2. Branded mixers — whether they’re you’re own brand of batch cocktails or something that you’ve purchased. Technomic reports that nonalcoholic bar mixers are continuing to rise in popularity in on-premise, with consumers going as far as requesting specific brands of mixers. There’s no doubt that your clients will begin requesting specific mixers from you as well, so start exploring new flavors! “Strawberry, lime, exotic fruits and sweet-spicy” are all on the rise, the report from Technomic says.
3. Pie has been on the rise for a few years, but it may currently be at its apex, with urban bakeries embracing homemade flaky crusts — and saying yes to lard, despite its health implications and decidedly non-vegan appeal. Both the USA Today and the New York Times have published stories on these designer bakeries with their homespun flavors, and you can expect clients to start requesting minted lime, lemon chess and Elvis pies in no time at all.
4. Pushing the boundaries of Sweet and Savory is truly taking a new form, with treats like the lemon thyme donut turkey sandwich from Blue Plate in Chicago, IL really making a splash on menus. When we tried this sample at the Art of Catering Food from chef Paul Larson, we knew it would be the Next Big Thing.
5. Look out for the comeback of the disco and a 1970s revival. We know you heard Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” this summer with its decidedly 70s sound, Daft Punk’s disco-inspired “Get Lucky” probably got you dancing on the sidelines of more than one wedding, and new bands like Haim sound a lot like Fleetwood Mac. Want to take the music trends to your events? Add luxurious touches of the 1970s to your soiree — chiffon styled like Faye Dunaway, gypsy-style Stevie Nicks scarves or just a little bit of disco fringe will pique your clients’ interest without being too over the top.
6. Hashtags for everything. Social media-fiend couples have been concocting their own custom hashtags for years, but with the addition of hashtag searches to Facebook, start suggesting them for corporate clients and holiday soirees so that guests can keep track of event photos as they’re happening. Suggest something like #AcmeHoliday13, personalized for your corporate client’s company name, and encourage the event’s organizers to spread the word. Make sure to get a couple of photos of your menu offerings in there– the party’s guests will be glad to have the record of what they ate and your company’s business!
7. Speaking of which, the other big trend this fall is celebrating Catersource’s tenth anniversary! Look out for the hashtag #10andnow, where caterers will be sharing their biggest and best moments of the past 10 years. Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.
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
With Twitter and Facebook abound, writing a blog post almost seems like the “classic” mode of social media. But particularly in the catering, food and events world, blogging is still a form of communication that’s widely read and a great way of delivering news to your customers. It can also be a personal creative outlet and a way to tell the stories of your events rather than just sharing the scattered thoughts of 140-character tweets. Even if you only update your blog four times a year– and with many caterers, once-a-quarter posts are pretty common– a blog post is still a way of showing your customers that you’re up on current trends or sharing news. And blog posts can live longer than tweets– a blog on your website can convey news months longer than a passing post on Facebook.
Here are some caterers who are still blogging after all these years. Whether providing tips to their customers on the best way to plan a menu, recapping their coolest events and presentations or sharing recipes that have worked for them, here are some great examples of catering-oriented blogs:
Do you use LinkedIn to connect with clients or even search for jobs?
We’re expanding our LinkedIn presence and are wondering: how would you like to use LinkedIn? Would you like it to be a private discussion space? Would you like us to provide special offers just to the Catersource LinkedIn Group?
As we in the U.S. prepare for next week’s short week and pre-Thanksgiving activities, check out what Catersource.com has had to say about the holiday over the years, from our features to our forum. Check out menu and business advice, ideas and thoughts on turkey and all the trimmings from preparation to sales:
The twist on a traditional Thanksgiving might mean, Tertner says, taking the standard turkey and trimmings and turning them into small bites, like turkey tartlets served with a cranberry sauce, then doing something else for the main course.
Yaniv Cohen, vice president and creative director at Shiraz in Miami, says local ethnic cuisine and food products can become part of the traditional meal. “If it’s stuffing for turkey, we use chorizo as the sausage,” he says. “Instead of potatoes, we use plantains. For the cranberry sauce, we use Florida oranges in the sauce. In general, we try to use local ingredients as opposed to shipping, even for holiday parties. Luckily, in Florida we have a lot of wonderful tropical fruits and vegetables.”
Holiday Catering: Mixing tradition and new ideas is the catering challenge
Greetings! It’s been a little while in the Catersource Carvings universe, which can only mean that we’ve been working hard on another issue. I disappear into a print media hole while we’re putting the finishing touches on the magazine, only to emerge refreshed and ready to blog again. I’ve made a Pinterest board inspired by the September/October issue, in case you want to get a head start before it lands in your mailbox in a couple of weeks.