National Restaurant Show Brief: Trends

CSNRA9 It’s a behemoth, that’s for sure. For those of us who have made our way to McCormick Center in Chicago, we’ve found ourselves both enthralled and overwhelmed. When we talk to our friends in foodservice, we probably call it NRA, but for the laymen out there, we’ve learned to say “the restaurant show” or something of the sort to avoid being confused with another national organization, one that’s more highly divisive. It’s the National Restaurant Association, and I made my second annual trek this year.

I’ll admit– although I love the size and focus of the Catersource Tradeshow, the NRA show in contrast is a little bit bewildering for me. I’ve asked myself on the McCormick show floor many times, “Where am I and what am I looking for?” (To be fair, sometimes I ask myself these questions when I’m at the mall or even Googling things, so feeling a little lost in all the information is not uncommon for me.) The Catersource show is generally a lot easier to navigate, with every product focused specifically on catering and events.

But even so, I saw these new styles and innovations that caterers might find interesting.

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Sponsored: Creative Recipe Ideas from Bush’s Best

Bush’s Best® has the right beans for all your catering needs. Whether you’re looking for ethnic inspired cuisine, meatless options or gluten-free dishes, the versatility of Bush’s Best® beans can work for your menu. More and more menus are including black bean burgers, bean salads, and other bean-based vegetarian or gluten-free items to satisfy growing consumer demand. Beans are the perfect choice for your pantry because they are a nutritious vegetable that can be served on their own as a side, can be part of expanding your breakfast menu or can be used in an entree. Best of all, Bush’s Best® beans are consumer’s preferred choice. Take a look at these ideas and discover new ways for beans to influence your menu.

BBQ Dinner Bites - Click Through for Recipe

BBQ Dinner Bites: Call them portable, dippable, or just down-right delectable, these panko-breaded bites of smashed Bush’s Best® Bean Pot Baked Beans mixed with shredded pork are perfect for lunch on the go and appetizers. Click through for recipe.

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Sponsored: Win Big from Cambro!

CCC2 web banner 806 x 140.83

Once again, Cambro connects with the catering community in a fun and exciting way!

The Caterer Challenge is a great opportunity for caterers to really share their stories of success with the peers in the industry. Simply put, caterers can enter by sharing what Cambro products have made their lives easier!

One grand prize winner will win $5,000 in Cambro products (list price) and three runner-ups will each receive $500 in Cambro products.

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Five Tasty Tidbits from the IACP Conference

Here in Minneapolis, where has been freezing rain all day, I’m remembering fondly last week when I was in San Francisco at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. I miss the warmth of San Francisco, the delicious local fare I ate all week and the very cool and super smart attendees and speakers who made the conference a fantastic experience.

And now, without further ado, five things I learned while at the IACP conference that will inspire and make an impact on caterers…

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Five Trends from the 2013 Catersource Conference & Tradeshow


Welcome back, caterers! Here’s hoping you had a marvelous time at the Mirage and the LVCC and took away many trends, ideas and connections that can help make your business better. We picked up many ideas that we’ll use throughout the magazine and on during the year. Here are five trends that we heard on the Tradeshow floor and in our sessions.


The winning entry from the AFR Design Challenge demonstrates elegance with splashes of cool color.

Dan Smith's designs from the Harmony Party bring thematic elements to floral designs and cool colors.

Dan Smith’s designs from the Harmony Party bring thematic elements to floral designs and cool colors.

1. Colors and Design: Cool glam. Perhaps inspired by green light and cool blues of The Great Gatsby or strictly rooted in the predictions of the wizards at Pantone, we spotted greens, blues and purples all over the Tradeshow floor. Color expert Kate Kovalick Patay at Creative Coverings showed off a glamorous mannequin dressed in elegant cool colors on the Tradeshow floor and talked about combining simplicity and luxury; the furnishings at the AFR Design Challenge reflected her predictions.

2. Trendy New Ingredients: In the session Haute Food Trends for 2013, Karen O’Connor predicted sweet and savory oats would burst onto the scene. Gluten-free, versatile and delicious, O’Connor’s been experimenting with oats at the trendsetting as the executive chef at Daniel et Daniel in Montreal, QC, maintaining that they’re usable in more than just oatmeal and cookies. (We’ll start compiling some recipes in Catersource, but in the meantime, stay tuned!)

3. Hybridizing a Tablescape: Get prepared to combine hard, mechanical elements of your design into more natural elements. In many of the tabletop competition entries, as well as in some on-stage designs, the hardness of metal and ersatz human creations was nestled into an abundance of flowers. Wires and glossy metals flowed into overabundant florals. Call it Steampunk or Natural Hybrid, it’s an aesthetic that I can get behind.


An entry from the Tabletop Competition

4. Demanding Your Worth: This is always a theme at Catersource, but many sessions and speakers at the Conference focused on keeping the clients that you want– while charging them what you’re worth. With the past few years in hindsight, our speakers discouraged discounts and encouraged businesses to go after healthy profits. We know you love what you do, but it’s the going after what you love that makes it all worthwhile.

5. Slow and Low Cooking Styles: Whether it was Sous Vide or Smoking, caterers espoused styles that could keep food tastier, juicier and well preserved for longer. Get ready for an article on Barbecue and Smoking in the March/April issue of Catersource magazine for more information.

13 Hidden Gems on the Tradeshow Floor

Whew! Yesterday was busy. I’m a little bit worn out, and you may be too. But I’m super excited about visiting the Tradeshow today. There are so many cool products, and some grab your attention right away, in addition to the hidden gems you find that are the perfect fit for your business. Here are some band new products  that I’m totally into:

Magnificent Glassware from IEP-- 10% off at the show

Magnificent Glassware from IEP– 10% off at the show

I’m a huge fan of gold-rimmed glassware, and the new Magnificent Collection from International Event Products is right up my alley. It’s classic and elegant and not too over the top; booth 1513.

La Tavola's Charade Petal and Cristal Vision Petal from the Milano & Pompeii collection

La Tavola’s Charade Petal and Cristal Vision Petal from the Milano & Pompeii collection

If you somehow missed La Tavola’s gorgeous booth, you should schedule a special visit. It was like being transported into a magical elegant wonderland of stunning tables, kindof like the Oz of the Tradeshow floor. Well, one of the Oz-spots. Several locations on the Tradeshow floor remind me of the Emerald City. This table was my favorite, but you really need to see the whole stunning shebang at booth 1713.

Vertical Fruit Stands at Tablecraft

Vertical Fruit Baskets at Tablecraft

New on the show floor this year are these fabulous vertical fruit baskets at booth 1113.

PreGel's evolution glazes

PreGel’s evolution glazes

PreGel’s booth is always a bundle of sweet fun, and their new Evolution Glazes bring a coloful shine to desserts. Can we make Shiny Desserts a trend for 2013? It doesn’t matter if it’s a cupcake, a verrine (like the ones above) or a macaron, as long as it’s got that sheen… They’re in booth 1321.

A preview of Verterra's to-go containers

A preview of Verterra’s to-go containers

All the green products at the Tradeshow make me excited to be a part of this forward-thinking industry, and the new variety of to-go boxes from our Green Sponsor Verterra bring incredible variety and simplistic beauty to sustainable disposables. Visit booth 1249 for more solutions made from fallen leaves.

Fresh Origins flavor crystals

Fresh Origins Herb & Flower crystals

Whether floral, fennel or basil, the Fresh Origins Herb & Flower crystals are a gorgeous accent to any event: organic, luxury or just plain cool. They’re in booth 2536.

Cambro's Combo Cart Plus

Cambro’s Combo Cart Plus

Extremely versatile for both hot and cold applications, the Cambro Combo Cart Plus holds everything from sheet pans to pizza boxes. Booth 1313.

Photo Mar 12, 8 20 59 PM (1)

Adorable and sustainable disposables from Bamboo Studio.

With shapes like a pig, frog and monkey, Bamboo Studio’s new disposable collections for kids are incredibly cute in booth 1649.

Photo Mar 12, 8 20 58 PM (1)

The Craft Collection from Steelite.

There are so many fantastic options for small plates on the Tradeshow floor, but these bold yet earthy dishes from Steelite struck my fancy in booth 2221.

New sizes of square bowls from Anchor Packaging.

New sizes of square bowls from Anchor Packaging.

Reuseable and recyclable, not to mention sleek and functional, Anchor Packaging is now offering a variety of sizes of its square bowls in booth 1327.

Photo Mar 12, 8 37 04 PM

Display Table from Accent Decor

I definitely loved this Display Table from Accent Decor, especially since I could see it at either a quirky vintage- or svelte, modern-themed event. In booth 1329.

Freeze dried berries from Chef Rubber.

Freeze dried berries from Chef Rubber.

Chef Rubber are the kings of molecular cool on the Tradeshow floor and these freeze-dried berries are right on the top of the tart flavor trend in booth 1256.

Photo Mar 12, 8 37 20 PM

The Tapas Tree at 10 Strawberry Street.

It’s not a new product, but I love the usage suggestion for this product from 10 Strawberry Street. Last year the same product was a chandelier of wine glasses; this year it’s a Tapas Tree in booth 913.

Let’s see what else I find at the Tradeshow today… stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for more updates, and have a wonderful final day of Catersource. We’re really enjoyed having you here.

Notes for Attendees: Wednesday, March 13

Good morning! It’s the last day of Catersource.
NACE Facility Tours depart from the Registration Rotunda beginning at 8:00am.

The Tradeshow opens at 9:00am and runs until 2:00pm.

Meet the Catersource Magazine team in the Catersource Lounge from 9:30am to 11:00am.

Meet the Event Solutions Advisory Board in the Event Solutions lounge from 9:30am to 11:00am.

Remember to visit the Design and Culinary Exhibition Stages on the Tradeshow floor to learn even more, plus take your shot at winning prizes and free samples.

Day Two of the Tradeshow begins!

Day Two of the Tradeshow begins!

Vote for Tabletop and AFR Design Challenge winners by the Event Solutions Lounge.
Then, join us for the closing session at 5:00pm in the Grand Ballroom and find out the winners of the Buffet, Boxed Lunch and Tabletop awards and cap off your Conference & Tradeshow with Colin Cowie.
Thanks to all attendees, sponsors and exhibitors for making this such a great show!