Last year’s Art of Catering Food conference in Denver was almost a full year ago — it’s hard to believe. And, as the editor of Catersource, I’m still finding a wealth of information from last year’s conference that we haven’t been able to cover in the pages of the magazine or even in our social media content. There were just so many ideasthat I’m still digging through and finding great ones. I wanted to highlight and revisit these six showstoppers that really made our tastebuds tingle and our eye pop with admiration in 2012.
Torched meat station from Culinary Crafts
1. What better to add to the heat of a summer barbecue than a little bit of fire? The Culinary Crafts team broke out the butane torches and set to a phenomenal presentation that had attendees gasping with delight. Although the torched meats were finished before the event, the finishing “torches,” if you’ll pardon the pun, gave ordinary barbecue a nice crisp exterior and created a huge draw for event guests. This photo from their presentation was accompanied live at the show by a demonstration and step-by-step instructions on how they put this station together. What chef doesn’t love to play with fire in front of an audience? It’s a chef station that doesn’t require too much convincing to sell.
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.
The Art of Catering Food is over… and it was so much fun! We’ve heard such great feedback from attendees, though, and I hope to see everyone again next year– plus some new faces– in Philadelphia.
If you weren’t able to make it, you will be able to purchase the audio and presentations from the entire show on Catersource.com by the end of the month. Trust me, they’ll all be well worth it, and will give hundreds of ideas to your kitchen.
Now, let’s hear from you what you thought about the whole experience.
Keeping the Rockstars Satisfied and the Hobbits Full of Second Breakfast: Tales from the Hobbit wrap party in New Zealand, from the perspective of a very hungry musician: “By way of hors d’oeuvres, there are slivers of rare roast beef fillet on chopsticks, mussels in Asian ceramic spoons, trays full of club sandwiches, a sort of potato dauphinoise slice, and, my favourite, a little snapper cup with a crusty casing that is salty, savoury and delicious. There are so many catering staff, I don’t reckon I see the same one twice the whole night through. And it occurs to me, this is how you cater for this many people – with heaps of staff. And mountains of food. Obviously…“
There are a world of options for Foodies out there. We know you’re keeping up– what are your strategies? Photo from the Catersource PURE Sensation party.
At the beginning, middle and end of the day, we’re all here for the food. The business is great, the people are wonderful, the event design is gorgeous, the service is flawless… but our business is centered around food. And as we all know, over the past decade, consumers of food and service have become way more educated about what they’re eating, why they’re eating it and, above all else, how it tastes. In restaurants, high-end dining has lost its stuffiness, and selling great street food is as desirable as eating somewhere that’s earned four stars. And all of this affects our customers– they know what they want when they go to dinner, and they know what they want to be served at a catered event. For better or worse, the term for that sort of customer is a Foodie, and they’re an ever-growing portion of our clientele.