overview of 2015 Catersource Conference (from the perspective of an ‘old’ alumni)

Sunday started off early.. coffee and tea as well as iced tea awaited our arrival to check in to registration and pick up our totes  (it was greatly appreciated .. thank you!)

Roy Porter , Mary Crafts Homer and Gayle Greenly
Roy Porter , Mary Crafts Homer and Gayle Greenly

The day kinda flew by as I got my bearings and helped behind the scenes a bit. This year has me not so much into the catering classes.. so..  I circle a few called ‘socialtable’s’ on social media, that look interesting. Classes are grouped for easier understanding re: cooking,business ect.

There are free 30 minute consultations .. education rooms .. the Cort attendee lounge where the meet and greet party takes place for all the attendees. This is a huge place and a great meeting place .They also have computers and free WiFi.

behind the scenes 2
Emily Ellen and Jack Taylor opponents on Cutthroat Kitchen

I promised to help on the tradeshow floor and that is my purpose here this year.  Emily Ellyn (Retro Rad Chef and ‘Cupcake Warrrior’) whom I helped last year.. texted me that she was in a hallway behind the scenes and to come visit (read.. help unpack her stuff).behind 3

Turns out she is presenting a class with her opponent Chef Jack (taco) Taylor, whom she beat out in ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ last month (they became friends as a result of that show).

Well that unpacking lasted all afternoon and now we are thinking about supper .. but what’s this? The welcome party has started and we venture in and  enjoy music, wine and  appetizers .We take turns getting some food and drinks and Emily drops her cupcake, icing side down, on the floor trying to balance it all.

emily cademeryl and me
Me, Emily, Cade and Meryl
cupcake disaster
Cupcake ‘drop’

Cade Nagy stops by as does Meryl Snow and we get a photo op ..  the attendees are mixing and visiting with all the presenters, and back of the house people are just happy to get off our feet and have a little R&R.. you have NO IDEA how much work goes into these seemingly seamless classes and parties.. well actually YOU DO ALL KNOW .. I forgot .. we do this for a living..!

This is where I meet Becky .. the gal doing the 250 lb. buttercream icing sculpture along with Paul Joachim (The Chocolate Genius) her counterpart in the live sculpting presentation.

Becky and Paul 'Team Oreo' (we nicknamed them)
Becky and Paul ‘Team Oreo’ (we nick named them)

Becky, Paul and Jack are excited about this conference (they are newbies) they are feeling the energy level of the competitors and presenters. Little did I know we would be spending a lot of time together in the next few days becoming good friends. See.. this is what happens at these shows and it is just a natural progression.

I enjoyed the opening ceremonies with Chef Neil Fraser and  Marcus Samuelsson Chef and author, he was born in a third world country and adopted as a child .. wow.. look at what he has accomplished so far in his young life!! (anyone under 60 yrs old is young.. just sayin) His message.. if he can do it .. so can we!

 I hate the visuals on the big screens..  high definition is really not flattering on us older people… geeze! (what am I going to look like on those darn screens if I win The Next Bright Idea contest, I wonder?)

Classes are well attended and I can see everyone poring over the show guide and deciding which ones to take in. I talk to a few caterers here by themselves and they are making new friends, I like to hear that. I meet Christine Emerson from Canada in the ICA Inspiration Zone as well as Vicky Crease from South Africa! She goes on the win three prestigious Catie awards. She invite me to come see her in South Africa and I just might take her up on that… hmmm ..I wonder if she will put me up as well?images (91)

I missed the meet and greet for the Catersource forum..  but did go to the Monday night bash ‘Premonition’. To be fair.. I am not a party person and usually skip the big ticket affairs. But I go and experience one of the best parties I have been to .. this one at Brooklyn Bowl.marilyn monroe

  I appoint myself head cheerleader for our bowling team ..emily bowling and being dog tired didn’t stop me as I  proceeded to shake it up big time on the dance floor..Let me tell you.. I WAS NOT ALONE! I wonder if I can get that DJ Roonie for our corporate picnics back home. DJ Rooni

This party is a HUGE HIT and the last time I had so much fun was at the Rio 2001 when we all dressed up in hats and gloves and masks and feathers and… and…

Cade and Ingrid Nagy are here and are relaxing and enjoing themselves (they did these parties for nine years and I think they shared with Jennifer and Jeff Snow some valuable inside pointers) what a fantastic night with all of our friends and peers. 

Joy Wallace and meI meet another catering icon, Joy Wallace (I know .. I am name dropping  .. sigh). I don’t know who this other guy is that I am conversing with (looks familiar ) but I think I can help him find new money in his catering company. His card says Stephen Zilli..  he needs to call me.

 We bowl, we eat, we drink and we dance the night away (ok so bowling is not my thing.. offered 100 dollars to throw that 90 pound ball does not entice me in the least) I’d rather get my fortune read. “I see prosperity in your future and you look like you are having a ball!” Crap.. I should have took that money!

On the way out I help myself to three small bottles of hangover cures (just in case) with legends attached in rolled up parchment paper. I want to take the 12 ft tall dancing rabbit home with me too, but he won’t fit in the cab.

jack and i at tradeshow booth
I am the hardworking one on the right!

Next day the tradeshow floor offered up a plethora of classes and competitions .. live demos and a hands on stage. and.. and.. don’t forget all the neat stuff from the vendors… as well as amazing food samples.

Ok so I was working the tradeshow and didn’t get around to see what was new.. darn.. I always find something I can’t live without .. well.. there is this candle by sterno that I NEED TO HAVE AND SO DO YOU! the flame is so real you need to touch it!

Closing ceremonies had one little glitch… we had to wait quite awhile to get into the hall but it was at the tradeshow so everyone waited patiently and were rewarded with a great presentation by Preston Bailey.

I pretty much talked and engaged people around me in conversation where ever I went.. ya.. I am one of those people.. I specifically wanted to probe the newbies on what they were experiencing. Well the dust has settled and here are the two things I know for sure about this years Catersource Conference.

1) tradeshow booths are a killer on your feet and back (renting a chair cost 60.00…or nothing, if you find one when no-one is looking).

2) THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST CONFERENCES EVER !! and even though Pauline Hoogmoed is not with Catersource anymore, she would be proud to hear all the positive responses from everyone that I talked to. We had a lot of newcomers and to say they learned and experienced and were inspired..  I AM NOT EXAGERRATING ! if you missed this year don’t make that mistake next year… just sayin……

award for bright ideaOh…. and.. how did I look up there on that high definition screen accepting my award as a winner in The Next Bright Idea contest?





2 thoughts on “overview of 2015 Catersource Conference (from the perspective of an ‘old’ alumni)

  1. Well written and always captivating!
    I really enjoy your stories.
    Looking forward to the next one.


    1. Thanks Meryl .. Catersource is like a warm hug for me. Its a relief to be among people who understand all the stress and turmoil and rewards and whatever in this crazy hard business. Then they let you ‘pick their brain’ and you swap ‘war stories’ and then you end up sharing food and because that’s what friends do. I seem to always learn something, this time was no different and besides, who doesn’t like a warm hug?

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