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Art of Catering Food Serves Up a Feast for the Senses

Walking into the Austin Convention Center on the first day of Art of Catering Food (co-sponsored by Catersource Conference & Tradeshow along with the International Caterers Association) could almost be compared to a family reunion: hugs were shared, photos were snapped, and the room was truly buzzing with electricity.  Art of Catering Food once again brought chefs from all walks of life together for a two-day intensive featuring learning, inspiration, and of course sampling!   

A feast for the senses

The first day of Art of Catering Food (affectionately referred to as AOCF by organizers and attendees alike) featured a full-day of inspiration. The day kicked off with opening remarks from Chef Robin Selden (Marcia Selden Catering & Events) before going into the day’s packed schedule. 

We All Eat With Our Eyes First. 

First up, Joshua House (The JDK Group) and Phuoc Vo (CBK Catering) provided tips for some simple—and also some complex ways—to enhance a plate during We All Eat With Our Eyes First. As part of their presentation, House and Vo showcased several plating techniques that were visually stunning (see the winter issue of Catersource for more plating inspiration).

Jenny Bast's session on fermentation featured a sample comprised of a fermented tomato vinaigrette served alongside scallops and panko. 

Next, Jenny Bast (Catering Creations) took the stage for Incorporating Funky Ferments into Your Everyday Menu where she took a deep dive into the world of lactic acid fermentation and how it can be added into a multitude of dishes (more on this topic will be featured in the summer issue of Catersource).

Rounding out the morning were sessions on Perfectting Pasta (check out the summer issue of Catersource for more on pasta) Streamlining BoH Kitchen Logistics for Efficient Catering Operations, and Menu Research & Development

The Four Stack Method.

Attendees were put to task during the Lunch & Learn where they not only learned the four stack method from presenters chefs Jason Sutton and Jay Varga, but they also applied their newfound skills before enjoying lunch from the Austin Convention Center. 

Left: Caprese macaron with basil pesto; Right: Raspberry macaron with foie gras mousse, peanut butter crumble, and raspberry habanero jam. 

In-house made charcuterie.

Following the afternoon break, attendees got right back to it with sessions on savory macarons, Indigenous cuisine, in-house charcuterie preparation, and how to elevate dishes with a flavorful finish (or the secret sauce)

Secret Sauce: Umeboshi Umami Sauce, Aji Amarillo Coulis, and Cranberry & Smoked Rosemary Agrodolce.

Chef Jeremy Langemann's (Bingeman's Catering) Maple-Cured, Sweetgrass Smoked Steelhead served over corn skillet cakes and Saskatoon Berry Salad.

Day two activate

Day two kicked off with wedding cake extraordinaire Ron Ben-Israel for a demonstration on how to create life-like sugar flowers. Ben-Israel even invited a few volunteers up on stage to assist him. 

Sugar Rush: Mastering the Art of Sugar Flowers.

Robert "BJ" Beisler's (Aatma) homemade tortellini.

Additional sesssions throughout the day included pasta making (check out the summer issue of Catersource for more on pasta), low country cuisine, and a look at incorporating smoke.

Vegan tartare (garlic, capers, dijon, vegan mayo, shallots, and smoked beets) served atop vegan bone marrow (hearts of palm, zucchini, garlic, thyme, spinach, tomatoes, vegan cheese, and yellow onion) was served during Jeffrey Schlissel's session, Where There is Smoke, There is Yumminess.

Cru Catering served its She Crab Soup (white onion, celery staks, butter, Old Bay seasoning, bay leaf, thyme, milk,  heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, sherry, chives, crab meat, and crab roe) during Lowcountry Low Down. 

Sweet Potato Flan Brulee (egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, and sweet potato pie batter) from Chef Boris Seymore (BDS Catering) was served as part of the Lunch & Learn.

Additionally, the afternnon Lunch & Learn (presented by chefs Boris Seymore [BDS Catering] and Keyon Hammond [Get Plated]) featured dishes that celebrated food cultures past and present.

Round and round we go  

Following Ben-Israel's ssession (but before settling into the afternoon sessions) it was time to get moving! Over the course of two hours attendees split into four distinct groups which traveled among four sessions: Craving Caviar; Elevate & Sophisticate the Simple Classics; Freeze Your Assets! Keep Food Costs Down During Inflation; and Over the Top: Garnishes That Will Take Your Dishes to the Next Level

A classic bilini: smoked trout roe, creme fraische, atop a swedish pancake. 

Chef Nettie Frank discussed the benefits of freeze drying fruits, vegetables, and candies. 

At only 30 minutes each, the Round Robins kept chefs moving, tasting, and learning.

Chef Boris Seymore's (BDS Catering) Louisiana Shrimp & Champagne Gouda Grits.

Talking with Tavel

This year's AOCF culiminated with keynote speaker, James Beard nominated Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph who shared insights into his career and how to bring sustainability back into the kitchen. 

Tavel Bristol-Joseph's chicken curry sample.

"We need to create an ecosystem where we’re working with sustainability every day," he said. "By being able to be proactive, we can create systems in which you can utilize the whole of something. Sustainability is limitless."

Bristol-Joseph shared his experience working with a local pig farmer to source his pork products, and then the kitchen waste is then fed back to the pigs. 

Throughout AOCF's two days, chefs and caterers gained valuable lessons that they'll bring with them back into their own kitchens. Despite all of the education happening on the stage, the real benefit of AOCF is the learning that happens behind the scenes in the kitchen where chefs are working together to perfect each and every sample that goes out to the audience. 

The chefs in the Art of Catering Food kitchen learned first-hand from a James Beard nominated chef when Tavel Bristol-Joseph perfected his sample prior to his keynote. 

Catersource Conference & Tradeshow and Art or Catering Food are extremely thankful to everyone (our speakers, our volunteers, and of course the ICA) to make it happen. Next stop: Fort Lauderdale, FL (February 23-24, 2025).  

Apply Now to Speak at Art of Catering Food 2025!

Our 2025 Call for Speakers is officially open! Take a moment and submit your topic for Art of Catering Food, which will be held February 23-24 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It's going to be an ultra-creative conference loaded with fresh and impactful content and we want to hear from you now so we can build our best program yet.

The Show: Held the two days prior to Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food (AOCF) is a stand-on-its-fabulous-own event, with all of the delicious samples, networking lunches, tours, parties, and togetherness you can pack into two days. Taking place at Broward County Convention Center, the event will be highly experiential, focusing on catered events of all kinds.

Our Audience: Your audience will be primarily chefs looking for new techniques, trending ingredients, food costing, or how to plate quickly but beautifully for a crowd of hungry partygoers. Additionally, general management, sales and marketing professionals, and event producers will be in attendance.

The Education: Food and beverage (and recipes to accompany) are at the helm of this conference, but we are also looking for hands on activities, solutions for off-premise catering in dire or unusual conditions, outrageously creative ways to deliver the guest food experience, and more. Put your thinking cap on: what have you learned over the past year that you could share with your colleagues to make their work lives easier? What was the restaurant or food truck experience that you recreated and turned into a best-selling short plate on your wedding menus? What are your best catering hacks? What is the best way to pack a catering truck for an off-prep event?

How to ApplyClick here to fill out your submission for Art of Catering Food, and to get all other details as well as some ideas to get you thinking about the kind of session you'd like to present. 

We can't wait to see you next year in Fort Lauderdale!

See more from this year's Art of Catering Food in the summer issue of Catersource magazine!

All photos courtesy Dana Gibbons Photography


Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.