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A Look Back at Catersource + The Special Event 2023: Inspiring Keynotes

For many of today’s catering and event professionals, there’s very few places quite like Catersource + The Special Event: everyone around you understands the struggles and the successes of working in events, they are eager to help you solve any problem, celebrate your creativity, and above all they want to share a few laughs, inspiration, and a whole lot of smiles. 

Director of Education and Content Strategy for Catersource + The Special Event Kathleen Stoehr probably put it most eloquently when she welcomed audiences to the Opening General Session (in song no less):  

Making your way in the world today 
Takes everything you've got 
Taking a break from all your worries 
Sure would help a lot 
Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you wanna go 
Where everybody knows your name 
And they're always glad you came 
You wanna be where you can see  
Our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows your name  

While Fraser, Rebecca, Norm, Cliff, and the rest of Cheers gang had their own home away from home (in the form of their neighborhood bar), we are so thankful that Catersource + The Special Event has become that place for so many of you. 

A bit of razzle dazzle 

The Opening General Session of Catersource + The Special Event definitely brought some razzle (and a whole lot of dazzle). The morning kicked off Vynilyn, a three-piece band featuring an electric violin duet, and DJ performing popular songs. 

Vynilyn hyped up the audience prior to the Opening General Session with their unique blend of electric violin, choreography, and turntable tunes.

Next up, Metropolis Productions put on a showstopper of an opening number that essentially told the story of Catersource + The Special Event attendees (i.e. event planners and caterers) through musical narrative focusing on the planning of an event. With such song lyrics as “we are part of event creation” (to the tune of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation), it was a pretty stellar way to kick off the event.  

Metropolis Productions delivered a one-of-a-kind performance number detailing the experience of putting on an event. 

Finally, Opening Keynote Marcy Blum took the stage in style with a bright pink dress (and hair to match) for her opening session The Old Razzle Dazzle: Tips on Reaching the Next Level of Hospitality.

Blum shared the insider tips that she’s developed over the years for working with luxury clients (check out the summer issue of Catersource magazine for some of Blum’s tips in our Life of Luxury feature).

“They want high end, top professionals, but they don’t want you to be them,” she said. “You need to show that you’re worth you’re getting paid.”  

Marcy Blum (Marcy Blum Associates) delivered the Opening General Session during this year's Catersource + The Special Event. 

Now, even though Blum is an event planner by trade, she did attend the Culinary Institute of America, so she does have a unique perspective for how caterers and event planners need to work together.

“You need to impress the planner first and foremost because we are the gatekeepers,” she said. “We are your friends, not your enemy.

“The only way forward is for us to figure out how to all work together.”

Once upon a chef 

Catersource + The Special Event wrapped up the week with its Closing General Session with Chef Art Smith, whose illustrious career has taken him from Walt Disney World Resorts to Oprah Winfrey’s kitchen to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs.

“We should always have a parachute, and my parachute is that I can throw a party, and I don’t need a lot to do it,” he said.  

Chef Art Smith delivered the Closing Keynote during this year's Catersource + The Special Event. 

“In our business there is no such thing as the word ‘no’; we figure out how to make it work. You know how to take a situation and make it right.” 


Throughout his keynote, Smith shared anecdotes of working with celebrities, catering Oprah’s infamous book club dinners (“Can you pick a book where everyone doesn’t cry in my food?”), his experience with Disney, and how to be successful.

“How do you go from being domestic help to building your brand?” he asked the audience. “What makes it is how it’s served. “[Plus] people want to know your story and they want to tell others your story.


All photos courtesy WASIO Faces

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.