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Announcing the Florida Sunshine Tour

Catersource + The Special Event is March 27-30 in Orlando, FL

For nearly 30 years, Catersource Conference & Tradeshow has been the best place to expand your network, learn from industry veterans, and get inspired about your career. Now that one of the toughest times in our history is behind us, what better way to celebrate than to gather and learn from one another and network! 

Join Catersource, co-located with The Special Event, as we celebrate the next chapter of the catering and events industry! 

Are you thinking about joining us in Orlando? Hurry up! Catersource + The Special Event offers multiple registration packages for catering and events professionals at a low price. You will enjoy a full week of spirited people, ideas, and trends shaping the catering and events industry. Catersource + The Special Event Conference & Tradeshow 2023 is the ideal opportunity to meet live with your industry peers, create new business relationships, and learn powerful strategies for a successful 2023 and beyond. Register now before prices increase on March 3. Register with The Early Bird Rate

This year will be bigger and better with several additions, including the return of the Art of Catering Food, as well as the new Event Escape experience rooms. Get ready to grow as we celebrate the wonderful world of catering and  events! 

Don’t miss a moment! Arrive early on Monday 3/27, depart Friday morning 3/31

When making your travel arrangements, plan to arrive early on Monday so that you can enjoy the entire Catersource + The Special Event experience! 

Kick off your week by participating in our Venue Tour (starting at 1:00 p.m.) then make a night of it by joining us at Connect Live, held at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m. End your week by joining us at the Closing Night Celebration at ICON Park. 

In between, you won’t want to miss a thing. 

Here’s a look at all that will be offered!

Revolutionary Keynotes


Photo courtesy The Collective You @thecollectiveyou

An “eventista,” Marcy Blum is an expert in entertaining, etiquette, food, and wine. She has been producing creative, magical, and personal events for over 30 years, launching Marcy Blum Associates in 1986 and is frequently noted as an innovator in the events industry. Blum infuses her culinary arts background with her humorous and sane approach to entertaining, to create extraordinary memories for her clients.

A graduate of the Performing Arts High School and the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Blum produces events where the entertainment and décor are elegantly theatrical, the food is delicious and creative, the wines are thoughtfully chosen, and the service is beyond spectacular.

See Marcy Blum live

At the Opening General Session on the tradeshow floor, Blum  will kick off the 2023  Catersource + The Special Event conference and tradeshow on Wednesday morning, March 29th at 9:00 a.m. with her session The Old Razzle Dazzle: Tips on Reaching the Next Level of Hospitality The Opening General Session is included in the purchase of any pass, from All Access to tradeshow only.

Blum is the author of the best-selling Wedding Planning for Dummies and The Wedding Kit for Dummies. She has been named a top international event planner by VOGUE, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and is named one of the country’s five best planners by The New York Times. Blum has been a featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly and has been named a ‘tastemaker’ for Homegoods. Blum has produced the weddings of Savannah and LeBron James, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Gates and Nayel Nassar, Tamiko and George Soros, Kevin Love and Kate Bock, Rickie Fowler, Billy Joel, Katie Lee, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, and Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie. Some of her event highlights include Donny Deutsch’s 50th birthday, several of the original marketing events for Comedy Central, the five-story opening of Société Générale in New York, parties for Regis and Joy Philbin, and celebrations for the Rockefeller family.

Catersource + The Special Event is delighted to welcome Blum to the stage to discuss her philosophy for presenting clients with unforgettable events. 


Chef Art Smith is the executive chef and co-owner of Blue Door Kitchen & Garden in Chicago, Southern Art & Bourbon Bar in Atlanta, Art & Soul in Washington DC, Art Bird & Whiskey Bar at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen & Southern Shine Bar at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World® Resort.

Smith has received two James Beard Foundation awards, the culinary profession’s highest honor, and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the personal, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position that lasted 10 years. Smith now coordinates and cooks for special events all around the world. He is a frequent guest on the Food Network, the Cooking Channel, and Bravo.

See  Art Smith live

At the Closing General Session on the tradeshow floor, Smith will wrap up the 2023  Catersource + The Special Event conference and tradeshow on Thursday morning, March 30th  at 9:00 a.m. with his session Creating a Brand. The Closing General Session is included in the purchase of any pass, from All Access to tradeshow only.

Smith is the author of Back to the Table; Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families; Back to the Family; and Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, with a focus on healthy cooking and healthy living.

Smith is the founder of Common Threads, a non-profit organization teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals since 2003. He believes that through hands-on cooking and introducing children to fresh foods we can help prevent childhood obesity, reverse the trend of poor eating habits, and learn about diversity and tolerance through the celebration of our cultural differences and our commonalities.

In 2015 Smith launched a non-profit organization, Reunion, Florida Garden and Kitchen School, in Madison, FL at the historic Wardlaw-Smith House near his childhood home in Jasper, FL. At Reunion students of all ages receive free classes on Southern cooking traditions, horticulture, and weather forecasting via Weather Stem systems.

In 2008 Smith received an Honorary MBA Degree, awarded by the Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University. On May 19, 2012 Smith received an Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University, North Miami Campus.

Smith lives in Chicago, IL and Jasper, FL with his husband, artist Jesus Salgueiro. 

Check back this afternoon for our Q&A with Smith.

Top notch culinary

If you hope to expand your culinary operations in 2023 and beyond, there is a terrific line up of chef-forward classes available on the Culinary Experience stage at Catersource. Chefs will not just talk about their concepts, they’ll demonstrate them, too. You can also participate in hands-on classes that will help boost your skills in a variety of areas. 

Larger than life displays, like the grazing boards seen during last year’s event, are always poppular among attendees. Photo courtesy WASIO Photography

Gain access to trending recipes, learn how to design allergy friendly menus, get insight into how to curate plant-forward and plant-based options that are craveable, get inspired with culinary theatrics, and discover Pan African and Indian cuisines—these are just a few of the culinary classes you will experience.

The Art of Catering Food Returns 

Experience the Art of Catering Food (AOCF), an event designed for chefs, and taught by chefs. Over the course of two days (March 26–27) leading into Catersource + The Special Event, you’ll connect with experienced catering chefs sharing new culinary techniques, the latest trending ingredients, food costing, and everything else you need to turn your menus into works of art.

Don’t miss any of the top notch culinary sessions on the Culinary Experience Stage. Photo courtesy Catersource and Art of Catering Food

Check back on Monday for our preview article for more on the return of this boutique event, and don't forget to make your way over to our website this Friday to hear from AOCF keynote (and 2023 James Beard-nominated) Chef Yia Vang.

Certified Catering Consultants

Need a quick consultation about some aspect of your business? The Certified Catering Consultants (CCC) will offer free half-hour appointments on site to address your catering-related challenges, identify your highest value opportunities, and/or help you improve your business and ROI. The CCC team has been consulting with caterers for over 20 years and many of them ran businesses of their own—or still do! Head to room W233 to sign up for a free consultation during show hours.

Candid Conversations

Always a favorite, Candid Conversation sessions are free-wheeling “unsessions”—no set agenda or full on Powerpoint presentations; just an industry professional at the front of the room, ready to answer your questions about topics they excel at. Put the Footers Catering team in the hot seat; have a give and take conversation with Roy Porter; or discover the secret to zero waste with Dana and Paul Buchanan.

Discover new ideas on the tradeshow floor

This year’s tradeshow floor looks a bit different—we’ll be mixing Catersource exhibitors with The Special Event exhibitors for less of a “church and state” feel. After all, we are family—events and catering are hand and glove. You’ll be able to browse, learn from, taste samples, and buy from a plethora of trendsetting and relevant exhibitors, who are here to help you grow your business and recognize potential. 

There will be plenty of chances to sample on the Catersource tradeshow floor, as well as at the Art of Catering Food this year. Photo courtesy WASIO Photography

Additionally, an edge-of-your-seats culinary competition (DICED), and the excitement of the Opening General Session with keynote Marcy Blum open the first day of the tradeshow floor and Closing General Session with keynote Chef Art Smith will end the week on Thursday.

New this year, the tradeshow floor will have a happy hour on Wednesday afternoon starting at 4:00 pm.  Make it a two-fer by checking out Cocktail Trends with Pasha & Jeff on the Keynote Stage, and then make your way over to the Exhibit Hall for happy hour to sample a tasty cocktail!  

Additionally, there will be a hands-on tablescape session on the tradeshow floor at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Join expert Las Vegas florists Michelle Howard and Mylo Lopez for a fun and interactive competition where teams will be tasked to create fabulous tablescapes with all the trimmings.

New this year! The Event Escape 

This year we’re bringing in exciting brand activations in the form of immersive experience rooms, where you’ll be able to create memorable moments and share photo ops on social media for all your friends and followers to see.  

Here’s the details on these can’t-miss-rooms:

Catersource + The Special Event 2024 is headed to Austin, TX. Stop by the Uncover Austin Escape Room for a sneak peak. Photo courtesy Visit Austin

CS+TSE 2024: Uncover Austin, TX, Room W332

Open Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours

It’s no longer a secret! Catersource + The Special Event will head next to Austin, TX in 2024! Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, but, oh—it is so much more than that. This genuinely unique destination, the capital city of the Lone Star State, has a soundtrack all its own, weaving in art, culture, incredible food, and breathtaking outdoor activities. Step into this event escape and learn about the city, enjoy activities, and pick up a little Texas twang while you’re at it.

The Wellness Lounge is the perfect stress-free escape with yoga, relaxation, and an event therapy session.

Wellness Lounge, Room W333

Open Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours

Need some time to recharge your internal batteries? Head to the Wellness Lounge, where soothing music, beautiful scents, and comfortable seating awaits. This isn’t a room for chatty interaction, but a place to reflect and recharge. This escape will also be the gathering spot for morning yoga sessions, Charessa Sawyer’s event therapy class on Thursday at 11:00 a.m., and much more. Come relax, unwind, and breathe deeply before rejoining sessions and stepping onto the exhibit hall floor.

Don’t miss Michelle Howard’s floral design session on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. 

Floral Design Lab, Room W334

Open at various times Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours

Observe florists Michelle Howard of Flora Couture and Mylo Lopez of Mylo Fleur (both Las Vegas, NV) construct beautiful pieces they will showcase in their Tuesday afternoon session Let’s Talk Floral 1.1 (230C, 4:00 p.m.). Come on in and converse with these two artists and their teams, or stop and smell the roses! Same goes for Wednesday, as they ready their florals for the Hands-On Tablescape session on the exhibit hall floor (11:15 a.m., back right of exhibit hall). If you have ever wanted to see how florists work and/or be a part of their world, this is the escape you have been dreaming of!

Don’t miss this exciting new addition!

Industry accolades: award recipients

Each year, we honor industry leaders who we, at Catersource + The Special Event, feel have made a significant and positive impact on our industries. 

This year’s Leadership Award recipients are: Kate Patay (Richard Carbotti Gala award); Warren Dietel (Michael Roman Lifetime Achievement award); Michael Cerbelli (Special Events Lifetime Achievement award); Michael Dominguez (first-ever MeetingsNet Lifetime Achievement award).

Join us in celebrating recipients Warren Dietel (Michael Roman Lifetime Achievement award, check back on March 29th for our feature on Dietel); Kate Patay (Richard Carbotti Gala award);  Michael Cerbelli (Special Events Gala Lifetime Achievement award); and Michael  Dominguez (our first-ever MeetingsNet Lifetime Achievement award), at our annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday, March 30th on the conference Keynote Stage, prior to the Closing Night Celebration.

Catersource + The Special Event 2023 will also feature the annual ACE, Gala, and ICA CATIE Awards, which will be presented during the Awards Ceremony. Check out this year’s ACE Award nominees. 

With a kick off keynote by Cerbelli, this will be an unforgettable evening.

Additionally, enjoy a beautiful lunch with your colleagues and peers during our annual Leadership Lunch on Thursday, March 30th at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts where we’ll celebrate the surprise award recipient of the Steve Kemble award. 

Associations & groups

Associations and groups (some of them new to the conferences) will be present at Catersource + The Special Event, many of which will also have booths on the tradeshow floor and/or in the conference area. Take the time to seek these people out and learn more! We are all in this together and hope to learn from each other. 

Here is a look:

Pass times are the perfect opportunity to say hello to friends and colleagues. Photo courtesy WASIO Photography  

Networking opportunities

Beyond the evening events and Tuesday morning welcome gathering, there’s plenty of time to say hello and move between the tradeshow floor and conference rooms during pass times. Most sessions allow 30 minutes pass time. Enjoy time with peers in our two conference-area networking spaces, and buy a ticket to our Thursday Leadership Lunch at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, to discuss high level ideas with peers.

Earn education credits

Continuing education is an important aspect of any career trajectory and Catersource + The Special Event is ready to help.

All classes have been approved for CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) credits.

Go to “Associations & Accreditations” on the left-hand rail on and sort to find what you need! 

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.