Catersource + The Special Event is always a highlight of the year for many of us in the catering industry. But the 2023 event is going to be extra energizing. Why? Because we’re finally welcoming Art of Catering Food (AOCF) back to the table after a three-year hiatus to lead into the conference.
The Art of Catering Food will take place March 26-27 at the Orange County Convention Center. All photos courtesy Catersource and Art of Catering Food
This signature program served up by the International Caterers Association and Catersource teams is the spot to spark ideas for how to innovate your kitchen. AOCF is taking over the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL from March 26-27, flowing right into Catersource + The Special Event (March 27–30).
It’s a week of boundless education and inspiration, tours and toasts, and unrivaled networking opportunities. Today, we’re sharing little nibbles of what you can expect!
Immerse yourself in Art of Catering Food
In the catering world, there’s no event quite like AOCF (and that’s according to the attendees, not us). As an event designed for chefs—and taught by chefs—it cultivates an intimate environment for chefs to learn, collaborate, troubleshoot, and connect unlike any other. That’s what keeps Jason Sutton of Footers Catering coming back year after year. In fact, “The connections I made at my first AOCF in Salt Lake City have been lifelong and the reason I am so ingrained in this community.”
Anyone who has an interest in the culinary side of the catering business will benefit from the immense opportunities available on-site over this two-day program.
Don’t miss the ICA during Catersource Conference & Tradeshow
Stop by the ICA Inspiration Zone during Catersource Conference & Tradeshow 2023 to join friends, peers, and colleagues.
Karen O’Connor, executive chef at Daniel et Daniel Catering and Event Creation, shared, “It is not just about food. There are lots of tips and tricks about the logistics of being a catering chef, different ways to plate, setting up kitchens in empty fields, how to work out of a closet, and on and on. The things you will learn and the contacts you will make will be invaluable.”
Jay Varga, executive chef at The JDK Group and long-time attendee and speaker this year, added in, “The other benefit that sometimes isn’t the primary focus is the networking you get to do. You meet so many amazing and talented people who just want to learn and share that you form relationships and connections that continue to provide inspiration and help long after the conference is over. To me, that is priceless.”
AOCF conference sessions to savor
Wondering what you can expect? Here’s a small taste of just a few of the sessions taking the stage at AOCF this year:
Keynote by Chef Yia Vang
James Beard nominee, EATER’S “Chef of the Year,” Netflix’s Iron Chef: Quest for a Legend participant—the list of recent accomplishments goes on and on for Chef Yia Vang. His signature restaurant, Union Hmong Kitchen, is a staple at the Graze Food Hall in North Loop Minneapolis. But this year, he’ll be opening Vinai, a brick-and-mortar location dedicated to the past, present, and future of Hmong cooking—the ultimate ode to his heritage.
Hear more about his story and the Hmong flavors that have informed his work and won him recent chef stardom and industry-wide respect. After, enjoy a tasting and meet and greet!
Culinary Tour: Puff ‘n Stuff Events & Catering Orlando
Not all sessions take place in the classroom at AOCF, which is part of the appeal.
Puff ‘n Stuff Catering, an award-winning Orlando member of the Leading Caterers of America, is opening the doors to their kitchen for all to see. Learn about how they operate and pick up tips along the way.
Are you ready to be inspired?
Experience Art of Catering Food, an event designed for chefs, and taught by chefs, March 26-27 in Orlando, FL. Over the course of two days 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.
Whether you are looking for ways to enhance your operations or want to liaise with, learn from, and see what catering chefs around the country are doing to appeal to new clients, Art of Catering Food has something for you!
Find all the details at https://informaconnect.com/art-of-catering-food/
Hands-on learning that involves tacos? Yes please! Explore the evolution of tacos with moderator Roy Porter and three executive chefs, while also constructing your own masterpieces for a mid-day nibble.
Zero Waste Prep: Designing a Menu to Maximize Time & Profit (Mark Ellis)
We’re navigating a different landscape than ever before with post-COVID demand, insane inflation issues, supply chain struggles, labor shortages, and more. How do you ensure that while dealing with all this, you’re still turning a profit? Mark Ellis of The Chef’s Table will share tips, tricks, and strategies for a menu that will prove profitable despite current challenges.
The culinary learning continues at Catersource + The Special Event
If AOCF wasn’t enough learning for you, stay for Catersource + The Special Event and get more culinary tips and tricks during these sessions from our all-star ICA chefs.
Session: Culinary Theatrics: How to Get the Most Action Out of Your Station
Date: Tuesday, March 28th
Time: 11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
From a gourmet 16-foot-long charcuterie board built on a rustic farmhouse table with butchers’ paper and porcelain menu signs to a children’s slide that actually delivers sliders, come see what’s possible when you let your culinary mind explore outside of the box.
Session: Building Your Culinary Depth Chart
Date: Wednesday, March 29th
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Speakers: Jason Sutton (Footers Catering) and
Jay Varga (The JDK Group)
Catering companies are not unlike any other major restaurant or hotel operation that needs clear and defined roles for their culinary department. Over the past nine years at each of their respective companies, Jason and Jay have molded their culinary teams to the high-functioning teams they are today. Come listen to how they recruit and onboard.
Do you have your passes for Orlando yet?
As you can see, the program will be a mix of tasty delights, tangible tips, and a whole lot of opportunities to meet those you admire in the industry. We’re excited; are you?
There’s still time to purchase your conference passes for AOCF and Catersource + The Special Event this year! Don’t throw out the opportunity to share a taste of the future of catering with some of the world’s best chefs, caterers, and vendors.
A pro tip from Sutton: “Come with an open mind and a hungry belly.”
Visit the CS+SE website to snag your journey to catering innovation now. We’ll see you soon, friends.