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CS+TSE Education Offers the Perfect Recipe for Business Success

There wasn’t any shortage of education or inspiration throughout Catersource + The Special Event: everything from new cuisines, cooking demonstrations, how to break into new markets, and plenty of perspectives from the professionals could be found in every classroom, and on every stage during the week.  

Susie Perelman (Mosaic) and David Merrell (AOO Events) present on many of this year’s hottest, neewest, and upcoming trends during their annual session. 

Trends, trends, and more trends 

Year after year, Catersource + The Special Event’s trend sessions have remained some of the most popular, and there certainly wasn’t a shortage of options this year: Perennial favorite David Merrell & Susie Perelman Present: Current Trends in the Event Industry brought audiences out in droves; Michael Stavros (M Culinary Concepts) shared plenty of inspiring examples of what he's seeing in today’s catering market during Caterers, Assemble! Tantalizing Trends, Captivating Concepts, Inspired Interactivity 2024; Rich Shank (Technomic) put a magnifying glass on the Menu Trends for 2024 & Beyond; Lisa Roser (FiftyFlowers) explored 2024 Floral Tips, Tricks, & Trends in the Catering World; and rounding out this year's trend sessions was Kristin Banta with her annual session, Kristin Banta’s Design to Impact in 2024. Check back next week for a deeper look into what these industry veterans are forecasting for 2024. 

Chefs Karen O’Connor (Daniel et Daniel Catering & Events) and Joanne Purnell (Good Gracious! Events) prepare a carrot nigiri appetizer during their session at Catersource + The Special Event, Hors d’Oeuvres?? Don’t Mind If I Do!!

Culinary cravings  

Over on the culinary side of things, this year’s lineup of culinary focused sessions ranged from the visual (Fanning the Flames: A Culinary Journey into the Art of Fire Cooking [Keith Sarasin], Liquid Nitrogen: How To WOW The Crowd [Phuoc Vo], and More than Minis: Interactive Dessert Displays, Stations, And More [Bryce Cherven]) to the educational (Sous Vide Unleashed: Revolutionize Your Catering Menu with Precision Cooking [Cristian Hernandez, Rich Rosendale, and Jean Claude Etienne]) to the tasty (Hors D'Oeuvres?? Don't Mind If I Do!! [Karen O'Connor and Joanne Purnell], Avantgarden! Vegan & Vegetarian Cuisine [Eric Centeno], Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show! How to Elevate Classic Comfort Items into New Trend-setting Ideas [Todd Annis and Andrew Krause], Texas Barbecue - The Strateje Fourteen Way - Sides, Sauces & Sweets [Keith Lord, Greg Shapiro, and Bryce Cherven], and Barbecue Elevated! Taking Barbecue to the Next Level [Duce Raymon]). 

Trending topics

This yeaer's educational offerings covered a broad range of topics, but there were a few that spread across multiple sessions:


  • Elevate Your Catering Sales & Management Through Inclusive Practices (Cathy O'Connell)
  • Lean Catering: Seeing, Teaching and Eliminating the Nine Wastes of Catering! (Roy Porter
  • How to Have Fun Creating Green Events & Sustainable Business Practices (Alyson Zildjian)
  • Green Gossip: Zero Waste Events (Dana and Paul Buchanan)
  • Sustainable Solutions in Catering's Final Stretch: Innovations for a Greener Future (Chris Heffernan])

Chef Keith Sarasin talks the benefits of social media from a chef's perspective. 


  • A Chef's Dive into AI (Peter McCaffrey and Daniel Epting)
  • How Will AI Transform Events? (Colja Dams and Claudia Köhler-Dams)
  • Oh My! What's All This AI? (Chip Dizaard)
  • Culinary Influencer: Unleashing the Flavorful Potential of Social Media for Chefs (Keith Sarasin)
  • Talking Tech: Guest Experience, Trends, and AI (Joel Olandesca, Sébastien David, Jonathan Jow, and Cindy Lo)


  • Snatching Wellness from the Jaws of Wellness Culture (Ryan Crafts)
  • Strategies for Improving Employee Well Being (Anthony Lambatos)
  • Let's Have a Talk in the Walk-in (Jeffrey "the Kingpin" Schlissel)


  • Lower Costs, Higher Profits: Pricing in 2024 (Clint Elkins, Daniel Joseph, Anthony Lambatos, co-Owner, Footers Catering, Rajan Mistry, and Jay Varga)
  • Don't Leave $ on the Table! (Steve DeAngelo and Mark Lopez)
  • Managing the Big 3 Cost Categories of Catering & Events (Sebastien Centner)
  • You're Losing Money...Again! Control Your Costs with these Simple Steps (Dean Mistretta)


  • Catering Survival Guide: How to Bridge the Gap and Cultivate a Cohesive FOH & BOH Team (Jenny Bast  and Michele Yanovich)
  • Bridging the Gap between Sales & Culinary – How to Collaborate to Create a Win-Win for Both Departments (David Anderson  and Allie Piazza)
  • Creative Fusion: How to Develop an Alliance of Catering & Design Within Your Company to Enhance Your Events (Colton Staver and Brad Snyder)

Burst their bubble

In an effort to bring more education to the Tradeshow Floor this year, Catersource + The Special Event set up two inflatable "igloos" where attendees donned headphones for their session. 

The Fast Chats on the Ignite Stages were hosted within inflatable "igloos" where attendees donned headphones to listen to the presentation. 

A big draw this year were the quick-hitting 30-minute Fast Chats where attendees could discuss targeted topics with industry experts. This year's topics included: Awkward Networking - Making Relationships Count! (Jen Sulak), Sous Vide - Pros and Cons (Mark Ellis), Boost Your Marketability with the CSEP Certification (Armando Seledon, Randi Steinhart, and Stacey Hoyt), Objection Speed Round - Ask the Expert (Alan Berg), Why Every Catering Company Should Offer Private Chef Services (Tim Mitchell), and Passing the Torch in the Catering and Events Industry; a Path Forward (Julia Kendrick Conway, Alicia Falango, Bobbi Brinkman, and Megan Estrada.

Apply Now to Speak at Catersource + The Special Event 2025!

The energy in Austin, TX could be felt in every classroom, through every conversation, and during every minute last week at the annual return of Catersource + The Special Event

Not to be outdone however, Art of Catering Food kicked off the week with chef demonstrations, sampling, and even compelling keynote from Austin-based (and James Beard finalist) Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph.

Attendees to Art of Catering Food got a master class in charcuterie making. Photo courtesy AGNYC Productions, Inc.

The week featured a jam-packed schedule of educational and motivational sessions, got heated with both a tablescape and cooking competition, mingled the best industry brands on a mixed catering and events tradeshow floor, and each night culminated with fun Austin-inspired events. 

The big reveal! Chef Jean Claude Etienne (Culinary Director, Rosendale Events) unpacks his mystery box of ingredients during the DICED competition. Photo courtesy AGNYC Productions, Inc.

Over the next month, Catersource will be sharing all our favorite highlights from the week. Thank you to every speaker, sponsor, attendee, volunteer, and more who made this show such a rejuvenating success. And don't miss additional coverage from the event in the spring issue of Catersource magazine.

Caterers unite! Attendees to Art of Catering Food and those attending Catersource + The Special converged at the Speakeasy in Austin during Connect Social. Photo courtesy AGNYC Productions, Inc.

For those who didn’t make it out this year: mark your calendars and join us next year in Fort Lauderdale, FL from February 22-15, 2024 for another spectacular show.  And keep an eye out for our Call for Speakers announcement so that you can share your knowledge and expertise with a whole new group of catering and event professionals. 

Apply Now to Speak at Catersource + The Special Event 2025!

Our 2025 Call for Speakers is officially open! Take a moment and submit your topic for Catersource + The Special Event 2025, which will be held Feb 24-27 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.

Where & When: February 24-27 in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the Broward County Convention Center. We are partnering once again with The Special Event, with a combined tradeshow floor that will bring over 5,000 professionals and 300 suppliers together to provide an unmatched opportunity to source, network, and learn in one-sensory stimulating environment. You can immerse yourself in a spectacular event that encompasses everything catering- and event-related. The alliance of these powerful, established brands will bring unique industry all-stars from both worlds—under one roof for four momentous days.

Additionally, we'll once again be hosting Art of Catering Food. 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: Our audience is in the business of helping people celebrate the most important milestones in their lives. They are on and off-premise, doing drop off delivery, executing private parties to multiple day festivals, driving food trucks, and setting up field kitchens and events in the most unlikely of places. Caterers and event planners are some of the hardest working people in business today.

The Education: Over 120+ sessions will span the length of the conference, within tracks such as:'

  • Culinary (culinary techniques, F&B trends, demos, industry concerns such as food waste)
  • Event Trends & Production (events, wedding trends, destination events, more)
  • Business & Professional Development (best business practices, business growth, C-Level operational strategies)
  • Trends & Design (related to colors, floral, lighting, venues)
  • Off-Premise Catering (drop off, corporate catering, events)
  • On-Premise Catering (colleges & universities, hotels, casinos, stadiums, wedding & event venue catering)
  • Sales & Marketing (client-facing ideas and strategies)
  • Sustainability & DEI

More interested in presenting during AOCF? 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 Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, 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. Click here to fill out your submission for Art of Catering Food.

Your Deadline: The deadline for speaker/session submissions is June 10, 2024 at 11:59 pm CST.

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

See more from this year's Catersource + Special Event in the summer issue of Catersource magazine!

All photos courtesy Ivan Piedra Photography/AGNYC Productions/SpotMyPhotos



Catersource includes an annual conference, tradeshow and magazine, online presence, e-newsletters, the Art of Catering Food conference, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit. Click here for conference information. Click here to sign up for any of our free e-news products or the quarterly issue of Catersource magazine.