February brought some awesome events to the catering industry: Catersource Conference & Tradeshow and The Art of Catering Food (AOCF). It was truly a blast mixing and mingling with all of the passionate, expert caterers and learning about everyone's unique corner of the industry.
Attendees head toward their classes at the Catersource and Art of Catering Food conferences in February 2018
If you missed out—don't worry! We spoke with some of the ICA Scholarship recipients about their Catersource and AOCF experience. As ICAEF (International caterers Association Educational Foundation) scholarship recipients, these caterers had the opportunity to attend the conferences free of charge and were partnered with mentor caterers. Below, you'll find some of their growth goals, best advice, and biggest takeaways!
Joe Yantachka III, Owner of Partyman Catering and Rental in Avon, New York
Goal: "Understand the financials of my business better... As I have in every previous year, return with that renewed spark and ambition as we head into our 18th season."
Takeaways: "Realizing [that] before I grow my sales numbers, I need to grow my profit margins...[Also] the people you meet and inspiration that is cultivated deep within you."
Extra words of wisdom: "Words alone can’t describe the impact that Catersource and ICA have had on not only me but my company, quality of life, and employees. Until you experience it, it's not possible to understand how it can change you."
Amanda "Lee" Kirchhoff, Event producer at Partyman Catering and Rental in Avon, New York
Goal: "I am looking forward to learning more about sales and sales tactics, as this is a new role for me."
Takeaway: "Caterers are very friendly and open to discussing issues and offering tips and tricks to others—don’t hesitate to reach out at the conference or afterwards!"
Extra words of wisdom: "The better you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, the easier it is to try and work with and on those."
Abbey Duke, Founder and CEO of Sugarsnap Catering in Burlington, Vermont
Goals: "Meet other caterers from around the country, meet people that I have interacted with through the ICA Facebook roundtable; learn ways to improve my business; get inspired; come home with five menu ideas; come home with five station design ideas."
Takeaways: "I'm excited to build more small plate stations that showcase who we are and our creativity...Caterers are incredibly generous people and are ready to help each other.”
Extra words of wisdom: "My mentor [Joann Roth Oseary] was very generous with her time and experience. Her passion for her business, focus on quality, and focus on her staff was really inspiring. I am excited to continue this relationship."
Corinne Hodgson (left) and Brittney Fraser (right)
Brittany Fraser, Event producer at Santa Barbara Catering Company in Tempe, AZ
Goals: "I Identified several sessions at the conference that could help me grow in communication skills, knowing when to say the right thing that helps lead to both a contract and a successful event for all involved."
Takeaways: "The catering industry is always evolving and raising the bar. From the multiple classes I attended, we covered everything from new trends to creating complete sensory events that dazzle and add an extra ‘wow’ factor for your guests. The creativity within this industry is so beyond our wildest dreams, and it really encouraged me to take these ideas home and share with our team."
Extra words of wisdom: "Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. Everyone at this conference came with questions and/or problems they were looking for a solution to, or even just an open mind for where they can improve in their business. No questions were off-limits, and it was awesome to see the ways in which everyone would work together to help come up with a solution."
The Santa Barbara Catering Company, after its win at the Spark! Awards Gala in Las Vegas, February 2018
Corinne Hodgson, Senior Event Producer at Santa Barbara Catering Company in Tempe, AZ
Goals: “My main goals heading into Catersource were to really just completely immerse myself into the entire conference. When I applied for the ICAEF scholarship through the ICA, I was hoping to move up within my company to sales so I really want to learn all I can at Catersource to become better at my sales.”
Takeaways: “The value of company culture. Anthony Lambatos’ of Footers Catering said it best with this illustration, ‘A catering company is like a human body—the operation team is the biceps for doing the physical heavy lifting, chefs are the triceps for doing the heavy lifting of all the food, the sales team is the legs because without them the company will have nothing to stand on, owners are the heart of the company, and HR and accounting are the brains of the company.”
Extra words of wisdom: “Catersource is such a beneficial conference to attend because it allows everyone in the industry to really be in one place, share information, and get creative. Within the catering and events world there are so many different moving components it is good to hear from different departments so we can all better understand how each of us operate, problem solve, develop new ideas, and work together to build better relationships between each other which overall makes the company as a whole better but it also delivers a better cohesive product to our clients.”
Well, it sure sounds like they enjoyed themselves! We certainly did, and we hope those of you who attended did too, and that you took home valuable lessons, made connections and continued to innovate the catering industry. We can't wait to see what you bring to Catersource 2019!
Partyman Catering and Rental, Sugarsnap Catering and Santa Barbara Catering Company are proud members of the ICA. The International Caterers Association Educational Foundation will begin accepting applications for Catersource 2019 from ICA Members in the fall of 2018.
To learn more, visit internationalcaterers.org.