Meet Eric LeVine

Presenter, Competition Emcee, and Book Signing at Catersource

Chef, Entrepreneur, Author, Chopped Champion, Cancer Survivor

Summarizing Chef Eric LeVine’s accomplishments in one paragraph is truly impossible. You have to read his life story to get the full flavor. Top of the line is that he is chef/partner at Mr. Crabby’s Craft Kitchen + Bar (Randolph, NJ) and owner of Epic Ideas. Chef Eric is also author of the popular Stick It, Spoon It, Put It in a Glass, is a Food Network Chopped Champion, and also received the 2013 Restaurant Guild International’s Five-Star Chef of the Year Award for “unique innovations in fine dining.”

We recently dished with Chef Eric LeVine about his outstanding and varied career and aspirations.

Chef Eric LeVine

You've truly "done it all" in the food arena. What are your top three most memorable moments? Your biggest lesson learned?
Well, thank you, but I haven’t done it all. I feel like I have only scratched the surface for sure. It’s been an amazing 38 years in the business and i have so much more to do, to learn, to create. I have just begun to evolve as a chef and as an entrepreneur.

Top three?  There’s a lot to sort through on that, but I’ll try.

• I think my first dinner at the James Beard foundation back in 1990. I did a dinner for the foundation, and Peter Kump, Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, Larry Forgione, and Jacques Pepin were guests. 

• Becoming a culinary ambassador for Family Reach which has a connection to me personally; and working with amazing chefs like Ming Tsai, Carla Hall, Mark Forgione, Masaharu Morimoto, and so many more for an amazing cause.

• Probably doing a catered event in the woods and compound fracturing two fingers, taping them up with two sticks, a side towel, and duct tape, executing the wedding, packing up, cleaning up and then going to the hospital. That was pretty crazy and memorable.

My biggest lesson was stop playing checkers and start playing chess! That was an ‘aha moment’ brought to me by Mike Roman [Catersource’s founder] over 20 years ago.

Part of my consulting is based on the teaching restaurant chefs and restaurateurs how to cater events.

Catering has become a huge part of the restaurant world. What do small restaurants need to do to compete?

Well, the first thing is to come to the Catersource conference. Catering is such a different animal and most restaurants do it wrong.

I think the small restaurants need to understand the value that caterers offer, understand the market place, and certainly understand that there is a massive difference between ‘catering’ and a catered event.

Part of my consulting is based on the teaching restaurant chefs and restaurateurs how to cater events.

Note: Eric will be teaching Burgers, Bowls, and Jars on the Catersource Food & Beverage stage, which focuses on a seasonal approach to restaurant cooking with an eye toward adapting to the catering environment.

How will technology change the industry?

I believe it already is and has been for a while. I believe that as people get away from their old systems and embrace the technology that’s available, the process and procedure will become much more effective and efficient. Programs like ezCater.com have made the process much easier and there are many out there. It comes down to what the company needs and what the business model is. No two are the same, just like there are no two caterers that are the same. Each has its place.

What are your own favorite technologies?

I use InFocus Pro. It does everything. I’m an Instagram freak, so that’s always entertaining. I truly love sharing but, more important, seeing how it helps others. I also listen to podcasts (when I can’t sleep).

The catering + events show of the year is back! James Beard Award winners, TED style keynotes, influencers galore, and food for days. See all that’s in store here!

What would your advice be to someone just starting out in the catering business?
I can talk about this for hours.  Having opened many businesses, restaurants, catering companies, I have had my share of failures and successes. 

You need to have a strong business plan, let a pro review for you, have a strong understanding of your market place, what people are looking for, know what you are good at, and surround yourself with people who are better than you. I could write a book on this subject alone.

Who is one person you haven't met yet in the food world that you'd like to connect with? Why?

Tom Keller is the one chef that I haven’t met yet who truly has me intrigued. He just sees things from a different perspective when it comes to his business model. I truly love learning, and he has been so influential on the industry, I’d love to have dinner with him.

What ONE word will guide you into the future?
Determined.

Catersource's favorite emcee is back to keep the chef teams motivated at Diced on the tradeshow floor, Tuesday, Febriary 26 starting at 11:00 a.m.

What are you looking forward to most in New Orleans?
I am beyond excited to come back and be part of this conference. It’s hard to believe that this will be my 20th teaching, sharing, and learning. I am looking forward to leading the culinary stage with the incredible Robin Selden, emcee the two culinary competitions, teach a couple of classes and, of course, roll out my new cookbook, Burgers, Bowls and Jars. It’s my third cookbook and believe it’s my best one thus far. I’m looking forward to seeing so many old friends, making new ones, and just being part of this amazing conference once again.

Eric LeVine's new book, available at the Catersource bookstore in New Orleans

Learn even more from Chef Eric and get his new cookbook at Catersource 2019 and the Art of Catering Food!

Nancy A. Shenker

Founder/CEO | theONswitch

Nancy A. Shenker is Founder/CEO of theONswitch marketing and a professional content strategist, writer, and speaker.

She has spent more than  30 years in the events, food, retail, and small business worlds, focused on delivering meaningful and memorable experiences and bottom-line results.

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