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We’re Ready to Take on Texas

Catersource + The Special Event head to Austin, TX February 12–15

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that’s exactly what Catersource + The Special Event hope to accomplish when they roll into Austin, TX, February 12–15.

Join Catersource + The Special Event, as we celebrate the next chapter of the catering and events industry! 

This year will be bigger and better with several additions, including the return of Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ and the Lunch & Learn, as well as the new Fast Chats. Get ready to grow as we celebrate the wonderful world of catering and events!

Don’t miss a moment! Arrive Monday morning 2/12, depart Friday morning 2/16

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

Kick off your week right with our Taste of Austin afternoon venue tour, where we’ll visit a few of Austin’s gems. Next, connect with friends and colleagues at our Connect Social opening welcome reception, starting at 7:30 p.m. End your week by joining us at the Closing Night Celebration at Superstition. In between, you won’t want to miss a thing. 

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

Revolutionary Keynotes

Laura Schwartz

Named one of The 100 Most Influential People in the Global Event Industry by Eventex 2019-2023 and one of the top seven speakers in the United States, Laura Schwartz has been a Professional Emcee and Keynote Speaker since 2001. Schwartz began her professional career in 1993 as the youngest female presidential appointee in history serving as the White House Director of Events for the Clinton Administration. After which, in addition to speaking, published her first book Eat, Drink and Succeed and currently appears on television as the American contributor on Australia’s #1 Today Show. Schwartz has been featured by and is a published writer in Fast Company, Elle magazine, Marie Claire and other periodicals. In 2021, along with her cast from ITV News, was awarded the International Drum Award for Podcast of the Year.

Schwartz and her wife reside in Chicago where they are involved in civic and philanthropic endeavors. Schwartz is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, the City Club of Chicago and the American Heart Association. Globally, Schwartz serves as an active board member on the Keystone Board of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the WASH Foundation, an endeavor of Clean the World Global, a member of the United Nation’s WASH Cluster.

See Laura Schwartz live

At the Opening General Session on the Keynote Stage, Schwartz will kick off the 2024 Catersource + The Special Event conference and tradeshow on Wednesday morning, February 14 at 9:00 a.m. with her session Common Ground with Laura Schwartz. The Opening General Session is included in the purchase of any pass, from All Access to tradeshow only.

Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™

He’s back! 

Michael Cerbelli will make his triumphant return to the Catersource + The Special Event stage after a two-year hiatus.

Photo courtesy WTA Photo via SpotMyPhotos

Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ provides a unique opportunity for attendees to experience and vet potential vendors and performers before booking them. The entertainment-packed show gives attendees access to a list of new and unique event vendors that they can immediately book. 

Watch unbelievable performances and experience live event activations first-hand. The live performances, technology, innovative ideas, and industry secrets from The Hot List™ will equip attendees to energize and modernize their events for 2024 and beyond. 

Every attendee of Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ will receive access to a curated list of “MC APPROVED” vendors and their contact information. 

Catersource + The Special Event is delighted to welcome Cerbelli back to the stage!

See Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ live

Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ will energize the final day of the 2024 Catersource + The Special Event conference and tradeshow  on Thursday morning, February 15th at 8:00 a.m. This is your chance to levitate your events and uncover top vendors and performers first-hand, preparing you for unforgettable events in 2024 and beyond. The Closing General Session is included in the purchase of any pass, from All Access to tradeshow only.

Featured Sessions

Top notch culinary

If you hope to expand your culinary operations in 2024 and beyond, there is a terrific lineup of chef-forward classes available on the Culinary Experience stage (located in the conference area) and Culinary & Competition stage (on the tradeshow floor). Chefs will not only talk about their concepts, they will demonstrate them, too. 

There will be plenty of chances to sample on the Catersource tradeshow floor, as well as during the culinary demonstrations this year. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Gain access to trending recipes, learn the nuances of barbecue, get insight into the art of sous vide, uncover great uses for leftovers, and discover the exciting world of liquid nitrogen—these are just a few of the culinary classes you will experience.

For chefs, by chefs

Coming to Austin early? Experience the Art of Catering Food (AOCF), an event designed for chefs and taught by chefs. Over the course of two days (February 11–12) leading up to Catersource + The Special Event, you’ll connect with experienced catering chefs sharing new culinary techniques, the latest trending ingredients, food pricing, and everything else you need to turn your menus into works of art.

Chef Christopher Taylor delivers a culinary demonstration in 2023. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Check back on January 24th for more on this boutique event.

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 rooms 11A/B to sign up for a free consultation during show hours.

Discover new ideas on the tradeshow floor

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. 

Justin Pasha delivers a cocktail demonstration in 2023. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Additionally, the excitement of the Opening General Session with keynote Will Guidara opens the first day of the tradeshow floor, and the Closing General Session with Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ will end the week on Thursday. We’ll also be celebrating our amazing exhibitors on Wednesday morning when we hand out exhibitor awards during a Brunch & Bubbly celebration. Back on the tradeshow floor again this year is the Hall Happy Hour on Wednesday afternoon starting at 4:00 p.m. 

Want to know how to build a beautiful tablescape incorporating lush florals? You’ll want to be on the tradeshow floor at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Join Michelle Howard, Matthew Crowe, and Colton Staver for a fun and interactive way to express your creativity during the annual Tablescape Competition. Four to six teams of four participants each will be tasked to create a fabulous tablescape with all the trimmings. In the fashion of a TV reality series, each team will be assigned a table and an overall client request. They will then have timed phases to design, choose products, and produce a tablescape. Tables will be available for photography afterward!

The team from Cru Catering demonstrated their Seven Crazy Stations during 2023. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Finally, three Ignite stages bring more education of all stripes to the tradeshow floor. Join thought experts from across the industry as they present everything from state of the industry data crucial to your business building needs, to “ask me anything” style conversations, to creative ideas on how to set a table.

The chefs compete

Who doesn’t love a good culinary competition? Watch DICED (emceed this year by Marcia Selden Catering & Events' Executive Chef Robin Selden) on Wednesday, February 14 at 11:00 a.m. to see chefs create the latest food trends right before your eyes (while they compete for a prize!). As with any Chopped style competition, the chefs won’t know what they have to create for the judges until the lids come off of their mystery boxes. But here’s a is Valentine’s Day!

New this year! Fast Chats

We’re offering quick-hitting 30-minute chats this year where attendees can discuss targeted topics with industry experts. Topics range from technology to sustainability to marketing to operations. Have a little bit of time between appointments on the tradeshow floor or want to learn something quickly? Fast Chats on the Ignite stages are where it’s at! 

 The Lunch & Learn will return after having been absent since 2020. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces

Lunch & Learn returns! 

After a brief hiatus, Lunch & Learn is once again back during Catersource + The Special Event. Join Scott Frankel from Animatic Media for I Can Top That!— Event Mishap Stories & What We Can Learn from Them as he welcomes catering and event professionals to the stage, spinning their brutal truths of near misses, mishaps, and amazing recoveries during their events. Enjoy a delicious three-course themed lunch as you also hear how they overcame their trials and walked away with advice that they will share with the audience. A checklist of dos and don’ts (and a full belly) will be your parting takeaway! 

Discover the data 

Join industry data powerhouse Technomic during two sessions this year where they’ll focus on their deep research: Menu Trends for 2024 & Beyond (Tuesday) and The New Catering Buyer: Insights to Help You Win More Business (Thursday). 

At the Wellness & Networking Lounge, tranquility awaits. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

The Wellness Lounge

Need some time to recharge your internal batteries? Head to the Wellness & Networking 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, a chance to mix your own essential oils, crystal consultations, and a lineup of wellness-centric sessions including Snatching Wellness from the Jaws of Wellness Culture (Tuesday), Let’s Have a Talk in the Walk-in (Wednesday), and Charessa Sawyer’s Event Therapy Lounge: Meditation & Self Care Strategies (Wednesday).

Charessa Sawyer will once again deliver her Event Therapy Lounge: Meditation & Self Care Strategies. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces

Come relax, unwind, and breathe deeply before rejoining sessions and stepping onto the exhibit hall floor. Open Tuesday through Thursday during conference hours.

Get a taste of Austin 

As part of the Catersource + The Special Event, we invite event professionals to join us on Monday afternoon for an exclusive “Taste of Austin” Venue Tour. Kick off your experience by exploring the eclectic vibes of Rainey Street and journey to the rustic allure of Driftwood–all in one unforgettable tour! 

Deviled eggs with fermented cabbage, smoked trout roe, and grated ham at Fixe Southern House. Photo courtesy Fixe Southern House 

Savor delectable small bites that showcase Austin’s diverse culinary scene, paired with refreshing beverages to tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy a picturesque setting paired with curated bites and craft beverages that highlight the local flavors.  

Embark on the journey that celebrates the essence of Austin’s food, music, and hospitality. Join us for the Taste of Austin Venue Tour filled with flavor, fun, and fantastic connections–the perfect start to your Catersource + The Special Event experience in Austin, TX!

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:

Networking opportunities

Beyond the evening events and Tuesday morning welcome gathering, there’s plenty of time between sessions to say hello and move between the tradeshow floor and conference rooms. Most sessions allow 30 minutes pass time. Enjoy time with peers in any of our conference area networking spaces. Also, don’t miss our Hall Happy Hour and the Brunch & Bubbly on the tradeshow floor.


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.