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You’re Invited: The Art of Catering Food

Save the date for when we make our way to Austin, TX February 11–12, 2024

Are you ready to be inspired? Catersource, in collaboration with the International Caterers Association, will once again be delivering Art of Catering Food, taking place February 11–12 at the Austin Convention Center.

Chris Towne served both a miniature Chicken and Waffle Cone and pork belly steam buns during his session last year. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Focused through the lens of the catering chef, AOCF is a boutique event created by chefs for chefs, bringing attendees a two-day intensive that focuses closely on catered events and the food and logistics it takes to make them so memorable.

All the hallmarks of AOCF are in place: the quick-burst Round Robins that keep attendees moving and learning; two high energy Lunch & Learns that pair culinary concepts with a solid learning experience plus networking, and a captivating keynote featuring Austin-based Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph (a 2024 James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas) that will open your minds to Caribbean cuisine and the ideas you may never have considered for your own kitchens.  This year's AOCF will be emceed by none other than Marcia Selden Catering & Events' Executive Chef Robin Selden, so you're guaranteed to be inspired. 

Two tasty Lunch & Learns

Attendees to this year’s AOCF will have two Lunch & Learn opportunities.

The first, The Four Stack Method, will take place on Sunday at noon. Plating quickly, efficiently, and beautifully is key in catering. The four-stack method isn’t new, but it’s surprising how many catering companies still don’t employ (or know of) this time-tested technique. Join chefs Jason Sutton and Jay Varga as they demonstrate with the help of volunteer attendees. Lunch is served!

The 2023 Lunch & Learn served tacos using such ingredients as: braised lamb, roasted root vegetables, birria, salsa quemada, and roasted poblano slaw. Photo courtesy Kathleen Stoehr

The second Lunch & Learn, A Trip South, is on Monday from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. It’s time to celebrate Black History Month! Chef Keyon Hammond will highlight Black food history while exploring the chefs and culinarians who have contributed abundantly to food culture.

Don’t miss either of this year’s Lunch & Learns! You’ll gain new knowledge while enjoying lunch with your colleagues. Note: all dietary restrictions are noted on the schedule, which you can view in its entirety here

 Nettie Frank delivered some delicious doughnuts during her 2023 session. Photo courtesy Savannah Spirov

Chef-driven sessions

AOCF’s chef-driven education program will focus on technique, problem solving, and unique ideas while helping attendees navigate new industry trends, with sessions such as: From Flour to Feast: The Art and Science of Pasta Making; Incorporating Funky Ferments into Your Everyday Menu; "Salt Cures Everything"—A Lesson on In-House Charcuterie Production; Sugar Rush: Master Sugar Flowers with Chef Ron Ben-Israel; LowCountry Lowdown; Secret Sauce! Elevate Your Entrees with a Flavorful Finish; Where There is Smoke, There is Yumminess; and Menu and Research & Development. Many sessions include samples, prepared in the nearby field kitchen, visible to all.

Shrimp, artichoke, peas & lemon orecchiette. Photo courtesy Savannah Spirov

A captivating keynote

James Beard-nominated Bristol-Joseph is the pastry chef and Partner at Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, Canje, and Ezov in Austin, TX, as well as Ladino in San Antonio. He began his culinary journey as a young boy when he spent every Saturday afternoon baking cookies, cakes, and pies with his aunt. After moving to the United States from Georgetown, Guyana when he was 17 years old, Bristol-Joseph attended the New York Restaurant School.

James Beard-nominated Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph is the pastry chef and Partner at Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, Canje, and Ezov in Austin, TX, as well as Ladino in San Antonio. Photo courtesy Tavel Bristol-Joseph

Bristol-Joseph worked in a variety of restaurants in New York before moving to Tucson in 2006, where he joined Fox Restaurant Concepts. He worked within the restaurant group for two years before going to Zona 78 where he met and began working with Chef Kevin Fink.

Fink and Bristol-Joseph decided to move to Austin to open Emmer & Rye in November 2015. Emmer & Rye has been included in Bon Appetit’s “America’s Best Restaurants 2016,” list, as well as named Austin American-Statesman’s “2018 Best Restaurant in Austin.” In 2020, Bristol-Joseph opened Hestia with Fink, which has been named “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” by Robb Report.

Bristol-Joseph was named one of FOOD & WINE Magazine’s “Best New Chefs of 2020,” and in 2022, Canje was awarded “Best New Restaurant 2022” by Bon Appetit and featured in The New York Times as one of “America’s Best Restaurants of 2022.” BristolJoseph was also a 2023 James Beard Award semifinalist for “Best Chef: Texas.” 

Round Robin sessions

Don’t forget about the Round Robin sessions, a favorite at just 20 minutes in length. Four “quick burst” classes will be held simultaneously and run four times, offering attendees a chance to get up, stretch, and move from area to area as they learn. And as always, samples will be offered in most every session, so that as chefs present their concepts, attendees can taste the concept. This year’s lineup includes Elevate & Sophisticate the Simple Classics; Freeze Your Assets! Keep Food Costs Down During Inflation; Over the Top: Garnishes That Will Take Your Dishes to The Next Level; and Craving Caviar.

Chef Jason Sutton took a deep dive into Beef & Reef last year. Photo courtesy WASIO Faces/SpotMyPhotos

Wear it with pride

Attendees are encouraged to wear their chef coats: networking opportunities abound between sessions, during breaks, and at the Sunday afternoon happy hour—so wear your chef coat if you wish and show solidarity for your profession!

Chef Ron Ben-Israel will share some of his coveted methods and secrets of creating sugar flowers to the audience at Art of Catering Food. Photos courtesy Kathleen Stoehr

Registration is open & waiting for you!

Quick! Head over to https:// and get your ticket to Art of Catering Food. Over the course of two days, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with experienced catering chefs sharing new culinary techniques, the latest trending ingredients, food costing, and everything else you need to know to turn your menus into works of art. Hotel and travel information can also be found via the navigation bar at the top of the screen. 

Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.