Ace Finalist 2017: Catering with a Twist – No Vacancy

Mid-March, winners of the ACE awards took the stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To enter, each contender was asked to identify the two events the company completed that it felt best represented the company, as well as challenges and favorite aspects.

Throughout the year, has been profiling the winners and finalists of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are looking at Catering with a Twist, an ACE finalist. Note: Entrance into the 2018 ACE awards competition has now closed. Be sure to attend the Spark Awards Gala at Catersource 2018 in Las Vegas to celebrate the winners!

No Vacancy – A Prohibition Roadhouse

All photos courtesy Lisa Hause

“There are so many reasons that this event was chosen to represent who we are and ‘How We Roll’,” enthused Kassie Purpura, owner, Catering with a Twist. To begin, Purpura noted that this event, No Vacancy – A Prohibition Roadhouse allowed the chefs the freedom to create without any limitations and the ability to go outside the norm, infusing bold flavors and using products that intimidate most. The event also allowed creativity to be expressed in other avenues, such as the way that each course is being served, be it plating or the platter itself.

Said Purpura, “Bottom line, this event allows our creativity to flow in all areas, from the menu creation, the theme, the plating and family style platters, to the team dressing in costume. It embraces all that we are!”


It’s downtown Austin, “so the timing of the unload and the load up played a huge role in the timeline,” said Purpura. The team had to ensure that they arrived prior to rush hour, which allowed use of the back alley for unload. The company also needed to have additional team members on hand who could stay outside with the valuables while others were loading in and out of the venue. “Plus, you have the possibility of a huge convention popping up, which in turn shuts down roads and blocks off tons of usually available parking. Which, yes, this did happen to us!”

The venue was challenging as well. It's a large space, yet the event itself is an intimate gathering. Designing the flow and ensuring the space was designed just right was crucial to success. “Lighting plays a key role to creating this feel—never forget about the power of light!” Purpura stated.

Finally, it was originally stated the company had use of an operating commercial kitchen. However, upon arrival they discovered that half off it had been rented to another vendor. “Also, upon our arrival as we began to get the kitchen setup for use, we realized the gas was not on. Took us about an hour to get it back on, after getting in touch with the venue representative. All of this said, the amazing team worked together like you wouldn't believe and the timeline was not affected at all, everything came out just as it should,” said Purpura.

All photos courtesy Lisa Hause

Favorite aspects

Purpura described her favorite aspects of the event as such: “Our ability to do whatever we want with the menu, the freedom that this provides the chefs is phenomenal. The creativity that comes from our Executive Chef when she has no limitations is simply astonishing. The excitement we see from the guests is my absolute favorite!

This event features a local artist, cocktail hour for mingling with passed appetizers, and then a coursed dinner served family style. It's a true dining experience and we get to bring it to them. We also got creative with how the courses were served, since this was a “Wild Wild West” theme we used handmade cutting boards, cast iron skillets, blue speckled tin bowls, quarter size sheet pans, and mason jars. It displayed so beautifully and the guests really enjoyed it. These serving dishes are now part of our Rustic Family Style Service.”

Registration for Catersource and the Art of Catering Food is now open. Click here for more information, and here if you want to learn more about the various special events and gatherings during our four days in Las Vegas.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.