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Who's News in Catering for May 11, 2024

Hott Off the Presses

As part of its on-going commitment to economic inclusivity, Oak View Group (OVG), the global leader in live experience venue development, management, premium hospitality services, and 360-degree solutions, today announced the addition of Crowns & Hops, the prominent Inglewood-based, Black-owned brewing company, to its companywide supplier diversity program. The partnership is designed to assist Crowns & Hops in showcasing its beverages at select OVG properties.  As the official food and beverage provider of the LA County Fair, OVG Hospitality will host students from Cal-Poly Pomona in a Chef Cook-Off to create innovative dishes paired with Crowns & Hops’ signature brew, 8 Trill Pils, at the Fair on Sunday, May 12 at 11 a.m. OVG Hospitality’s Chef Juan Hurtado and General Manager Bill Cheek, both of Acrisure Arena, and Crowns & Hops’ CEO & Co-Founder Beny Ashburn will serve as judges. The winner will earn an internship opportunity with OVG Hospitality’s Executive Chef David Harvie at Acrisure Arena's kitchen in Greater Palm Springs, CA, and a custom chef coat, apron, and hat. The OVG Supplier Diversity Program aims to foster economic inclusivity by making OVG’s supply chain more diverse by encouraging the participation of vendors historically overlooked while ensuring a positive impact is made in the communities where OVG operates. The program champions community empowerment by providing opportunities for underrepresented business to thrive and contribute to local economies.  


ExCeL London, together with its long-standing catering partner Levy UK + Ireland, have announced a new partnership with food environmental data experts, Foodsteps, to help reduce the embodied carbon emissions in the millions of dishes its in-house team of chefs create and serve every year. Levy, the sports and entertainment arm of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has been ExCeL’s catering partner since the Royal Docks venue first opened in 2000, and has been putting food and drink at the heart of its 400 events and four million annual visitors ever since. Foodsteps is the leading food sustainability data experts, who aid food businesses to measure, report, reduce and communicate their food footprint. Foodsteps will provide the kitchen and operational teams at ExCeL with detailed, UK-specific data on the lifecycle footprint of its produce, allowing the team to design lower carbon recipes. In addition, the partnership also includes a new customer-facing labelling system – using Foodsteps’ A (very low) to E (very high) rating – which will help visitors and event organisers make more climate conscious food choices. The move is one of several steps introduced at ExCeL, with its partner Levy, on its roadmap to becoming Net Zero, including having at least 50% of its menus serving plant-based options, sourcing 100% recyclable or reusable packaging and reducing kitchen food waste to under 1%.   


Feast Your Eyes (Feast) is thrilled to announce their new exclusive catering partnership with Radnor Hunt, one of Chester County’s most cherished country institutions. This agreement took effect May 1, 2024. As the exclusive caterer, Feast will work to revamp and elevate Radnor Hunt’s private events program, marketing it as a premier venue destination for all special occasions. This partnership marks an exciting extension of Feast Your Eyes’ footprint throughout the Main Line, an opportunity that will leverage Feast’s diverse culinary background with a taste of Philly food trends. 


The International Catered Arts Educational Foundation (ICAEF) has recently announced the recipients of its inaugural grants, awarding $10,000 each to Kids Feeding Kids and Gather and Grow. These programs stand out for their exceptional efforts in promoting food awareness within their respective communities. This initiative reflects ICAEF's ongoing commitment to bolster education, charity, and community engagement within the hospitality industry. "The grant provides vital support to programs like these, enabling them to enhance curriculum development, fund educational events, facilitate instructor training, and produce educational materials," explains Lon Lane, Immediate Past Chairman of the ICAEF. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Kids Feeding Kids is an offshoot of Pete’s Garden, a food recovery program established by Tamara Weber. In 2021, Weber launched Kids Feeding Kids with initial funding from Patrick Mahomes. The program's mission is to educate students about food access and sustainability while empowering them to make a positive impact in their community. Through Kids Feeding Kids, students prepare and distribute up to 1,000 free, take-home family dinners, fostering both learning and community service. Gather and Grow, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is spearheaded by President Greg Brownell. Through a strategic partnership with the ASU School of Sustainability and Roosevelt School District, this innovative program empowers students to become agripreneurs while providing families with valuable skills in garden planning. Under Brownell's leadership, Gather and Grow offers a unique platform for both education and community development, promoting sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

Products on the Market

Vital Farms (Nasdaq: VITL) 2022 expansion of its egg washing and packing facility, Egg Central Station (ECS) in Springfield, MO, has been awarded LEED® Gold Certification for New Construction and Major Renovations. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) internationally recognized green building rating system and a symbol of excellence in environmental stewardship. This prestigious acknowledgment underscores Vital Farms’ commitment to raising the standards in the food industry and progress made towards the company’s impact goal of reducing operational greenhouse gas intensity by 25% by 2027. Egg Central Station is at the heart of Vital Farms’ supply chain and operations. Pasture-raised eggs from the company’s network of over 300 family farms are transported to the facility to be washed, sized, graded, and packed before their journey to retailers and foodservice operators across the country. After ECS’ initial opening in 2017, Vital Farms expanded the facility’s footprint in 2022, nearly doubling its original size to support over $300 million in additional revenue and the future growth of the company. ECS currently processes up to 6 million eggs a day and recently achieved an important milestone to meet zero-waste-to-landfill production standards. The overall project was intentionally designed with the company’s crewmembers, community, and the planet in mind. Inside the facility there are features such as daylighting and climate control to improve the crewmember experience, food safety practices that go above and beyond current regulatory requirements, and advanced water filtration systems. On the facility’s grounds, solar panels generate renewable energy while providing parking shade, bioretention elements clean and cool rainwater, and natural landscaping thrives with vegetation native to the Ozarks. Additional construction elements including the use of low-VOC emitting materials and finishes made from high recycled content helped the expansion earn LEED® Gold Certification. 

People on the Move

ASM Global Hospitality Division SAVOR has announced the company has added two key players in the food and beverage industry to its experienced team. Hospitality leader Jason Dowd has been appointed as SAVOR’s new senior vice president of culinary and innovation, and industry veteran Craig Condra has been named as regional vice president, food and beverage. Dowd brings more than 25 years of culinary-innovation experience to SAVOR — with a background in restaurant operations, research and development, and menu creation — and is also a certified sommelier. Throughout his career he worked with several well-known brands, from the Ritz Carlton and InterContinental Hotel Group to Olive Garden, Smashburger and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Most recently as vice president of culinary innovation with FAT Brands, he was responsible for the menu strategy, evolution and renovation of 16 restaurant brands in the snack, QSR, and fast-casual and casual-dining categories. As SAVOR’s senior vice president of culinary and innovation, Dowd will manage the execution of the overall strategic product-innovation plan for SAVOR in North America as well as oversee innovation, research, business development and KPI processes. He will also be charged with driving the product development efforts of regional and executive chefs, establishing objectives, and developing principles to guide product innovation among all team members. Condra brings more than 21 years of experience to SAVOR, including stints with Sodexo Live!, Levy Restaurants, Legends and Aramark. His expertise is wide-ranging from culinary and premium services to finance, data and operations at a variety of venues, including stadiums, arenas and convention centers. Throughout his career he also gained invaluable experience working in operations and premium services at major events, such as the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, U.S. Open and more. As SAVOR’S regional vice president of food and beverage for convention centers, Condra will oversee food and beverage operations for 12 convention centers throughout the ASM Global/SAVOR portfolio. He will be responsible for the overall direction, coordination and evaluation of the facilities as well as supervising employees, from hiring and training to planning, directing and problem-solving.    



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