Let’s start off the new year with some positivity—here are 25 ways your catering colleagues are positioning to make 2022 a healthy, prosperous, and fabulous new year.
Despite the high hopes we all had for 2021, it turned out to be a bit more of a roller-coaster ride than expected. Despite a mostly successful vaccine rollout in the U.S. that has made a big dent in the health and economic havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it still was a year of fits and starts thanks to the Delta variant. Fortunately, catering professionals are quick to learn from experience, are resourceful, and they’re always looking for new ways to exceed their clients’ expectations.
We asked 25 top industry thought leaders to share their perspectives on what they have learned over the nearly two years of COVID disruption, and what they are looking forward to as we round the corner into a shiny new year. Here are just a few of the ideas, trends, and positive perspectives they have for the future.
Do you have a story to tell? Let us know! Contact Catersource Editor in Chief Kathleen Stoehr at [email protected] share your own lessons learned and thoughts on how to not just survive but flourish in the coming year.
Check back next week for another set of predictions!
1. Brittny Drye, Founder and Editor in Chief, Love Inc. Magazine
2022 feels like the year our industry will rise from the ashes. With the amount of weddings and events that are planned for the year, wedding pros are just going to be trying to keep their heads above water. The result, I hope, is some long overdue positive conversations about mental health, and the unrealistic “hustle” expectations that this industry tends to have. Hopefully, we can all learn to have a little more kindness and grace with each other and have a deeper respect for each other's lives outside of our careers.
Trend-wise, I am excited that micro-weddings are here to stay. The intimacy and attention to detail—plus the amount of detail that can be put into it thanks to the smaller guest list—makes them fun to publish.
2. Jonathan Jennings, Executive Vice President/COO, Connecticut Wedding Group
We have seen just about the entire wedding clientele take a deep breath and exhale after a year and a half of micro-ceremonies and Zoom weddings and not being able to be with the people who are most important to them. You never know how important something is to you until it is gone! Now there is so much pent-up energy, and I think we are going to see more over-the-top weddings in 2022 than we have seen in a really long time. Our design and decor teams are more engaged than ever before as people are asking, what else can we do? How can we make this not just the wedding we envisioned but the best wedding ever? How can we surprise and delight our guests? How can we make them walk into this space and say, “Wow, this is incredible”?
We are not talking about COVID anymore—what we are talking about now is having fantastic parties, and that clients are excited to be able to gather with friends and family and make up for lost time. All of the hesitancy is gone; it's full speed ahead! People want to be in rooms filled with love and dancing and energy—they are excited again after being nervous about having to worry about who is vaccinated and who’s not. Now we can focus on the core of the event, which is gathering people together in rooms full of love and beautiful things.
3. Leslie LaSorsa, CSEP, General Manager, Crave Catering
There are so many great things happening; we are seeing a desire for the nostalgia of happier times mixed with the whimsy of the future—a black vodka martini with gold sugar rim and gold dust floating is both decadent and mysterious. Fried pimento mac ‘n cheese or extravagant caviar and crème fraiche whipped deviled quail eggs—the sky is the limit! Even those with fewer actual dollars to spend are still ready to spend for a micro event for 10 or 20 that they want catered. The ultra-rich and the pent-up are both ready to venture out.
It is crazy in Texas, where the demand is definitely surpassing capacity. We need people! Large events are coming to Austin, and the locals are ready to have a great time too. There is so much energy right now—we caterers don’t know who to refer to as we don’t have the staffing capacity to take care of everyone.
4. Monique Boyd, CWP, Director of Catering & Special Events, Legends Hospitality at SoFi Stadium
Connecting creatively to celebrate should be the theme for 2022! It is exciting to see companies scheduling events to gather their teams to connect in person. We are booking meetings, receptions, and awards dinners as guests look to celebrate the highlights over the past year and a half.
Gone are the boxed meals as we are now seeing our culinary teams design aromatic, delicious menu offerings that showcase their talents in single-serving formats. However, the real star of events is cocktails! Specialty drinks using Monin’s beverage mixtures like Energy Boost, Immunity Boost, or Golden Turmeric that can be mixed with vodka or served mock cocktail style, are setting a new trend: wellness wins in 2022.
5. Jennifer Perna, President, Fulton Market Consulting
It’s great to be working with clients that are approaching their sales planning process differently for 2022. They are respectful of what they achieved in the past but aren’t approaching next year “the way they used to do it.” These clients are reviewing their existing human and financial resources and making smarter planning decisions to manage leaner, more profitable businesses in 2022. Running a healthier organization with an increased bottom line profit is better than hitting a top line revenue number. My prediction is SUCCESS for business owners and managers that lead this way. Making 20% profit on revenue of $2 million dollars is more rewarding and realistic than stretching the team for $4 million dollars at 10% profit.
6. Joseph Pina, Campus Executive Chef, Sodexo, Johnson & Wales University
We're back to the excitement of being able to break bread as we all come together again. Food is a big part of being able to share and create memories all over again. This will be a year of celebration for those of us in food service and catering. People are coming back to events, and we are the people who are creating these amazing experiences. We are very excited to put our stamp back on the celebration of food—we are bringing the fun back to the dining experience!
7. Christie Osborne, Owner, Mountainside Media
In 2020 when the event industry shut down abruptly, it was devastating for most of us. Then in 2021, as a national speaker at Catersource + The Special Event, I was excited to travel again and take the first steps towards recovery. We quickly realized that recovery wouldn’t be a light switch—it would be a dial. One thing that has impressed me about the event industry is that we can adapt. It’s in our DNA. We fix things and make things better, and in 2022 I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of that, traveling and keeping each other healthy during a pandemic.