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.
Check back next week for another set of predictions!
15. Jay Varga, Executive Chef, The JDK Group
There is just so much to look forward to as we approach 2022. It is no secret that we all went through very trying times as we moved through the pandemic, and we are still currently feeling some repercussions in one way or another. The positive outlook is that we have a new year upon us, which will bring new opportunities and will really let the event industry bounce back to what I believe will be just as strong as it was before. I think this will also lead people to want to try new things as well. From a food perspective, it seems everyone wants to try new flavor profiles and cuisines. They are getting more daring which is fantastic because in return it lets us get more creative with their menus!
16. Lisa Cox, CEO/SVP Sales & Marketing, Gem City Fine Foods
The COVID pandemic has challenged everyone in our industry to be creative and flexible. As we at Gem City Fine Foods continue to wade through labor and supply chain shortages that came along later in the game, we find ourselves really focusing in on those suppliers and customers who have shown not only flexibility, but also understanding and willingness to work through challenges with us. Moving into the next year, we plan to continue to build relationships with those partners. As the 2021 Finalist for the Utah Ethical Business Leadership Award (I’m proud of our team!), we honor all those in our industry who have demonstrated exemplary ethical business practices during these trying times. I predict that 2022 will see great positive gains for those in our industry who have persisted through compassion and cooperation. We are in this together!
17. Ryan Corvaia, Founder & CEO, Dish Food & Events; Board of Directors, International Caterers Association (ICA)
There is no doubt that 2022 will be the year of the social event with potentially more weddings taking place in the United States than we have seen in decades. Couples are not going to allow COVID to ruin their fun or force them to consider a smaller guest list. More than 70% of our wedding couples here in the New York City market are already having weddings with over 100 guests. That's great news for caterers all over the country that already plan weddings. For businesses that focus more on corporate catering, there is still time to grow the social event side of their business and capitalize on this boom for 2022 and 2023. There will be more than enough business to go around for caterers in every market.
If the wedding boom is not enough to keep us all busy next year, corporate catering will be making its way back into our lives as well. I predict that the first half of 2022 will be focused on the return to the office, entertaining employees, and offering incentives to come to work. We are seeing companies throwing office happy hours and bringing in lunch for employees at a much higher rate than 2019. Then in the second half of the year, we can look forward to more client-focused events such as marketing activations and fundraising galas. All this said, I have no doubt that 2022 is going to be our industry's comeback year—a year that we all need, deserve.
18. Zoe Moore, Inclusive Hospitality Consultant & Strategist
Traditionally, business as usual has been acceptable, but the last two years have seen a paradigm shift in dialogue. Industry leaders are acknowledging that equity, diversity, and inclusion is not just about attendees in the audience or speakers on stage but more importantly senior leadership diversity, equitable economic opportunities, and inclusive operational practices. I am hopeful that in 2022 this dialogue will again shift to measurable and sustainable action that becomes standard across the global business of events.
19. Syd Sexton, Chief Operating Officer, Catering By Design
One day we are booking corporate events, and then the next day things get a little squishy, but I have hope. I predict that December 2022 is going to be a record holiday season. The stars are aligned—the dates are perfect—and next year is going to be a blowout. We are going to have a great summer for social and nonprofit events, so much so that we are going to have to be careful about not overbooking ourselves.
We should start to see the convention business come back in the third quarter. That is not a guess, it is what should happen based on the conversations I am having with our DMC clients. Our corporate clients are still hesitant right now, so this holiday season is going to be soft in that regard, but our nonprofits are talking about going back to their full events by next year. I feel confident that our numbers for 2022 are going to exceed 2019—we will blow it out of the water second, third, and fourth quarter.
It's taking a little more time than we were hoping for everything to come back, but we must roll with it—and this industry has done a great job of rolling with it, adapting, and surviving. We are still here, and we are ready for when the business comes back. We are still standing, we are still supporting each other. Life is good.
20. Dean A. Mistretta, AS, BA, MBA, Director of Catering, Stockfoodgroup.com/Decadent Catering, Stock Food Group, Decadent Catering Pizzico Oyster Bar (Providence, R.I.) & East-Bay Oyster Bar (Barrington, R.I.)
My phone is ringing again. After a year of silence, the new client inquiries for offsite catering are back. Wedding inquiries are at the top of the list. While the average guest count is slightly lower than normal—80 to 100 people—these are nonetheless still inquiries. Because of the extensive news coverage, my potential new clients are well aware of supply chain, labor challenges, and cost increases. This has made my job easier when working with client budgets.
I was faced with the arduous task of revisiting client pricing with clients I had booked pre-pandemic who are now revisiting their event. We have faced price increases for our clients honestly and with transparency. To my pleasant surprise, they met me with understanding and flexibility with restructuring events.
I have collaborated with other local competing catering companies in my area. I have fed them leads for clients that do not qualify for our catering services. This has led to a more friendly industry environment and appreciation from inquiries that I could not provide a catering quote.
My relationship with our facility managers has prompted a noticeable increase in leads from their referrals. Having worked with them during the pandemic only strengthened our business relationship—for the better.