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.
21. Holly Powers-Verbeck, Owner/Founder, HeyChef!
2022 is the year of the Independent Chef. Forbes predicted half of the workforce would be freelancers by 2020. While the traditional restaurant may still hire full- or part-time culinary staff, this signals a giant change and far-reaching implications for chefs across the nation. Chefs no longer need to tie themselves to one employer while dreaming of having their own businesses. Post-2020, the world's a vastly more welcoming place for personal chefs and private chefs who want to be independent, and who want to work for their own profits instead of someone else's. Thankfully, technology is making it easier than ever, and there's online access to successful, proven models which help chefs sidestep the costly, time-consuming mistakes of starting and running their own businesses. Consumers’ choices and preferences have changed, making it possible for chefs to earn a living wage working for themselves and the clients they serve—and it is about time! Chefs have a lot to look forward to in 2022.
22. Tracy Stuckrath, President and Chief Connection Officer, thrive! meetings & events
I am seeing caterers rethinking how they are managing their businesses to take advantage of the prime opportunity of honing in on new menu items. I think caterers are going to streamline their menus so they are easier to make and potentially will require less staff. They are also looking at new opportunities to be creative—some really cool and creative catering presentation styles have come about during COVID. And I think they are relying on each other a lot more as well, asking each other how they are running their businesses differently now to address staffing and food supply challenges. What food and beverage options can we provide that are more cost effective but still fun? The possibilities that could come from those collaborations are exciting.
23. David Lombardo, General Manager, Lombardo's
As we begin to look forward to the year ahead, we are seeing positive signs from the venue and catering side. Social events are back and stronger than ever—we are seeing the spending on the social side up over 20% with people excited to increase their décor budgets and provide more complimentary drink options and an expanded palate for food creativity! All those Zoom cooking classes and at-home recipe explorations during COVID have expanded the palates of our guests and they are looking for outstanding presentations and creativity from our chefs! Although corporate events are still slow to return, we are seeing some good increases in Q2 and Q3 bookings and the confidence of corporate clients to get back to in-person events is growing.
The last few years, non-profit events have really struggled with the lack of in-person experiences for their donors and we are seeing a return to getting groups back together. There is also a renewed passion from vendors. Those who survived the last few years really innovated and invested in the quality of both their product and customer service, creating a better experience for the guests.
24. Scott Frankel, President, Animatic Media, LLC
I believe we will continue to see the evolution of hybrid events. The tricky thing is that the term “hybrid” is somewhat ambiguous—if you were to ask 100 planners what hybrid means you will get 50 different answers and they are all correct. One might define a hybrid event as bringing in outside speakers through a stream in front of an in-person audience. Another might define it as streaming out a presenter at an in-person event to an external audience.
How ever you define it, having a plan to go hybrid is a safety net for planners in case of a resurgence of COVID, or any other occurrence that might hinder attendance at an in-person meeting.
In the end, my greatest hope in 2022 for the AV industry is that the amazing people with worlds of knowledge are able to adapt to this new environment. I hope this pushes our leaders to think more creatively and be more proactive in producing new ways of doing things.
25. Jason Sutton, Executive Chef/Director of Operations, Footers Catering at Social Capitol
At Footers, our clients and their guests are ready to get back to partying more than ever. Rolling into 2022, I am seeing lots of interactive food stations taking weddings and events by storm. We are rolling out an authentic Street Taco Station where corn tortillas are freshly cooked on a cast-iron skillet as well as a Bao Bun Station where we will be rotating steamer baskets to heat the bao buns right at the station. My favorite idea that came out of this year has been Chef Shelby Anderson's Bread Bar Station, where we said, "life's too short, bring on the gluten!" and built an interactive table where guests get to choose from a variety of freshly baked breads, salts, oils, vinegars, and compound butters while also getting to design their own custom baby focaccia bread with different roasted vegetables that we then bake in the oven as a take away gift!