It was literally one of the last “real” gatherings of 2020, even if we were only a quarter way into the year. Gala, ACE, and CATIE award nominees mingled prior to the industry awards ceremony at The Special Event + Catersource the evening of March 12, 2020 for small bites, conversation, and music that, who would have thought—was centered around a theme of The Roaring Twenties.
The Roaring Twenties… a decade of opulence sprung from the jaws of a pandemic. Oh, the irony!
But there was nothing but joyful enthusiasm for the passed appetizer bites provided, by way of four chefs who truly know their way around a kitchen.
A little back story: the four chefs, Karen O’Connor of Daniel et Daniel, Toronto, Canada; Clay Brunton of Beets Hospitality Group, California; John Reed, Customized Culinary Solutions, Illinois; and Mark Ellis of The Chef’s Table, Massachusetts presented demo sessions on the Culinary Experience stage at Catersource earlier in the week. Each offered an appetizer recipe for the awards event that would pair with their presentations. Go listen to the chef, then sample their creation at the reception. It was a dream to have such a beautifully curated experience for our The Special Event and Catersource audiences.
Each bite briefly transported us into the aesthetic each chef was attuned to for the conference. For Chef O’Connor, it was the many ways chicken can be utilized at events of any kind. Her chicken roulade, normally a center of the plate entree, became a delicious small plate.
Chef Mark Ellis. Photo courtesy of the chef
Chef Ellis, who presented a session on sous vide, offered a tiny Caesar salad with an accompanying pipette that had been filled via his clever sous vide-style method, demonstrated earlier at his session.
The satisfying crunch of potato tikka fritter garnished with beet threads and cilantro came from Chef John Reed, who in his earlier session discussed global cuisine and the development of appealing flavor foundations.
Chef John Reed. Photo courtesy of the chef
Finally, Chef Brunton was all about the trends in dumplings in his Thursday session, and later that evening, guests were able to sample a swoon-worthy crab and shrimp
Chef Clay Brunton, during his session on the Culinary Experience stage at Catersource + The Special Event
It is this attention to detail: unique flavors, delightful textures, utilization of price-conscious proteins elevated into something extraordinary that make event appetizers most appealing. Your care in providing an elevated menu for your clients, one that moves beyond the ordinary and into the realm of “I can’t stop thinking about how good that was” will win you the job year after year.
In these difficult times—but also times of opportunity as clients are spending more on providing a boutique food and beverage experience for their smaller guest lists—now is the time to push your creativity, explore and expand upon low margin/high profit tastes, and usher in a beautiful aesthetic for 2021.