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Bask in the Sunshine: Show Preview Part 2

Catersource + The Special Event head to Orlando, March 27–30

Catersource + The Special Event is the best place to expand your network, learn from industry veterans, and get inspired about your career. This year will be bigger and better with several additions, including the new MeetingsNet track for meeting planners. Get ready to grow as an event professional as we celebrate the incredible world of events! 

Leadership Lunch

Join us in celebrating impactful industry leaders at the annual Leadership Lunch on Thursday, March 30th from 11:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This performing arts center is Orlando’s main performance venue, boasting 10 event spaces, including the Walt Disney Theater, Steinmetz Hall, the DeVos Family Room, and a rooftop terrace.

This business-casual lunch and learn session will feature an awards ceremony with the presentation of the surprise annual Steve Kemble award.

Lunch and Learn Session: 
“The Courage to Change”

Kate Patay, CPCE

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Lenny Talarico, CSEP

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change! Prepare your palate for an innovative menu that will change the way you think about upscale cuisine and listen to the stories of dramatic career change from two of the industry’s most iconic leaders, Lenny Talarico, CSEP and Kate Patay, CPCE.

The chair for this event is Heidi Brumbach, CMP of Technisch Creative. Transporation is provided to and from the venue. Tickets are required to attend.

Trend-forward Evening Events

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Attendees were all smiles as they experienced music, activity stations, and high-end food
and beverage at the Opening Night Party in 2022. Photo courtesy WASIO Photography

Monday March 27 • Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
Chair: Jean-Michel Santacreu, JMS Event Design & Production
Kick off your week right by connecting with friends and colleagues at our opening welcome reception Connect Live from 7:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., which brings attendees of Art of Catering Food together with Catersource + The Special Event.

Tuesday March 28 • Hampton Social/Kavas/Pointe Orlando
Chairs: Gabrielle “Gabby” Mourina, Imprint  Events Group &  Selina Mullinax, CORT Events
It’s time to celebrate in the Florida sunshine with colleagues from far and near during the Opening Night Party from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. This year’s theme “Coastal Fiesta Block Party” is inspired by the coastal and playful atmosphere of The Hampton Social and the vibrant and cultural experience of Kavas. This block party at The Pointe will be designed to delight the senses. Be sure to move throughout the three indoor and outdoor locations where you’ll find exciting entertainment, delicious small bites, and plenty of rosé and reposado. This evening reception will allow you to choose your own adventure and connect with fellow industry professionals to create an unforgettable experience!

Wednesday March 29 • Canvas
This is the night of the premier networking celebration to raise funds for our industry. Join the SEARCH Foundation for their Annual Signature Event and mingle with top industry professionals all while supporting friends and colleagues in crisis. For those not attending the SEARCH event, this is an evening to hit the town with your teams and peers and enjoy a taste of Orlando.
Here are some restaurants we recommend checking out:

  1. Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen: This Floribbean-inspired concept restaurant near Walt Disney World® Resort* gives eaters a taste of the state’s history and modern coastal flare with a steak- and-seafood-centric menu that features fresh, bold ingredients.
  2. Capa: Located in the Four Seasons, Capa is a chic Michelin-starred 17th-floor rooftop steakhouse and bar featuring the best of Spanish-influenced cuisine.
  3. The Ravenous Pig: An American gastropub situated next door to its sister brewery and beer garden, this Southern hub is run by a husband-and-wife team of James Beard–nominated chefs.
  4. Reyes Mezcaleria: Mezcal is gaining popularity in the U.S., so if you’re looking to sip a Oaxacan Old Fashioned while eating regionally-inspired fine Mexican cuisine, this is the place for you.
  5. Prato: For a rich Italian culinary experience, visit Prato. This stylish eatery combines contemporary design with seasonal ingredients and modern takes on Italian classics.

For more on Orlando’s food scene, click here for a deep dive by Catersource. Other activities you can check out (besides the obvious answer of Walt Disney World® Resort*): find your way out of The Escape Game Orlando, get an adrenaline rush at IFLY Indoor Skydiving, shop designer brands at the Mall at Millenia, and pose with the famous figures at Madame Tussauds Orlando.

Thursday March 30 • Ole Red/Brother Jimmy’s BBQ/Tapa Toro
Chairs: Chef Boris Seymore, BDS Catering & Productions & Jenice Stallings, Styles By Stallings
Celebrate with colleagues amidst an entertainment-filled experience as we wrap up a great week for our industry at the Closing Night Celebration from 7:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and sources. The writer and sources are not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company, and this article is not authorized or endorsed by the Walt Disney company or any of its affiliates. All Disney-related trademarks are property of Disney Enterprises, Inc. 

Associations & groups

Associations and groups will be present at Catersource + The Special Event, many of which will also have booths on the Tradeshow Floor and/or in the conference area. Take the time to seek these people out and learn more! We are all in this together and hope to learn from each other. Here’s a look for this year:

Industry accolades: award recipients

Catersource + The Special Event 2023 is also the time for our annual ACE, GALA, and ICA CATIE Awards, which will be presented Thursday evening from 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m., preceded by a brief keynote address from beloved industry pro Michael Cerbelli. Click here to see this year’s Gala Award nominees. During the ceremony, Special Events will present its highest honor, the Gala Lifetime Achievement Award, to Michael Cerbelli.

An awards nominee reception will precede the ceremony, beginning at 4:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity for networking and supporting some of the industry’s movers and shakers. Click here to see this year's awards recipients.

Congratulations to our recipients! Come show your support and uplift these outstanding industry professionals at the Awards Ceremony Thursday, March 30th  at 5:30 p.m.

New this year! The Event Escape

Catersource + The Special Event 2024 is headed to Austin. Stop by the Uncover Austin Escape Room for a sneak peak!

This year we’re bringing in brand activations in the form of immersive “escape” rooms, where you’ll be able to create memorable moments and share photo ops on social media for all your friends and followers to see.  

CS+TSE 2024: Uncover Austin, TX
Room W332 Open Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours
It’s no longer a secret! Catersource + The Special Event will head next to Austin, TX in 2024! Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, but, oh—it is so much more than that. This genuinely unique destination, the capital city of the Lone Star State, has a soundtrack all its own, weaving in art, culture, incredible food, and breathtaking outdoor activities. Step into this event escape and learn about the city, enjoy activities, and pick up a little Texas twang while you’re at it.

Wellness Lounge
Room W333 Open Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours
Need some time to recharge your internal batteries? Head to the wellness lounge, where soothing music, beautiful scents, and comfortable seating awaits. This isn’t a room for chatty interaction, but a place to reflect and recharge. This escape will also be the gathering spot for morning pilates sessions, Charessa Sawyer’s event therapy class on Thursday at 11:00 a.m., and much more. Come relax, unwind, and breathe deeply before rejoining sessions and stepping onto the exhibit hall floor.

Floral Design Lab
Room W334 Open at various times Tuesday through Thursday during regular show hours
Observe florists Michelle Howard of Flora Couture and Mylo Lopez of Mylo Fleur (both Las Vegas, NV) construct beautiful pieces they will showcase in their Tuesday afternoon session Let’s Talk Floral 1.1 (230C, 4:00 p.m.). Come on in and converse with these two artists and their teams, or stop and smell the roses! Same goes for Wednesday, as they ready their florals for the Hands on Tablescape Design Competition session on the exhibit hall floor (11:15 a.m. back right of exhibit hall). If you have ever wanted to see how florists work and/or be a part of their world, this is the escape you have been dreaming of!

Don’t miss this exciting new addition! 

Agenda at a Glance


Venue Tour
1:00 p.m.­ to 5:00 p.m.

Connect Live at Big Fin Seafood
7:30 p.m.­ to 10:30 p.m.


Conference education
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Opening Night Party at Hampton/ Social/Kavas/Pointe Orlando
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Opening General Session
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (doors at 8:30 a.m.)

Tradeshow floor
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

DICED competition
11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Conference education
1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hall Happy Hour
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

SEARCH’s Annual Signature Event
8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.


Closing General Session
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (doors at 8:30 a.m.)

Tradeshow floor
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Conference education
11:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Leadership Lunch at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

ACE/Gala/CATIE Awards Reception
4:30 p.m.­ to 5:30 p.m.

ACE/Gala/CATIE awards on the Keynote Stage
5:30 p.m.­ to 7:00 p.m.

Closing Night Celebration at ICON Park
7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Click here for Part 1 of the Catersource + The Special Event Show Preview!

  • Keynote & featured speakers
  • Session info
  • Tradeshow floor
  • and more!

Register Now!

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