Photo credit: Gael Hees

Induction cooktop and battery in booth 252 at Catersource. 

Days before voluntary self-isolation was requested, I attended the last day of Catersource and The Event Show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. I have attended these conferences off and on for more than ten years. The classes are on point, the feeling on the trade show floor is celebratory and there are always great ideas to take away and apply. 

This year was different. The tradeshow floor was almost empty of attendees. I even said “jokingly” to myself, “Perhaps this is the last hurrah,” not knowing how prophetic that would be. I realized I would have rather been waiting in line to get the tasty potato waffle with barbecue and slaw, than walking right up and being offered seconds and even thirds. I missed all of the people, the energy that comes from a group enjoying themselves and each other, laughing, talking, snacking…

Those of us in the hospitality industry are people people. We like the crowds and the energy and the talking and laughing. That’s why we do this. And now to some extent we’re shut down, limiting contact and missing coworkers and guests. I’m going to be redundant here (you’ve read it in blogs and heard it on television), but first use this time to reset and relax. Take care of yourself—after all, it is your own immune system that will get you through it if you do contract the virus. Rest, eat well, and above all, try to stay calm. BUT, at the same time, think about what you’re going to do differently when things pick back up again (because they will).

Spend some time thinking about your philosophy about your place in the hospitality industry. How do you want your place of business to be perceived? Review the customer experience in your head. What needs to be different? Make plans, change up menus, test dishes. We can choose to see this time as a gift. Planning doesn’t cost any money and can reap unimagined rewards.

It’s not about spending lots of money, it’s about being creative and reflecting the soul of your company. In light of that, here are some ideas to think about that I took away from Catersource/The Event Show:

Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what is being sold at a booth. I was struck by the beautiful tables by Live Edge Design, but was confused because a man was cooking something, so maybe this was a food purveyor? I was right the first time; it was the tables. Live Edge Design creates hand-crafted foldable tables for the hospitality industry in addition to desks, coffee tables and counter tops—many from re-purposed woods. Imagine a solid wood table with three infusion burners that could be used for table side cooking, outdoor bar-b-ques, a carving station and more. It’s a possibility!

Spiceology is a fun company that features freshly ground herbs, spices and blends with fun color-coded packaging that resembles the entries of the periodic chart. Chef-owned, Spiceology has a grand array of chilis and a number of blends for both savory and sweet for baking. 

Tablescapes are continuing to evolve. Colors, textures, and shapes seemed to be trending this year. But don’t think you need to order an entire set of china to be in vogue. Consider adding an irregular-shaped blue dessert plate to accent your white china, or a red stoneware salad/appetizer plate to your black china set. Check out Sophistiplate, LLC for ideas. 

So, what would an interesting charger add to the experience? Look at the offerings from Artisan Tableware Co. and think about ordering just a few for special guests or even consider using one at every other chair. 

Serving tiny bits for dessert or sharable appetizers? Sterling Risers has stunning display surfaces with interchangeable legs that will elevate your table side and buffet service.

Now, let’s talk about flowers. Be creative with containers and mix it up with both fresh and dried flowers. You don’t need a huge bouquet on every table. You can get unique fresh flowers from Fifty Flowers, and you’ll find fun ideas at Stinko’s Las Vegas for both large and small displays. 

Take care!

Live Edge Design


Sophistiplate, LLC

Artisan Tableware Co.

Sterling Risers
(Special offer for F&B Professional Readers—$175 for a ten-pack, just reference Catersource)

Fifty Flowers

Stinko’s Las Vegas