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Catersource or AOCF: Which is Better for You?

As March approaches, that means one thing for many caterers: Catersource. And this year, that means the Art of Catering Food, too! You may be wondering why you should go to either, and that's a fair question. Jennifer Perna, VP of Sales for Blue Plate Catering in Chicago, says caterers should attend, "because the value you receive for the dollars spent is immense. You can take away one idea from the conference and sell it many times over—I have done it every year."

So, now that you've heard why, you might be trying to decide which event is best for your business. Take a look at the advice from ICA members below to determine which conference is best for your catering business—and the answer may be both!

Why you should attend Catersource

Catersource 2017 is huge, and we mean that literally. Tons of tradeshow space, hundreds of catering professionals and thousands of great ideas—see the reasons why you should be there.

1. You're looking for vendors and products

Olive Chase, president and owner of The Casual Gourmet in Cape Cod, shared that Catersource was an excellent buying show. "We consider Catersource a very important source of new products and vendors," Chase says.

2. You'd like some business advice

If you bring a cross-departmental team, you can seriously enhance your company. Perna said that they have "brought members from all departments and they have all returned from the conference re-energized, excited, and ready to share what they have learned with the entire team."

3. You love networking

There are so many opportunities, official and unofficial, to network with professionals in the catering and event industries. Jason Sutton, executive chef at Footers Catering in Denver, said, "Some of the most valuable times I have had at Catersource are the 10-minute breaks between the classes where you spark up conversations."

Why you should attend AOCF

AOCF is a specialized culinary education series that focuses on teaching chefs new techniques and encouraging collaboration among industry members. Here are the reasons you might want to check it out.

1. You'd like to work on your culinary department

It may seem obvious, but if creating unique cuisine is a challenge for your business or you're looking for new ideas, AOCF showcases innovative catering and more that will reinvigorate your kitchen.

2. You're a catering company that's all about food

Some caterers are particularly focused on their menus, especially when the owner is a chef or culinary professional. If you spend most of your time and money creating your own cuisine, sourcing ingredients, and perfecting custom menus, AOCF is right for you.

3. You want sales team inspiration

Believe it or not, it might be worthwhile to send someone from sales to AOCF. Heidi Brice, Director of Catering at Puff n' Stuff Catering in Orlando and Tampa, says that it is "a valuable conference for sales individuals to spark their creativity."

No matter which conference works best for you, feel free to connect with us. You can talk with us or meet current ICA members, over half of whom are planning to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!


Blue Plate Catering, Footers Catering, The Casual Gourmet and Puff n' Stuff are proud members of the ICA. For more information, visit ICA is a global organization of caterers who come together for education and inspiration.


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