“Dangerous? You bet. But how cool! ”
As the owner/operator of Denver’s Catering By Design, Cade Nagy can cater for up to 50 events per day. After 15 years working from the ground up, he has valuable insights into the multi-billion dollar U.S. catering sector, from large-corporate caterers, to the military through to event-style catering.
In a must-see presentation for all food exporters, Cade shared his ideas on how to gain traction in this lucrative market at the 2010 New Zealand Aquaculture Conference.
But he’s not all about business. In his secondary role as director of the world’s largest catering trade show, CaterSource in Las Vegas, Cade is renowned for throwing lavish parties that heavily influence the industry’s trends. Here we reveal some of Cade’s Coolest Catering Concepts.
Torched was all about theatrics and the flame. Chefs wearing welding masks, used butane torches to brulee items such as New Zealand Greenshell Mussels and oysters served on custom pounded metal plates while welding-outfit clad models performed on stage behind the buffet.
We used Liquid nitrogen to freeze salad dressings that were sprayed out of paint guns to form little frozen pellets of dressing. Below the stage, servers placed pearls of dressings onto pre-built martini salads for guest to grab. The look of the station replicated a scientific laboratory comp with lab coats, goggles, lab backdrop, and tons of liquid nitrogen providing the smoke effect.
We created the towers concept to give us a new look and design for serving a variety of items for different applications and to be very flexible with how they were used. Each set has four, 8 ft tall towers constructed out of plywood and hardwoods then hand stained or painted. The towers can be used as a single piece by connecting height adjustable shelves together, or as individual units.
4)The Endless Buffet
This, 65 foot diameter, circular buffet, was built to feed 2000 caterers quickly and efficiently with little line. It was divided into three equal sections. Each section featured suspended hand painted tree branches that anchored table-top buffet décor. Candles, custom light fixtures, and menu signs, were suspended from the branches. Because of the round setup of the buffet, it seemed to never end, as there was not a real starting or ending point. Living centerpieces stood on a stage in the center of the buffet along with chefs and backup product stored under the raised stage for quick re-stocking of the food. This buffet took 12 CBD staff about 12 hours to set up and 4 hours to breakdown.
5)The Living Chandelier
This was new way of breaking a toast for guests. We used a 7-foot diameter steel ring as the base for holding bottles of champagne suspended 12 feet in the air with a sexy sequined athlete hung by their ankles through the center. To reach the champagne, they needed to use their stomach muscles to reach up grab. While upside down, they would pop the cork, then guests would reach up to the girl with a flute in hand to receive the pour. Dangerous? You bet. But how cool?
6)When It Rains
I’m always reaching for new ways of featuring food. And this one was indeed a reach. From an original concept drawn, like most of my ideas, on a bar napkin, we made eight umbrellas out of steel bar. Each was 6 foot across and topped with a plexi glass top for the table. I then had our receptionist sew the hand painted fabrics together to stretch over the umbrella frame. All it needed then were a few jewels and some sparkle. And did I mention we also made hand made pulled sugar raindrop chandeliers to go over each umbrella?
7)the salad BAR
When catering to caterers, I was looking for the next thing we could all do in our markets. With a little play on words, I decided to do “the salad BAR”. We took classic drink names, The Cosmo, The Margarita, and Saki and turned them into salads. Printed the menu items on the black t-shirts of the “Salad Tenders”. You walked up to this all white BAR that actually portrayed a bar. Ordered off of the shirt, we then tossed the salad ingredients together in martini shakers and poured into the appropriate glass. Cheers!
8)Muscles Passing Mussels
While working with New Zealand Greenshell mussels as a sponsor for an event, we decided to create something unique for this unique product. We hired four muscle hunks to carry a 6 foot long clear plexi glass table across the room to guests. We filled it with 6 different types of mussel recipes, and viola! Muscles Passing Mussels
9)The Playable Ice Pool Hall
That’s right, it’s playable. Working with Absolut Vodka on and event in Las Vegas they wanted something interactive and unique that fit within their brand. So I decided to try to make a playable pool table. After 25 blocks of ice, (15 of those failing) buckets of green dyed sand, and a couple of broken toes, (not mine), we did it. We carved the Absolut logo from the underside of the finished product using a router. We then filled the logo with green sand to give it the built into the table look and feel. The balls are actually clear acrylic. Since it was all 100% ice, we allowed each guest only a few shots each. (Of pool, not vodka - they could have all the vodka they wanted)
10)The Chef Bars
Chef bars were designed to be a cross between catering, tapas bar, and restaurant. Chefs were in the center of a 28 seat, three-sided, bar-height seating bar. The guests could choose from either of the three bars which all served different food items. There was the macaroni and cheese bar, the mussel bar, or the slider bar. Each bar served three different menu items printed on menus. They place their order directly with the chefs in the center who prepared and served the guest. Each bar was designed to be completely identical – yet each one was completely different in the materials used as well as colors. One was all about the color purple, another was all about pink and pearls, while the other being about materials: wood, steel, glass, leather, and then hit with roses.