Star Power

With an expanding restaurant portfolio and new line of kitchen products, Geoffrey Zakarian continues to expand his culinary reach

By Deanne Moskowitz

You may not guess it from his laid-back manner and meticulous grooming, but Geoffrey Zakarian is moving at an incredible clip. The celebrity chef, television personality, cookbook author, philanthropist and (most important, he insists) “Daddy” has been riding a rocket to culinary stardom since he fell in love with the hospitality world and decided to become a chef, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1983, Zakarian began his career at Le Cirque in New York, where he rose from pastry sous chef, to chef, to chef de cuisine in only five years. He went on to preside over some of the most acclaimed kitchens in America, before opening his first restaurant in 2001, Town, which was awarded three stars by The New York Times.

Ever since, Zakarian has been lighting up the hospitality landscape with a string of luminary restaurants, notable for their sophistication and timeless style. Among them are The Lambs Club and The National in New York; Continue reading »

Healthy Profits

By Deanne Moskowitz

Recently, Robin Selden, managing partner and executive chef of Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning in Stamford, Conn., took a smart step to “keep up with the times.” She assigned a chef the role of developing recipes weekly that are healthy, “sexy and exciting,” and, since the chef herself is gluten-intolerant, every dish is designed with a gluten-free and vegan twist. Selden sees demand for “a much healthier way of eating,” so lately she’s “always thinking about that person who has a dietary concern and/or wants to eat healthier.” Continue reading »

Feeding the Imagination

By Sara Perez Webber

How do you “station”? For many caterers, this ever-popular way of serving food at an event is a chance to not only show off their cuisine but their showmanship. “We want to create experiences that capture guests’ interest and attention,” says Bobby Stern, president of Riviera Caterers in New York City. “Our clients are constantly asking us to push the envelope.” Continue reading »

Two Steps to Profitability

By Sandy Korem, CEO of The Catering Coach and The Festive Kitchen

As an independent caterer or restaurant owner, you likely spend a lot of time looking at the bottom line. You worry about the dollars in and the dollars out. How can you fix it so that everyone who works for you is worrying about the bottom line? In restaurants, the back-of-house employees are educated about spending, but are you educating your catering sales team on the same issues? Continue reading »

Icing on the Cake

The scoop on in-demand wedding desserts sure to hit that sweet spot

By Sara Perez Webber

Dessert tables are still hot, and macaroons aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. What other sweet treats are wedding clients asking for, and what cake designs are in? To find out, we asked a few caterers, and rounded up some ideas you may not have considered. Continue reading »

State of the Unions

Three caterers share the top trends—
from water bars to restaurant-style menus—
they’re featuring at their weddings

By Sara Perez Webber

What’s the “something new” at weddings these days? To find out, we asked three caterers from different areas of the country to tell us the trends they’re featuring—and clients are requesting—at their wedding receptions. Here’s what they had to say. Continue reading »

Profile – The Art of Catering

By Sara Perez Webber

As CEO, Simon Powles orchestrates the success of Starr Catering Group, which serves customers at iconic cultural centers and beyond

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, you could practice, practice, practice, as the old saying goes. Or you could hold a wedding or function there—an increasingly popular option at the iconic New York concert hall, where Starr Catering Group is the exclusive caterer, orchestrating a thriving special event business.

“Over the last 12 months, the event spaces in the new education center that sits above Carnegie Hall have been extremely popular,” says Simon Powles, CEO of Starr Catering Group ( “The spaces, including a rooftop terrace, boast stunning views of Central Park and the surrounding city skyline.” The “grandeur of hosting your event at the world’s most famous theater” adds to the venue’s allure, says Powles. Continue reading »

Sea Change

By Deanne Moskowitz

It isn’t only in Pacific Grove, Calif.—where Dory Ford’s catering operation, Aqua Terra Culinary Inc., was founded—that interest in sustainable seafood is strong. He says everyone’s on board in landlocked Denver, too, where last year he expanded the business and has already hosted four sustainable seafood events.

“It’s not a localized movement; it’s a worldwide area of concern,” says Ford, who observes the growing preoccupation everywhere he travels as a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, an advisory group of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

According to the aquarium’s website, 90 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or have collapsed, and such detrimental fishing practices as accidental catch of unwanted species (bycatch) and habitat damage from fishing gear are impacting the oceans and the health of sea life. Continue reading »

Raising the Bar

By Sara Perez Webber

In your catering business, do you follow beverage trends like you follow food trends? Are you incorporating cocktails, wines and food-and-beverage pairings throughout your sales pitches? Will guests at your events remember what they drank as much as what they ate?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” it may be time to raise your bar game. When you create interesting food-and-beverage pairings and serve cocktails that showcase the latest mixology trends, you’re bound to create buzz and increase sales, according to Sharon Charny Woschitz and Jessica Bernosky of the Breakthru Beverage Group (, a wholesale distribution company representing a broad portfolio of premier wine, spirits and beer brands. Continue reading »

Crafting a Legend

By Sara Perez Webber

Tito Beveridge calls himself a “20-year overnight success.” The founder and owner of Tito’s Handmade Vodka—a geologist-turned-mortgage-broker who started out making flavored vodka infusions as a hobby in the early 1990s—launched the first legal distillery in Texas, beginning commercial production in Austin in 1997.

The pot-distilled vodka brand took off like wildfire. By 2007 more than 160,000 cases of Tito’s Handmade Vodka were sold, and by 2015, that number had reportedly ballooned to a whopping 2.8 million cases (according to Shanken News Daily, a news service that covers the spirits, wine and beer business). In 2014, Tito’s was the 10th best-selling vodka in the U.S., according to research firm IRI—no small feat, considering the young brand was competing against much larger companies with long-established brand names. The Texas brand has won fans internationally as well; Tito’s is distributed in Europe and Asia, and in July the company announced its distribution in the motherland of vodka—Russia. Continue reading »