Straight Ahead with Fred Sampson
Catering: The Forgotten Segment
As I searched the Internet seeking updates, surveys, stories, and general information dealing with the present condition of the industry, I found a dearth of such dealing with the catering segment. I’m not talking about full-service restaurants that can accommodate groups; I mean caterers that serve guests both on and off premises. This may be due to its unique character. I think it was best said by Chef Mitch Prensky, formerly of New York and now in Philadelphia. He compares catering to “a zebra and a horse. They may look similar, but they’re not the same thing.” Amen.
Before I discuss economic conditions, I think you should know that traditional catering as we know it has gone through some dramatic changes, particularly those located in and around major population centers. From 1990 until the year 2000, more than 31 million immigrants came to the United States from the Far East, the Pacific Basin, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Their dispersal for the most part was concentrated in five states: California, New York, Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey. Like their predecessors, these immigrants aimed for areas that either already had enclaves consisting of their nationality or were receptive to their arrival. That meant they found themselves in or on the perimeter of major metropolitan areas. More>>>
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About the Author
You might say that Fred Sampson was born with food service in his DNA, working at age 12 in his family restaurant in Philadelphia after school and on week-ends, followed by a career that included director of feeding at Temple University’s main campus in Philadelphia, vice president of a regional casual dining chain and finally as President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association for 30 years. He is still active as a consultant and writer All of this has enriched his knowledge and love for the industry. He has often said, “I have never considered myself an ‘expert’ on the industry but rather a qualified observer and I write from that perspective.”
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