Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Innovative Catering Concepts, cookin' at The Barnes

ICC's truck unloading under the Barnes' iconic overhang
About a month or so ago, my good friend Tia Triplett asked me to coordinate vendors for interesting food booths on the terrace at the new Barnes museum on their free ticket Memorial day weekend. Tia is the on-site GM for 1st & Fresh Catering the food service provider for the museum. Due to the extremely heavy load of catered events and opening their restaurant and coffee bar, they needed some relief for their staff and that is why they decided to subcontract this project. Tia chose me to do this because of my museum experience and my knowledge of what the best vendor solution would be to make it special for the guests. My immediate thought was to involve all my catering clients, but since only one of them has an ongoing vending component to their business model, I decided to work on this with Rocco Gallelli, Joe Divon and Steve Mastero, owners of Innovative Catering Concepts.

Field kitchen and grill station
Rocco and I developed the menu with Tia's guidance and we decided to go with three different food stations. One station I dubbed "Rocco's Grill" which featured huge burgers with gruyere and caramelized onions, 1/4 lb. all beef dogs with great toppings and lots of deep fried goodies. The Sampan Restaurant station had edamame wasabi  and pork gyoza dumplings along with chicken and beef satays. The third station had an excellent mezze platter from Bitar's (Philly's best Middle Eastern fare), veggie crudite and wraps. Rocco also brought in a water ice and pretzel vendor. It was a very enjoyable weekend, although very hot, and it was great to see the new museum inside and out. The staff for 1st & Fresh and the museum were great to work with, and provided us with everything we needed to do our work with graciousness and the hospitality attitude. They even had an air conditioned service kitchen just to the left of where I took the above picture that was ours for the weekend, in addition we had use of a large mobile kitchen they had been lent by the Toby Keith Tour.
Jules and Liz, serving lemonade and mezze

Jack & Jerry, cheffin' up some dumplings.
Jack put his hat back on after the picture.
I had recruited a few of my daughter's friends to work the event and they did a great job. Rocco called them "The Jonas Brothers" and Katie and their other friends got a pretty big laugh out of that.
Bar inside the Barnes run by 1st & Fresh Catering
Since I like to think of myself as a student as well as a consultant in the catering industry, I was very curious to see up close how 1st & Fresh is doing so far at The Barnes. A major opening like they had with huge high budget/profile events every day in a new building is extremely difficult, I know from my experience at The National Constitution Center. From every thing I have seen and heard from 1st & Fresh employees that I know from other catering companies, museum employees that I knew previously and others in the industry they are succeeding and doing a great job. The management is smart enough to bring in help when needed and I thought it was very astute to bring in Great Performances from Manhattan to staff most of the two opening galas. GP is known as having some of the best, well trained staff in the business, and to utilize them rather than one of the Philly based temp companies on a very busy catering weekend gave them much better staff than any other option available. 
View of Barnes terrace, our food booths are left, right and straight ahead
The Barnes has great event spaces, I think my favorite is this terrace. With the overhang it is protected from the weather and has great views of the Parkway. I think the capacity is about 600 for a cocktail party.

It was a great weekend for me, experiencing a new treasure for Philadelphia and learning more about the interesting world of food vending from true masters of this branch of catering, Innovative Catering Concepts. ICC is also excellent at full service and other types of catering, but whenever you may need an expert solution for your street fair, carnival or festival they should be your first call. And don't forget the Jonas Brothers too.

As always thanks for reading.


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  3. wow!!really innovative concepts out there..nice stuff..

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