UK Catering tries new recipe for fun at annual food show

At its third-annual food show, UK Catering hoped to show potential customers that it’s more than a cafeteria catering service, and it knows how to throw a party.

Nearly 100 people filled the Grand Ballroom of the Student Center yesterday, surrounded by colorful lights, disco balls, 70s music and the idea that UK Catering delivers both good food and fun.

“The reputation we had in the past was of cafeteria catering,” said Ray Schmidt, assistant director of catering. “This year we’re starting 100 percent from scratch to showcase our food and have fun too.”

The event in past years has mostly been a “vendor show” in order to bolster the reputation of UK Catering for potential and current clients, Schmidt said. But with each year’s show bringing in an increasing number of clients, UK Catering decided it was time for something new.

“We wanted to change our reputation first,” Schmidt said. “Then we decided to go with a theme, someone suggested a disco theme and we ran with it to show we can have fun too.”

The annual food show is the biggest event for UK Catering and has grown every year, increasing business for the catering side of UK Dining Services, Schmidt said. The event required a month of planning to be ready for the anticipated crowd of 300 to 500 people.

“This event is like inviting everyone to our own little party,” said Melinda Plymale, event coordinator for UK Dining Services.

Many of the members of different UK departments enjoyed the food and the atmosphere of the offbeat theme.

“It’s great,” said Kristi Cox, a staff-support associate for the department of employee benefits. “I’m really impressed with the food and decoration.”

And while Cox’s department already uses UK Catering for all its events, the food show helps keep the department as a client, she said.

The event also serves to bring in new clients like Karen McDonald, a price contract coordinator in UK’s purchasing department.

“I love it,” McDonald said. “Plus, it’s free food.”