Jody Birnbaum, is the President of Caterconsult, Inc. Jody spent twenty plus years in the catering business and was the founder and owner of Pear Tree Catering, Ltd.
Jody brings a strong and varied skill set to the table as a consultant. She is a focused communicator who listens well and is able to facilitate an effective communication strategy within any organization. Her overall knowledge of the industry and her ability to “look at the big picture” while having an empathic connection to the many members of both the front and back of the house, set her apart in the industry. Jody uses her wicked combination of experience, humor and compassion to build professional and collaborative teams of associate consultants, business owners and their staff.
As an adjunct faculty member at the Culinary School of Kendall College, Jody teaches Introduction to Foodservice Business Planning. Jody designed the course to help students understand the basic business issues impacting most new businesses including start-up expenses, build outs, licensing, insurance, taxes, legalities, menu development, pricing, costing, inventory, human resources, financial management, sales and marketing.
Jody has been an industry speaker and presenter at The Catersource Conference and various other catering and restaurant associations, along with local small business and community organizations. Jody has a passion for food & business, and in an ongoing effort to stay on top of the latest trends, she travels frequently, dines out often, and attends many industry-related food shows. Jody has been quoted in North Shore Magazine, The Chicago Sun Times, Catering Magazine, Chef Magazine, The Daily Herald and Catersource Magazine. Jody has also written articles for various industry trade magazines and a local dining guide.
Chef Ben Walanka is a native Chicagoan and appreciates the robust and explosive food scene taking place in his home town. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary School at Kendall College in 2002, Ben worked in such notable Chicago kitchens as Marche, Le Francais, Holly’s American Bistro, The Club at Symphony Center and Rhapsody Restaurant. Most recently Ben was recruited to be part of the opening team as the Executive Sous Chef at a new farm to table steakhouse in Miami Beach. The restaurant which is called 1500 Degrees is in the newly refurbished Eden Roc Resort, a premier Miami Beach property.
Ben was selected to compete in Season 5 of Fox TV’s cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, hosted by the infamous Gordon Ramsay. Starting as one of hundreds of contestants, Ben battled his way to a final four finish out of 16 finalists. This incredible accomplishment landed him an opportunity to continue his dream of cooking on TV when he joined The Big Ten Network and co-hosted a live tailgate themed cooking show called The Big Ten Cookout.
Chef Ben traveled to a different Big Ten College Campus each week where he would design a different recipe to be featured on the grill. The goal, so to speak, was an attempt to help tailgaters and non-tailgaters alike, raise their “grilling game”. Ben has also been seen on other local television media channels, in news publications, magazines and on radio shows.
Back in Chicago, Ben is delighted to be working as an industry consultant where he continues to share his passion for food and his vast experience in kitchen systems and operations.
Chef Eric LeVine graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. and credits celebrity Chef David Burke with sparking his passion and creative artistry with food.
Shortly after graduation the industry took note when young Chef Eric became Chef de Cuisine at the signature Marriott Marquis in New York City. He was twice featured in Wine Spectator Magazine with an Award of Excellence and USA Today recognized him as one of the Top Ten New Chefs in both 1994 and 1995.
The accolades and awards have continued over the last 15 years. Please visit Eric's website at (www.exqconsulting.com) for a complete listing and for a glimpse of his new cookbook. Chef Eric is truly a catering trendsetter ... setting the highest standard of "wow" in our industry.
As a gifted "Off-Premise Catering Chef", a rather rare breed in the industry, he knows and understands the incredible demands of off-premise catering. He is a master teacher when it comes to knowing how to best prepare, hold and finish food to it’s most delicious potential with exquisite presentation. Did we mention he does all of this with a great attitude and an eye on the bottom line?
Drew Larson is the owner and president of Leaders Beverage Consulting, Inc. Drew studied at The French Culinary Institute in conjunction with the Court of Master Sommeliers where he earned his Certified Sommelier Certificate and also passed the Certified Specialist of Wines test with the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). Drew also holds the advanced level 3 award in Wines and Spirits, from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. In addition, Drew is a Certified Specialist of Spirits with the SWE. He is a Certified Cicerone® and preparing for the Master Cicerone® certification for which there are currently only six in the world.
A true food lover, Drew has also earned a degree of Culinary Arts from the prestigious Culinary School of Kendall College. He is dedicated to educating both professionals and individuals in the art of pairing food, wine, beer and spirits. He is an expert in beverage menu development and staff training.
As if Drew weren’t busy enough he still finds time to devote to the Army Reserves in the rank of Major, after 18 years of service and 11 on active duty as a medical evacuation Blackhawk helicopter pilot.
Amelia Levin is a Chicago-based freelance writer, editor, cookbook author, media consultant and certified chef (Kendall College) focusing on food, restaurants, chefs and other culinary topics with experience in hard news reporting, business journalism and magazine editing.
Her work has appeared on the local and national level, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Edible Chicago, as well as a variety of restaurant industry trade magazines. Amelia is a former senior editor for the food & hospitality group of magazines published by the now-shuttered Reed Business Information, including Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, Restaurants & Institutions, Chain Leader and HOTELS.
In addition to her writing pursuits, Amelia develops and tests recipes for clients and editorial outlets, including Oxmoor House’s Cooking Light cookbook series. Her first book, Chicago Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot 2012) features recipes and stories from more than nearly 60 of the city's best chefs and restaurants.
One of the advantages of working with Caterconsult, Inc. is that you can tap into the resources of top-notch professionals with a combined experience in the industry totaling too many years to count. We will be able to point you in the right direction and connect you with experts at every level of development.
Caterconsult, Inc. | 131 Autumn Court | Buffalo Grove, IL 60089 | Phone: 847.514.7166 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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