A local Atlanta caterer helped found a new hospitality organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proof of the Pudding, a catering company, helped form Elite Catering + Event Professionals (ECEP) along with 15 other companies in 2021, according to a press release. The organization was founded to try and give food service and catering workers more representation in Washington in the midst of a tumultuous time.
Proof of the Pudding President Adam Noyes said that the foundation for ECEP began right when the pandemic hit.
“We’re all in the business of bringing people together around food and gatherings,” Noyes said. “All of a sudden, we’re not able to do that any longer.”
Some Proof of the Pudding leadership began attending a weekly conference call with other similar organizations across the country, such as M Culinary in Phoenix, Behind the Scenes Catering in San Diego, and Ridgewells Catering in Washington D.C. The organizations wanted to share best practices and talk about how they had been navigating the pandemic, but Noyes said the conversations kept returning to the lack of advocacy for the catering industry specifically.
“The restaurant lobby is a very strong lobby, and has a lot of advocacy and influence in Washington,” Noyes said. “But for the catering industry alone, there wasn’t that large influence. We said, this is our opportunity to do something about it.”
Thus, ECEP was formed, focusing specifically on industry advocacy, sharing best practices, learning, and networking. One of the first steps ECEP took was to align with the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), and work together with Congress to get catering and food services declared as essential. The organization is reportedly currently advocating with the Internal Revenue Service for companies who have yet to receive their Employee Retention Tax Credit.
“During the pandemic, at some point food service workers were essential workers,” Noyes said. “A lot of times, we were the ones on the front lines providing meals for hospitals, homeless, you name it. We were the ones that the phone was ringing for. So it was imperative that we had the ability to get our people to work and to work as safely as possible.”