06 Mar A Delicious Bite of Catering History
The history of Broadway Gourmet Bagel Cafe & Caterers in Nassau County stretches back to 1992. While we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, we will also be honoring the even longer history and traditions of the catering industry.
The First Course
Writing on the history of catering, KC Rippy says, “Catering has a rich history, dating back to the 4th millennium BC in China. Officially, the Ancient Greeks made catering a trade by offering services at their inns and hostels which lasted into the Roman Empire. Throughout the centuries Catering was primarily for feasts and banquets for Kings and Noblemen.”
All American Flavor
Rippy traces the history of catering in the United States back to 1778. “A ball in Philadelphia, catered by Caesar Cranshell, was the first major catering event in the United States,” he says.
Robert Bogle (1774-1848) is largely credited with establishing catering as a profession. A historical marker on South 8th Street in Philadelphia marks the location of his “post eatery.” According to the Free Library of Philadelphia, “This sign marks not only the location of his food establishment, but the birthplace of the catering industry as we know it today.”
Before Bogle, a prominent Black restaurateur whose establishment was popular with Philadelphia’s politicians and social leaders, what we think of as catering was the domain of private cooks and servants who worked for wealthy members of society.
“But there also existed the public butler or waiter—usually a free person of color employed by several households,” the Free Library reports. “Sidestepping competition with Irish-Americans in other hospitality service sectors, Bogle appropriated this role of the public butler to corner the market for food service at large social gatherings. When he added his culinary talent, social capital, and entrepreneurial skills, Bogle could only stand to revolutionize the way Philadelphia hosted weddings, banquets, christenings, and funerals.”
Cheers to the Future!
Normally, we are focused on catering celebrations for our Nassau neighbors, but we are excited about celebrating catering, too!
As we celebrate 30 years, we look forward to writing the next chapter in our own history and adding our own unique flavor – from our backyard BBQ catering to our new healthy catering menu – to the broader story of catering in the United States!