Great Performances, one of New York’s City’s premier catering, events and hospitality companies, announced last month the appointment of Andrew Smith, the former executive chef at Riverpark, the city’s forward thinking dining concept and multifaceted event venue, to the position of the company’s culinary director.
In his new role at Great Performances (GP), known for its commitment to transparent local sourcing, seasonal ingredients and innovative presentations, Smith will oversee menu development for GP’s catering, venue and corporate dining operations; research and development; the production team; and tastings.
“Andrew’s decade-long experience at Riverpark makes it seem he was fated to join us, because the case can be made it is a mini version of GP, incorporating events, a café and corporate dining. in addition to the upscale a la carte,” said Liz Neumark, Great Performances founder. “As we move out of the pandemic doldrums into a reinvigorated business climate, Andrew’s expertise will help us take full advantage of new opportunities, while assuring our core product, food, continues to excel.
Smith is looking forward to bringing more of a restaurant fine dining ethos to the fore at GP and to tightening the relationship between the resources of its organic Katchkie Farm, the country’s only agricultural enterprise owned and operated by a catering concern. He wants to assure ingredients grown there figure more prominently on plates. He will also explore new ways to approach GP’s signature focus on seasonality, noting he is fervent about cooking in the season. And, given his passion for pickling (something he shares with Neumark), Smith intends to integrate more of it into GP’s food production flow to make pickled produce readily available as vibrantly flavored, unexpected accents
Overall “simple elegance” is how Smith describes the approach to food that will guide his culinary leadership of GP. “It’s all about treating our top-quality ingredients with respect,” said Smith. “That means sticking to two to three main ingredients on a plate, which may involve multiple interpretations of one of them.”
Smith joins GP as it continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The company logged a record wedding season, with that market segment looking very strong for 2022 and is seeing a brisk pick-up in corporate events. The demand for on-site corporate dining is also increasing as more companies require their employees to return to the office. And the reopening of the venues, such as the Brooklyn Museum and Jazz at Lincoln Center, in which operate GP operates restaurants has signaled the return of that business, while the Nov. 14 reopening of Manhattan’s Wollman Rink marked the debut of the 118-seat Wollman Café as a GP-run
Prior to his ten-year run at Riverpark, where he started as executive sous chef in 2010, Smith served two years as sous chef for Marco Canora at the now shuttered Michelin-starred Insieme. He also honed his skills in such high-profile New York City kitchens as those of Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin and Del Posto, when Mark Ladner was top toque.
Great Performances was founded as a waitress staffing agency with the goal of offering a flexible source of income for women in the arts. The company plans, staffs and caters events for clients of all sorts and celebrations of all sizes. From small, intimate gatherings to large, elaborate productions, we bring professionalism, skill and care to each client project. In 2021, it moved into a spectacular new Bronx facility. GP’s capabilities includes full-service, catering, beverage service, service staffing, venue selection, design and special event production. In addition, to catering, Great Performances operates cafés, restaurants, concessions and amenity programs for nonprofit and corporate institutions.
To learn more about Great Performances, visit their website.