Daniel Love thinks of every event as a stage production—it should always leave you wanting more. That’s the philosophy he brings to his Philadelphia-based full-service catering company, Catering By Design (CBD). “Every event, every catering job is a theatrical experience as well as a culinary experience; all engage your senses like theater,” says Love.
Once an aspiring actor, Love has worn many hats—from theater to hospitality to museum catering. He started out early, working at a Howard Johnson’s hotel every night in high school (sleeping in the afternoons between school and work). He got into acting after moving to New York, doing a lot of the back-of-the-house work—productions and costuming. But when his son was born, he and his wife decided to move to Philadelphia. There, Love got into catering, eventually meeting his future partner and CBD co-owner Peter Loevy.
“We came across each other at a variety of events and had a strong symbiotic relationship that turned into a partnership,” says Love. “It was a natural progression. I didn’t set out to own my own business, but it made sense at the time and it still does today.”
Seventeen years later, Love is running a company with 45 full-time and about 150 part-time staffers and doing thousands of events a year. He spends his days developing ideas for future projects while also individually working with a rotating list of 100-plus clients. CBD often caters high-profile fundraisers, including dinners for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Love’s favorite? His second dinner for President Clinton, which he calls the pinnacle of his career.
“The beauty of what I do is that there is no regularity. I don’t punch a clock,” he says. “It’s all about the client’s objective for us. We don’t presuppose that people come to us for our food (which is beautiful) or venues (which are gorgeous). They are coming to us because we help them create the experience they want.”
Throughout his work, Love’s main goal always remains to satisfy the client and service others. This summer he took over as president of the Philadelphia Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. He has been with the association for 20 years and is the only supplier to be named Supplier of the Year, twice.
“Service is my life,” he says. “That’s what I do.”