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Our History

In 1933 Americans were experiencing the worst depression in history. Soup kitchens and bread lines were opening everywhere. For new immigrants coming through Ellis Island, seeking a better life was especially difficult. It was only natural that people with similar skills would soon meet as they sought employment wherever they were able.

In those days, for most with skills in the hospitality industry, that position would be maitre d’hotel. A small group of these maitre d’s, now naturalized Chicagoans, decided to form a club to assist their peers in finding work. They also wanted a place where they could socialize with each other. And so, the Catering Executives Club of America was born.


Peter Ferris became the first President in 1933 and Eric Dahlberg Honorary President. Exclusively operating in Chicago, thee words “of America” in the title is, over 80 years later, still a complete mystery.

Throughout its history, the members of the CEC continued to refine the club and its mission. As the leadership in the hospitality industry rose to take on titles such as Director of Catering or Director of Food and Beverage, the Club grew to include a very select membership of industry executives. Beyond socializing, networking for available positions as well as existing as an educational outlet became benefits to belonging to the Club. Due to its strict membership requirements, the CEC evolved into a prestigious professional group that, through membership, enhances ones personal stature in the industry.


There are innumerable people working in the food and beverage industry who have heard of the Catering Executives Club, but may not be aware of how the organization would benefit their careers. Some of the various benefits to membership, itself a sign of personal achievement, include:

Regular monthly meetings where members exchange important information among peers about trends pertinent to our industry.

Benefit from educational programs designed to enhance one’s skills and knowledge on a variety of topics and trends related to the hospitality industry.

Experience a wide variety of venues in the Chicagoland area first hand, enjoying the luxurious amenities and delicious food they offer.

An Employment Referral service available to members only, allowing the membership to seek employment opportunities or recruit new employees.


Finally, membership in the Catering Executives Club of America includes attendance at two of the most elegant and widely acknowledged events of the year; The CEC Spring Scholarship Ball and annual Summer Outing. These events not only benefit the CEC Foundation’s fundraising activities, they are also outstanding events bringing members together in a relaxed social atmosphere.


Ways to Participate

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