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Industry Innovators 2023: Cade & Ingrid Nagy

In addition to standout food, the owners of Catering by Design use a dedicated decor division to offer memorable event experiences.

Industry Innovators 2023: Cade Nagy & Ingrid Nagy
"Our motto is ‘constantly creative, experiences reimagined,’ and we use every opportunity to live up to that moniker," says Ingrid.
Photo: Courtesy of Catering by Design

Industry Innovators 2023: Cade Nagy & Ingrid NagyCatering by Design owners Ingrid and Cade NagyPhoto: Courtesy of Catering by DesignMarried couple Cade and Ingrid Nagy are the owners of Catering by Design in Denver. Cade also serves as chef, while Ingrid is CFO (along with being past president of ILEA International). 

How they got their start: "Interestingly enough, I interviewed and hired Cade. Little did he know at the time he was being hired for two jobs!" jokes Ingrid about her husband, who she met when he applied for the role at the then-small catering operation in 1996. Both already had years of experience in catering, hotels, restaurants, and country clubs. "At that time, we’d be so excited when we got a boxed lunch order for 10 guests! My, how things have changed."

In 2002, the couple had the opportunity to buy out the then-owner, and jumped at the chance to take the reins together. "Little did we know the company would grow as much as it has. Now we have 60 salaried and full-time employees, plus a roster of nearly 300 part-time employees that support our business," says Ingrid. 

What sets their work apart: "We discovered early on that we had a passion for creativity and thinking outside the box. Our big 'ah-ha' moment was in 2005, when we were invited to be a caterer at the signature event at the Catersource Conference," Ingrid recalls. "We wanted to put Denver on the map and challenge the idea that Denver was full of cowboys and ‘middle of the country’ catering capabilities. At the time, we didn’t know we had it in us, but that event certainly put us nationally and internationally on the map as a creative caterer. It reinforced to our team that we knew what we were doing, and inspired us to take catering to a new level."

The Nagys also call out the company's dedicated decor and design division, which was launched in 2010 to complement its catering events. "Our creativity and ability to pull the look together sets us apart," explains Ingrid. "Coupled with a dynamic, creative, and collaborative team, we’re known for customizing every event for our clients. Our motto is ‘constantly creative, experiences reimagined,’ and we use every opportunity to live up to that moniker." Industry Innovators 2023: Cade Nagy & Ingrid NagyOne of Ingrid's favorite recent events was “Luxe," which the team threw for luxury bridal planners in the Colorado market. "The idea was to bring them into an event space and wow them with the fine details, creative decor and design, and elevated menu items," she says. Decor centered around a rotating bathtub with a Champagne bubble balloon piece, which matched the team's whimsical "Eat Your Bubbles" dish with honey-fired mango, pistachio basil crumble, buffalo milk burrata, lemon verbena "bath oil," parmesan foam, mini basil, and gummy rubber ducky pate de fruit.Photo: Courtesy of Catering by Design

Industry Innovators 2023: Cade Nagy & Ingrid NagyThe Luxe event also featured a "grow station," where guests chose between prawn, pear, or tuna seeds. They then handed the seeds to a gardener—who "planted" them to offer an on-theme dish.Photo: Courtesy of Catering by DesignWhat innovation means to them: The duo says they "live and breathe innovation"—but that doesn't mean everyone on their team has to be able to create a hot new trend. "It means our team works together every day to create new and better ways to do things and problem-solve. We often think our job is to MacGyver any situation that comes our way, and our creativity and innovation gives us the ability to overcome it," says Ingrid. "So, it is extremely important to us to innovate internally and externally to dream big and figure out how to make the dream happen. We’re inspired every day by our team and the ideas they create."

Their all-time favorite foods: "My favorite dish that we make is Cade’s pecan smoked salmon with forest mushroom cream sauce. I could seriously drink that sauce for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then bathe in it!" laughs Ingrid. "As for Cade, we joke that his favorite post-event meal is a burrito from 7-Eleven! Luckily, he’s grown out of that phase, but his favorite food is probably one that he doesn’t have to prepare himself."

Their biggest hope for the F&B industry: A broader appreciation for the challenges that come with the catering industry. "COVID destroyed what so many had worked so hard to build. Inflation, the costs of products, and labor shortages have made it even harder," says Ingrid. "Fortunately, 2022 was a great year for the event comeback—but that presented us with new challenges. We hope people continue to host events to celebrate milestones in every way imaginable. Live events are an experience, and take a cast of many to produce them. Celebrations provide jobs and livelihoods—so keep rejoicing!" 

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