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CPCE Spotlight: Carlton Brown

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning their Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Carlton Brown, CPCE, is the owner of Occasional Occasions by Carlton, a boutique, custom catering company in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in Upscale, Contemporary Southern Cuisine.

If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.

Q. Please provide some background on your current position and company. How long have you been there, what is your role?

A. I am the owner of Occasional Occasions by Carlton, a boutique, custom catering company in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in Upscale, Contemporary Southern Cuisine. My company was founded 25 years ago.

Q. How did you first learn about the CPCE program?

A. I first learned about the CPCE program from our local NACE Chapter, Greater Atlanta Chapter of NACE.

Q. What or who encouraged you to consider applying?

A. Ms. Dee Lane Eades, CPCE! She encouraged me to join the board, so of course, I was typically at every meeting, and Dee Lane spoke of CPCE so much that it piqued my curiosity. I was still very hesitant in regard to just thinking: how difficult is the exam? Will I have the time to dedicate to it? And, furthermore, would it benefit me? and if so, how? At one of our chapter meetings, the education topic was led by a speaker NACE National who spoke on the CPCE process and the advantages of it. At that meeting, I made my decision to pursue the certification. I spoke to Dee Lane about my hesitation and reservations. Then, made the decision that no matter how difficult it was, I was sure to learn more aspects of my career field than I already knew. So, for me, it was a no-brainer, even if I failed the test. Regardless, I was guaranteed to walk away with invaluable knowledge.

Q. Do you believe CPCE certification helped you achieve your current position?

A. I can’t say that it helped me in achieving my position because I’ve been the owner for 25 years…LOL. But I would say that the different topics that were presented in the study course introduced me to different areas of catering and hospitality that I had heard of, but never experienced, so I learned a lot and it definitely made me more well-rounded.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. If the fear of taking the test and failing, or the fear of how difficult the test is haunts you, I’d say still go ahead and take it because you will come out a winner either way at the end with the knowledge that you gain.

Q. What might fellow CPCEs be surprised to learn about you?

A. My mother was a home economics teacher, and my father was a cook in the U.S. Marine Corp. Despite having parents whose lives revolved around stirring, mixing and seasoning for the masses, I never had the desire to cook anything until my final tour of duty for the U.S. Air Force in Newbury, England. While in England, I roomed with a staff sergeant whose exquisite taste and skills in table service dazzled me into becoming a waiter at the Roy Air Force Base Officers Club. In sharp contrast to my identical twin brother Calvin’s natural abilities in the kitchen, I was a slow enthusiast – so slow that the only meal I knew how to prepare once I left the military and returned to the states was spaghetti.

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Crystal Irwin


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