The quality of your cuisine can make or break an event. People will fondly remember delectable food, but serve them something stale or soggy and it’ll trend on social media with a damning hashtag. Here are some Event Catering 101 tips on event catering and hitting the sweet spot with your attendees.
1) Menu Tasting
At least one full menu tasting is essential before an event. Ask your client to be there. Speak your mind about the style and quality of the food. When it comes to finalising the dishes, think of the legions of hungry people you’ll be feeding, who’re expecting the best.
We love to find fresh suppliers and support new businesses, but, as our Event Manager (or “Fixer”), Tumi says, “Avoid using a first time caterer on a corporate event. We tried it last year, it wasn’t brilliant.” If you want to give a newbie a shot rather use them for an internal catering job first.
3) Staff Briefing
Briefing the waiters is important. Welcome them as part of the team and explain the order of proceedings. Have one point of contact between the kitchen (the catering manager or head waiter) and an event co-ordinator. Timing of service is critical with regards hot (and frozen) food reaching your guests at the correct temperature, so the caterers and waiters need to be updated on delays or fast forwards.
Not everyone is a foodie like we are at theSQUAD, so your gourmet “art on a plate” can freak some people out, so gauge your audience. We are a diverse nation that has very different palates, but, as a general rule of thumb, have enough meat and potatoes for the men.
5) Special Dietary Requirements
Ask guests about special dietary requirements on their invite to get the information well in advance. At a plated meal have name tags at the place settings and give the catering manager a list of who the special meals are for. If it’s a buffet service all the food should be named with beautifully designed or creative tent cards or chalk boards explaining what the food is.
Discuss the bar tab limit with your client and have regular updates with the bar staff on how much has been spent on booze. If you’re serving special cocktails, have delicious mocktails available for non-drinkers.
7) Food Trends
Trends will come and go - we went through a phase where we had to brief for Banting often. Don’t be afraid to go “couture trendy” but put food quality first and match it to your event theme. If it’s an adventurous gig, do something adventurous with the food – we used test tubes for the soup on an Adcock Ingram Specialised Therapies launch as it fitted with the brand and the occasion. If you’re serving edible delicacies in an unusual way make sure your guests have an elegant way to eat them. Plus, abranded cupcake goes a long way towards making people happy, just saying.
Kelly McGillivray, Squad Leader