Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Article: David Turk, Indiana Market

Holiday Trends for 2011

As you gear up for the holiday season, here are a few trends that we are seeing here in the big city:

Holiday Trend #1: Mind & Body
The anti-oxidant/ health craze has led us to develop a variety of menu items that are great tasting and healthy.  One such item is Mangosteen Marinated Mahi Mahi with a Fresh Pineapple and Cranberry Chili.

Mangosteen is one of the super fruits- although still difficult find & not very popular-just yet. The flavor is very delicate, making it easy to add to any protein- particularly fish/chicken. Your customers will love that is exotic, full of flavor and has a healthy kick to it.

Holiday Trend #2 Hors d’ Oeuvre & a Drink
The tapas style stationary display isn’t going away anytime soon.  Try to focus on hors d’oeuvres that are complemented by a specialty drink. By doing this, you are able to play with a variety of cuisines as well as textures and flavors.  Using citrus as a main ingredient, here are three ideas that will keep your customers happy.

Orange Tea:
Lapsang Souchong Infused Beef Skewers with a Tangerine Emulsion;
Offered with a Tea-tini [Orange Vodka, Orange Pekoe Tea, Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Lime Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice and Sugar; Garnished with a Lemon Wedge]

Spicy Citrus Infused Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Hoisin Pear Dipping Sauce;
Offered with a Pear-Cilantro Margarita or a Key Lime and Pear Martini (Pear-Lavender Vodka and Key Lime Juice)

Ahi Tuna Tartare with Lemon Pickle Served on a Rice Paper Crisp;
Offered with a Lemon-Basil Gimlet

Holiday Trend #3: Asian/Spanish-Caribbean Fusion
Many of your menu items may reflect a variety of culinary fusions- but recently we have been seeing a lot of interest in anything with an Asian/Spanish-Caribbean feel to them.  These cuisines offer a wide range of flavors that are bold, fresh and exciting. Using Saffron, Garlic, Cilantro, Cumin, Ginger, and lots of Citrus items adds interest to your marinades, casseroles, rice dishes, salsas, dipping sauces, etc… they are quite flexible.  I think Asian (particularly Thai/ Pan Asian) cuisine will continue to further incorporate itself into other cuisines.  Items such as Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Coconut Milk, and Jasmine will gain range in popularity.  In addition, these fusions will result in seeing more spices/fresh herbs being used in cocktail menus (in particular Basil, Thyme, Cilantro).
David Turk
Indiana Market - New York City
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roman's Thought On An Interesting Flight

OK. I’m a good flyer. I’ve flown commercial for over 1.6 million miles. That’s a lot of ups and downs. However, for the first time in my life (after flying for 40 plus years) I found myself on a short 30 minute flight from Seattle to Yakima Washington last week. This was my first “prop” flight ever. I had never flown anything but jets.

Silly as it sounds, I was a little nervous. Can’t tell you why? I had the same feeling when I was getting my first root canal. To make it even more interesting I was seated in row 8 which placed me exactly next to the propeller! This is the view from my window. The noise from the engine was loud and the floor was vibrating like a chair you put a dollar in for a massage!

Yakima is a “small” city or perhaps it should be referred to as a town. I found it to be a wonderful city with friendly and warm people. One quick story. After returning to my hotel after eating dinner at one of the city’s finer restaurants, I freaked out when I realized that my wallet was not to be found! As I started to retrace my “steps” the phone range. It was the restaurant telling me that they had found my wallet.

All they knew when they found my wallet on the floor under the table was my name. They knew I was visiting from Chicago, but they didn’t know what hotel I was using. So, they simply started calling all the hotels and simply asked “Is Mike Roman staying at your hotel?” Not to worry… there are only four major hotels in Yakima!

Two things are apparent. Honesty and hospitality thrive in Yakima. Thank goodness that it is a smaller town! 

NOTE: Just in case you doubt my air miles flown - remember it is on one's monthly milage report.

NOTE: If you didn’t receive this blog post directly to your computer via your email without needing to login to my blog site, then you should take a moment and register to get my posts automatically without going directly to the website. Simply input your email address in the field directly under my photo in the top right margin of my blog site.  You will receive an email to reconfirm and you are done.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Article: BY Dewayne Ross - Melange Events

A Message Geared For Brides & Wedding Sales

Planning a wedding in these economic times can be a challenge for any bride, especially when what’s at stake is your dream wedding. Creating the wedding of your dreams that won’t break the bank is possible. The key is to be realistic and practical when making your choices for all the various services needed for your wedding day. Here are just a few helpful tips when planning your special day.

Hire a professional planner! Thinking your going to save money by doing it on your own or having your mom or best friend help will cost you much more in the long run. A planner will have the resources as well as the access to discounts, and perks that would otherwise not be available to you directly. If you choose your best friend to help you, you may be looking for a new best friend after it is all over and done with!

When finding a location, it might be an option to have the ceremony and reception in the same place. 
Many venues in Houston have the perfect back drop for both, saving you travel time for your guests and money for the fees a church may otherwise charge. An ideal location will provide tables and chairs as well as linens for all service tables. This will cut costs in your rental needs. The average guest count is about 150 people. A guests list of this capacity or less can also provide an intimacy and more in quality, especially when you wish to avoid a “cheap” look at the reception site. Keeping your reception time to 4 hours will also trim the added charges for a longer reception time.  When searching for your venue, consider ones that  allow outside catering or in the very least provide you with a preferred list will give you some price leverage.

Having a few caterers to choose from will allow you the opportunity to do price comparison. Be mindful when comparing caterer’s proposals as you want to compare apples to apples. One caterer might provide you with a seemingly cost effective proposal, yet will add staff and rentals later, and another may be all inclusive of food, beverage, staff, and rentals of plates, and glassware. Once you find a caterer that suits you, choosing a buffet with the same foods as the seated dinner you had planned for will save you on staff fees as there will be fewer waiters required for a buffet as opposed to a seated dinner.

Every bride wants a beautiful cake and flowers at her reception. Picking The Cake is the centerpiece at the reception site for most brides. A butter cream frosting will cost less than fondant and using actual flowers on your cake will bypass the pricey sugar decorative flowers often used. Keep in mind the more decorative the cake, the higher the expense. Remember- “Simplicity is the key to elegance”. The bottom layer or two can be made out of Styrofoam and decorated to blend in with the upper layers. This way, you can utilize sheet cakes, precut, plated and brought out to the guests by the wait staff, which makes for a great presentation and costing you less.

Flowers can often be a big expense of any wedding budget. Here are a few ways to cut corners in cost. Use more filler, and larger flowers that are year round like hydrangea. Roses are also very cost effective after February. Utilize the bridesmaid’s flowers as part of a table’s centerpiece and you will get more bang for your buck. Most florists will include the containers used for the centerpieces avoiding heavy rental costs and return. These centerpieces can then be given to your guests and family at the end of the event.

These few tips can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars when planning your ideal wedding. Remember to have fun in planning you dream day! Take time in your planning as this will help you clarify what is important to you! After all- Rome was not built in a day. Best wishes from us to you in having your Dream Wedding come true!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roman's Opinion: Discussion Points For Meetings #7

These are my latest thoughts on selling catering. Please discuss what you think they mean at your next meeting:

1. A salesperson needs to see and hear the selling situation even when they are not with shoppers.

2. A salesperson needs to continually ask yourself why you are a salesperson.

3. Don’t talk or tell – share instead.

4. Buying and selling has conflicts and consequences.

5. Everything you say, do, and not do or say adds to your selling style.

This is "Can't Miss" Education!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guest Artricle: By Jon Wool, President/Owner, Finesse Cuisine


Just Say "No"

Success means learning to say “No.”

This was the topic of a presentation by a noted business leader at a conference I recently attended. Saying “No,” however, is inconceivable to any caterer who is wired to please. In fact, I was trained to say “Yes” to just about anything that wouldn’t cause flood or fire. You may find that adapting to this new philosophy can be a challenge but learning to just say “No” frees you to cater to the clients who are the best fit for your company.

Since the recession, like most companies, Finesse has learned to economize while doing everything possible to increase revenues. To support this effort, we have indeed challenged ourselves to say “No” when we are asked to operate in a manner contrary to our standards or price points. Here’s why: between the austerity measures in the marketplace since 2008 and the advent of the gigantic international catering conglomerates, there is a tendency for the smaller caterer to try to be all things to all people at all prices. It can be argued that this approach keeps cash flowing and employees working. However, it is more likely that your company’s vision, integrity, and profitability will be compromised. When you have to bend and twist to accommodate the requests of a client who is not a good fit, you risk losing focus on the clients who are your Right Fit. Considered this way, it becomes clear that saying “No” is the smart thing to do. Saying “No” to one thing frees you up to saying “Yes” to something more valuable.

Not long ago, I was consulting with the off-premise catering arm of a fine dining restaurant. While this client was quick to embrace certain fundamentals of off-premise operations, they had lost sight of why their restaurant’s style of food and service is so popular. They were saying “Yes” to anything that came their way and they were floundering. Plus, they were working way too hard and far too many hours! It was very difficult for the directors to understand the concept of Right Fit. What finally resonated was a quote by iconic jazz musician, Dizzy Gillespie: “It’s taken me all my life to learn what NOT to play.” The trumpet sounded loudly and clearly to this client. They learned to say “No” to anything outside of their range, refocused on their initial mission, and began to accommodate better fit events.

I have learned that while the customer may always be right, he may not always be the right customer for me. Therefore, I have found myself saying “No” more often and coaching clients to do the same. In turn, I have gained more respect from clients and staff alike. This has been empowering and invigorating, and our bottom line reflects the change.

Will I revert back to my old philosophy any time soon? Hell No!

1332 North Halsted Street | Suite 305 | Chicago | Illinois 60622 | 312.280.9999 |

Jon is speaking at Catersource 2012 -