Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pricing From The Buyer’s Point Of View

·   Buyers always want lower prices.
·   Buyers want prices to be lowered when requested.
·   Buyers believe that salespeople always lead and work to sell the highest price.
·   Buyers often will play one caterer’s prices against another to gain advantages.
·   Buyers believe that $30 chicken is the same as $15 chicken.
·   Buyers hate wasting time during shopping—with the possible exception of brides.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chefs Are The Heartbeat Of A Catering Company

NOTE: As my first official post of 2012 I purposely have selected "chefs" as my topic of choice. Most chefs are under appreciated to say the least. Here is my feeling about catering chefs:

The men and women who work in catering kitchens are the most dedicated foodservice professionals I have ever met. Chefs are the “atoms” of a kitchen—and catering chefs face more challenges than any other type of chef.

When it comes to numbers, more chefs, by far, work in restaurant kitchens than catering kitchens. So, let me demonstrate my belief in the superiority of catering chefs: Restaurant kitchens have order when it comes to starting and closing hours and the menu items they need to prepare. Except for daily menu specials, the menu is a piece of cake because it is limited and the possibilities are known. A restaurant chef knows when he or she will leave work to go home.

The start and end of a day in a catering kitchen is random at best; it all depends on what has been sold for that day. There is no order or repetition to the menus, since most caterers customize what they sell to fit a particular customer’s needs and wishes. If there are fifteen menus to prepare over a weekend, the chances are that each will be completely different from all the others. The catering chef doesn’t know what time he or she will be able to head home.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a catering chef, like a restaurant chef, could simply say: “The chicken entree is now 86,” meaning that the servers should tell any customer who wishes to order the chicken that the last order has already been sold and please select something else. I can just see a catering server telling a guest “Sorry, we’re out of that selection.” It wouldn’t happen. This situation causes a catering chef nightmares and requires making sure there’s additional food to cover the whims of guests.

Can you imagine a server coming back into the kitchen and telling a restaurant chef that a customer wants more green beans? No way—at least not without paying for them. A catering chef can’t rely on exact specific food amounts for each guest at an event, especially with buffets. The catering chef needs to worry about what guests take instead of what they are offered to eat.

Imagine a restaurant chef learning that a customer doesn’t want to pay the price printed on the menu. The customer says the menu price is too high and offers to pay $2 less. If the restaurant is not amenable to this negotiation, the customer will simply leave and go to a different restaurant. This kind of price negotiation is an ongoing part of being a caterer, which can make it difficult for a catering chef to keep control of food cost percentages.

A restaurant chef can depend on the fixed number of seats in the dining room to help maintain a manageable prep and cooking schedule for the day. The restaurant chef isn’t faced with 60 unannounced guests appearing at the door and demanding food. In catering, a client may call in a panic two hours before the event to tell the caterer there will be an extra 60 guests—and the caterer has to start the ovens again.

Catering chefs are simply amazing. They turn crisis into calm. They sacrifice personal time in favor of a happier customer. They prepare food that is creative and that will work in difficult venues. They stand for hours without the luxury of breaks. They maintain sanity with a sense of humor. Every day of every year should be National Catering Chef Day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shrimp Glorious Shrimp!

I'm a sucker for shrimp! The larger the better. Went to Rivers Casino for an early dinner on New Year's Eve with Bernice and got a wonderful surprise with the ice carving below that was filled with shrimp. If you study the photo you will see that the shrimp are loaded from the top of the ice carving and dispensed "self-service" at the bottom of the ice carving.

These "grab-n-go" colossal prawns were a great way to end 2011! Wish you could have been there to share them with us!

Have a super successful, safe and healthy 2012!