In this new series we present real-life confessions from people working in the event industry. These uncensored, frank insights tell it “like it really is”. Some details have been changed to respect the anonymity of the confessor and ensure maximum honesty can be upheld.
As the founder of an event catering company, here is my confession.
I have always been a foodie and fired up by new and exciting cuisine, fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation. I have 24 years of experience in event catering and I started in the eighties before everything became “trendy”. My main focus has always been off-premise catering except for 2 years as an onsite wedding facility catering company. I have grown two successful catering businesses. Partnering with different venues and catering events in different locations allows me to bring together all my passions and experiences and play a big part in special events and occasions.
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Keep it in the Family
I am now the owner/operator of a 4-year-old catering business, along with my husband. This means that we wear many hats, including HR, ordering, sales, menu development, event coordination, staffing, hiring. We are also in the kitchen overseeing quality and consistency. We cross over on some duties, but have specific areas of expertise.
Food That Excites People
I studied Art Education at University, which gave me a great sense of design and color that is the foundation for my talent for catering and event presentation and innovation. I have been influenced by food from many different cultures. The level of competition is high so to stand out from other caterers you need to be different. We have a flair for the theatrical and presenting and serving food in exciting ways.
As an event caterer there are stupidly busy times throughout the year, September through December, and March through June are our busiest times. This year though we have had a particularly hectic July, which is usually one of our slowest months. We are focused on corporate events and colleges primarily, although we also do a few weddings each year. Previously we have catered 8 -12 weddings a month!
Can’t Get the Staff
Staffing is a big issue in the events industry. The one thing that we struggle with daily, is the new wave of event planners that have a degree, and no practical experience, or in most cases, common sense. We end up doing the hand holding, and most of their job, to be sure that the event goes smoothly.
We have friends nationwide that are in this industry and I am hearing the same story from everyone. Hiring is tough, new hires think that they should get $20.00/hour with little to no event or food service experience. The work ethic is mediocre at best. We regularly have staff calling out by text from midnight-5am, at least 2-3 times a week, to let you down. It is difficult to find the right people, but once you find them, retention is another issue for owners too.
The Devil is in the Detail
I have been a caterer since 1985, and working off-premise means we have a lot to think about. The details always seem to fall on the caterer to handle, otherwise we are the ones that get thrown under the bus. We have to be the masters of every detail.
As an event caterer it is important to us to reduce our footprint on this great earth! We have learned many methods of being green by investing in extensive training. For instance, we use food items that are in season, green cleaning products and we recycle all paper, foil and plastic. We work with an organic disposal company to compost all kitchen scraps during preparation of menus and compost all leftover food items that cannot be donated to shelters.
In My Blood
I love catering in general. It offers daily challenges, and rewards. We get to meet new people, and be a part of life’s milestones. We are there for baby showers, christenings, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and even funerals. It is great to share these special times with our clients and help create memories.
With over 30 years working in catering I am always going to be a part of this industry - it is in my blood. We are growing our company, and looking forward to the future.
Getting the right staff is the biggest headache for us and for others in the industry right now. That aside I am still fired up and inspired by event catering and presentation and looking forward to the next 30 years!
Want to share your own event planning confession? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch!