Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 32

Deli: Catering
Catering best practices
from Erin Henderson, Zarda Bar-B-Q's catering director
1
Gather all of the necessary
information prior to the event
People don't realize how much information you need for
catering. People think, " I need this much food for this many
people, " and that's it. When doing a wedding, I need to know
when the ceremony is, when the reception starts and if the
food is going to be served at the same place the ceremony is
happening. I need to know food allergies. Will there be stairs?
Anytime I have a full-service order, I tell the customer they
need to reach out to their venues and find out if there are
specific requirements for caterers - where to park, where
to set up buffet line. A lot of that is knowing each vender
or event space you go to can be completely different from
the last. I just had one yesterday that needed contracts and
insurance information and to have busing and cleaning done
a certain way. It's super important that the customer reaches
out to them. If I'm going to bus and clean and set up a buffet
line, I'm going to send more people to handle those tasks.
2
Prepare for the unexpected
The hard part about catering is that you're always
somewhere else. You're leaving the restaurant. You have to
know how to adapt on the spot to little bumps you'll run into.
You don't realize the wind is going to blow out the Sternos so
you need to wrap them in aluminum foil to keep them lit. It's
all about learning to adapt. Sometimes I'll be in a fully staffed,
lovely event space, and other times I've been in a barn that
doesn't have a floor in the middle of nowhere. It's crazy where
you'll go.
3
Use an organized system to keep track of details
We have an app called Caterease. That's where we type
up all of our orders. It keeps track of all orders we have done
and contact information. I can input each menu I have with
a per-person portion size, and it's going to multiply portion
size for me so that I don't have to do that every time. That's
how I get my invoices. You can email out invoices through
Caterease. I can sign up for billing through the app. It does
80% of my work for me. I just need headcount, a little bit of
information, and it takes it from there.
Another digital trick is to email everything. Anytime
you have an order, email invoices and anything with details
about the event, especially if you have repeat orders. If
someone says an order didn't get there, I can pull that back
up. You'll talk to so many people you won't remember what
they ordered. It's nice to have something to look back on.
Train employees exactly the way you want things done
Always train them yourself. Anytime we have someone
start catering, I make a point to start training them. I'll say,
" I'm going to teach you how to do everything my certain way.
Once you start doing it on your own, if you have little tweaks,
that's fine. " Whoever is in charge should be the specific one
training them. Once you're done training them, they're out
somewhere else representing your company.
There are hundreds of things to remember to do. They
are responsible for their equipment, food prep, getting
everything back in the van, leaving on time to get there on
time and talking to customers going through the line. I have a
checklist for everything. They can't check something off their
equipment list until it's on the cart, not just set aside.
5
Be thorough with food safety
We use hot boxes. I can set meat in the hot box, and
it will stay hot for hours. It will keep the right temperature.
For cold sides, we use cold boxes as soon as it gets in the
van. It needs to stay in that stuff until you are ready to serve.
It should be kept in temperature-controlled boxes until it's
ready to serve.
If I had a serve time at 5 p.m. and it's running late and they
don't eat until 5:30 p.m., the hot food is still okay because
I have them in shaping dishes keeping it hot. The only thing
to worry about is potato salad because of the dairy. If it is
served, we have serve time for an hour. Then we need to get it
cleaned back up and put it in the fridge. If people want it out
longer, keep it on ice on the buffet.
When taking an order, ask the customer if they have a
refrigerator on-site so you can store the food. With people
drinking at weddings, they're going to get hungry and go over
to the tables and want to eat again. If people have no fridge
but have leftovers, we take it back to our restaurant and
they can pick it up later. A lot of people choose not to leave
leftovers with customers because of how customers will treat
the leftovers, but I don't like the idea of people paying for a
ton of stuff and not getting to keep it all.
4
32 - OCTOBER 2022
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Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022

Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - Intro
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - FCa
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - FCb
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 3
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 4
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 5
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 6
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 7
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 8
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 9
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