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23rd October 2017

The 5 most important rules of good catering

Catering is a lot more complex than most people think, and, with so many things that can go wrong, the key is ensuring you are fully prepared. To give your guests a truly awesome experience, there are a number of factors you need to consider to make the event extra special, whether that’s crafting the perfect menu, designing brilliant venues or providing an outstanding catering service.

From day one, the team at Grape and Grain Catering co. have held this vision close to our hearts. We have the aim of providing the most outstanding service possible for every single customer, in every single seat. We do this by crafting imaginative and interchangeable menus, finding creative venues, and having flexible event planning for our clients – all in order to make memories to savour, as well as food and drink to die for.

This is what we do every day – but it takes a fair bit of planning, lots of hard work and a dash of creativity. We think this type of service should be the norm throughout the industry, no matter the size of your business. Here are our top five considerations for building the perfect catering experience:

1. Preparation

Without proper preparation, your event is destined to fail – that’s what makes planning your operation the most important part of your journey towards hosting your best ever catering event. By ‘proper planning’, we mean that every single detail of the event needs to be covered, and backup plans need to be made in case there are any issues. 

Planning and back up planning includes everything from cross-checking the client’s requirements to researching the end customers, detailing timelines during the event to managing deliverability against your staff capabilities. The small details are crucial; for example, from understanding the potential amounts of ingredients needed to having reserve suppliers on hand for emergencies. For every aspect of your final event, you need to think about what could go wrong beforehand. Simple, but this almost certainly guarantees amazing results.

2. Ingredients
Our team prides itself on sourcing the finest and freshest flavours possible – but this doesn’t have to mean only the most expensive ingredients. It’s all about research, as well as trial and error. It is also worth looking at your purchasing as a long-term benefit; by investing more budget, time and energy into your stock, the rewards will come back in the form of contented customers.

Variety is also key, and for many caterers, it can be common to fall into the trap of sticking to what you’re best at. While we support this, it’s also worth taking a few risks and trying more new and exciting dishes that will keep your existing customers happy, while also attracting new ones. 

For inspiration, why not take a look at our boundary-pushing menu, which includes delicacies such as the Balsamic, Tulle Biscuit and Raspberry Sauce, and the Raspberry & Milk Chocolate Cheesecake? These are all firm favourites with our customers.

3. Creativity
If anyone says they aren’t creative, it’s a complete myth! Everyone has the capability to be creative, it just takes a little more energy for some people. Sometimes, you need to take inspiration from the everyday life, things you enjoy, do research into what people like and be cheeky – copy what others have done until you find your own niche. 

Creativity is all about taking risks with style and substance, and this is becoming more and more important in the catering industry – just look at the amount of successful creative catering operations in London and other major cities across the world. If you ever have doubts about injecting a little spark into what you are doing, just remember – it’s what customers want.

Raspberry & Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, Balsamic, Tulle Biscuit and Raspberry Sauce

4. Time
Arguably, this is where things can go wrong the most, and even the smallest of delays can lead to all sorts of disastrous knock-on effects. It is all too common to see caterers rushing a dish out, compromising on quality and ignoring presentation. Even the slightest errors here can lead to lost repeat business, complaints and even under-cooked food. 

Mostly, this again comes down to good planning. So, gaining a grasp of how long dishes take to cook, as well as arranging the preparation of dishes as early as possible are key factors here. The aim is to have time to spare just in case anything does go wrong – it’s better to be bored while waiting than rushing and making errors.

5. Presentation
Under-utilised and often ignored as a luxury, presentation is the icing on the cake when it comes to creating stand-out, memorable events. Whether it is food or drink, this necessity in modern gastronomy is what makes the step up from a great caterer to the best. People eat with their eyes, so even if you have designed the most flavoursome dish, you could be underselling it with shoddy presentation. 

Our most recent forest picnic menu is one we’re really proud of. It’s a menu we took creative risks on, planned for properly and invested the best ingredients in, but most prominently we focused on the design and feel of it to make it memorable. 

When planning, have an aim in mind when you set out to design a dish or menu. Focus on arrangements, colours and textures to compliment your flavours – but you can also use your skills and spontaneity to add that little extra something.

Raspberry & Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, Balsamic, Tulle Biscuit and Raspberry Sauce
Raspberry & Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, Balsamic, Tulle Biscuit and Raspberry Sauce

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