Is Your Catering Company Ready for a Large-Scale Event?
Any seasoned catering company will know that there is a big difference between successfully servicing a smaller or mid-sized event compared to a large-scale event.
Large events attracting big crowds can be a game changer for catering companies and if pulled off with finesse, these large events can put you head and shoulders above competitors.
Unfortunately, your first large-scale event can make or break your catering business. If not handled well, large-scale events can spell disaster for your reputation.
Winter in the UK is a season that facilitates more opportunities to win your first large scale event with its Christmas markets and luxurious parties, but these events may crop up at any time of year with summer festivals, weddings, exhibitions and celebrity parties a year-round phenomenon.
If it is your first large-scale event, there are a number of techniques you can employ to ensure your catering company is ready for a large-scale catering event and will pull it off in style.
Budget Planning & Quoting for your Large-Scale Catering Event
Careful budgeting and planning is crucial when your catering company is booked for an event of any size. However, it can become far more challenging for a large-scale catering event if you have never managed one before.
Always ask for estimated guest numbers or predicted foot-fall and take a look at data from previous years if this is an annual event.
While you may have found it easy to gives quotes for all your previous events, resist giving an exact quote straight away for a large event. It is acceptable and expected for you to give a price range as a guide to prospective client but give yourself time to extract all the necessary details from your client, have a menu planned and an idea of guest numbers before calculating an exact price.
When receiving your initial inquiry for the event, try your best to discover the client’s budget to ascertain whether you can feasibly make a profit off the event and if it worth your while.
Sourcing Catering Supplies & Equipment
You may have your preferred suppliers for food, tableware and catering equipment but your current stock may not meet the needs of a large-scale event.
When it comes to larger events, less is never more. After estimating required food for the number of guests you should always plan to have a greater quantity of food, so that you don’t run out.
You must have enough catering supplies so that you are not constantly needing to wash and re-use table and servingware in the middle of a fast-paced event with hungry guests. That would slow down your service considerably.
During the event keep an eye on what is consumed, so you can replace empty plates and trays with fresh supplies as quickly as possible.
Carefully Choose the Menu
Be careful when choosing recipes and creating menus when catering for a large-scale event.
Sometimes clients will have a firm idea of what they want served and sometimes they will leave final decisions with your catering company. When catering a large event, you need to plan a menu that will be enjoyable but not so complex that it slows down serving when hundreds or thousands of guests are a possibility.
Plan a mixture of foods, some of which won’t need to be served hot, this will give you added time.
Plan menus that allow for as much pre-cooking and food preparation as possible prior to the event without spoiling flavour. Some dishes do not lend themselves well to this process, which is why it is so important to plan your menu beforehand.
If your client is dictating the menu and some of their choices present challenges at a large scale- event, try to negotiate with them and offer advice.
You Can Never Have Too Much Preparation When Catering a Large Event
Prepare What You Can in Advance
Cooking and preparing food in advance will save a great deal of time at a large event but resist leaving delicate food on warming trays as this will often dry out your dishes and ruin the flavour.
This is why it is important to plan some cold and room temperature dishes at a sit-down dining style event and only cook hot dishes fresh on the night.
For hot dishes, vegetables are much easier to prepare in advance than meat or fish. Chopping vegetables is very time consuming and can be easily done in advance without affecting taste. Select veg at peak ripeness and blanche and shock them, then freeze before your event. This will significantly cut down their cooking time on the night of the event and maintain taste and freshness.
Some meats and sauces can be prepared in advance and still taste fantastic, especially if you invest in a vacuum packing machine.
Plan Packaging Lists
Your catering company should be very familiar with packing lists for catering events of any size, but these will become even more important at large scale events. A missed or badly packaged item can spell disaster at busier, more complex events.
Have a detailed list that all your staff know and understand. Make sure your team pack items that they will need first at the venue on top where possible. Avoid packing anything delicate at the bottom.
If you package items close together this will prevent shifting and damage in transport.
Ensure Everyone Knows Their Role
This is one of the most crucial preparation steps for a large-scale catering event. If this step goes wrong, your catering company will likely be unable to salvage the event.
Never give one member of staff too many duties. Give everyone a clear set role, such as preparing a particular dish or part of a dish, washing, serving or plating up and presentation.
Have a clear system with details on which order tasks should be carried out. It is vital that your team is clear on the plan and there is great communication between staff and your organisation team to keep the event ticking over smoothly.
Scoping Out the Venue
When catering a large event, you should ask to see the venue well before the event night. You will see what catering equipment is already present and what you will need to supply. Staff can familiarise themselves with the layout and it will make it easier to plan your cooking and serving systems for the big day.
Bonus Tip – Every Catering Event is Different
Regardless of size, every catering event is different. A Christmas market, festival or wedding will have many differences and requirements, regardless of scale and this will affect your menu as well.
It is always good to tackle large scale events if your team and lead organiser have experience at similar events before on a smaller scale.
Kitchway have worked with a wide range of successful catering firms and we know what sets the winners apart – preparation. There is no reason you cannot go from only catering smaller events to mastering large-scale catering events, as long as you follow this simple advice and plan your catering supplies thoroughly in advance.