Virtual events and small gatherings in the post- COVID-19 world are still thriving, even as cafes and eateries are opening little by little. Catering offers a creative, fun way to serve clients with proper social distancing for everything from corporate meetings to graduations and galas.
Having the appropriate tools and items is essential in the post-COVID-19 period. Here are a few must-have items and some practical advice for catering:
1. Furniture, Table, and Seating
Catering requires proper table settings. Disposable options are best because they allow for fewer concerns when cleaning up. Items that fit into this category are:
- Charger plates
If you have the opportunity to choose tables and seating for your catered event, prefer items with a rapidly disinfectable surface. To ensure the maximum sanitary, avoid tablecloths in favor of paper napkins, the best option is to place individual disinfectant wipes on tables for each guest. Place the cutlery wrapped in a napkin or a paper envelope, even if it is disposable.
The settings will be different depending on the type of event that you hold. Still, it’s better to eliminate unnecessary items on the tables giving preference to minimalism and individual serving.
Outdoor spaces remain a priority for people gathering as they ensure social distancing. But regardless of location, you may want to be sure that tables are arranged at an appropriate distance. When social distancing is not possible, install transparent plexiglass screens between tables. Display cases and sneeze guards in front of the bar and on the buffet will protect the food from germs.
2. Display and Décor Items
Clients want to enjoy a robust service, with catering companies able to charge more for the display and décor items provided. Clients would much rather pay the catering company for these items than source them themselves.
A few of the must-have items in this category are:
- Candles and accessories
- Numbers for tables
Chairs and tables can also be offered to guests. With social distancing being an integral part of many events, these items are going to be in higher demand. Vertical spacing for food can help take advantage of space restraints.
These simple items will allow for a robust offering that adds to the catering company’s bottom line while also providing a better service to clients.
3. Disposable Supplies
The world is going disposable. Since there’s a risk of contamination using traditional supplies and silverware, disposable options are starting to become a popular choice. There are a lot of different choices, including:
- Compostable bowls
- Paper cups and lids
- Plastic bowls
- Additional disposable catering supplies that should be added to the list include:
- Plastic cutlery
- Cocktail picks
- Plastic cups
- Foil pans
High-end catering can replace the fancy serving items with silver-like plastic, such as serving tongs, seafood tongs, dinner and dessert spoons, salad and fish forks, steak knives, tiny tines, or the cake cutters.
Whenever possible, compostable options will be beneficial for both the catering company and client while also being an eco-friendly alternative.
Work in the catering industry requires proper hand protection. You need to be sure that your employees and your product are fully protected in every step of the food preparation and presentation. Therefore, in addition to disposable tableware, you need to purchase a sufficient number of disposable gloves.
One more important part of disposable supplies is masks. You’ll want to make sure that all staff at the event are wearing masks if required by local governments. There should be enough to provide a mask to your customers if needed.
4. Transport Supplies
Transport is always going to be a major consideration for catering companies. Food items need to be transported in a safe way that still allows the food to stay fresh and heated. There are numerous options available that reduce or stop heat loss, for example, chafers and soup stations.
Insulated food pans are ideal and are a catering company’s go-to choice for fresh, warm food arrival.
The catering company will need an array of different food pans with varying sizes. Dry ingredients can be stored in boxes or totes. Outdoor coolers can be used for drinks. Additional items to add to your transport supplies list are:
- Food pan carriers
- Outdoor coolers
- Food totes
- Food boxes
As we continue to face COVID-19, maintaining high standards of hygiene has been of increasing importance and complexity. Your staff needs to be fully aware of how to maintain and transport food complying with food safety guidance. Here are a few of them:
- Use food delivery packaging that is COVID-19 safe – clean and disposable. Food carriers should be appropriately insulated and sealed. Kitchen appliances like soup warmers, chafers, coolers should be cleaned and sanitized, internally and externally.
- It is recommended that transported food will be ready to serve, rather than to be cooked at the event location. Cold and hot ingredients should be held separately.
- Think over the route to shorten the delivery time.
- All staff must wash their hands or use sanitizer before and after collecting food to avoid cross-contamination.
5. Serving and Cooking Equipment
When chef stations are required at an event, you’ll need to bring along various cooking equipment. A variety of different cookers will be needed, and a few of the many items to add to your list are:
- Holding cabinets
- Stir-fry stations
- Portable grills
- Outdoor burners
- Induction cookers
Serving equipment, to some extent, has been covered. But there are items that you’ll want to offer or bring along to the event. A few of the many serving options include:
- Tray stands
- Serving utensils
These items will vary depending on the type of catering that you’re offering. Flexibility is key and will allow you to rapidly adjust to the needs of guests and clients. Remember, safety-first in today’s “different” world. You may need to keep equipment well-spaced and have additional supplies, such as gloves or masks, available.
6. Beverage Items and Equipment
Beverages can be as simple as soda or coffee, or they can include wine. Hot and cold beverages may need to be transported, and this would be dependent on the event and what you plan on offering.
A multitude of options is at your disposal, including:
- Beverage dispensers
- Coffee or teapots
- Chafer urns
You’ll also need to bring along cups and ample ice to keep cool beverages cool. The right items and equipment will keep guests happy and may need to change based on outdoor temperatures or the drinks being served.
To avoid cross-contamination by passing on the paper menu, install display boards with drinks menu behind the bar station.
7. Cleaning and Janitorial Supplies
Of course, there are an array of other supplies that are even more important after COVID-19: janitorial and cleaning supplies. Catering companies are, more often than not, responsible for trash removal.
The event, and amount of time you have to spend cleaning up, can go along much smoother when you bring:
- Garbage cans
- Recycling cans
- Hand sanitizer
- Handwashing stations
Train all employees in new sanitary procedures. It’s important to do your best to keep workers happy and healthy and do not contribute to the spread of the virus.
Here are a few more tips to stay safe and sanitized:
- Provide bins with lid and pedal in guests’ restroom as well as in employees’ areas
- Permanently check the presence of soaps and paper hand drying napkins
- Unplug air dryers
- Make sure the personnel uniforms are washed at 60 degrees and transported in a closed packaging
- Have hydroalcoholic gel dispensers available at the entrance, on the tables, and at the toilet entrance
A little diligence can go a long way, and this includes washing your hands often, using disposable items as much as possible, and taking the proper precautions early on.