A Fresh Look At Catering Strategies

catering

With the current healthy economy, catering can be a great way to build cash flow and your brand.

It wasn’t that many years ago that catering actually took a break in the summertime.  Tradition dictated that events were planned for before Memorial Day and then again after Labor Day. Like so many things in today’s world, catering is now a 52-week business. It’s not at all unusual to get invited to a Fourth of July or even a New Year’s Eve wedding.

So whether you are the food and beverage manager at a Manhattan hotel, or managing a Westchester country club or a Hampton’s hot spot, you need to be on top of your game 24/7. My definition of that is the ability to create signature concepts that reflect both your facility and of course the current season.

As we look at the challenges that may lie ahead with the tip credit issue, a move into or growth of your catering operation may also offer a solution to keeping those key members of your staff.

We have found in working with our BHS/H. Weiss clientele that it is important to understand that expanding your catering operations will change how you need to approach the timing of major capital changes. In addition you will need to reschedule repairs in both your kitchens and your dining areas.

Winter Fancy Food Show November 2018 728×90

Catering also requires a re-evaluation of your inventory of banquet smallwares. We can work with you to build a flexible base of smallware staples including stainless pans with induction warmers and wood risers and stands. We suggest banquet items that are flexible enough to work in all seasons and with all themes. The best materials are simple and elegant, but can change when used with other accessories. Think summer with tropical fruits and flowers, or winter with pine branches.

That same approach also works beautifully as you reconfigure your cocktail menu. We suggest infused and old fashion drinks including a signature Manhattan. We are also finding that real daiquiris (not real sweet) have long lasting popularity. A great mojito with Pepper rum/ habanero mixed with ginger or pineapple that’s spicy and not too sweet is a must.  We are also finding Cinnamon/ nutmeg with vodka on many of our client’s menus.

From a seasonal standpoint, there are several easy to adapt trends that  have emerged this summer on catering menus. We are seeing beer drinks using juices including ginger or passion fruit. There is also a move towards wine based drinks that can be categorized as summer sweet but not sangria sweet. They set the right tone when served in a traditional glass.

It is always fun working with our catering customers as their culinary teams create new additions to their menus. This summer we are seeing food bites that are taking into account some people’s dietary restrictions. This includes Plantain or rice cakes instead of crackers or blinis.  The use of skewers eliminates the need for carb bases.  Think in terms of sweet and savory “Lollipops.” We also suggest serving those Lollipop sticks in bowls or florist rocks, pebbles or even wet sand so they are easy to grab.

We look at summer catering as more rustic. With the elimination of plastic, Bamboo, Wood corals, and twinkle lights are hot. Just keep in mind that bamboo and metal can be tough to clean. So your back of the house team will need to be careful with cleaning not to impair flavor. In many cases an extra rinse will do the trick.

Our H. Weiss team is here to help with updating your catering service and share our experiences as you look to keep it fresh for your customers.

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss is the President and co-owner of Armonk, NY based H. Weiss Co., a division of BHS Foodservice Solutions. She is known nationally as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on tabletop design. The Michigan State graduate is also actively involved with WPO-Women’s Presidents Organization. Comments may be sent to eweiss@hweiss.net