Tag Archives: catering

Behind a Caterer’s Closed Doors…

Have you ever been to a nice dinner party?  In case you haven’t, just imagine…

You walk into a dimly lit room and see dozens of tables all set in a very precise manner.  There are beautifully folded napkins, water glasses already waiting for you, and wine ready to be served.  

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There is a menu card so you can read over the night’s offerings, and many different types of silverware at each seat.  This may cause you to have a Pretty Woman moment in your head and count the number of tongs to determine which fork to use first.  (Really, 95% of the time, just start from the outside, work your way in, and you’ll be fine). 

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Dinner progresses.  You eat your salad, it’s removed by a server, and then replaced with your main course.  You eat that, the plate’s removed, and then out comes dessert.  Coffee is served around the table.  You enjoy the atmosphere, the company, the food, and then leave at the end of the night. 

Have you ever wondered what happens next? 

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What happens to all the beautiful place settings, the centerpieces, the menu cards, and the leftover desserts?

Madness is what happens. 

This was the scene in the break-down area from about 7:30pm until 10pm last night as a plated dinner for 400 guests went on and eventually came to an end:

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The event went very smoothly.  Clean up did not.

Trying to communicate to a staff of 20+ which of the four types of different (yet very similar looking) water glasses should be placed into the solid red glass rack versus the gray and red striped rack versus the solid gray rack is extremely difficult.

And that’s just the water glasses.  I also had two styles of wine glasses and five styles of plates to deal with.  I tried pictures.  I tried labeling the various racks.  Eventually I gave in and said to just put the glasses wherever because they’ll all end up at the rental company’s warehouse anyway.  C’est la vie.

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This dinner was for 400 people.  I determined that each place setting was made up of 13 items (the different silverware, plates, and glasses).  That’s a total of 5200 items to get returned.  Add that to the hundreds of extra glasses  and plates that were ordered as backups, and I think I had close to 8000 pieces of rental inventory.  Oh, and then with the all linen and plate covers — make it almost 11,000 pieces.  Oy.

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If you know of any magic cleaning fairies, let me know.  I’ll hire them.  Until then, I’ll just hope that the rental company doesn’t call to complain.

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Filed under It's Fun Being a Manager, Uncategorized, Work

A New Celebration

One thing I’ve noticed through my work is that most, if not all, events I cater are celebrations.  Whether it is a wedding or a graduation, the first day of a training program or the last,  a championship ring ceremony or a holiday party.  The reason people gather together to eat, converse, and laugh is to celebrate.  Even the daily lunch visitor to the dining room on a break between classes or meetings is celebrating (and it is just that brief respite from work that he celebrates).   

Tomorrow marks a new type of celebration that I will cater, and that is a celebration of life.  A very well-respected woman passed away earlier this week, and her former employer and co-workers have planned a post-funeral repast.  I’m certain this will not be as joyous of an occassion as other celebrations, but have to remind myself that it is a celebration nonetheless.  It makes me smile that so many (200+ expected guests) cared about this woman enough to plan an impromptu event during the middle of the week.  I don’t think many people in the world have that effect; she was obviously special.

It will be interesting to see the dynamic in the meeting room tomorrow when all the guests gather.  I hope that there will be more smiles than tears.  But, we shall see.  It’s hard to judge a group until they actually come together, and to be honest, I’m nervous about the emotions that will be at bay tomorrow.

But, I’m off to bed for now.  It’s a new day tomorrow with many new experiences to be had.

Wine of the Week:  [yellow tail] Shiraz/Grenache blend from Austrailia.  I can find nothing wrong with this wine.  Not as heavy as a strong Cabernet, but definitely heavier than a Merlot, with lots of berry flavor.  If you have a glass of this, you’ll have a g’day mate!

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