How a Legal Catering Contract Can Keep You and Your Client Safe and Protected

How to Write a Contract to Protect Your Catering Business

Effective Catering Contracting

Catering is a challenging business. Running a successful and busy catering business is akin to juggling and keeping a lot of balls in the air: finding and keeping dependable labor; contending with ever-rising food costs; and fighting the competition in a marketplace that is close to saturated. We gave you advice about starting a catering business and we hope you’re making a go of it. Now we’re going to explore an often overlooked area of catering – the contract, without which every job can become way more trouble than it’s worth.

Clients Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Caterers have to be great cooks, shrewd business people, skilled diplomats, and sympathetic listeners, as they deal with clients who are faced with what is usually a major event in their lives. Most of these people will be reasonable and pleasant clients who are good to work with and who are happy with the result. However, along the way, you may also meet difficult and indecisive customers who cancel events with no warning; are argumentative and penny-pinching; who fight about every dime and nickel when it comes time to paying the bill; who are demanding, who expect an instant response whenever they try to contact you; and capricious patrons who change plans on a whim. These types of customers are part of the challenge of running a busy catering company, which is why caterers need two things to succeed: a thick skin and an iron-clad written contract.

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Understand Veganism to Cater a Fabulous Plant-Based Event

Catering Events for Vegans Can Enhance Your Reputation

Keep Vegan Guests in Mind

As a caterer, you’ve probably found yourself having to prepare food for all types of clients, including vegetarians, glucose- and lactose-intolerant customers, those with nut allergies, and clients who adhere to sugar-free or low-fat diets. Veganism is just one more fad in a long line of trends for which you must bend over backwards to please your customers. Special requests are part of the business, and to make it in the dog-eat-dog catering arena you need to be flexible and know how to accede – with grace and generosity – to a range of requirements (even those that lead to extra work). However, when you do go that extra mile, it’s worth it, as your reputation as an accommodating and professional caterer will precede you.

What is Veganism?

Veganism isn’t a new concept, but it has been receiving more and more attention lately. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by a group of vegetarians who then formed the Vegan Society. In addition to not eating meat (like vegetarians), vegans choose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin. According to the Vegan Society website, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” The term vegan was created by combining the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.

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Use a Seasonal Menu to Boost Profits and Introduce New Items

A Seasonal Menu is a Great Sales Tool

Building a Great Seasonal Menu

There are a few reasons that, every once in a while, caterers must change their menus. Although it’s fine to keep the tried-and-true favorites – your signature dishes and the all-time crowd pleasers – the trick to be a popular caterer is to know how to go with the flow, how to stay ahead of the trends and, perhaps most importantly, how to create menus that are seasonal and timely.

Why Go Seasonal

Although it may be easier for caterers and restauranteurs to fall back on their greatest hits, a seasonal menu shows clients that you care about offering a special dining experience. Surveys have shown that this approach will boost business and have a positive impact on your bottom line – for several reasons. First, seasonal foods are usually less expensive than out-of-season fruits because of their abundance. Second, using seasonal ingredients can be a money-saving proposition; this is because using out-of-season fruits and vegetables leads to waste, as the lack of freshness of out-of-season ingredients increases the chance of decay, decomposition, and unusable products.

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How to Cater for Clients Who Want Gut-Friendly Foods

Tips for Catering and Creating a Gut-Friendly Menu

How to Create a Gut-Friendly Catering Menu

For years, we thought of bacteria as organisms that are bad for us, even deadly. However, research has shown that the human body is loaded with “good bacteria,” which help us to digest food and contribute to our well-being. Serving “gut-friendly foods,” – foods that contain friendly bacteria that aid digestion and help to prevent certain diseases – is a big catering trend right now. Add these foods to your menu and your customers will appreciate the effort you make to help keep them healthy while they enjoy your tasty food.

What Are Gut Bacteria?

The gut is simply another word for our gastrointestinal system, which starts in the mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The gut is essential in sustaining and protecting the health of our bodies, starting with the intake and absorption of nutrients. The digestive process is the foundation for our body’s ability to function and stay healthy.

Roughly 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria live inside our gut, along with other tiny organisms, like viruses and fungi, which form the body’s “microbiome.” Every person has a unique microbiome, which is influenced by genes, as well as diet and lifestyle. Our gut bacteria line our digestive system and affect everything from our immune system and metabolism, to our moods and temperament. Gut bacteria help to break down the foods we eat and aid in the digestion of the nutrients that support our body’s functions, such as energy production, skin health, and mental health.

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Salmon: Loaded with Nutrients and Flavor

Salmon: The Fish That Everyone Loves

Salmon: Versatile, Nutritious, and Delicious

When it comes to foods that meet what are arguably the three most important criteria – taste, nutritional value, and ease of preparation – salmon heads the list. Salmon is delicious, it just about cooks itself, and it has more health benefits than we can keep track of. Salmon is also super-versatile – it can be baked, broiled, grilled, and poached, and with so little work on your part, it never fails to be delicious.

All About Salmon

Salmon is an outstanding and unusual fish; outstanding because it’s incredibly tasty, and unusual because both fish lovers and non-fish lovers tend to like it. It’s a fatty, succulent fish with plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, plus a big dose of protein, and an abundance of vitamins. It’s readily available all year round, and, even the most inexperienced (or lazy) cook can prepare it in no time.

Salmon is the common name for fish in the order Salmoniformes. Salmon are “anadromous,” which means that most types of this fish are born in fresh water, migrate to the salt water of the open sea, and then return to fresh water to reproduce, or “spawn.” After living for years at sea, salmon travel a long-distance home to return to the river in which they were born in order to spawn. After spawning, all Pacific salmon, and about half of the other species, die within a few weeks. The salmon that do not die can spawn two or three more times.

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Entice Your Guests with Rotisserie or Fried Chicken

Chicken: Always Delicious and Never Out of Style

Chicken Still Rules the Catering Roost

While the latest and greatest trends must always be at the top of your catering menu, and your finger must remain firmly on the pulse of what trend-happy customers are looking for, one can never overlook the trend that seems to never go out of style: getting back to basics. Every few years the pendulum swings back around and basics like chicken – the All-American favorite – come back to top the list of trends to be on the lookout for. Right now, basic chicken recipes such as rotisserie and fried chicken are returning to the forefront of the catering world, so you can’t afford to overlook what has always been right in front of your eyes.

Chicken Remains Popular

The chicken industry in the United States is one of the most successful sectors in agriculture, with no signs of slowing down. Americans consume more than 80 pounds of chicken per person annually. Today’s chickens are healthy and wholesome – and affordable for just about everyone.
There are many varieties of chicken, including free range chicken, organic chicken, and conventional chicken; the difference between them is based on the basis of their breeding. While free-range chicken is allowed to roam freely in the pasture; conventional chicken (at the heart of ongoing controversy), is kept in cages and not allowed to move freely. Conventional chicken is also injected with hormones to fasten its growth and to make it unnaturally big. These are considerations when choosing chickens to feed a crowd (though your customers may dictate what kinds of chicken to use).

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How Bison Has Become a Big Catering Trend

Impress Your Guests: Serve Bison

Catered Events Benefit from Bison

Keeping up with food trends is crucial to offering customers the right menu. These days, “right” means being the healthiest and most environmentally friendly, as well as the most adventurous and interesting. Bison fulfills all the criteria of the trend-savvy consumer, and its place atop catering lists of “hot” items seems to be growing steadily.

History of Bison

Not everyone knows the difference between buffalo and bison; they’re not the same thing and the animals are not interchangeable. The American Bison is native to North and South America and Europe, while most buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia. They’re related, but not identical; in fact, North American bison have a beard, while their Asian relatives don’t. According to the National Park Service, when early explorers came to North America, they thought the animals resembled old world buffalo, and so they called them that, contributing to the general confusion.

During the 20th century, bison came very close to extinction. When the aforementioned early explorers arrived in North America in the late 1500s, there may have been as many as 60 million bison on the continent. In the 1880s, there were approximately 40 million in North America; but by the 1900s, hunting had reduced the population to a mere 1,000. The bison that exist today were bred from just a few individual bison, and they are thriving due to smart breeding efforts and restoration of their native grazing land. The animals now number roughly 400,000 and the bison business is booming.

Bison: a healthier meat

Bison: The Healthier Meat

The American Heart Association includes bison as a lean meat option in their Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. The greatest difference between beef and bison is their respective health benefits; they’re both delicious, but bison meat has the edge when it comes to health and nutrients. Like beef, bison is an excellent source of iron, zinc and certain B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and niacin. However, bison is lower in calories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a 3-ounce burger of ground grass-fed bison contains 152 calories and 7 grams of fat, versus a patty that contains even the leanest beef, which has 184 calories and 10 grams of fat. Grass-fed bison contain less saturated fat than beef and is lower in cholesterol.

While bison and beef contain similar levels of protein, bison meat boasts more iron than beef: 2.78 milligrams compared to 2.24 in an equal cut of beef, causing it to be named a superfood for women. Both bison and beef are rich in omega-3s; however, because bison spend more time in the pasture (and no time in feedlots, like cattle), they are richer in omega-3 than cows.
Bison do well eating most of the grasses in the United States, cutting down on the hefty costs associated with commercial feed. In addition, many cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones, which are harmful to people, while it is actually illegal to give bison growth hormones.

Eat healthier with bison

Taste and Texture of Bison

But health benefits alone haven’t turned bison into what The New York Times calls a hot food trend; it has to taste good as well, and that it does. Most people who are eating bison for the first time discover that it’s a little sweeter than beef, because the animals are raised on grass. Bison is available in the same cuts as beef from cattle and can be substituted in just about any beef recipe. Bison and beef have a similar texture, though bison tends to be chewier.

The Trend Continues

The demand for bison continues due to a three-pronged trend: healthier diets, natural and sustainable food, and the adventurous consumer who is always on the lookout for novel and exciting tastes. At this point, now that people have discovered bison and love it, producers are having trouble keeping up with the demand. Nonetheless, bison meat is still considered a “niche” segment of the meat market. To put it in comparative terms – bison vs. cattle – the total number of bison processed per year—estimated at 67,000—equals only 50% of one day’s worth of processed beef cattle. On a more individual level, the average American eats about 55 pounds of beef per year and less than a pound of bison per year.

Nonetheless, demand for bison continues and prices have risen. The National Bison Association reports prices have increased from $1.60 a pound in 2004 to nearly $4 a pound last year (at the wholesale level). The USDA recently agreed to its first purchase of bison meat for the Federal School Lunch Program, and the National Bison Association predicts total sales will top $300 million annually, up from $280 million just a year ago.

How to Cook Bison

Individual cuts of bison are identical to beef. Bison meat has a deeper red hue due to the fact that bison has lower fat content and less marbling than beef. But, because bison is lean, it will cook more quickly making overcooked bison hard-to-chew. Use these general guidelines – from the National Bison Association – when cooking bison:

Ground bison meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F and the juices should be clear, not red. Roasts and steaks should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145° F (medium rare) or 160°F (medium).

When oven broiling, the oven should be set at around 275°F. Move the broiler rack away from the heat, about a notch lower than where you would normally broil beef steaks. Expect a buffalo steak to cook 30% faster than a beef steak. Bison steaks are best when cooked rare to medium to maintain the moisture and flavor of the meat.

Use Bison at Your Next Event

The High Plains Bison website is a great source of bison-based information and recipes. Here’s a dish that will feed, and satisfy, a hungry crowd:

Beer braised bison

Beer-Braised Bison Pot Roast with Rosemary

Ingredients

  • 3-lb bison chuck roll, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-3 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided, stems reserved
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 24 oz. lager-style beer

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 275°F. Season bison with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until lightly smoking. Place bison in Dutch oven and cook until first side is deeply browned, about 8 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is browned, about 6 minutes longer. Continue turning and cooking until all sides are browned, reducing heat if oil is smoking excessively. Transfer to a large platter.
  3. Add onions, celery, and carrots to pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply browned, about 16 minutes total. Stir in half of rosemary, tomato paste, and soy sauce, and stir until combined.
  4. Whisk in beer and stock. Return chuck roll to pot and add bay leaves and rosemary stems. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until a skewer or knife inserted into the bison penetrates easily, about 4 hours.
  5. Remove from oven, cool, and transfer to refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove bison, untie string, and slice.
  6. Reheat sauce until simmering, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bison slices and carefully heat through. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary and serve.

Give Your Customers the Healthier Option

Bison is the leaner, healthier, more sustainable option when it comes to meat, and your customers will appreciate its inclusion in your menu. The bison trend is here to stay and you’ll impress clients and guests alike when you serve bison at your next catered event.

Southwestern Cuisine is Gaining Traction

How to Cater a Southwestern-Themed Event

Southwestern Cuisine at Catered Events

Catering trends are all about finding the new and creative sides of cooking. International cuisine never goes out of style, with Asian, Italian, and French-inspired dishes remaining popular at catered events. However, at the same time that the interest in ethnic foods remains high, American cuisine is waiting in the wings to be the next big thing. In fact, while all eyes were on Indian curries and Thai noodles, Southwestern cuisine has snuck up on the unsuspecting caterer and has taken center stage.

What is Considered the Southwest?

The United States Southwest is an area that spreads from south Colorado and southwest along the Rio Grande River to Arizona; it also includes New Mexico and Southwest Texas, which is the area south and west of the city of San Antonio. This sprawling area that covers four states – Southern Colorado and Texas, Arizona and New Mexico – was settled by Spanish colonists between 1540 and 1598, giving Southwestern food bold, Spanish roots. Alongside the Spanish flavors, the indigenous Americans – Apaches, Navajos, and Pueblos – contributed their foods to the cuisine of the region, making Southwestern cuisine a fascinating combination of tastes and cultures.

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Surprise Your Clients with Veggie-Carb Substitutes

Use Vegetables Instead of Carbs for Healthier Menu Options

Vegetable Carbohydrate Substitutes

The body’s relationship with carbohydrates is complex – the ultimate love/hate relationship. There’s no question that carbs are important: they give us energy and they contribute to normal brain function. However, not all carbs are good for us, especially not when eaten in large quantities. Many carbs are basic comfort foods – pasta, rice, bread, etc.—and it’s easy to overdo the pleasure of that particular comfort. While some people are ok with cutting out carbs altogether, a better idea may be to eat less of them. Replacing the simple carbs mentioned above with vegetable-based substitutes could be just the solution for adapting a healthier diet.

Why Eat Carbs?

Carbs seem to be everywhere; they’re found in fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, and dairy products, and they’re an important source of energy. The body uses carbs to make glucose, which is a type of sugar that can be used immediately for energy or stored for later use. “Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy it needs and are a good source of many vitamins and minerals. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal,” says Donna Logan, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

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Discover the International Breakfast Food Trend

Ethnic Foods are Transforming the Traditional Breakfast Buffet

The Breakfast Trend Goes Global

Buffets, in general, and breakfast buffets, in particular, are hugely popular at catered events, and the trend seems to be gaining steam. However, because there is no rest for the weary, and because caterers can never rest on their laurels, smart caterers are always looking for ways to increase the intrigue and allure of their menu offerings. Enter the internationally inspired breakfast – the hottest trend in catered affairs.

A New Twist to an Old Stand-By

While pancakes and waffles never go out of style, and omelet stations are still an integral part of breakfast buffets, the savvy caterer is now going beyond the U.S. borders and incorporating foreign flavors and international dishes in their breakfast menus. According to the National Restaurants Association, 68% of the American Culinary Federation Chefs surveyed chose ethnic-style breakfast food as one of the hottest trends of 2018.

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