Hop Aboard the Experiential Catering Train
In today’s modern world of catering, it’s a mad race to find the one (or two or three) original approaches that will put you ahead of the pack. In this age of constant change, it is less about the food and drink that you serve and more about latching onto the latest trends or – better yet – predicting what the next great trend will be. With that in mind, you should be keeping an eye on the steady rise of the experiential catering trend. Because, in addition to serving your guests the finest culinary options, you now have to incorporate them into an overall experience that will leave a lasting impression on everyone present.
The Experience is Everything
Driven by a sense of exploration, or perhaps a dire fear of missing out, Americans today are always on the lookout for new experiences. Restaurants are offering novel, fun and memorable meals through pop-up venues and entertainment-themed locales. At the same time, while restaurants are offering unique experiences through their food and beverage options, venues that typically place experience over food and drink, such as sporting events and music festivals, are upgrading their menus to complement the experience. In other words, the experiential dining trend is on the rise and caterers have to join the fray or be left behind.
Continue reading Use These Experiential Catering Ideas to Create a Memorable Event
Homemade Condiments for the Trendy Caterer
As a caterer, you are always trying to set yourself apart from others in the industry with premium offerings that include the best ingredients. The goal is to differentiate your business from others with unique flavors and concepts that earn you a reputation for originality and quality. Offering homemade condiments is a way to give a specialized twist to common foods that people have in their refrigerators, giving an artisanal flare to old familiar flavors.
Homemade Condiments: Perfect for Caterers
While some home cooks may embrace the homemade trend, it’s still way easier for them to grab condiments off the supermarket shelf and store them for later use. Caterers, on the other hand, can whip up a batch of homemade condiments – to be used at a specific event – and not have to worry that it won’t last forever in the refrigerator. Store-bought condiments are loaded with sugar and chemicals, which make them long lasting but not the healthiest of items. Making your own condiments may seem to hark back to the middle of the last century but, creatively, they are a big step forward in this age of health-conscious menus that stress natural ingredients.
Continue reading Learn How Caterers Can Benefit by Using Made-From-Scratch Condiments
Gluten-Free Catering Cuisines
Dining out in restaurants or eating at a catered affair can be a risky proposition for anyone who is restricted to a gluten-free diet. While many restaurants and caterers offer gluten-free options – along with other offerings that take into account various food intolerances and allergies – not all take the time to train staff about the dangers of food sensitivities and to ensure that those “free-from” items are also free from cross-contamination.
These days, however, given how many gluten-free products are available – including vegetables, meat, legumes, and flour alternatives, such as cornmeal and rice flour – chefs can offer menus that are entirely gluten free, making life for a caterer whose client has gluten-free demands much easier. Caterers can offer a wide range of gluten-free cuisines, many of which we’ll discuss here, such as Mexican, Thai, and Indian.
Continue reading How to Cater for Gluten-Free Customers
Mustard: Possibly the Greatest Condiment of Them All
Mustard may have come alive for Americans in the early 20th century, when it was first coupled with the hot dog, but its history is longer and spicier than you might have imagined. The mustard plant, a member of the Brassica family, has tiny round seeds and tasty leaves, and the condiment mustard is made from the seeds of this plant. Its English name, mustard, is derived from the Latin words, mustum ardens, which mean “burning must.” This is a reference to the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds and the old French practice of mixing the plant’s ground seeds with “must,” the unfermented juice of wine grapes.
Mustard Facts and Stats
To keep things straight, mustard is technically the plant, while prepared mustard refers to the condiment. (In most cases, though, when people say “mustard,” everyone knows they’re referring to the condiment.) The seeds aren’t flavorful until they are cracked, after which they are mixed with a liquid to become prepared mustard.
Continue reading Discover the Health Values and History of Familiar Mustard
How to Minimize Food Waste in Commercial Kitchens
Food waste has long been an unfortunate byproduct of commercial kitchens – including both restaurant and catering kitchens. According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), every year, roughly 40 million tons of wasted food is sent to landfills in the United States. At the same time, record numbers of Americans – about one in six – are receiving government food assistance. In the United States, organizations like the FWRA are taking on the challenges of food waste with the dual goal of shrinking our environmental footprint and addressing hunger in America. So, what can you do to reduce waste in your commercial kitchen? Read on.
What is Food Waste?
The sources of food waste are varied and many. Food waste is generated by consumers and the food-service industry (restaurants and catering companies, for instance), but it can also be a byproduct of manufacturing operations. Food waste is food that can be used again but that is instead sent to landfills. This food is thrown out because it looks weird and inedible; it was not eaten during a meal; or, it is unused and beginning to rot. Food waste amounts to the equivalent of about 20 pounds of wasted food per person per month in the U.S.; and in monetary terms, that’s about $1,000 of food waste per year per four-person family.
Continue reading How to Eliminate Food Waste in the Commercial Kitchen
Wedding Food Trends for 2018
With 2017 drawing to a close and 2018 upon us, it’s time to explore the upcoming trends in wedding food. Successful caterers and event planners have to be at least one step ahead of the crowd when it comes to trends since before you know it, the next best thing will become the trend that everybody must have. The last thing you want is to be left behind when it comes to keeping up with the latest wedding culinary ideas and innovations.
Weddings Are Multi-Faceted Events
Wedding trends cover all the elements of a special event – from décor to flowers to attire; but, as a caterer you want to focus on food trends because that’s what affects your business. Food trends cover the entire meal – from hors d’oeuvres for the reception, to drinks at the bar… onto the main meal and, of course, the dessert buffet. Wedding food trends tend to sweep the industry like a brushfire, and only those who don’t have their fingers on the pulse will get caught unawares.
Continue reading Learn About the Hottest Wedding Food Trends of 2018
Fabulous Outdoor Party Lighting Ideas
Although winter is upon us and the idea of an outdoor event makes us shiver, spring and summer are just around the corner. In fact, as a successful caterer, you are probably used to booking parties at least six months in advance, which means you (hopefully) have reservations galore for the spring and summer of 2018. Therefore, it’s time to start planning outdoor evening events – the kind of parties that put everyone in a relaxed, festive mood. With the right lighting, your outdoor event can be an unforgettable smash hit, with minimal effort.
Lighting: The Main Ingredient to a Successful Outdoor Event
Great food, friends and relatives are the main ingredients for a fantastic party, but ambiance also factors into success. While an indoor event requires painstaking décor, an outdoor summer party just about creates its own atmosphere. Nonetheless, it’s possible to boost the “wow” factor of an outdoor event with just a little effort and creativity. With the right lighting you can make an event magical – and truly a night to remember.
Continue reading Use These Outdoor Party Lighting Ideas to Create a Memorable Event
All About Chafing Dishes
A chafing dish (from the French word, chauffer, which means “to make warm”) is a portable and essential piece of equipment in the food industry. For catering businesses, the chafing dish is the foundation of any food presentation. They are also essential in restaurants that specialize in buffets with hot dishes. Chafing dishes (a.k.a. chafers) are made to keep food warm – from two to six hours – and they are the most affordable and convenient way to heat your delicious buffet items.
What is a Chafing Dish?
A chafing dish is a multi-layered apparatus: it uses chafing fuel to heat a large, shallow pan of water, which in turn heats a pan of food above it. The food in the pan stays hot, and the indirect heat, along with the water, keeps it from scorching or drying out. Electric chafers and induction chafers are other types of chafing dishes that don’t use fuel, but still use water as a medium to transfer heat, and are great for permanent buffets (like in restaurants).
Continue reading Why the Right Chafing Dish is Essential to Every Catered Buffet
Attracting New Customers vs. Nurturing Loyalty
Once your restaurant is up and running – after the first marketing push, through the launch, and on into steady business – the focus of your advertising should constantly be changing. Whereas once every customer was a new customer, now you are welcoming regulars: repeat customers for whom your restaurant is a home away from home. The question is, at this enviable point, do you continue to invest in trying to attract new customers, or do you focus on maintaining your loyal diners. Or both.
New Customers First
According to LoyalMarketing.com, in an article entitled, “Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention,” it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, yet customer acquisition is still the primary focus of most businesses in general, and restaurants in particular. Loyal customers, and their repeat business, are the cornerstone+ of long-term success because it is so expensive to find new customers. Nonetheless, if expansion and growth are a goal – and of course they are – new business must be a top priority. To continue to grow your business you’re going to need more people frequenting your restaurant – and lots of them. Although you want to maintain a relationship with your existing customers, it will always be important to bring in fresh business in the form of new customers.
Continue reading How to Balance Customer Retention with Customer Loyalty
A Guide to Takeout Containers
In today’s mobile society, even the most elegant restaurant has to be prepared for the takeout crowd. Today, smart restaurant owners make it easy to order and pay for takeaway food with the help of apps, smartphones, and online ordering systems. What this means, though, is that restaurants have to be stocked with all sorts of takeout containers.
Take-out containers have come a long way from the bulky white Styrofoam boxes of years gone by. In recent years, the demand for a new and improved travel food container has graced us with a variety of sizes, shapes, and uses. Today, containers come in all types of materials, shapes, and sizes – including reusable containers – and the trick is finding the right ones for your business.
Continue reading Choosing the Right Takeout Containers for Your Restaurant