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  • Writer's pictureJerry

Logistics, logistics, logistics

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

Off-premise catering is all about logistics. It is also important in a restaurant setting but, is less a factor because there are less variables on a day to day basis.

I've been involved in planning small and large events, for my own clients and for other caterers. This is by far the most important factor in creating a successful event.

Even small catering events can involve a great many decisions that affect the finished product. There can be literally hundreds of details that must be considered before leaving the shop for an event. It takes a great deal of imagination and diligence to account for every detail.

In a restaurant setting, you design your kitchen once, and maybe tweak it a little over time. Catering chefs routinely find ourselves cooking in warehouses, private residences, outdoors under a tent, or in a small break room at an office. In each case we need to design a kitchen from scratch. Failure to create an efficient work flow often results in lower quality food, or in not being ready on schedule.

Everyone can understand why we need to be diligent to get the logistics right. Imagination is important because we need to “see” exactly what will be needed to complete the menu efficiently and to a high standard. Again, hundreds of small considerations are involved in a successful implementation, and the best way to achieve success is through visualization. Below is a small example of thinking ahead to make the work at the venue more efficient.

I was prepping for an event that required 50 small bowls of mignonette sauce for oysters. (vinegar, minced shallots, cracked pepper, salt) The instructions from management were to make three quarts of sauce and transport it to the venue in one large container to be divided among the small bowls onsite. I imagined what would be involved on-site; stirring the sauce to suspend the shallot and pepper in the vinegar, and ladling or pouring it into the small bowls. What I envisioned was a messy, time consuming process. In addition, it would be very difficult to get an even distribution of solids in the vinegar as they settle almost immediately. My solution is a good example of using imagination and visualization to increase efficiency.

Instead of dividing the mignonette onsite I did the following. I evenly divided the shallots, cracked pepper, and salt into the bowls at the prep kitchen the day before the event. Then added just enough vinegar to cover the dry ingredients and to start the marination process. The bowls were wrapped and transported to the venue along with a large squeeze bottle containing the remaining vinegar to fill the bowls. Instead of a messy and inefficient process it was a simple and quick matter to unwrap the bowls and fill them with the remaining vinegar. This was not only much quicker, it also made it simple to get an even distribution of solids in the vinegar.

Obviously, this was not a major factor in the event, but applying the same thought process to each menu item can add up to a significant advantage. Visualization is important for all aspects of an event, including equipment selection, work flow, and timing.

This is why I cater.

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