Corporate Catering Menus - Some Thoughts...

by Willie Biggart

We’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of good catering menus so we thought it would be good to share a few insights garnered.

People are becoming increasingly particular about the food they eat and this applies to catering as much as to retail and restaurants. So what makes a great catering menu…

The quality and freshness of ingredients, locally sourced where possible, is key to providing your customers with a great experience. Everyone knows this but not everyone puts it into practice. Yes, it takes some work but the rewards in satisfaction, quite apart from the financials, are big.

Describing the specifics of ingredient provenance, without being overly verbose, is always enticing.

But the real skill is in using a limited number of great ingredients to create subtle variations, presenting them in different ways to provide a great choice for your customers. Too many ingredients will result in stocking and waste problems in addition to the difficulty of mastering too wide a menu.

Create Fixed Price Menus so that you can bundle and provide some choice at the same time. By mixing up the same products in different permutations of Fixed Price Menus, you can provide a great selection but still produce with ease. Customers really value the ‘per head’ pricing - all catering is on a budget.

You can further limit difficulties in producing by offering a chef’s choice on a daily basis. If its sandwiches, then have a list of 15 and only make 8 or 9 only any one-day. Be organized about it and specify them each day in advance. This will speed up production and cut down waste. Run off a production list the previous day, with exactly what you need to produce. This helps kitchen resourcing and ensures all required ingredients are/will be available – nothing worse than ‘running out’….unless its ‘throwing away’!

Perhaps some of your Customers have particular favourites or dislikes! – find a way of noting these – they should ‘pop-up’ as you process their order. You may know them all but if someone else is taking the orders, they need to know too!

Special dietary requests are becoming a more regular occurrence. Embrace them and make a real effort to comply by providing some exceptional food. Use a foolproof way of noting the request against the main order and ensure that all special dietaries for the day are communicated to the Kitchen together, and at the earliest opportunity. That way, chef can plan and control.

Catering’s not rocket science but to do it well takes real discipline, skill and passion.

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