In normal times, without Covid – 19 hanging over us all and when we are busy catering for events and weddings we are constantly asked how we do our jobs and provide the food at it’s optimum level, along with arranging staff and where the staff come from, drink service and so on and on…. So for a bit of fun and for you all to have a look into our world we thought we would answer some of these questions.
We are often asked, how do you cook for 120 in a marquee? Simple we take all the cookers with us! In a marquee we would always ask for a catering tent, with electric sockets, a potable water supply, a floor (matting is fine) on grass and trestle tables. We then turn this area into a kitchen.
We have cookers and tables around the outside and serving tables in the centre. The more guests you invite, the more oven cooked foods you may have such as slow cooked meats, roasted potatoes and vegetables, cauliflower cheese, as examples therefore more cookers will be required and that is without hot canapes.
Do you cook the food the day before? Most definitely not! We cook everything fresh on site, so your meats and vegetables will be cooked in the marquee or venue, this can add to the number of cookers also. We would peel the potatoes and prepare the vegetables the day prior but cook them on site, desserts such as Eton Mess, the meringue would be prepared the day prior and we would assemble the dessert on site so that it does not deteriorate. Canapes, like desserts are made the day prior, hot choices such as samosas are assembled the day prior and cooked on site, chicken satay would be threaded onto skewers the previous day and again cooked on site. It is all quite simple when you think more about it.
How do you cater for an event or wedding in a small area with one domestic cooker? There are many options around facilities and where there is a will there is a way! If a venue has a small kitchen with one cooker and we require more we would look to see if a catering tent could be put outside, either incorporating the venue kitchen or setting up somewhere different where we can be self sufficient, we have done this many times on village halls. If a venue does not have enough cookers for your menu and numbers, we take another cooker and find space either in the kitchen or again outside. If you have a barbecue menu and the weather is unkind then we take a gazebo and place it outside over the barbecues, keeping our chefs and your food dry.
Do you use agency staff? No, we never have! We are very proud of our team and the support that they continuously give us, some staff have been with us since our restaurant days which is now more then 12 years. We like to take on wait staff at the age of 15/16 years old, yes this is quite young but this way we can train them exactly how we work and teach them how to clear plates and serve drinks, as examples, properly! We then hope that these staff enjoy it and stay with us during their higher education and even university holidays and gap years. This builds a constant team that work most weekends, we also have a wider team of old staff that have changed careers or gone to full time employment and come and help us when we have bigger events on. We are both extremely lucky as we have constant staff in both areas that know exactly how we work and how we like our standards to be adhered too.
What time do you arrive on the day? We are both complete control freaks, so we like to come early to ensure we are ready and to have a quiet cup of tea before we the team start to arrive. Jo always comes the day prior to set your wedding or just deliver the equipment, whichever you have decided. At this point Jo will also set the kitchen, set tables up if we are in a marquee, polish plates and fill the hot cupboard ready, plug in all the equipment and check that we have electric and water. Any queries can then we sorted before the day.
Can we store drinks in your fridges? So, our vans are our fridges and ideally wines and bubbly require 24 hours under refrigeration, especially if the weather is hot. We arrive in the morning with the vans, which can be full with your foods. This is not enough time to chill drinks, therefore we would recommend a fridge trailer, fridges or ice depending on the size of your wedding and the amount of drinks, we can answer all these questions for you in more detail to relate to your specific event and venue.
We are often asked about guests with special dietary requirements and how we cope with catering for them especially if we are at an event that may have vegans, vegetarians, gluten free guests, dairy free guests, as an example. We cook all our dishes from scratch, so our ideal is to make a similar dish for the guest with the special diet, so they do not feel left out. Examples of this would be a chicken breast dish with a creamy wine sauce, for the dairy free guest we would serve a chicken breast with a cream substitute and wine sauce, we would also make the same desserts if they replicate and taste as yummy! If any dish does not transfer as well we will tell you and offer other suggestions, we would never serve a fresh fruit salad as an alternative to a guest with a special dietary requirement, unless it was asked for.
Do you really bring all the crockery and cutlery with you and clean it? Yes we do! We made the decision early on in our business that if we supply all the crockery, cutlery, glassware and service ware such as cruets, vegetable dishes, accompaniment dishes, bread baskets ect, we know exactly what we have bought to site and our team know where to find a milk jug as they know the boxes they travel in. We then remove all this on the evening of your event and take back to our kitchen dirty, yes it sounds disgusting but to guarantee clean, grease free equipment we like to wash it all up through our dishwasher. It is then checked, re boxed and any replaced that is needed and then it is ready to go out again.
We hope that this has given you a small insight into our world, a world that we are greatly missing at the moment but we are back next week with a small wedding going ahead and WE CANNOT WAIT!!!
If you have any questions about catering for an event or a wedding please do not hesitate to contact us on 01837 55841