Catering for a 600 pax corporate event – Numbers, Challenges and Lessons Learnt

Catering for a 600 pax corporate event – Numbers, Challenges and Lessons Learnt
The catering was for an annual charity event for a large bank. It came about after we flawlessly executed a tea time finger food style catering for their 200 back office staff a few months prior. But a highly anticipated cocktail dinner for 600 middle to senior management staff is a completely different story.

Menu planning – after a few rounds of modifications, we settled on a total of 16 gourmet canape including 3 bowl foods (beef bourguignon on mashed potato; teriyaki salmon on cold noodles), 5 cold canapé (tuna tartare on sesame cone; gazpacho shrimp shooter), 5 hot canapé (wagyu beef on sweet potato chip, seared scallop pea puree on china spoon) and 3 dessert (banoffee tart, chocolate truffle with gold leaf).

Quantities – as a rule of thumb for cocktail dinner parties, guests on average consume 8pcs of canape for first hour then halving the number for each following hour. So for this 3-hour event, we estimated 14pcs per person. With 600 pax, this translated into 8,400 pcs of canape.

Beverage – free flow wine, sparkling & still water, juice, soft drinks. We were advised to limit the flow of alcohol during the first half of the event when speeches, performances and awards took place so we estimated about 1,400 glasses of wine for the event, equivalent to 180 bottles.

Equipment – prior to this event our largest party of this particular format was 300 pax so a lot of the chinaware, glassware we needed to purchase. We would end up bringing 1,000 wine glasses, 800 high balls, 800 small china plates and similar number of shooter glasses, china spoons and small forks.

Kitchen equipment – venue had limited facilities and we had to engage a supplier to provide warming cabinets, heat lamps and extra refrigeration.

Staffing – given the size of the event, it had been agreed that there were to be 2 food stations and 2 beverage stations at separate ends of the venue hall. 40% of the food will be displayed on the food stations and the rest 60% to be passed around. Passing around over 5,000pcs of canape is no simple task. Not including kitchen staff, we brought in 30 wait staff to look after service on the floor.

All of the above were set and done. Me and my team were raring to go. Then came the day of the event.

Problem 1: We wanted to move all glassware, chinaware & table decorations there early but everyone from the production house to the furniture delivery to the kitchen equipment we rented were all arriving at around the same time and there’s only 1, yes ONE, service lift. So our team wasted a good hour queuing in line.

Lesson learned – where possible for large scale events, move equipment to venue the day or the night before. This would take a lot of the stress out from fighting for lift space and prevent possible delays as the event unfolds.

Problem 2: storage area reserved for catering was partly occupied with equipment from the production house. It was a passageway connecting the main hall and kitchen and with these additional equipment narrowing the passageway, it caused major inconvenience for our wait staff and kitchen team
throughout the event.

Lesson learned – extremely important to communicate back of house arrangements to captains and kitchen teams as these can majorly impact the performance on the floor.

Problem 3: There were too many finishing touches required for the majority of the 16 types of canape.

With limited kitchen space and over 8,000pcs of canape to be served, service wasn’t the smoothest and certain types of food came out of the kitchen slower than others. It was evident when one of the guests mentioned “this is my sixth tandoori chicken skewer, it’s absolutely delicious but I am not seeing much of anything else left on the table!”

Lesson learned – the split between pass around and canape on the table wasn’t quite right. With this number of guests it should have been 70% on table and 30% pass around. We initially suggested 3 food stations but the production house had other ideas so we compromised on the two. With the benefit of hindsight, we needed to stand our ground.

Problem 4: there was a lack of guidance for a number of wait staff resulting in a stark contrast with some busting their lungs and others seemingly wandering around unsure of what to do.

Lesson learned – two areas we have since worked on – ensuring that for every 6 staff, there should be 1 captain with briefings on run-down and important reminders to be done at least 30mins prior to start; encourage communication between captains and giving them flexibility to redirect team members to assist other teams.

Problem 5: we didn’t bring enough glassware and we didn’t hire dish washing staff, which meant we had to move a few of front of house staff to cleaning glasses, again impacting the flow of pass around services.

Lesson learned – the usual practice for cocktail parties was 3 pcs of glassware per guest (across wine glass and high ball glass). We had planned for this number but with the above scale and format of catering where guests would often grab a glass, put it down to listen to a speech/ watch a performance, then walk to the bar counter to grab another glass, we needed adequate buffer on top of the 3pcs on glassware.

Being a caterer can be extremely satisfying if all the preparation before each & every single event is done properly. But we must always prepare and plan for that one little misstep or miscalculation that can potentially generate a chain reaction disrupting quality of the catering service for rest of the event and impacting overall customers’ experience.

Successfully executing a large scale high end corporate catering service is no mean feat. zebratasty is one of the few professional caterers in Hong Kong with the right experience and expertise to do just that.

Top 5 Wagyu Restaurants in the World

Wagyu is a type of cattle of bred in Japan and it’s beef is known for it’s superior marbling and tenderness. For those who have had wagyu beef, they can most certainly attest that it is these attributes that make it some of the best meat in the world. Wagyu is not only served in Japan, but all over the world. Let’s take a look at some of these restaurants that serve wagyu and talk about the different creative dishes these chefs serve up on a daily basis.

First we will start in the region of Japan that is home to the most famous strain of wagyu, Kobe. Kobe is a strain of wagyu that originated in the region and has very strict standards when it comes to raising cattle. Mouriya is one of the oldest restaurants in the region and gets their beef from a private farm that they have contracted to produce their steaks. They specialize in special occasions and offer many different cuts of wagyu from round steak to the finest filet that one could possibly find.

Next we will go to the fine food capital of world, New York City. NYC has plenty to offer when it comes to dinner with world class flavor, but if you are looking for a juicy succulent strip, you will need to head over to the financial district and visit Don Wagyu’s. Don Wagyu offers only 3 types of steaks but you can’t go wrong with any of them. They offer an American wagyu (cross bred American Black Angus cattle and Japanese Tajima), Miyazaki Wagyu and their specialty Ozaki(only 5 of these cattle are shipped to the U.S. each month and are exclusive to Don Wagyu’s).

Not to be outdone by their East Coast counterpart, Los Angeles has plenty to offer in the way of wagyu restaurants, but Yazawa in Beverly Hills stands out from the pack. They offer the highest quality Japanese steaks on the U.S. west coast and have an absolutely stunning dining room that will leave you not believing that you are still in America.

If you aren’t looking for a steak and bbq is your thing, you have to go to Killen’s BBQ in Houston, Texas. They are serving up juicy wagyu brisket with such a dynamite flavor that even places that are famous the world over for their brisket like Franklin in Austin are taking notice. Killen’s slow smokes the wagyu brisket and the meat literally melts in your mouth.

Finally we will head to the land down under for the best wagyu in Australia. Wagyuya offers up wagyu sushi for lunch and dinner. Their wagyu has some of the best marbling that you will ever find and the Japanese chefs at Wagyuya will not settle for anything less.

Another way to get Wagyu is to order it online from Argyle Butchers Meat Delivery – it’s become an enormously popular way to get meats conveniently.

There are excellent wagyu restaurants all over the world that each offer their creative spin on this wonderful beef. If you are in the mood for the tastiest and juiciest beef in the world, be sure to visit one of these 5 best wagyu restaurants.