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When things go wrong

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I know this not a complicated menu but we did a pancake and sausage morning for an Off Road Expo this weekend. We were told 80-120 we ended up serving almost 300. We had to adapt on our feet, first we ran out of sausage no big deal. Then we ran out of plates AAAAAAAG! again no big deal. One of my staff working the serving line pitched it as fun "take your napkin put your pancakes on it and a small coffee cup and put your syrup in it then dip!" It worked they never quit coming and everyone had fun. My point is that no matter how well we prep or scout a location sometimes things go wrong, it is our job as professionals to adapt to the changes of the show. You become a professional by working it not by makeing up some buz cards and handing them out. The reason this forum works is because the "pros" are willing to share our knowlage to help others when things go wrong.

Cheers fstfrdy:smoking:
Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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post #2 of 16
I catered a party last weekend - first they gave me no clear head count then when I got there with all the food - I was told there were no forks and all the food had to be 'finger food' I had done a mediterannean vege bake with eggplants, tomatoes etc. which needed to be eaten with a fork!! I rushed off to find some French stick in the nearby supermarket, spooned small amounts of the bake on the bread and dished it us as finger food - whew!
What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang
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What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang
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post #3 of 16
Plan B is always a lifesaver!

If you don't have one, or can't invent one inside of 60 seconds, you're screwed. Something ALWAYS goes wrong, usually not just one thing and usually at the worst time.
post #4 of 16
Pfft No Plan B. It distracts from Plan A.
post #5 of 16
offsite catering=thinking of alternatives all the frikin'time.

last weekend I helped a young chef with his wedding out on a farm....OMG, I've NEVER seen so many flies. The food was in a 40x40 tent with buffet around 2 sides. Now talk about fate, I had just been to restaurant depot and bought fly strips for the alfresco dinner I'm having Wed. and since it was raining when I left home for the wedding I just left um in the car. 12 fly strips.....we pulled um and filled them within minutes. There were supposed to be 2 fountains....not good with floaty flies so it was X'd, ice cream didn't freeze so just left it out.
The staff helping with the roasted pigs were from the chef's restaurant and took directions only from him.....so the pig didn't get pulled in a timely manner.....they were waiting until serving time to pull it.????.....catering different from restaurants. Aw well everyone had a great time, the band was super, the food outstanding, the flies moved on when it rained...oh yeah add that to the mix.....
It was great to see the couple roll with everything that came up....weddings bring out weirdness in many people who fixate on what's been planned for a year and just really is not feasible when last minute obsticles sprout up.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 16
Heh shroom :) A long time ago I read in the paper about these guys who had a wedding in a cow pasture. A bunch of people got e. coli!
post #7 of 16

When things go wrong

The 2nd year I was catering we had a contract for a Bat Mitzvah Luncheon for 180. I don't remember the exact menu, but I had spent the week making handmade blintzes, kugels, cheesecakes... we had lox, hand whipped cream cheese - you get the point - labor intensive and perishable. We were working on sight in the location, NOT our kitchen, the commercial kitchen of the synagogue. The night before the event at 8 pm (event at noon the next day) we got call from the custodian that the fridge was OUT and he didn't know how long it had been. We left at 5. My partner and I scrambled!!! We bought chocolate diiped ice cream bites, frozen blintzes, new lox, new cream cheese, new tuna, basically rebuilt the menu!!! Worked till into the wee hours!

In the morning we informed the hosts that it was all under control that the meal would be great, but that we had a few minor menu chages as a result of the situation. She was grateful - the meal was great - the guests all raved. After the event, it took us 8 months to get the money from her husband because we "didn't provide the contracted menu!!!" Sound like the opposite of your wedding experience...

We thought it was an incredible PLAN B:bounce:
post #8 of 16
One of my gifts was helping set out the food....I did not do any of the cooking....unless you consider slicing tomatoes cooking. I loaned them bowls/platters/stands/cambros......just a really great couple whom I really enjoy. Normally I would be one of the guests (period). But the groom is a great generous, sharing guy...whose friendship I've come to enjoy immensely....he asked for help and caught me on a very good day. So I was not collecting $.

Isn't that special.....so have you changed your policy since the Bat Mitzvah fiasco? Did they pay the original price or an adjusted price since I assume it was kosher and you needed to store at the synagog....and you had no liability with their equipment.

Kuan....so I guess the 5 second rule doesn't apply if you drop something in cow poop? Gross....
I've catered on farms before....I prefer the farms that don't have much livestock, for a mydrid of reasons.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 16

Cow Poop

lol on the 5 sec rule:beer:

They paid the original, the synagogue helped us cover some of the lost food cost, although not all & NONE of the lost worker time (which was HUGE!!!)

You were right on on all of your guesses shroom...

contract now has sentence about changes for unforeseen circs...
post #10 of 16
Seriously shroom, you ever wonder about those livestock events where the wind is blowing and the potato salad and hamburger buns are just sitting there out in the open?

Anyway, sternos and sheet pans make an OK flat top, but careful, the pan will warp.
post #11 of 16
yummmy.....great visualization there.....normally the farm events I cater are more elaborate than burgers....:)
So Kuan, you've actually cooked food on sterneo/sheet pans? Why? was that all you had available or did your inital plans include that scenerio?

Believe me, I've adapted all kinds of equipment through the years from cooking at the market but never that one.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #12 of 16
It was a reheat because the power in the heating cabinets "went out" so all the stuff we already plated up was cool. No it didn't go out, someone forgot to plug it in!
post #13 of 16
ROTFL......thanks, off to cook for a priest and prep for tomorrow's breakfast....that's really funny....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 16
Just a few suggestions of things that I have learned over the years:

My contracts always are very clear

1) A 50% deposit is required at the acceptance of this event plan. The remaining balance is due one week prior to the event. This protects me from the jerks who request upgrades late in the game and then refuse to pay for them.
Any balances due either party will be settled within seven days after the event. Deposit is non-refundable.

2) Rental equipment: Any breakage or loss by guests will be billed at replacement cost.

3) Any balance due or credit owed to the client after the event must be paid within 5 business days

4) Guest count: We require a guaranteed minimum guest count five working days prior to your event. After this date we cannot accept a decrease. However, we will do our best to accommodate an increase if notified within 48 hours of the event.

5) The length of the event is ( ) hours. An event lasting longer will incur an hourly charge of ($ )

May sound tough, but my clients accept and respect this, as they know it all from the beginning.

Good luck to all of you, especially the beginners.
post #15 of 16
welcome liana, great advice....we have similar terms in our contracts.

two days ago I was catering a wedding for one of the top chefs in STL.....so there was some pressure to having everything just so.
My kitchen is in a transitional neighborhood....it's gentrifying now but we still have a rough area a few blks away....thus lots of security. The wedding was on Sunday and I went in fairly early to finish prepping the veg platters and loading up containers.....well one of the other tenets in the building set the alarm when they left....I came down the elevator with trash and set off the motion detector....running down the hall to shut off the horrid sound I pushed through the front door to punch in the code and the door shut...LOCKED.....and of course the front wrought iron gates were locked...and my keys were up in the kitchen.....so basically I was locked between the front door and the gate.....with thank goodness my cell phone. so after calling security systems and having them locate the managing person I called my staff who is across town having lunch and has a spare set of keys. My new assitant shows up and we talk through the gate about the event. 45 minutes later I'm back up in the kitchen but the horror of potentials....what if I'd not had my phone, or something was on the stove or in the oven....

The only thing I had to cut because of the loss of time was driving home to get a shower....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 16
it sounds harsh but its something that you have to do otherwise you will get burned sooner or later. weddings are the worst. we always make sure that we get our money up front from wedding people because the food is usually the last thing to be paid for and if they spent all their money on the flowers and cake, etc. and no money left to pay you... you dont get paid for a long time. seen it happen and it sucks. especially for the huge weddings. most of the events that are catered that we do we require the deposit and then payment 1 week before event (unless its someone that we have catered before and we know they're good for it.

fstfrdy, as for the number change. depending on the party size we have the head count that we agree on food for and it can be changed upto a week in advance if its large number changes and always cook for 5-10% more than what the numbers for but congrats to you for pulling that large of a change off at the last minute.
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