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Disastrous catering job! So upset!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ok, not to go into too much detail, but I had a Retirement party for 80 people and had to fry alot of chicken(their choice). My fryer in my commercial kitchen went haywire and broke down. Frantically looking, a friend of mine who owns a small restaurant let me use his fryer, he told me the chicken will fry fast and I can get all of it fried in a short period of time--NOT!! Then his fryer started smoking and eventually shut down too! I only got half of the chicken fried and it took almost 5 hours just to do that!! The party started at 6, she wanted the food there by 530, and I was still trying to fry some chicken at 6!! After leaving, because the fryer was "fried" I still had to go pick up the other food that was done, but cold. I didn't have the time to heat up alot of the food, but some were still warm. She told me she already had chafers and fuels...NOT! She thought I said that I had them! I had to drive 45 minutes to the party. To make a long story short, the organizer was PO'd, the guests were PO'd and since this was a drop off service, I left after delivery and they called me on the cell telling me how disappointed they were and hung up on me. I agreed with them, apologizing about the fryers, but they didn't care about that. Now, my question: Should I reimburse her for the uncooked portion of the chicken?

This has really made me depressed and I have been crying ever since! The fryers were working last week, I don't know what happened!
post #2 of 9
Never wait till before the party, chicken should have been fried prior, even day before, then reheated and delivered in aluminum pans. You tried to fry to much in fryers that were to small and did not have enough BTU input .Sounds like you blew heat overload circuit. As far as reimbursment its your decision based on business ethics, I would do something.And lastly a suggestion stay in party planning business, not catering business it is easier.....
post #3 of 9
oh Tracy, I'm so sorry that happened.....shtuff happens to all of us, offsite caterers have the coolest (omg) stories.

Chicken and fryers. Well alot of us have talked about subletting that gem out. Let the fry boys do it.....find a good one and just let them do it.

Timing, guess you know that's a BIG one. By what you've written it reads like you didn't get to a 5:30 drop until 7ish. That's not good....
You brought partial food that was not up to temp....again, that's dangerous.
There are alot of options out there to keep food hot, cambros/etc....

So, your question is what do you owe them?

Hmmmm....there are several ways I'd go about this.......

basically you messed up their event, so I'd offer another for free or reimburse their money
You can call and talk to them, see what would make it right for them.

Prior to taking any more catering events, sit down and figure out what you do well.....what works without effort.

If it's onsite, then stick to that for a while....

If you aren't used to your equipment frying so much chicken then really think about how you are going to deal with that in the future. Don't offer it or sub it out.

If you need staff, hire it. There are plenty of people looking for part time work.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #4 of 9
Oh, poor you, ChefTracy! Shroom is right; stuff happens. I understand how you feel, though. Try to make it right by them and move on. Do you have any idea if they ate some or most of the food? I think you have to give them back their money or some portion of it or offer them another function, but explain that you had equipment failures and tell them how terrible you feel. Maybe stroking them some and offering to do something for them will make them feel better about whole thing so they can also move on and not badmouth you.

Offsite catering is hard and I'll bet most of us who read your post are saying "There but the grace of God go I".
post #5 of 9
So sorry you had to go through that.
Its never easy to placate an unhappy client especially when you are at fault. And as far as the client is concerned, all the missunderstandings in the world dont make up for what happened.
I would say you have to take it on the chin. It's hard and humilliating. I've been there in the early days and i know

I would give them a huge discount and take it as a costly learning curve


ie. If one of your staff screwed up, you would bawl them out. Smooth the ruffled feathers of the client. Write up the loss and move on to the next job.


So please dont cry, dont lose sleep
put this down to experience and learn from it.

Sorry to harp on, but I remember my first &%&-up. I couldnt sleep for days till my pal put me straight.
She also said it wont be the last time you balls something up so you'd better get your prep sorted.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for all of your advice! I got a chance to explain to her exactly what happened and she is ok. On her next event, she will be getting a huge discount!

Thanks again!
post #7 of 9
Catering fried food is almost always a disaster! Especially if you have to drive 45 minutes after you fry it! ...If you want her for a future client, I would make it happen, Like mentioned before take one on the chin LOL. If you want a bad name....Ignore it!:crazy:.......Ive done worse in my early catering years. Now I just dont cater fried food unless I have a frier onsite! Even if you have to rent one and jack up the plate cost. At least your food is money!

Live and learn...Dues paid!
post #8 of 9

What a bad experience

You have a bad experience in the said catering service. Gosh. Unforgettable one. Good thing I haven't experienced that. We must be aware in which catering services we are putting our trust into. Not only catering services per se. For us not to be a victim. Know the company history, client's testimonial, this may greatly help in your search. Good Luck! :smoking:

post #9 of 9
I probably would have told her I had an equipment failure and left it at that. Nobody wants to know the dirty details of why I "screwed up" just what I'm going to do about it. I think I would have given a full refund and an apology.
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