continued …. from feeding the masses (second installment)
Turns out we were only two of maybe eight Canadians .. attending this little conference called Catersource. There were six or maybe eight hundred people.. tops! The tradeshow was a small conference room with maybe 25 or 35 vendors and that is being generous.
I cannot even remember where it was being held or what year it was. I do know that we had entered something unique and yet familiar at the same time.. it was like the island had disappeared and we were among like minded people all in the same boat.
We were also there for a reason and that reason was to learn how to take this business of catering and mold it into something bigger and better .. but most of all we wanted to make it profitable!
Mike Roman was the featured speaker and founder of Catersource and he had so much knowledge to share with us. We were like sponges, disciples at his feet even.. I was just so happy to be finally learning about what I was doing!
See… everyone can cook.. but not everyone can be successful. I have come to believe only 25% is in the cooking and the rest is presentation, business acumen and the all important customer satisfaction. Oh… and don’t forget about attitude, ours was about to get a major overhaul.
For us it was a complete about face in how we were running our business. We were tired and burnt out and were ready to quit. The customer had become our enemy, always trying to get us for next to nothing and we were so resentful .. it almost became a them or us situation.
We learned how to handle clients, the importance of giving them what they want but at the same time not giving everything away. We also learned about presentation and how important that is.. !!
I will never forget a class that Chef Lynn Bouno taught.. her words have never left me and I repeat them often. She apologized ahead of time to the chefs in the audience for what she was going to say “but… guests eat with their eyes first!” They have already judged how your food is going to taste by how you presented it!
Now who would have thought that? We always assumed that once you tasted our food you would be hooked. Here was someone telling us guests have already decided how it was going to taste with just looking at it.. wow!
What we had going for us was that our beef was always done on a rottiserie barbque and handcarved onto the guests plates .. and that my friends is all we had going for us!
Meryl Snow came along and was showing us how to make our tables look pretty. There was certainly more to this catering than what we were doing and it blew my mind. There was so many ideas and new ways of doing things and.. and.. it was overwhelming, in a good way.
We met fellow barbeque caterers struggling along the same path, and we met high end caterers also there to learn. I want to suggest that we were all learning something and a lot of it was from each other too.
Leaving that very first conference was a high I’ll never forget. I went back with a changed attitude and every single buffet table after that always had a centerpiece! We doubled our business that year thanks to Catersource!
there is so much more I want to share with you but you will have to wait for the next instalment…
…..to be continued