Onsite catering departments are in the business of solving problems, no question about it. And
those problems run the gamut, from reservations systems to menu development, from logistics to
operations management. Here’s a pair of case studies that shows how two dramatically different
products helped two onsite caterers solve the unique challenges each one faced.
FSD Uses Indian Sauce to Enhance Catering Menu
Chef Scott Anderson, the FSD at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, is committed to making sure his catering menus satisfy his internal clients’ needs.
“Sometimes that means taking a conventional meal and making sure it exceeds everyone’s expectations for items they have all had before,” he says. “Other times, it means being a little more creative, for those who are looking for something new in terms of flavor profiles and international cuisines, while still keeping food costs under control.”
In the latter situation, Anderson has recently experimented quite a bit using prepared Roganjosh Sauce from Steve Phillips World Cuisine. One entrée item he developed uses beef brisket because of its lower food cost. Anderson then enhances its perceived value by marinating it overnight in the sauce and then smoking it for about 10 hours in a char broiler side smoker. During the smoking, Anderson uses fresh sauce diluted three parts sauce to one part apple juice, mopping it on to the meat every hour or so to keep it from drying out.
Overall, he finds the sauce lends itself to a wide variety of applications. In one, he prepared a surf-and turf dinner for 80 at the university, offering rogenjosh Maryland-style crab cake in which the sauce was simply added in a dollop on the side of the plate.
Another time, he used flank steak for a luncheon put on by one of the college’s departments. The steak was marinated like the brisket, then seared to give it marks and cooked slowly. At mealtime it was plated at 150°F, cut on a bias and drizzled with a small amount of melted butter just before serving. It was offered alongside jasmine rice, grilled vegetables, roasted chicken breast and other items, “but the Rogenjosh Flank Steak was the signature dish,” Anderson says.
“Slow cooking made it very tender and continuously drawing the smoke across the meat brings out an intense tomato and garam masala taste. The flavor is very complex, but not as powerful as a curry sauce. We tested it with students here and then added it to the catering menu where it’s been very popular.”
Software Lets Aquarium Leverage Catering to Max Levels
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta does an extensive catering business. With its breathtaking exhibits and extensive facilities—a configurable 16,000-sq. ft. ballroom, pre-function space and building-wide event accommodations for up to 5,000—it’s a hot spot for everything from corporate meetings to wedding receptions.
The challenge for the Aquarium and catering services provider Wolfgang Puck Catering is managing the booking process so that the event space is utilized to its fullest while remaining efficient and profitable. The scope of the challenge was made starkly clear when the first full year of operation in 2006 produced more than 750 bookings, considerably more than the 200 that was expected.
To achieve the goal of maximizing utilization of the event space, Georgia Aquarium turned to the Catering & Event Management Software developed by ReServe Interactive.
“ReServe’s software allows us to efficiently manage multiple activities throughout our extensive, flexible event space,” says Group Sales Director Will Ramsey. “Implementing the software before we opened our doors allowed us to control exactly what space we were selling and how we booked those events so every function executed was a success.”
Ramsey and Puck’s catering director worked with ReServe to tailor the software to their needs. It is shared between Aquarium staff, which handles back-of-the-house event operations, and Puck staff, which manages front-of-the-house activities, to ensure real-time event information is accessible to everyone from first customer contact through event follow-up.
The software platform lets event managers check room availability across the property to prevent double bookings, capture room set-up and service requirements and guest preferences, manage property and event profiles, and export and post event notices internally, giving staff at-a-glance event information. Using daily tracers and process-driven task lists, it automatically anticipates next steps in the event’s life cycle and eliminates logistical oversights in the planning process.
Puck relies on the software’s F&B features, such as a menu selector that lets users instantly create proposals and event orders, calculate costs and assign equipment. It also has reporting tools that gather and share financial information with donors, volunteers and the public, crucial for a non-profit. Operational and sales reporting features help internal staff evaluate sales efforts, event data and material inventory.