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Opportunities in Event Catering
Apr 2015 - by
Event catering markets your restaurant name and makes for lucrative earnings. Taimur Khan, operations manager for Chakra restaurant explains why you should be doing it too
Running a restaurant operation can be difficult enough as it is, keeping your hands full at the best of times. But if your business is successful enough and you are making a name for the restaurant, which your customers have got to know far and wide, then it makes perfect sense for you to add event catering as another string to your bow.
Of course, nothing is as easy as it seems. Then again, the mere fact that you have a popular restaurant and your customers appreciate your food, must surely mean that now and then you’ll have had enquiries for you to cater for their parties or any other gathering or event.
Therein lies the important question – are you able to do any event catering or are you stuck on how to go about it, or even simply lack confidence?
“Any restaurant owner worth his salt will know,” says Taimur Khan, operation manager at the London restaurant Chakra, which also has a highly successful event catering wing to its business, “that providing catering for outside events can not only be very finically beneficial, but also provide a secondary platform for your restaurant which automatically markets its name.”
Yet it’s one thing providing food for a table for four or five in the comfort of your own restaurant, but quite another when you’re churning out 400 starters in one go and then mains and desserts. That would be tricky to say the least for a trained chef let alone your novice chef doing it for the first time.
“It has a lot to do with skill and one’s level of understanding,” states Khan. “You need to know for instance, the right quantity of food to make. There is the basic issue of kitchen space because for an event you need to do think like store, preserve, chill, cook and get the food ready to be taken to the event. You need to have knowledge of setting up and event kitchen. There is ultimately the whole issue of capital expenditure where you will need all kinds of kitchen equipment including sometimes having to transport – and transportation is another add on – several tandoors for one event along with having the expertise of setting everything up from event to event.”
Another important element in the equation is the right staff. Sure, there are agencies out there where you can hire staff, but they need to be able to understand what Indian food is about as well as issues such as allergens as they’ve become increasingly important.
Chakra has been catering successfully for some time with its clients being primarily high net worth Indian families and corporate clients. Generally, it wins event assignments via referrals whilst the restaurant puts emphasis on quality and working with selective clients. It also offers a range of cuisines for its catering arm – aside from Indian - ranging from Lebanese, Persian and Mexican to pan-Asian.
Khan advises that a restaurant looking to get into event catering should start small and not bite off more than it can chew. “Be passionate,” he adds, “and don’t get too experimental. Do things you feel comfortable with and get your foot through the door with parties and manageable dinner events. Also, enjoy yourself because you are opening up your business to a market where if you get things right, the opportunities are limitless.”