Executing creative catering ideas without the cost

I had a major corporation ask me to participate in an RFP for a 10,000+ person annual event. Most people would have been overwhelmed by this daunting task, but for some reason I wasn’t. I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to dig deep within and show this company what I had to say about banqueting culinary.

Because this group meets annually, the corporation is getting feedback that attendees are tired of the same food they always serve. As a result, the RFP directed participants to be innovative with their culinary ideas while controlling costs.

I was thrilled with these instructions, and following them inspired me to write this morsel. As my year-end gift to all of you, I wanted to demonstrate that culinary innovation in banqueting doesn’t have to come at a cost. So here are some ideas on how you can do so.

  1. Spin the entire food program. You don’t have to make the food about the food. Think of banqueting food as a holistic guest experience. For example, have creatively designed signage that will put a smile on the guest’s face. I recommended, where plates and forks are, you put a fun retro sign that reads “Let’s Eat!” This RFP was for a computer company, and I suggested we get old computers for the coffee stations with signage reading “Boot Up.” Ask companies if they’ve saved old items that can be used to decorate food areas.
  2. Healthy options. I suggested that we do an entire lunch based upon Weight Watchers recipes so guests could experience healthy foods that taste good.
  3. Spin the food labeling and display. Why call it a “Chocolate Chip Cookie” when it could be a “Nestles Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie”? Then take a couple of packages of Nestles Toll House Chips, and use them to decorate the buffet.

Although I had many more ideas on how to be “creative without a cost,” these are the three I thought could help you most this season. And, after all, I do have to keep some up my sleeve for the next time I am asked to participate in an RFP.

As we all close out 2011 I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my column and the folks at PYM for allowing me to be me.

This is my last monthly morsel for the year 2011 … and I am going to be sticking to it!

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