The Corporate Catering Guide for Choosing the Best Corporate Caterer Categories: Corporate Cafeteria (9), Corporate Catering (4), Food Service Case Studies (25), Food Service Management (11), Health & Wellness (13), Self-Checkout Micro Markets (2) Share this story, Choose your platform! Contents Reasons to Have Corporate Catering Services AvailableThe Benefits of Having an Onsite Corporate Catering Company as a PartnerTake the Pain Out of the Billing and Invoicing ProcessCorporate Catering Companies Offer Multiservice Point Catering for Meetings, Events, and ConferencesCorporate Catering Companies Know Your Agenda So They Can Determine the Best Timing of Service The Best Corporate Catering Companies Come from the Best Corporate Food Service Providers More and more companies and building managers are realizing the benefits of offering inhouse food service amenities to their tenants. Having an onsite café or dining room is a feature in itself, but when the food service provider also offers various levels of catering, companies and tenants can feel confident in knowing any food service level they need can be addressed – from an onsite breakfast or lunch meeting, to an after-hours dinner meeting or a full-scale black-tie event, or anything in between. Having an onsite corporate catering company who develops relationships with tenants and gets to know their food service preferences and needs, can minimize dining costs, make great impressions on visitors, and make the overall corporate dining experience enjoyable – even if it’s an all-day meeting with food brought in.An onsite caterer can offer a wider variety of services that an offsite corporate caterer cannot, simply because they are familiar with the people and facility. Reasons to Have Corporate Catering Services Available Meetings need to happen, there’s no escaping them. And even with online technology that can connect people who are miles apart for productive meetings and interactions, there will always be a need to have in-person events.When having a multi-hour or all-day meeting, people will need food. So aside from asking each person to bring their own meals for the day, or excusing everyone to go to a cafeteria or even leave the facility to find a meal, an onsite caterer can fulfill requirements efficiently and affordably. A corporate catering company enables a company to have a meeting or event without the expense of renting rooms and space offsite, or spending a lot of time working with organizers they’ve never worked with before. A professional business caterer can provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any combination of meals and snack breaks, in a conference room or dining space. A top reason to offer corporate catering is to keep people onsite where they can remain productive. Whether it’s a group meeting, a gathering of senior company representatives, a client meeting, or for hosting VIP visitors, onsite business catering eliminates the need to seek out a restaurant, hotel, or conference center that will provide food and food services for the event. At Alkermes, a pharmaceutical company in Waltham, Massachusetts, Café Services has catered breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. They’ve also had after-hour cheese and crackers social hours for employees, along with full-plated meals on china for VIPs who visit the campus. Chip Griffin, chef manager at Alkermes, said, “Sometimes we’ll bring in outside staff, such as a bartender to do the beer and wine. There are open meeting spaces throughout the building that we’re able to use, along with a beautiful boardroom.” Larry Finney, executive chef for Café Services, said, “We’re able to accommodate any size meeting or event, at a client campus, or offsite. It can range anywhere from a small lunch or dinner meeting to a black-tie event.” Café Services has a large variety of opportunities and options for catered functions that can range from recyclable paper products for drop-off lunches to formal table settings with china. “If a client wants to show off for visitors, for instance, we are fully prepared and enjoy doing upscale – where we’ll bring in china, linens, and formal service. We help our clients make lasting, positive impressions, in whatever form that takes.” In the absence of an onsite corporate catering company, employees will either bring in an outside company – and possibly need to go through levels of approval for that event catering company to be permitted into the building – or they will seek an outside location that will cost the company, not only in money, but in the employees’ time away from the desk for planning and attending the function.Bob Notch, Program Development Officer with Brighton Marine, a veteran network company in Brighton, Massachusetts, sees the great benefit and value in offering corporate food service and office catering from Café Services to the tenants at the Brighton Marine campus. His experience with the onsite catering for meetings was so positive that when Brighton Marine was planning to host a special breakfast with the Mayor of Boston’s office, he pitched Café Services to be the caterer. He said, “I told them they could bring in an outside caterer, but we had one that is the next floor down. The food will be fresher and hotter since they only need to travel up one flight instead of half-way across town. It worked. We had to do a little paperwork so Café Services would be recognized as a vendor for the City of Boston, but we got them on board and the Mayor’s Office was quite pleased with the results.” The Benefits of Having an Onsite Corporate Catering Company as a Partner Like partnering with a professional food service dining provider, having a partnership with an onsite corporate catering company can benefit your company in a number of ways. Having a relationship means developing one point of contact for all food service needs, including catering, which streamlines event planning for the client. The relationship builds trust, too. Trust in knowing that all catered food service needs can be met by making a phone call or sending an email. It eliminates the shot-in-the-dark aspect that people have when cold calling a food vendor to cater an event. When Café Services is the onsite caterer, building relationships is a focus. “We get to know you and can more easily anticipate your needs because we know what you expect,” Larry said. It’s not uncommon that an event can grow beyond what an employee or group can handle. Being able to leave the responsibility for all the catering details with a professional keeps employees focused on their business, instead of being distracted by food planning. The right corporate catering company lets you focus on your business, while they handle all the details for an event – of any size – so you remain focused on your task, building your business. “People who work with us know we can pull off any size event for them, even while running their onsite dining room,” Larry said. “If you want to have a 500-person event, you’ll be confident in coming to us even while you know we’re serving 200 people a day at your location. ”Onsite caterers are, by their description, already in the building. Security and building access isn’t always an open-door policy. Without an onsite caterer, companies may need to go through the extra steps involved in getting a caterer, and their individual food staff members, the right authorization to enter the facility and bring in all the food and service items. “When we’re partnered and in the same space as a client,” Larry said, “we already have clearance to be in the building. We know where stuff is. We know the limitations of the facility, and if we need to find a workaround to something, we can easily address it.”Outside caterers may find they’ve forgotten some equipment, such as an extra power supply, or perhaps more attendees arrive for the event than predicted – an onsite caterer can quickly get more dishware and utensils, where a caterer called in may not have the extra items in their catering van. When hiring a corporate catering company, staffing may be an issue if you want an event that the company is not used to handling or if your event grows beyond initial expectations.Café Services is able to draw on senior managers and other personnel so that whatever you have in mind can be accomplished without you giving it a second thought.“If we needed an extra service, we have extra cooks and carts,” Larry said. “When the service level requires a bow-tie server in the room, we hire the additional staff needed and handle that contract.”The right onsite business catering company will have a wide variety of offerings so that you won’t have to call on different caterers for different types of events. Not all caterers can handle all levels of service from simple breakfasts to boxed lunches to full-service linen-covered table dinners to outdoor events to special functions in the same day. Companies without an onsite corporate caterer will call a Mexican restaurant if they want Mexican food, a BBQ company if they want an outdoor barbecue, and an entirely different type of banquet catering company if they want a fancy hors d’oeuvre cocktail party another. “Clients can call their onsite chef manager for whatever type of event they need,” Larry said. “We’re there for them. If they went outside, depending on their service level needs, they would have to spend time finding the right company to work for their specific event or meeting; not everyone has the wide variety of offerings that we have. We have the resources and we have the people. If we need people we get them. If we need equipment, we get it. Clients have one point of contact and we take care of everything else. ”Café Services isn’t afraid of competition. They recently won a corporate catering contract to serve barbecue to 800 people. Café Services doesn’t specialize in barbecue; they can source smokers and experts at barbequing, but in this case, they used their proprietary marinated meats and set up several grill stations. Larry said, “I explained that we weren’t a BBQ company and wouldn’t show up with large smokers or other equipment, but I could give them great-tasting BBQ above what they expected. We were successful at winning the contract and the event was awesome.” Take the Pain Out of the Billing and Invoicing Process After a catered event, invoices can be a nuisance. When working with an unfamiliar offsite caterer, invoicing could take days or weeks. If there are questions about the invoice, resolving issues may be time consuming. Corporate credit cards may take some of the burden away if you simply want to pay the bill and move on and not give the caterer, the food, or the event another thought. Building a relationship with an onsite caterer can ease and streamline the billing process – whether for the building as a single tenant, or each tenant in a multitenant environment. Invoicing options are discussed in advance and processes implemented in a straightforward manner. Your company or group may have different billing needs for different events or different cost centers. There may be the need to pay via check, corporate credit card, or PO, depending on a number of factors. Maybe more than one individual needs to see the details of the invoices and one group wants paper invoices, another prefers PDF invoices sent via email, and another prefers an online option that enables multiple people to review before final approval and payment. Having the relationship and one point of contact can simplify the billing by working out all the details in advance, or as needed. Larry said, “We can usually provide a website or a web-based system that is customized for each tenant, depending on their service level, budget, and whether they want to use credit cards or POs or checks. We help clients pay their bills by making the process easy and customizing it for their specific needs.” At Alkermes, a single tenant campus, there aren’t any purchase orders or cost centers to deal with. Billing is direct to corporate credit cards and events are coordinated with a few administration personnel who are able to place office catering orders through an easy-to-use website. To encourage people to get creative and have fun with their meetings or events, one menu option on the form is ‘Custom Menu Requests’. Finding a corporate catering company that offers flexibility and customization is important. Large corporate food service providers may offer a catering menu, but more often than not, cannot customize their service to a client. A large corporate service provider typically offers packages when taking on a new client, and then that client is committed to that level of service for the length of the contract. Café Services is not nailed down to any specific rules or guidelines. Some other corporate food service providers can restrict clients from purchasing certain items simply because they have particular food vendors they will only deal with, and not look elsewhere. Chip said, “If my client sees something up and coming and trending in Boston and they want it here, we’re able to adapt and just do it. Where other companies have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it done, if they are allowed to jump at all. Whereas I never have to say, ‘I’ll get back to you on that.’ I can just say, ‘If that’s what you want for your event, we’ll make it happen. We’ll find a way to get it done for you.’” “With Café Services,” Larry said, “we get into a building and we’re continually evolving to whatever clients are in the building. We adjust to changes within each building and for each tenant. Tenants move in, they move out, the dynamics of the building change from hourly staff to a full floor of executives. As the demographics change, so do the food service and corporate catering needs. We evolve to the needs as they happen with existing and new clients alike.” When the partnership between Alkermes and Café Services started, the location was a single multitenant building, so the food service staff had several different menus and processes in place to address each client. The food service and business catering needs have shifted in the past few years as the other companies moved out and now Alkermes is the only tenant. Café Services adjusted to the changes with professional ease. Alkermes will soon occupy a second building, next door to the current location and Café Services is included in the process. Drop-Off Catering for Group or Individual Meals Nowadays, many food chains offer drop-off catering for corporate breakfast or lunch meetings to help companies avoid employees taking time out of the office to grab a meal. Corporate food service providers that offer in-office catering have the same service, which can be much more convenient and affordable to the company or business unit. An onsite caterer can easily make individual or group meal drop-offs. The food can be ready at a certain time and either delivered directly to a meeting room or specific office, or have it available for an employee to pick up at a certain time and place. Bob said, “We use drop-off catering a lot and have used both bagged and boxed services. When someone orders something for meetings, Café Services will bring it up and set it up. The service works quite well. Also, I’m aware of the food service staff’s normal work hours, so in cases where food is required for later in the day, the food staff will do the prep work and have everything packaged up and easy to move. I go get it and bring it to the room.” “We do a lot of drop-off catering here [at Alkermes],” Chip said. Drop offs can be straightforward breakfasts or lunches, or for fun events such as barbecues, and parties. Chip said, “We had one particular themed event for R&D where we set up the display to look like their chemistry lab. We had small beakers for the parfaits, treats served in petri dishes, desserts in labeled prescription bottles, and so much other fun stuff. We’ll customize anything for them and cater to their specific needs.” Drop-off catering from an onsite caterer guarantees the freshest meals – since they are prepared onsite that day and time to deliver is minimal. The employees at Amazon Robotics use drop-off catering in boxes quite often. Tim Robinson, the chef manager, said, “We deliver a lot of sandwiches. The people are always working or sitting in long meetings, and just need something to grab and eat while they keep at it.” Boxed meals are generally for groups of about 14-200. The boxes are stackable and compact. No service staff is needed. And with an earth-conscious company delivering the items, the material is recyclable and easy to dispose of. Café Services offers boxed meals in what Larry calls ‘the dresser of sandwiches.’ The boxes stand up and interlock and they have drawers that pull out with different sandwiches, desserts, or other items inside. “We can move these things easily and they enable us to serve large amounts of people in very small spaces because they are so compact.” They can be for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or after-hours service. In particular about boxed meals, such as those from companies such as Panera or Bertucci’s, Larry said, “If the client wants their food in boxes, we can do that too, only better than the competition. We’ll drop the food off for a breakfast gathering, afternoon break, or 5 o’clock or after-hours dinner meeting. Whatever the client wants. Drop-off catering is clean, concise, and efficient.” Another service level available through some corporate catering companies are craft bags with handles – great when meals are needed on an individual basis. Examples include having a group meetings that split up into smaller groups and work through lunch or where employees can go off on their own for a short period of time. Café Services’ recyclable bags with rope handles are easy to carry. Drop-off catering from a corporate catering company saves employees the hassle of finding a local restaurant and figuring out what food to order that will appeal to the group’s majority, and what quantities to order (since many caterers’ offerings are for a minimum or maximum number of people). When Chip introduced drop-off catering to Alkermes, he told them, “I’ll do it just as well or better, and maybe even save you a couple of dollars.” Drop-off catering immediately took off after that, especially after people tasted the food. Line-Free Buffet Dining At Events Did you know there is no longer a reason to have lines when offering a buffet? Creative corporate catering companies know how to set up a space that offers a buffet where lines don’t exist. Café Services had an outdoor event in New York recently that served 800 people in 38 minutes using this line-free service. Every person had a choice between six different dishes, too. The set up dispersed people to different stations where one staff person cooked the food and another plated it. The guest simply approached the station, picked up a plate, and moved on. In the past five years, Chip and his staff at Alkermes have managed a few big onsite events serving up to 500 people. He said, “We have an ice cream event with a smorgasbord of different toppings where we’ll run a couple double-sided buffets so people can get their ice cream quickly. For the outside barbecues, we make sure to have double-sided tables so guests are in and out quickly and able to sit and eat and enjoy themselves.”Larry said, “We structure and format events so there are no people standing around. During the planning, we think about how the people are going to move and function during the event. We design the setup of the room (or space) and food service such that people can get their food quickly and sit and eat and talk and have their meeting without having a huge wait in line. It’s an added extra feature we incorporate to improve the attendees’ experience. It isn’t just about the food, it’s about the overall experience people have.” Corporate Catering Companies Offer Multiservice Point Catering for Meetings, Events, and Conferences Unless your business is banquet catering or event planning, you probably don’t want to figure out all the details for your corporate meeting or conference on your own. Events involve several points of service throughout the day that need to be adhered to. Each point of service is part of the overall meeting or conference plan and each is just as important as the items on the menu. A corporate catering company knows what to do to deliver the food and service for your event. A great corporate caterer will work with you on the schedule to know when points of service need to be addressed. Points of service include set up, food delivery, refreshing drinks, tear down, clean up, when to be obvious, when to be invisible, and so much more. An exceptional caterer will ask you questions about details you hadn’t even considered – and they will also handle any misstep during the day without impacting your event. One event that Tim and his staff at Amazon Robotics handle around the holidays each year is a pancake breakfast for about 700 employees. “The pancake breakfast is for everyone,” Tim said. “It’s fun in that department managers need to make the pancakes. So we set them up with a station and they’ll cook the pancakes for all the employees. There’s also a pancake-making contest and people vote on them.” The event offers toppings for the pancakes, such as strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, whipped butter, and whipped cream, along with bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs. Tim finds himself coaching the department managers on their cooking skills. “It’s a fun time for everyone,” he said. Corporate Catering Companies Can Handle Upscale Cocktail Hors D’Oeuvres Parties and Any Special Request When considering a corporate catering company, there’s no reason to limit your options to business meetings in conference rooms any longer. Professional and experienced corporate caterers can help you with any type of event you can think of, including a fancy, upscale hors d’oeuvres party. It doesn’t matter the reason for your event, if you are planning an event and want to include food, a business caterer can address your needs.Larry said, “I would put our menus and service levels up against the best hotels you can find. The menus are always very eclectic depending on the client’s needs and always customized. It generally involves a tasting beforehand, which is always fun, too. We can go from a continental breakfast for 20 people to a fancy cocktail after-work hors d’oeuvres party with bow-tied and vested servers for 1,000 people. We have the knowledge and the resources to make any event happen. That’s the varying range of what we can do.” Alkermes did an event recently for about 15 people. The company flew in special clients and wanted a New England-themed dinner. Chip and his staff created a customized menu that looked like an authentic New England meal, but with a nice, fancier twist. The menu included tomato tarragon, lobster salad, crab cakes, and rib eye steak with marmalade jam. A Great Corporate Catering Company Has Employees Who Want to Keep Gaining New Experience It’s one thing when you find an offsite corporate caterer with expertise in the type of event you want to host, it’s another to find one that can offer you a variety of events. A great corporate catering company is one who revels in the challenge of delivering whatever is requested from a client and to do that, they have to have an exceptional food staff. A great corporate caterer encourages their food staff to keep pushing their boundaries to grow and learn whatever skills they want in the kitchen and beyond. Café Services will have the corporate chef, Larry Finney in charge of a large event if it’s the first one of its kind at a particular client or if the chef manager has never handled one before. Larry says, “I’ll go do an event at a place and usually by doing it once, that chef manager is left with the knowledge of how to do it on their own the next time. The skill level of our chefs grows with the more that we do.” Café Services’ corporate clients are currently in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Maryland. Larry is involved in some capacity in all accounts, and chef managers jump in whenever there is a need at client location other than their own. It’s a true team effort throughout management and staff. Corporate Dining Guests’ Overall Experience Is of Key Importance – Corporate Catering Is More Than Food A catered corporate event starts when a person determines they want an event that needs to be serviced and they reach out to a corporate catering company. That initial point of contact sets the tone for the event – it needs to be professional, friendly, and helpful to the client. The event details are worked out, the event is held, and the final step in the process is the client attending their event and discovering it is better than they ever imagined it would be. Bob Notch of Brighton Marine is still receiving compliments for the annual Mayor’s Welcome Home Breakfast for Veterans that Café Services managed for him. He said, “We partnered with the Mayor of Boston and his office of veteran services for the annual breakfast and had about 85 people attend. Café Services did a fantastic job and blew it out of the water. They laid out a great setup and display, and the food was fantastic. It’s months later now, and I’m continuing to get compliments about that breakfast event.” A corporate catering company enables a client to be their own guest at their meeting, conference or event, and eliminates any need for the client to run around to check on if there are enough plates, or enough food, or if the food service will be delivered on time. “You can have the best food in the world,” Larry said, “But be 15 minutes late, not have enough place settings, plates, or glasses, and the clients’ (and their guests) entire experience is less than stellar. The whole experience of the event obviously includes food, but an enjoyable and memorable experience includes the service, timeliness, and delivering on what was promised.” An exceptional corporate catering company receives feedback that includes appreciation for including something the client never thought of. Chip said, “We have a checklist to make sure everything is covered, but, for me, it comes down to having open communication with the client and just talking and finding out exactly how they want their event run.” Corporate catering companies need to be the professionals onsite to handle the entirety of the food service portion, which includes making sure there is enough space for the event and food service equipment, seating, coverage from the elements (if event is outside), and more. Chip said, “We are very innovative in what we do and we make sure that events are top notch. The guest never knows if anything was missed; if there were any hiccups.” Corporate Catering Companies Know Your Agenda So They Can Determine the Best Timing of Service Whether it’s a corporate meeting or a formal event, when there are multiple points of service involved, it’s crucial for the corporate caterer to be aware of your event’s schedule. Knowing what needs to be done at what times is as important as providing the freshest food and the best meals. It’s just as important for the caterer to pick up the coffee at 10:00 as it is to drop off the dinner at 5:00. During an all-day meeting, for example, it’s important for the business catering staff to know when people will start to arrive, when water and drinks need to be available, and when breakfast would best be served., when you’ll take breaks, and when the event ends. They can determine the best times to have water and coffee available, the best times to clean up coffee cups, when to refresh the ice, when to serve the meal, and so on, based on your event schedule. When your corporate event is a long business day, people can perk up if drinks are refreshed and there aren’t any dirty dishes lingering in the corner. There are a lot of service details that aren’t specifically food-related that can be a nice touch on any event. The more the corporate caterer knows, the more you won’t notice them there. They can make the experience seamless from start to finish and you can avoid needing to announce a break in order for the caterer to enter to clean up. You can have an event with great tasting food and full service without any worry. Table Décor and Food Presentation – New Looks That Move Away from the Norm Along with lineless buffet lines working their way into events, updating the styles of the table décor and food presentation is also hitting the mainstream.Large unrelated piles of fruits or vegetables and fluffed up skirted tablecloths no longer need to be staples or expectations at larger events with buffets. Even chafing dishes can be eliminated or minimized when a caterer uses a different presentation to avoid the dishes or is able to create a meal where food is served at room temperature.Larry said, “During menu development, we come up with a cool sleek look that is easier to look at, easier to clean up, and not the same-old-same-old. I’m always trying to keep us on the cusp of contemporary.” Catered Food Service Details Are as Important as the Menu – Being Asked the Right Questions to Uncover Unspoken Expectations Enhances Your Event When you work with an onsite corporate caterer and build a relationship, you’ll develop a history with them. But more important, the caterer will have a history with you and know what you’ve wanted in the past, what you’ve had in the past, and what your preferences are. The best corporate caterer will always ask questions about what you might not have considered for your newest event. Ordering from an outside caterer can work if your attendees are satisfied with a typical, limited menu, serving sizes that feed more people than you need, and food options that don’t take special requests into consideration. The right corporate caterer will ask a lot of questions to dig into the details and may suggestion an option to enhance your event that you never imagined asking about. Bob said, “Café Services knows what they need to do to make you successful with your event. They’ll find the staff, they’ll find the leadership – the managers that come in from outside are doing the work, they are pitching in. It’s all hands on deck to give us a great experience.”Café Services loves to hear how a client appreciated a particular suggestion when they comment, “Oh, that was a great idea!” Menus Customized to Your Specific Needs Large corporate food service providers may have you pick a package that best fits your company’s general food service needs at the time you sign on with them. This can include corporate catering and limit you considerably in menu options for any event – customization is rare in these contracts, but you can find corporate caterers that offer flexibility and customization with their menus. Café Services doesn’t have any two clients that are alike. Their client demographic runs the gamut from small to large, from single to multitenant buildings, from executive-level to hourly, and nonprofit to for-profit clients. There is no blanket menu that can satisfy all the companies or all the clients. Tim said, “With corporate event catering, we have a menu, but I always tell people here [at Amazon Robotics], ‘don’t just go by the menu. We can make whatever you want. You just let us know what you want and we can make it.’” “That’s a major difference between us and other companies in regard to catering menus,” Larry said. “We evolve to the client’s needs. In addition to offering seasonal menus, we have company-wide menus, but in many instances we build custom menus. If two tenants in the building have different needs or they order different types of events, we have different menus for those, along with company-wide, limited-time catering menus.” Corporate Event Catering Resources – Find a Corporate Caterer that Can Produce the Event You Envision Seek out a professional corporate caterer that has culinary support readily available. This means that they have the resources to help you deliver any event you can imagine, and by dealing with only one person. “Most catering requests go to the chef manager at a client site. That person works out all the event details with the client and if it’s beyond either the capability of their staff or the facility or other limitations, the chef manager knows that the entire support team of Café Services is available.” Café Services has a full-rolling barbecue team, for instance, they have several catering vans, tents, and staff. Each of the corporation’s three divisions has its own executive chef, and everyone pulls together when needed. “If a client wants a special item, for instance, a special kind of water that they have to have, and it’s not available through our regular vendors, we will get it,” Larry said. “We have a person for sourcing and procurement of products. There’s nothing we can’t do and if we haven’t done it, we are sure going to try it!” Special Requests – A True Test for The Corporate Caterer Having a birthday party at work? A great corporate caterer will have experience bakers that can satisfy your needs. “We have several very skilled bakers on our team in different units,” Larry said. “We have someone who does custom cakes for birthdays, baby showers, anniversaries, and so on. You’ll swear the goods come from the best bakery ever.” Café Services management stays involved with their employees so when a particular skillset is needed, they know where to turn.“We have a wide variety of skillsets among our people. And that’s what gives people chances to grow. We make sure to pay attention to the skillsets people have and embrace them when they show them to us. We utilize everything we have in order to give the client what they want, each and every time.” A Great Corporate Caterer Has a Procurement Department to Handle Any Special Sourcing Needs Corporate caterers that can offer and incorporate specialty items to enhance menus and experiences are those that can really set your event apart from any other. A recent example for Café Services involved a cheese display for a retirement party. The client wanted an upscale event and something other than a typical cheese platter. The event included a request to incorporate a trend that is circling back around from the 1970s – the ‘raclette’ – a salty cheese made with cow’s milk. With the raclette, cheese is melted on a stone and scraped onto bread, vegetable slices, or some other item. The stone and cheese are not common everyday items found in local stores, but the procurement group at Café Services found what was needed, along with a special knife to spread the cheese, and obtained it for the client’s special event. Equipped for Whatever Is Needed Anywhere A great corporate caterer doesn’t let anything go to waste – so once procuring a special item for a client, that item remains available for other clients. Café Services maintains a storage area for vans, china, grills, tents, and so on. “As we grow we collect things,” Larry said. “A chef manager can order things from us and we drop it off. If they have an item, we pick it up.” The Catering Job Doesn’t End Until After the Event A catering provider’s job starts with the initial inquiry and doesn’t wrap up until after the event is over. The event space will be returned to pre-event conditions. There aren’t any loose strings or details the event planner needs to attend to. You may be asked for feedback directly, or through a survey. This is your chance to let the caterer know how you liked the entire event, specific details of the event, the food, the service, and other items. You can let the caterer know what you would do differently with the next event, if given an opportunity. The best caterers will use this information to improve their services. Billing should be handled quickly and efficiently and in a manner that doesn’t leave you with any questions. Having a relationship with an onsite corporate caterer means when you do have questions, you only have to reach out to one person. The caterer will deal with any additional staff they needed to hire for the event, say, for bar service, you don’t have to give any details a second thought.The event should reach its completion with you being highly satisfied with the entire experience. Set Your Expectations High for a Great Corporate Caterer A great corporate event catering service will be able to offer full-service upscale events of any kind for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Café Services has a variety of service levels that accommodate everything from drop-off service to bow-tie service for events of any size and whether offered on campus or off. Café Services’ corporate management is very supportive of their chef managers. Chip said, “They give us the ability to manage the business and run it like it’s our own business – unlike a big company that can have a lot of rules and restriction. We are empowered to give the guest the experience and the quality they are looking for.” Café Services’ drop-off services are expanding quickly. “It’s definitely increased over the past year,” Larry said. “We’re not stifled by preset programs or offerings. We morph to a client’s needs and even develop offerings for them beyond what they think they need. We’re very management heavy in order to address any client’s expectations – and we continually improve each location and each location is very different from all others.”Chip predicts corporate catering to keep growing and expanding. “Larry and I enjoy staying on top of food trends and making sure we’re not missing anything. It enables all our chefs to give our clients what they are looking for. If there’s a unique special event request, we will enjoy customizing it for the client and giving them a positive, memorable event.” Share this story, Choose your platform! I’ve been born and bred corporate dining and corporate catering from the very beginning of my career in the Silicon Valley and now, since 2001 in the Boston Metro Area. While working my way up through the ranks, all the experience has led up to my current position as the Corporate Executive Chef for Café Services, based out of Manchester, NH. I have the privilege to be able to utilize creativity, research and technology to dream up our company’s new culinary programs and custom menus for corporate cafeteria clients and bring them to life. Café Services supplies the resources to ensure success of our ever-evolving companywide culinary initiatives and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Seeing the success of new programs in the field is my motivation. It’s a win win.