As any experienced caterer would agree, catering for an event is without a doubt a complex task. Throw London’s city atmosphere into the mix and the situation can become an even more intricate process. It could involve making your way to venues in the notorious rush-hour traffic or transporting crates of drink and food across crowd-filled streets, a typical day in London as a caterer is fast-paced and challenging.
Despite being hectic, when you are catering for an event in the big smoke, there is always an air of excitement. Alongside impressive, historical venues, high-profile clients and delicious dishes, you really can create something quite magical.
Managing director and executive chef, George Rouse from George’s Kitchen shares an insight into his typical day as a London caterer:
“My days are always pretty varied; whether I’m meeting new clients in the city or rushing around the kitchen preparing for the events,” George explains. “In fact, most of the important work is done before the day but a lot can happen on the day of an event!” George believes that preparation is key and although the day of the event is important in itself, for it to run smoothly the planning needs to be organised and efficient.
Years of working in hospitality has taught George the importance of meeting the needs of every client from start to finish. “When I talk to clients for the first time, I stress the importance of arranging a face-to-face meeting to discuss every possible detail with the host; from their favourite meals to the table settings at the location.” By engaging with the client and taking the time to understand their exact requirements, George can help to fulfil and hopefully exceed their hopes and expectations!
Not only does meeting with his clients help to build a close, one-to-one relationship between host and caterer, it also ensures that George prepares for any of the inevitable changes that you can expect from the venue – or even the host themselves! Often, the location of the event offers “very limited kitchen space and utilities to make certain dishes” so planning for these realities can ensure a streamlined approach to the day.
Once George knows exactly what the client wants, he is able to begin creating their bespoke menu. “My head chef, Rob, and I take the time to meticulously develop seasonal menus, using local produce from sustainable and vetted suppliers.” Part of his service involves providing a tailored menu for each specific event, which is highlighted to all clients. You have the luxury of having as much or as little involvement in the food choices as you wish.
When it comes to the day of the event, good punctuality from the caterers is vital! George started his career behind the scenes in the kitchen, where time is of the essence so he understands the importance of time management in all situations.
“I like to be at the venue early, mucking in with all the preparations!” George adds. “It’s not uncommon to arrive on the day and find out the kitchen is not what you expected so that extra time really helps!”
George recalls the many previous events he has catered for, including the world’s leading music company, “There are times when you need to prepare 4800 canapés for 400 guests and you aren’t able to access the kitchen facilities” Unfazed by this, George and his team pushed through the challenges and started to unload their vans, checking their lists over and over again to make sure nothing had been forgotten or misplaced.
“I find it important to oversee everything myself as client’s put their trust in me to make sure the event goes off without a hitch,” George remarks. “We set up tables, prepare the canapés and welcome guests with friendly faces – it makes a world of difference!”
Working as a caterer in London can be a challenging, but rewarding role, “During the event, I like to step away from the kitchen and see if the guests are enjoying the event. Seeing empty plates is the best sign a chef can have. I then know the hard work and long hours were all worth it!”