The top chefs will all tell you that, location catering can be very demanding. Just like parenthood, when out on the road, chefs are often faced with every imaginable demand and are prepared for the unpredictable.
We are all excited or certainly intrigued by the pictures of extreme dining – dining at high altitudes, underwater, on water, in trees, caves, deserts, or even behind waterfalls – but we rarely consider the expertise of the chefs who provide a unique, high-quality service.
Let’s take a look at location catering.
The Point of Hunger
When the location is so overwhelming, the unique event can somewhat render the catering as a secondary consideration; a momentary necessity. When feasting our eyes upon a unique location, the belly tends to be insignificant to the point of hunger but a good chef can drive the emphasis towards the plate.
This is where a good catering team comes in to elevate the importance of good food and match or overcome the spectacle of the event.
Even when catering for a film crew or a sporting event – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/crew-catering-citreus-catering-events-and-weddings-east-midlands/ – the best chefs always put the spotlight on the cuisine and use their acumen to maintain high standards.
And if you ever thought these high standards could not be maintained in these environments, even Michelin-level chefs can work in the wild – https://www.wildernessreserve.com/catering . After all, there is no such thing as a Michelin-starred Chef. The stars are accredited to the restaurant, and the reasoning behind the Michelin guidebook was location catering. It was all about getting people to drive to different destinations in France and wear their tyres out – https://london.tastefestivals.com/news/how-do-michelin-stars-actually-work/ .
Artists of Taste
Chefs are artists of taste and visual impressionists of the plate. They can make use of their environment and propel centre stage with their culinary skills and knowledge of ingredients.
From Finland to the Philippines, dining is now an experience to be treasured. Check out these wild catering events and give some consideration to chefs who help keep the guests coming back for more – https://matadornetwork.com/read/extreme-restaurants/ .
The Essence of Planning
It takes a lot to cater in wild environments, timing is of the essence and planning must be meticulous. Productions and events can run for hours, days, weeks or even months, so building a rapport with your client is as important as the meal schedule.
And it is through years of experience and hard graft – blood, sweat and olive oil – that Citreus Catering has learned to adapt to an environment; catering for numbers, building relationships, planning logistics around tight schedules, meeting deadlines and organising staff.
And on top of all this, Citreus Catering still delivers top-quality, locally sourced food that is prepared around the specific requirements of a location catering event.
3 Levels of Creative Location Catering
Not wanting an exotic location to take all the credit, we aim to make our food the main attraction.
We’re not taking anything away from the fact that guests, a busy crew, or participants in an event might just appreciate the availability of location catering and aren’t actually expecting five-star cuisine and Gordon Ramsay at the helm.
We take nothing for granted but we still have a reputation to uphold for quality cuisine and we want to make it a memorable occasion for all of those involved.
There are generally three levels in the creative location catering process. The first level is an idea where we are generally provided with an idea of the location; a vision. We consider the ambience of the location, the people we will be catering for, the accessibility of equipment, and of course the availability of good, local produce.
The second stage is the purification stage. We take all the natural ingredients, and the initial abstract ideas, and we use our experience and skills to create a form of art. For us, our art is within the food: the presentation; the nutrition and, of course, the taste.
The final level is the expansion of creativity as our guests consume and understand real food at its finest.
Location, Location, Location Catering Challenges
Because each location catering event presents its own challenge, chefs need to consider a range of options.
If the location is in another country, preparation should still be made to ensure that the theme of serving natural goodness is upheld by sourcing local produce from independent suppliers.
Remembering that other countries come with their own set of laws and customs, we aim to use locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for taste superiority as well as for economic and environmental reasons.
The last thing you need when you’re about to embark on a catering road trip is transport violations, so make sure you are familiar with local laws and uphold community values.
As far as the final product is concerned, nothing changes – the food is still on point – but to uphold our reputation for quality catering, it’s all about an advanced state of mind when on the road.
So many moving parts
We go beyond the traditional values of location catering in our home counties, with intricate planning and preparation that leaves nothing to chance as we are juggling with so many moving parts.
The basic principles remain the same with location catering abroad: executing a creative culinary experience. All that we have to do is figure out how we are going to manage the logistics to get our food on the table to deliver the same sensations of taste.
This is how we roll…
- Research– with any event, a good chef does his/her research well in advance of any quote. We get to know as much about the event as possible. Determine the location, the place and the people.
If there are any uneven roads or rough terrain that may affect the transportation of goods, we consider an alternative route to avoid precarious roads and secure packaging to limit the risk of damage to our biggest assets – remembering that significant changes to the route will inevitably affect transportation costs which must be factored into the initial quote.
- Food: who, what and when.
Who is going to supply the quality produce expected for location catering and when can they deliver?
A rapport with local suppliers must be built in advance because trust is the issue here. You don’t want any last-minute disappointments. A strategy for an alternative plan should also be in place for the unexpected, worst case scenario.
If you can arrive well in advance, it may be worth organising a taste-testing session for food and beverage acquiescence – which is the fun part of being a chef, especially abroad.
You may also find that the food abroad is, currently, a lot cheaper than at home. Only the weakness of the £ gets in the way of a good deal.
This was an interesting report from 2021 – 2 years ago! – https://centralbylines.co.uk/does-britain-have-the-cheapest-food-in-europe/ , and we are still struggling – https://www.bigissue.com/news/social-justice/food-poverty-in-the-uk-the-causes-figures-and-solutions/
- At the location – once at the location, this is where you assess the numbers, the layout, the type of event, the surrounding area, the perception of the guests and the ambience.
Obviously, within the numbers comes the consideration of dietary requirements. For some people, certain foods are not a menu option, so it’s important to know your guests as well as your suppliers and the clients you work for – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/most-common-dietary-restrictions .
- Equipment – moving equipment over huge distances can be costly and so once the location’s facilities have been ascertained, determine whether the rental price of equipment is more cost-effective.
If the gig is abroad and you really have to take some equipment with you, even if you hand the job to a haulage company, there are gonna be extra costs: EU customs and the inevitable post-Brexit paperwork. Here are some guidelines – https://www.gov.uk/taking-goods-out-gb-temporarily
In many cases, the venue will accommodate most of what is needed, especially if they are familiar with catering events. However, catering in remote areas for an extreme event generally requires great logistics or a reliable catering rental company.
Renting equipment may work out cheaper than the logistics of carrying extra baggage. Even tables and chairs are not a given these days. Everything from seating arrangements, cooking equipment, crockery, cutlery and storage needs to be considered.
If you are working in humid or hot conditions, what are the arrangements for refrigeration and freezing?
- Staff – at Citreus Catering we are fortunate and grateful to have a reliable, dedicated team on board. Staff should be fully prepared with arrival times, details about who is doing what, and a list of relevant shift patterns. One of the benefits of working with us is that you get fed and so we also ask any new members of staff to mention any dietary requirements.
- Timing – Are you ready? Chefs are great timekeepers; obsessed with time. Time is as important to a chef as it is to a comedian. Our business is a more serious affair of course and events must be structured like a well-oiled machine with a determined schedule in place, prior to kick-off.
The Business of Location Catering
If you are interested in the business of location catering and getting things right, check out our previous blogs about corporate catering – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/corporate-caterers-citreus-functions-and-events/ and https://citreuscatering.co.uk/professional-catering-services-citreus-east-midlands/
Location Catering Safety
Not to be overlooked, as well as the local laws and consideration for the local communities, health and safety are also paramount to our planning and shouldn’t be forgotten – https://www.expondo.co.uk/inspirations/the-most-important-health-and-safety-regulations-in-catering/ and the government has very strict guidelines on such matters too –https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/commons-catering/conditions-of-hire-v.3.0-web.pdf
And for all your location catering needs, contact us here for a quote or general query – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/contact-us-citreus-catering-nottingham-weddings-events/