Three Tips For Better Catering

Steamed dumplings anyone? Travis serves up some fusion cuisine with Gotta Have It.
Steamed dumplings anyone? Travis serves up some fusion cuisine with Gotta Have It.

So, you’ve just scored a massive catering gig. Your well-planned menu: Smoked brisket, lemon sole with chipotle/ancho recado and even crispy blacked tofu.

Two hours later, though, your four-person crew is sitting idly, serving up an occasional dish, and having no idea when to call it a day.

That mistake, says Atlanta-based caterer and food truck operator Travis Schamerhorn, can cost hundreds of dollars for just one event.

Tip No. 1: Have an exit strategy

“For whatever reason,” says Schamerhorn, “caterers often forget to set up their exit strategy for the end of an event.”

He adds: “They come in, sell their food, don’t put in an end time, and their staff has no idea when they’re putting stuff away.”

Don't forget your forks (and your checklist).

Don’t forget your forks (and your checklist).

Tip No. 2: Keep a checklist

Some people, says The Balance blog, have nightmares about showing up to school naked. Caterers, on the other hand, the blog says, have nightmares about showing up to an event without forks.

It really can be a nightmare to plan the perfect event, only to forget something non-edible.

“The worst thing is having an event and not having forks,” Schamerhorn says. “It’s a massive cost, because you then have to run to a grocery store, and items will usually cost three times as much as I would get from a vendor — not to mention the fact that you look like a nut in front of your customer.”

Don’t look like a nut. Abide by your checklist.

Tip No. 3: Go to the store less

The Coca-Cola braised beef brisket slider with Low Country slaw.

Gotta Have It’s Coca-Cola braised beef brisket slider with Low Country slaw.

If time is money, then you’re losing multiple times going to the store twice. Not only are you wasting time, he says, but you’re A) spending money on gas, B) potentially even paying someone and C) spending more than you’d spend from a vendor.

“That’s time I could be using for selling,” Schamerhorn says. “Going to the store because I forgot to order something is not only a massive time suck, it’s expensive. You should sit down and figure out well in advance what exactly you need to accomplish a catering event and get it all at once.”

Schamerhorn and partner Vincent Marra have amassed tons of real-world wisdom. Together, they operate Atlanta-based Gotta Have It food truck and catering, which focuses on international fusion cuisine.

Gotta Have It is a long-time NCR Silver customer and one of Atlanta Magazine‘s top 5 food trucks in the city.

Before starting the business, Marra was certified as an Executive Chef by the American Culinary Federation at 27.

See Gotta Have It in action in this video.



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