While operating a chain of casual dining restaurants is mainstream, many food and beverage entrepreneurs may be keen to venture into the world of outdoor catering. It is an exhilarating idea and concept. And indeed, it has opened up for me valuable wisdom and entrepreneurship nuggets when I ventured into the business of Outdoor Catering or may be put it in a better way – spellbinding masses through taste, creativity and grandeur.
Social events like weddings, get-togethers, parties, birthdays & anniversaries, and other celebrations come to life with the smorgasbord of food and beverage spread that becomes the heart and soul of the occasion; a memory worth revisiting. Events, be it social or business cannot be concluded successfully without a smashing arrangement of food & beverage via outdoor catering.
As a Food and Beverage entrepreneur, operating and scaling up my own Outdoor Catering Business, ‘K Fine Catering’ for the last 5 years; the joy of planning, prepping and executing a successful event remains unparalleled. Having executed various small, big and mega outdoor catering at social and corporate events, it is time to highlight and share few of my insights.
Creativity: The most intriguing aspect of outdoor catering is that from owners to the culinary team, everyone can have their creativity run wild when it comes to serving various world cuisines, fusion food, Indian delicacies, live food & beverage stations etc. Food & beverage counters are a work of art that leave a lasting impression on the guests proving the imaginative and ingenious side of the food and beverage (F&B) catering team.
Innovation: Novelty goes hand in hand with creativity. In the world of catering, a lot has been invented, experimented and this process continues as loads of completely new concepts of food and beverage are launched at many events – social and corporate – likewise. Naming a few unique catering concepts, make-shift teppanyaki live station, wood fired thin crust pizzas, plethora of creative drinks, fried ice-cream, sizzlers, nitrogen desserts, Indian street food with modern twists, and unheard-of desserts – Indian as well as from across the world. Creativity and Innovation are the most attractive parts of catering.
Toil & Sweat: Operating a restaurant is a cake-walk in comparison to putting up an outdoor catering event. Catering involves having micro-planning skills and macro management finesse. Things can go from seemingly right to absolute disasters in the blink of an eye. Hard work that goes into setting up, serving and clearing an outdoor event is immense and requires absolute dedication from the team. All in all, a catering event can test our grit to the limit. For the few hours of the event, the planning, behind-the-scenes work is immense.
Impeccable Execution: Planning for an event, preparing well in advance and executing an event immaculately is paramount. Execution holds the key to an event’s success. The management team that runs the show from start to finish should be a master at execution. There is a lot of paperwork and pre-production that needs to be in place ahead of every catering event. It is important to have licenses, permits, back-up in place to plan ahead for any contingencies whatsoever.
Grandeur: Creativity, innovation, toil & sweat and impeccable execution leads to an extraordinary event. As a catering manager or a team member, try this the next time, once the event starts, when guests start to trickle in and the team galvanizes into action; please stand back for few minutes and see what magnificence has been created – the feeling of opulence will hit hard, and a sense of pride would reign.
Personalisation and customisation: Team serves masses at a catering event; still numerous moments are created during an event that leave a lasting impression. Chefs dishing out sumptuous delicacies as per the wish of the customer at the live counters, servers serving hot and fresh snacks or soup, catering manager being close to the event host and fulfilling all his little tasks, wishes and requests – all lead to many such opportunities for personalizing little moments that create unforgettable memories. An event is much more than just another date. For the guests, it is a lifetime of memories.
Gratifying and Profitable: Yes, a catering event can test the catering team and the ownership in terms of their passion, imagination, newness, grind, creating grand events and pulling of an event with precision. Though one thing is for sure that this work is truly gratifying, highly profitable (caution – only if managed and executed well) and can lead to contributing loads of smiles and beautiful moments for many in a very short span of time.
The journey from operating restaurants to creating and executing small and grand catering events – it has been a fulfilling journey with learnings that are now engrained and etched for lifetime. Know-hows gleaned from outdoor catering have been enriching. Outdoor catering is certainly an F&B vertical that contributes to the topline and bottom-line of business while also giving you an enriched social network too.
Varun Behl is the Managing Director, KCCO India Pvt. Ltd. Varun Behl is a Jaipur based restaurateur operating a chain of restaurants and QSRs.