Being a food consultant and having designed menus for many years, I feel it is crucial to get on the phone and spend some time talking with the chef — especially during the design stage. Most hotel/facilities are A-OK with this once they go to rxforcatering.com and see that I live and breathe culinary banqueting. They can tell from the pictures and menu samples that I have interesting ideas, understand food cost and, most importantly, that I work all over the world. The reality of today’s world is that many chefs are stifled by corporate policy and food purchasing restrictions, so they often tell me that being able to talk about design ideas for what I call “kool culinary” is like a breathe of fresh air.
So it is with great perplexity that twice this year I have wanted to get on the phone with chefs only to be told that I had to talk to the catering manager and/or F&B director who would relay the information to the chef. They say the chef is “too busy to get on the phone and talk with a customer.” It is here that I hit the Rx for Catering Bullsh*t Buzzer, because that is crazy.
Chefs are a marketing tool, and if a customer wants to have a conversation with them then hotels/facilities need to allow it. We don’t care if the F&B or catering manager wants to be on the phone, too; that is fine. But the reality is, I want to talk and connect with the person who is actually doing the work, not play a game of telephone in hopes that my vision gets interpreted correctly. Chefs know the recipes, the flow and the challenges of their kitchens. It only makes sense to bring them into the loop, especially if you want to do something different.
Planners, if this happens to you, I’d counsel you to be polite, but firm. After all, the hotel is working for you; you aren’t working for them. If you want to talk with the chef, then you should have that option. Even at my level of operation, it’s sometimes a difficult struggle, but it’s always worth it. With one hotel, it took my client calling and demanding a conversation with the chef to make it happen. And when we finally finished the 45-minute conference call, the chef said, “I am so glad we talked; I have a much better vision on what you are wanting.”
This is my version of stirring the pot, and I will be sticking to it.
Thank you for reading my morsel.