I was in working at a convention in Orlando earlier this month when I decided to sit down and have a chat with a lead chef at Centerplate.
Centerplate is one of the largest contract catering companies in the United States, located in many major convention centers. Its operation at the Orange County Convention Center is among the largest in the country because of the company’s reputation, its volume of work and, most importantly, the ability of its entire staff from catering sales through stewarding to deliver.
OCCC’s kitchen is the testing ground for many things culinary- and event-related. Big-name kitchen-equipment companies call on executive chef K and his staff to try out their equipment. Lately, we’ve seen proactive show managers use the facility and its events via social media to get real-time feedback and make necessary corrections to its plans.
During the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show 2012, we did a “Morning Bean Bar” for my client’s potential customers so they could have a cup on us. Me being me, I wasn’t going to settle for just any coffee bar — it had to be tricked out with an interesting hot-chocolate element.
The senior chef came to check on me during the last day of the show, and we had a great conversation about what’s going on at Centerplate. I asked what they had found most interesting this past year. The answer: Using Twitter during events to make course corrections.
Here’s one example. There was a major computer show at the center last spring, with attendees from all over the globe. With a diversified audience came the challenge of cooking food for many cultures and dietary restrictions. Centerplate had a staff person dedicated to following the show’s Twitter hashtag in real time, so if someone tweeted a viable comment or complaint, show managers could fix it right away.
The chef told me about an attendee who wanted soy milk for breakfast and tweeted about it. Although Centerplate didn’t have any soy milk in-house, it was able to get some for the next morning. This allowed Centerplate to show its commitment to customers and how it wants to do the best job possible. The whole conversation was fascinating.
(Speaking of social media, why not “like” Rx for Events International on Facebook and follow more of my culinary adventures?)
That’s my year-end story for now, and I’m sticking to it. Have a safe holiday everyone.