Catering outdoors doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare for caterers. In fact, it should be an enjoyable experience for the caterer and the client. There are a few things to consider in an outdoor event, and these may have an impact on its success and the efficiency of the caterer as well.
The biggest factor during any type of outdoor event would be the weather. You may be diligently monitoring the weather for the past week but the weather can change in an instant, and when it does, you should be absolutely prepared for it.
A friend hosted a birthday party for his wife a few weeks back. The food was great, the weather was perfect, and there was even a live band. When it started drizzling, the event organizers simply set up tents over our heads and the party went on. It turned out to be just a drizzle and nothing more, thankfully. In this situation, anticipating such circumstances could determine the success of the event.
Working away from the comforts of the kitchen, you will seldom see outdoor caterers who are not prepared for any possible weather conditions on the day of the scheduled outdoor event. Having some canopies and tents on standby in case of a light shower is highly recommended as you will need to adapt to the situation at hand, especially if there is no alternative venue or indoor area where the festivities can be held.
To make the party a little bit more complicated, this particular event was in the middle of the plantation the family owned. I was told that the bar area was powered by a portable power generator which, surprisingly, was very silent. This is exactly why a power generator should be onsite for electrical equipment you may need to use. Although most outdoor venues have the necessary power source, it still pays to be prepared for any eventuality. Food must be stored at an ideal temperature as well. Electric powered equipment like a refrigerator and other appliances to reheat food would be very essential in maintaining food quality and providing you with diversity in your menu.
One more thing to consider is staff
uniform.You don’t want your staff to feel cold or seating huddled in a corner just to stay warm during those months when the weather is quite chilly. Consider different fabrics for instance – lightweight uniforms for those warm days while maintaining a professional look at the same time. You can just add additional layers of comfortable clothing during cold weather. The staff should also be allowed to cool down once in a while, especially during long events. You can set up a tent as a staff lounge. This will help in providing the guests with consistent service since your staff has a chance to freshen up.
Another important factor would be the type of food you would include in your menu. You have to be careful with this since not all food served indoors translate well to being served outdoors. There are different outdoor catering themes that may be considered, like a picnic or a tea party. Raw food is not encouraged but if it is part of the menu then ensure that the dishes you serve are not exposed to direct sunlight as this can help hasten spoilage.
I didn’t notice any fridge apart from the cooler they had in the bar. This may be because the kitchen in the main house was just about a five minute walk from the reception area. In any case, food storage should always be considered. You are making great memories with family and friends, and great food will always be part of it. The party ended very late, and everybody went home happy and full with delicious food.