IN A WAY, everyone in the special event industry is a caterer. I say this because the definition of "caterer" is "a person who supplies what is required or desired."
We do this every day. It's not always easy. To do it well requires that we set aside our personal feelings or issues in favor of satisfying the client.
When catering to my clients, I insist that we interview them for every job. It helps us offer more informed advice on what will and won't work in the client's plans for the event.
There is a fine line to walk here. It doesn't mean we push our personal likes and dislikes on the client. But we don't compromise the elements that set our firm apart, such as a special design look, a signature menu item or a commitment to style.
There are no bad ideas, although there are times when certain ideas may not be practical. Because of the experience that we have in special events, it is up to us to steer clients away from the ideas that will fail.
In the more traditional sense of the word, we are all caterers in another way. Each time we create an event, we prepare a banquet for the senses. Some of us provide the entertainment that will pull the event together. Others create food that will delight the guests' sense of smell and taste. Still others create the ambience for the entire event.
We all rely on one another to make the job come together in creating a delightful experience for the client. This means checking our egos at the door. We must respect each person's expertise and let each add an individual spice to the broth.
This is why teamwork is vital. With teamwork, the project designer works effectively with the person supplying the food to display it to its best advantage. With teamwork, the caterer can coordinate menus that will be exciting and will add to the ambience of the themed decor. Proper teamwork can help decide where and when the entertainment is used and how it will carry through the overall theme of the event.
To me, a truly successful event leaves the guests with a wonderful memory. No one element stands out more than the rest. Like a good stew, each seasoning is an important part of the mix if added in proper balance with the others. The flavors then are rich and fulfilling and satisfying.
While it takes many hands to prepare this stew, too many cooks can spoil it. And so someone has to take the role of leader of the team.
The person making the initial contact with the client most often will end up serving as the leader on the project. This is a very important role. The lead person will have the most frequent contact with the client and can disseminate needed information to the rest of the team.
In a sense, we are all caterers not only to the client, but to our fellow event professionals as well. Only by catering to professionalism can we achieve our goals.