Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Yes, We Do Cater

It’s a question we often hear while interacting with customers at the farmer’s markets, as well as inquiries by phone or email. Very few things are more gratifying than direct customer feedback which happens along the lines of “ I love your tarts, do you think you could put together a platter for our (insert event here) and also provide a few other dishes?”

Why would you say no?

For a couple of years, I held on to the idea that we should maintain catering menus, with items varied seasonally. Lunch, dinner, cocktail appetizers – I’ll email them right over to you, thanks for asking.

Then the great recession hit. Customers and corporations started (rightly so) and continue to measure their dollars.

This led us to the concept of creating custom menus, which we continue to do today. While it takes a bit more time to think through the menus, our sales success is greater because we’ve gotten the budget discussions out of the way and it can be all about the food going forward.

Catering also offers myself & my team a chance to think outside of LPPCo.’s weekly (mostly well managed) tart production cycle. For the time being, as we’re growing, it is still feasible for us to manage catering jobs with-in our week, and besides putting out some good food, offers some additional bonuses.

The process of pulling together a catering event have some similarities to how we produce our tarts. It also allows us to look at how we create other types of food and experiment with flavor profiles. If we notice an item seems popular (some menu items do get repurposed), it gets me thinking about “productizing” it. Could it stand on it’s own? (Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This will be an upcoming separate post in the near future).

These days, when I walk into LPPCo.’s kitchen and utter “hey, we have a catering job coming up” to my team, with-in moments someone’s grabbed a carrot out of the walk-in and is making carrot tulips, radish roses bloom profusely (except for the day we accidentally froze them in ice water) and platters are being sorted through.

A little diversity, for the moment, is a good thing at LPPCo.

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