John: Hi, I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Kristi Swett, a fifth generation Woodman and event coordinator at Woodman’s of Essex and today we’re talking about corporate catering. Welcome, Kristi.
Kristi: Hi, John, thanks for having me.
Types of Corporate Catering Events
John: Sure, so Kristi, what are some typical functions that a business might have that might require catering?
Kristi: Well, they could just do an appreciation party, just a company party. They could be inviting different parts of the company in. Is it an international business meeting, are they having seminars or any type of training or presentations going on that they’re setting aside a special day for?
Corporate Catering Event Locations
John: Okay. What locations do businesses usually have for a corporate catering event like that?
Kristi: Well, depending on the type of event it is, if it’s during business hours, it can happen right there on the property. If it’s happening on nights or weekends, they might want to rent a space or it could just be at the CEO’s house.
Corporate Catering Challenges
John: What are some of the issues that you find come up in terms of planning a large corporate catering event like that?
Kristi: We always have to think of people [who are] travelling or [who] come in from around the world. Are they travelling just from out of state, are they coming from different parts of New England and just giving enough time for them to get there? Depending on where they’re from, are they going to be familiar with the New England food? Are you going to go all out and have a full lobster and steamers, or is it better just to do a lobster roll or fried clams where it’s easier to eat?
John: Do you find that sometimes you might plan a menu around where the people are from, with foods that they might be more familiar with?
Kristi: Yes, definitely. Our non-seafood options might be more barbeque if they’re coming from the South and we can definitely play around with the menu to meet any group’s need.
John: Okay, what are the other issues that arise?
Kristi: If they’re doing any type of meetings or presentations, there’s always the [possibility of a] delay. Is that meeting happening on schedule? Do they need to rent any of the equipment, are they needing projection screens, is there a fun party after the seminar is over so they want some DJ’s? [You want to] make sure that all that space is accounted for and [you] have enough power for all those things.
John: Right, do you find that sometimes if they are having a meeting, that meeting might go long and you have to be prepared to push back the time of dinner or something like that?
Kristi: Yes. There’s definitely delays when anyone is up talking or giving some type of presentation. You never know how long, [especially] if a question and answer session is happening, so you do have to be ready. [You need] the buffet set in place and all the food ready to go, but again, you need to walk that fine line. You don’t want the food sitting there for too long and it getting cold.
Kids Menus for Corporate Family Gatherings
John: You mentioned that sometimes it might just be the employees that are invited, but other times it may be the employees might have their whole family with them. Do you have to plan for that in terms of having a kids’ menu available or something like that?
Kristi: Yes, you definitely want to think of that. If it is happening on a night or a weekend, most companies will invite family or spouses. If there are going to be a lot of kids there, definitely look at the food, but then also do they want to do any type of games or entertainment or hire a company to come in and have the bouncy house or something for the kids to do as well?
John: Okay, all right, well that’s really good information, Kristi, thanks for speaking with me today.
Kristi: Thank you, John.