Another event over, approximately 300 “mini-meals” served and a resounding success – at least in terms of customer satisfaction and my overall organisation. The only negative point being that I didn’t charge enough for what I was sending out. More on that later.
First of all, a brief explanation of what the event was this w/end…..my good mate Thierry and his wife organised a sale in their home just next to Bastille for 6 artists / designers / photographers / illustrators. They asked me to provide the food with the only “restriction” being that each bite or plate being “cheap”. We didn’t know how many people would come over the w/end, but 300 came along the last time. So, prepare a menu for potentially 300 people who could arrive at different times during the day (we didn’t know when the “prime time” would be either)……..this was the first challenge.
I decided to base my menu on 4 things
thai influence (with a few british references)
mini-dishes or “amuse bouches” instead of the classic buffet “finger” food
cheap for the customer (1€ at first which then became 2€ on the second day)
100% mark-up on the cost price
So what went out during these 2 hectic days of service ? Let’s start with the savoury mini-dishes…..
Baby Squid, Red & Green Radish & Mustard leaves salad with Beetroot chips and Beetroot and Ponzu dressing
Thaï Chicken soup
Organic Salmon in 2 marinades (Citrus fruit & Coriander – Dill and Fennel seed), Orange and Curcuma emulsion, cube of Smoked Herring jelly, seaweed butter
Oxtail Parmentier with Potato and Celeriac purée
Thaï Red Curry Aumônière, salad of Joël Thibault’s carrots, Mizuna salad leaves
Jerusalem Artichoke and Ginger Velouté, Kaffir Lime Oil
And now for the sweet mini-dishes…….
Orange Madeleine, sweet Aubergine and Hazelnut condiment, sesame seed and ginger garnish
Organic chocolate Ganache, Orange brunoise, Tarragon condiment, Clementine powder
home made Organic natural Yoghurt with Clementines in 4 Spices
Cardamom and Lemon ice cream, Chocolate Cookie Crumble, Red Chilli
Bread & Butter Pudding, Coriander Custard, Iced Muscat grapes
Lemon Shortbread, Pear poached in Galangal and Lemon Grass, Beetroot Chantilly
Scones, Jelly and Kaffir Lime Cream
So there you have it…..a whole lot of work (I started cooking on Tuesday, finished at 3 in the morning 3 times, bought new crockery instead of using plastic, did all of the shopping) for 1 or 2 Euros. From the image below you can see that I calculated my cost for each dish and based my calculation of the end price on the basis of 50 items of each dish being sold.
My price calculation was fine, as far as I’m concerned. Where I got it all wrong was the number of items being sold……we actually sold around 300 items. I physically could have produced and sent out more items but I would never have been able to work quick enough to deal with sending 700 dishes !! Saturday was the busier day and we were open for longer (up until 9pm), but I was only charging 1€ and my organisation in the kitchen wasn’t optimum (getting used to someone else’s kitchen ain’t straight forward). Sunday I bumped up the price to 2€, was much more organised in the kitchen (thus able to send stuff out quicker)….but we had 2 hours less of service and there were fewer people.
So there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed this w/end and was generally speaking very happy with the quality of what I sent out. I had nothing but positive feedback when people were kind enough to pop into the kitchen to say thanks. Lots of my business cards disappeared (though I did see Thierry’s daughter running ’round with a big pile in her hand at one time, though I’m not sure how much business I’ll get in the future !!)….it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks / months. I still most certainly do not want to go into buffets as a career…..it’s working in a restaurant that I want. That said, I will happily do one or 2 events, but this time at a price which covers all costs including my daily rate for the prep time and a decent profit margin. As long as my future clients are looking for more than sandwiches, soup and salad then I will be happy to get stuck in occasionally.
Before I sign off on yet another event, I must thank Thierry and my wife, without whom this w/end would not have been possible. These events are never a “one man show” (usually it’s Marc who is involved, but I figured that he deserved a “night off”). Thierry helped me in the kitchen on Thursday and Friday, listening to my ramblings whilst cutting the Bread and Butter pudding discs of bread and sorting the salad leaves. He then took on the role of taking orders and the cash during the w/end, whilst serving drinks. A great help and a good friend. As for my wife, she is now becoming a bit of a “dab hand” at dealing with the service. She helped organise things on the Saturday and was constantly washing, tidying and generally doing the necessary to ensure that things ran smoothly.
Thanks to both of you.