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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 05-25-2014, 04:34 PM   #1
HBMTN
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So we catered a wedding reception yesterday and the bride had booked us for pulled pork and two sides. We set up the buffet and were on our trailer prepping everything when a young boy about 10 years old sticks his head in and askes "are you the caterer?" and we said yes. Then he said they told me to give this to you and handed one of my staff a box and leaves. We opened the box and it was a Cole Slaw package. It had a bag of shredded cabbage another carrots and a bag of dressing mix. So before I say what we did I just wonder what you would have done? This was never asked or addressed before the boy showed up to hand it to us.
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Unread 05-25-2014, 05:55 PM   #2
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That is a sticky situation imho. Will the customer be upset if you do not make the "slaw"? Do you take the risks involved and make the "slaw"?

We ran into this type of situation a few times early on and went ahead and complied. After the second time, however, we added a clause to our catering contract that states; 1) No raw ingredients will be used other than those supplied by the "caterer" 2) No food will be served other than that supplied by the caterer. 3) If the customer chooses not to abide by items #1 and/or #2 the caterer will segregate said items away from the food supplied by the caterer and will not be responsible or liable in any way for said food. This clause is in BOLD TYPE and requires that the customer initials it prior to signing the contract. We also explain the reason for this clause, to the customer, so that they are aware of the Quality/Safety/Liability issues involved.

There are two issues here; 1) Quality Control of Products Served, are the ingredients up to the standards with which the caterer normally uses? 2) LIABILITY - The caterer has no idea where these food products came from or whether they have been stored under food safe conditions.

In your instance I would have probably gone and talked to the customer and explained why you did not want to comply with their "request". If they were belligerent I probably would have made the "slaw" and then amended my contract ASAP to avoid this at future events.
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Unread 05-25-2014, 06:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
So we catered a wedding reception yesterday and the bride had booked us for pulled pork and two sides. We set up the buffet and were on our trailer prepping everything when a young boy about 10 years old sticks his head in and askes "are you the caterer?" and we said yes. Then he said they told me to give this to you and handed one of my staff a box and leaves. We opened the box and it was a Cole Slaw package. It had a bag of shredded cabbage another carrots and a bag of dressing mix. So before I say what we did I just wonder what you would have done? This was never asked or addressed before the boy showed up to hand it to us.
Well this was an obvious move to sidestep having to pay you more money. I am watching my sister go through the process of booking her wedding now. Actually I am watching her "rebook" her wedding after the place she booked and mostly paid for closed down suddenly, ReBar in Brooklyn. Anyway, some of these venues are charging up to $5-$10 a person to plate the cake if you bring in an outside cake. For a 230 person wedding that is serious extra money.

Now, beyond the money issue, you obviously should have real concerns on the food quality of the slaw mix and your reputation and even more importantly food safety as if it makes people sick who will know and it will hang on you.

Was there ever a discussion with the client that they would be bringing in outside food? If so I would explain 1) there is going to be a prep/plating fee and.......Actually, no, I would not do it. My coleslaw is awesome and home made, I would not want any guests thinking that was my slaw. I go through the time and money to put out a great product because that is what the client pays for and it is how I get word of mouth business from guests at the party. I would kindly explain the food safety and quality control issues with the wedding planner or someone else hopefully not the bride unless that was really the only person to speak to.
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Unread 05-25-2014, 06:34 PM   #4
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I'm not a caterer, but have worked on catering crews in the past. I would have probably told the boy - politely of course - to take the slaw back to whoever gave it to him as there must be some kind of mistake. If they wanted the slaw, they could have put it together themselves and put it on a separate table from your food. Since you didn't source the food, you obviously shouldn't serve it.
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Unread 05-25-2014, 06:50 PM   #5
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Well it looks like you all are right on track with me. I do have it written into my contract that no other food can be at the event except for ours and I too have ran into those situations where we did allow it and the host did not keep the food in good shape and we got an A$$ chewing from a guest that we weren't doing our job replenishing that item. After that instance we no longer allow it.

So what I did was open the trailer door and flag the kid down and told him there must be a mistake that the package was not for us to take it back to who ever gave it to him. He said "they told me to give it to the caterer" I told him that they were mistaken and I had no use for it. They took it back and did not try to put it out for guests as I saw it in the venue refrigerator later in the night still not assembled. Had an adult brought it back to me I was going to say that if my client had wants slaw she could have paid us to do it and that I was not going to prepare it for them and explained the multiple reasons why.
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Unread 05-25-2014, 09:33 PM   #6
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dang, too late to play this game. I would have sent it back and said if they need to talk to me about it, they can come over right away. Then given the already metioned explanations
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Unread 05-25-2014, 09:51 PM   #7
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You know if it was your first gig, you probably would have fixed it up, because we all want to please everyone to get more business. Loser mentality.
SUCKER! Good move and wise advice from all!
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Unread 05-25-2014, 09:56 PM   #8
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I just want to note, that $5 to $10 for wedding cake service is not really outlandish. Now, I have never been to a BBQ Wedding, and have no idea how different it would be. But, the idea that it should be not be charged as a food item, really bugs me.

I still have to handle and show off the cake. I still have to create a cake table, cake stand, cake plates and utensils. There is still the matter of linens. And finally, there is the risk, what if the cake is somehow compromised? I see it as a huge cost item either way.
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Unread 05-26-2014, 03:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
I just want to note, that $5 to $10 for wedding cake service is not really outlandish. Now, I have never been to a BBQ Wedding, and have no idea how different it would be. But, the idea that it should be not be charged as a food item, really bugs me.

I still have to handle and show off the cake. I still have to create a cake table, cake stand, cake plates and utensils. There is still the matter of linens. And finally, there is the risk, what if the cake is somehow compromised? I see it as a huge cost item either way.
Oh, I agree, I was just mentioning it as a way of saying that caterers charge to service items that the client brings in from the outside, so why should it be any different if it is a side dish or a cake.

BUT, I do think $10 a head on a 230 person wedding is a little high as a plating fee for the cake.
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Unread 05-26-2014, 12:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
I just want to note, that $5 to $10 for wedding cake service is not really outlandish. Now, I have never been to a BBQ Wedding, and have no idea how different it would be. But, the idea that it should be not be charged as a food item, really bugs me.

I still have to handle and show off the cake. I still have to create a cake table, cake stand, cake plates and utensils. There is still the matter of linens. And finally, there is the risk, what if the cake is somehow compromised? I see it as a huge cost item either way.
They charge around $4 per head in my area and yes it's worth it. If they don't think so by all means let them cut their own cake.
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Unread 05-26-2014, 02:35 PM   #11
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They charge around $4 per head in my area and yes it's worth it. If they don't think so by all means let them cut their own cake.
Careful HBMTN, you may just conjure up the ghost of Marie Antoinette. "Let Them Eat Cake".
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