Catering is one of the main dishes for events and, as executive chef at RAI Amsterdam, the first thing on my menu. Catering can make or break an event: whether it be surprisingly good or woefully lacking, people remember the care and service they receive. And we’re talking about more than luxury sandwiches for lunch or special cookies with coffee… There’s much more involved in catering than you might think.
Tip 1: Take your time
The moments when food and drinks are served are an opportunity for contact, interaction and experience. Because these are precisely the factors that distinguish physical events from their online alternatives, catering at RAI Amsterdam involves a close cooperation between the kitchen, operations, facility management and technical services. Good catering is the sum total of food, drinks and experience. One of the most important elements is giving guests time; don’t rush the food as a break in the programme, treat it like a programme item in its own right.
Tip 2: Be open to advice
We arrange multiple events every day, with varying types of catering. Banqueting, event catering, crew catering, these are all part of our daily activities. It is a specialism, with professionals that can offer you advice. Don’t ask ‘what’s possible’ – everything is an option. The strength of good caterers is their ability to translate specific wishes into a successful catering experience which pleasantly surprises your guests. Don’t ask your caterer for a menu, tell them what you wish to convey, what needs to be done, and how you expect your guests to experience their catering moments. We will help you develop a concept and ensure that the catering fully contributes to achieving your event goals.
Tip 3: Prevent waste
Social responsibility is a necessity, not a luxury. This is reflected in some of the questions we are asked, such as how to achieve less waste and ensure minimal impact on the environment.
Different serving methods
One of the ways to achieve less waste is by choosing different serving methods. Buffets by definition result in lots of leftovers as you always want them to be sufficiently filled until the end. Choose a served lunch instead; it takes a little more time and manpower, but prevents unnecessary food waste. In addition, served lunches create great opportunities for interaction and experience; assets we can also help facilitate.
We prefer to work with local products. This is a win-win situation: it’s better for the environment, especially if you also choose seasonal products; you’re closer to the producer and know the story behind the products; and – an often-forgotten fact – goat’s cheese from Amsterdam is infinitely more exotic to international guests than French brie.
Share your story
The RAI’s requirements for the products we use are high. Our coffee has the Rainforest Alliance certification, our eggs are from a Rondeel (an innovative, sustainable chicken housing system) and our mayonnaise is made from these eggs too. Responsible, local products are our priority and they open up a world of possibilities. Include these aspects in your decision-making and share the information with your guests: sustainability is important to them too, and contributes to their positive experience.
It all starts with attention
I am sometimes surprised at how long in advance and with how many people organisers work on contracting keynote speakers. Let me assure you that catering is just as important as good speakers. Poor, rushed or unsustainable food will ruin the experience of the entire event. On the contrary, exceptional food with sufficient opportunity for interaction can lift your event to the not-to-be-missed level. As caterers, we will provide support. We know what works and how we can ensure your guests the best possible experience. Trust us, we know what we’re doing and show that on a daily basis.
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