Monday, June 16, 2008

Manic Monday: Will

Manic Monday's are brought to you by the letter M.  Go see Morgen for more Manic Monday Madness!
It's always so hard for me to get inspired to write after a great weekend.  Maybe it's because I want to remain in my dreamy state of fun times a little while longer-but whatever it is, it's hard for me to come up with anything worth reading...(I had a great weekend.)
I recently commissioned someone to redesign my catering website.  I bought a .com for it and hope to start marketing myself a little bit so that I can cater dinner parties and weekend luncheons or things like that.  I don't see myself being able to afford to ever work in the industry full time-I wish I could, but I just can't.  I'm toying with the idea of working towards opening up a small cafe or something-much like the one I worked for when I first moved here-only better.  I don't know the first thing about running a business though, and I'm not entirely sure I would ever have enough credit to be able to do such a thing.  In any case, it's in my head and is always a possibility.
Part of starting the ball rolling on the catering part of this idea is creating menus.  I just don't seem to have the will power to start this long, tedious project.  I know that you might be wondering why it's a long process-perhaps you think I should just be able to pick a few things and slap 'em on a menu for a party.  And I can.  If the customer doesn't want to know how much it will cost.  Costing out recipes is boring and is a lot harder than you would think.  I have a special spreadsheet that helps me do it, but I still have to find the current market cost of each ingredient and then figure out how much of it I will be using then how much it will cost based on the current market price.  Being someone who is not really good at math, I always worry that I'm doing it wrong which causes me to double and triple check things.  It's just a LOT of work.
Then there's the worry that the menus aren't diverse enough, or that people will want something completely different than what I offer.  There are so many people out there who cater these days, that one small little thing could send a potential client away.  So many people are self proclaimed foodies too-and they think they know everything.  (Which always leads me to wonder why they are hiring a caterer.)  So, it's a long process and one that I don't enjoy. 
Why don't you share some of your ideas with me.  As (pretend) potential clients, what would you like to see on a dinner party menu?  Try to give me an idea of an appetizer, main course and dessert.  It'll help me figure out what people want so I can have a few diverse menus to start with.
So...will you help me out?


Brian in Mpls said...

I think people think they are foodies because the watch top chef and think that you can whip together an entire meal for 50 people in 45 minutes.

But they have never done it in practice so there is a disconnect one of those things where it is easier seen then done.

How about trying it with a spin where you cater and turn it in to a cooking lesson at the same time?

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

chilled soup

standing rib roast


there you go, everything you need!

smiles, bee

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

This is a tough one Mags. Some want a sit down and others a buffet so save money. Often the caterer talks with the client about what they want and then a menu is put together. The caterer guides the client with the menu. You know what does or doesn't go together. I've seen this done more than not. Have a great MM Mags. :)

Liz said...

spanocopita (sp??)
feta stuffed beef tenderloin
creme bruele

($ was no object in putting this menu together - hehe)

I have no idea what goes together (cept the appetizer/entree...greek) and the creme bruele is just a favorite.

Was this any help??

Lois Grebowski said...

Brian made a very wise observation. I think he hit the nail on the head.

Like you said, you have to have menus that offer the "usual fare" for the non-adventurous folks. Not everyone is turned on by off the wall creations... Good food speaks for itself.

The caterers we used for corporate functions had several signature finger-desserts (these wonderful chocolate-almond brownies and lucious lemon bars) and appetizers. As for good food, Nancy had a killer recipe for a vegetable lasagne. Simple food.

When I get home, I'll stroll trhough my recipe file and see what I can find...

This is exciting!

Lois Grebowski said...

My step-daughter collects restaurant menus... Do you do that? It could be a great help.

Mags said...

Brian: I already do this, actually. Cooking classes were my original idea when I started doing catering-I've only done a couple though, but I think it's b/c I haven't marketed myself that hard yet.

Bee: Great idea on the chilled soups! Thanks for the suggestions. :)

Sandee: I agree that things get tweeked, but caterers always have set menus to start with (whether they show them or not) so they have a starting point. That's what I've got to come up with.

Liz: I serve spanakopita every now and then-it's really popular. As for creme brulee-I make a killer one, in lots of flavors so it'll be on the menu for sure! :)

Lois: See my response to Brian-and also-I do collect menus but sadly I don't keep them b/c I hate clutter. I do have TONS of links favorited though of sample menus and stuff.

Travis said...

I'm not a foodie at all, but I did study business in college so I do understand how difficult it is to deal with the business side of things when your main focus is creative.

I believe in you though, and I think you can do it. Try to look at these tedious little details differently, if you can. You know in your head that they are a pain, but that they have to be done. So maybe by acknowledging it once, you can then move on and do them so you can get to the fun stuff, which is cooking.

As for menu items, I'm just a cheese and crackers kind of guy. If I ever hired you, I'd tell you that I can't eat onions and then let you figure out what to feed us.

Hang in there. Polish up your dreams. You'll get it.

Mo said...

What do I want at a dinner party?
A hot bartender.
Cute waiters wouldn't hurt, either.

Opening your own business is a LOT of work. You should be the creative person and you should have a partner to take care of the boring business crap. A partner you trust, of course. A partner who can hire cute waiters for ya!

Amazing Gracie said...

Yeah, I first off thought of a biz partner...
I wouldn't know first off what to suggest because my west coast palate is different from yours because I grew up on Mexican food. My mom took chef's classes and fixed stuff with super rich sauces, like Lobster Newburg and Thermador. I know the trend today is for lighter foods but I haven't stayed up on the latest in cuisine. I just know if you fix it, I'll eat it! (and love every bite!)

Ivanhoe said...

Did you ever think about being a personal chef? One of my friends does that on the side. He comes over client's house, cooks them a dinner (or a party) and then goes home. Then next week he goes to a different client... So he has a base of them that call him for special events or if they just don't feel like cooking. He does not have one person that he's with 24/7 like you see personal chefs on TV, it's just a side job. But if the clientele grows, I'm sure it could be his only job...

Ivanhoe said...

It's me again. Check out his web to get an idea:

Clancy in Idaho said...

I started to comment on this post on the day you posted it. I got distracted, my hubby closed the window and I never remembered again until now! I hope you'll still read this...

I went to a wedding last weekend that had the most incredible food! I just thought I'd tell you about it, cuz I would definitely choose it at my own wedding or dinner party or something that would be catered! ;)

It was buffet style and it went something like this:
-Dressed spinach salad with some kind of feta-ish cheese, dried cranberries or cherries, jicama spears, and sugared walnuts. YUM!

-Fruit tray (i thought this was a little boring and unimaginative)

-Veggie tray (same thought) but they had the usual, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, but they also had jicama and lightly steamed asparagus which was a nice touch.

-Bread tray. This was an assortment of herbed breads with an awesome spinach dip thing.(Nice technical terms with me and food)

-Sesame chicken skewers. These were amazingly good. I don't normally eat chicken, but I LOVED these! They had dark meat that was SUPER tender (marinated in something? I'm guessing...) with black and white sesame seeds and chopped green onions sprinkled all over them! YUM!

and the best part...
-Prime rib with an herb rub and cooked to crunchy perfection on the outside. (it might have been a touch overdone inside, but I'm not a rare meat lover so it was perfect for me!)
They had a horseradish sauce to put over it. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. This horseradish sauce had capers in it! I don't know what else, it was really creamy and smooth. Very lite. But, MAN! Those capers sealed the deal. I have been dreaming of it ever since last Saturday. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

They had wedding cake for dessert which I thought was medium. (the brides sister made the cake, not the caterer) I would've loved a cheesecake something or other or a REALLY moist chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

So, there's my VERY longwinded idea for a menu... what can I say... I'm not very original. I just go for my most recent tastebud nirvana! :)