‘Volume catering’ is booming in Australia. The convention and functions market is growing strongly and more and more venues from the larger convention centres, hotels and clubs to the smaller pubs, restaurants and function rooms are looking for ways to tap into this growing market.
Every week in Australia at least one event is taking place, and the event ranges from huge corporate conventions and exhibitions to smaller festivals, displays, shows and special social occasions. Whatever the event, and whatever its size, all offer some opportunities to venues and other catering businesses to grab a piece of the profit.
The award-winning Eventcorp have organised a business and private event to prove much of their business is repeated but according to Holsinger, this does not mean that customers want to return to the same venue each time when they host an event.
The latest technology now available is easing the burden and guesswork of chefs as far as cooking for big numbers is concerned, and allows the chefs to have more time to attend other responsibilities such as menu planning, creating new dishes, food presentation, ordering, rostering, and checking their staff.
Comcater has three demonstration kitchens, where company’s professional chefs can show the latest cooking techniques to help each customer to make an informed decision as to what is right for his/her business.
Don Gethings, Chef and Equipment Consultant with equipment supplier Comcater, says one of the big boons on today’s market is technology a combi steamer oven, gas or electric, a computerised system that delivers consistent results, regardless of the cooking process or particular menu item. It uses dry heat, moist heat or combination of both and can be operated in seven different modes-roasts, grills, poultry fish, baked dishes, side dishes and ‘finishing’.
These systems do the hard work by automatically detecting product-specific requirements such as food size and quantity. The cooking time, temperature and humidity are also continuously adjusted automatically to achieve the desired results,
Melbourne’s Crown Entertainment Complex have undoubtedly won the ‘crown’ as Australia’s biggest event business with a huge events team. It’s events kitchen is the largest and most streamlined in the southern hemisphere. General Manager of catering operations, David Yallouz, who oversees the Crowns events division, says the events kitchen uses six large Combitherm ovens, six steam massive steam kettles, four brat pans and four extra large blast chillers.
Executive Chef, Oliver Von Brun, plays a crucial role in preparing a tasty menu for clients. When planning the menu, seasonality plays an important role and there is also increasing demand for healthier food.
Another up market volume caterer, the award-winning Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre also reports that a growing emphasis on guests’ preferences for lighter, healthier, fresh food options is satisfied by the latest menu. The centre’s food and beverage director, Kevin Gulliver, says there is no outsourcing and everything is prepared in the BCEC kitchens “from raw material to end product”.
Executive chef of BCEC, Kenneth Ip, says that whether the event is for five or 5000 people, the BCEC aims to deliver the best and achieving that depends on a highly organised, precision-timed operation, and training is crucial in achieving the goal, where the staff includes a large and experienced events management team, including specialist event managers who are allocated to each client, ensuring a seamless communication stream between client and the centre’s various departments from the first moment of contact to the event finale.