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Caterers In Summerville Sc – Events and festivals that offer tastings are an increasingly popular way to showcase a community’s culinary talent. Both sides benefit: restaurants get free advertising and event sponsors raise money. But it’s rare to see a chef from a hospital or university dining at these events. That’s why Eileen Goos, food services director at Village at Summerville, was thrilled when her operation landed a table at Scrumptious Summerville, a local fundraising event in Summerville, South Carolina, that benefits victims of abuse. childish.
“We were the first retirement community asked,” Ella Goos says, an honor she attributes to positive word of mouth about the Village’s in-house catering service from residents and guests.
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In 2019, the off-premise catering market was worth more than $64 billion, with restaurants capturing about 64% of that business and caterers taking in 14%, according to Technomic. Research finds that only 3% of sales are attributed to on-site food service in healthcare, senior living and other non-commercial operations. There are opportunities there, and Village at Summerville and other food establishments are playing their part by ramping up their catering programs.
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Start with food. The Village, which contracts with Cura Hospitality, makes everything from scratch, and Goos and her executive chef, Mark Hammel, prioritize presentation. “We really enjoy making complex appetizers that show off our creativity,” says Goos. “It’s so fun to take a popular main dish and turn it into a bite to eat.” Favorites include a grits pie topped with shrimp skewers and beef tenderloin crostini topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese.
For a recent Scrumptious Summerville event, Hammel made 1,000 samples of beef brisket shepherd’s pie with wild mushrooms and a roasted garlic mashed potato dressing. Last year, he offered a flight of lasagna with three different pasta rolls: marinara, seafood and Alfredo. “With our selections, we dispel the myth that [the senior dining hall] serves institutional food,” he says.
“It’s so much fun to take a popular main dish and turn it into a bite to eat.”—Eileen Goos
The big draw of BlueCross BlueShield’s South Carolina catering functions is also the food that breaks cafeteria stereotypes, says Lawrence Wright, food service manager for the company’s six locations across the state and one in Tennessee. At the company’s headquarters in Colombia, South Carolina, Wright caters for everything from small luncheons to retirement parties with more than 150 guests, the latter being a major source of catering revenue.
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“We do reception-style parties with lots of hors d’oeuvres, and the menu is based on the honoree,” says Wright. Food ranges from pulled pork sandwiches and chicken wings to an action station that includes chef-composed “risotto” made with South Carolina-produced farro, roasted butternut squash, braised short ribs, and sorghum-cranberry gastrique. Wright prefers regional, Southern-themed dishes that use ingredients like local kale, sorghum and Carolina-raised chicken.
What drives BlueCross BlueShield’s catering business is “extreme flexibility and customization,” Wright says. “Being able to adapt is key. And because we know our customers (mostly BlueCross employees) so well, we have a unique ability to anticipate what they want and need.”
It’s also important to play to your strengths, he says. While Wright can’t compete with the authenticity or price of the restaurant’s whole-hog barbecue down the street, he offers his menu to satisfy barbecue requests. Then his team performs configuration and service. “Don’t expect to get 100% of the catering business,” he says.
On a larger scale, flexibility is key to catering success at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where executive chef David Tallent is tasked with hosting hundreds of events a month, ranging from small dinners for the university’s chancellor university to barbecues on and off campus farm. -Weddings in places as far away as Indianapolis. That means creating a multitude of menus and training staff to rotate as the occasion demands. In addition to administrative staff, around 100 students work part-time to work on the front desk for catering events.
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Community involvement can be the most effective marketing tactic, as Village at Summerville discovered. Members of the Scrumptious Summerville planning committee attended a Chamber of Commerce reception for the grand opening of the Village’s new health care and rehabilitation center, Goos says, which generated additional exposure: “They couldn’t believe the service of internal catering and a few months later they contacted us to participate in the event.”
Chef Tallent, who operated a popular restaurant in Bloomington before joining IU, brings his reputation and following, as well as the mission of supporting Indiana farmers and artisans. “Our goal is to source at least 50% of the food we serve on campus locally,” he says. That and his participation in local fundraisers, such as Bloomington’s Soup Bowl, where local potters make bowls and local chefs fill them with signature soups, have raised the profile of IU’s catering program.
Wright also advocates for community interaction. He often donates chef-prepared dinners for 12 as auction prizes at fundraisers and participates in the Sweet Savory Chef’s Competition in Columbia, during which chefs offer a sweet or savory dish and guests vote for their favorite. “I won five out of six times, competing against area restaurants,” he says. “Not only does it work as a marketing tool, but it also promotes goodwill as the event raises money for charities. “BlueCross is deeply concerned about social equity in the communities it serves.”
The Village at Summerville has the purchasing power of a major corporation through its partnership with Cura Hospitality, says food services director Eileen Goos. Additionally, she and executive chef Mark Hammel prepare all the food for catering functions, reducing labor costs. “I think we have a competitive advantage over the catering companies and restaurants in the area,” Goos says. In-house catering is done at cost with no markups, and in 2019, total catering dollars were $37,500.
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BlueCross BlueShield Food Service of South Carolina is also run by a large company, Southern Foodservice. “They set our catering prices and we don’t try to undercut local businesses’ prices,” says food services manager Lawrence Wright. “Our value lies in our service.” If a barbecue lunch or deli dishes are served by an outside vendor, the Wright team provides tables, serving utensils, cutlery, labor and valuable additional touches. “We can anticipate our guests’ needs,” he says. “For example, after a big breakfast or lunch, we know they’ll want deli containers to carry leftovers.”
Chef David Tallent of Indiana University is also adept at anticipating what guests are looking for. The university president always wants fish, for example, and a carving station should include vegan options, like cauliflower shawarma, one of Tallent’s newest creations. “We price at about the same level as other local suppliers, taking labor into account,” he says. “We try not to make the preparation too intense and offer a range of prices to work within the client’s budget, making suggestions for thinking outside the box.” Catering has increased from 0.1% to 12% of campus food sales in the four years Tallent has been on board.
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