The catering business has existed in its current form for over many decades, though much like other businesses it has evolved over the years, from merely delivering food services to far-off locations into a full F&B experience provider. The origins of catering go back several millennia, when the first caterers served in the supply chain of merchant ships and the military. Catering has come a long way since then.
Here is a infographic defining catering for you
In contemporary times, catering can be generally categorized into a few types: institutional catering, which caters to the F&B demands of large institutions; and social catering that serves ad hoc events, whether big or small, grand or intimate. (See illustration).
As the word suggests, institutional catering serves establishments that require a very large number of people to be fed daily, such as schools, hospitals, remote construction sites, airlines and the like. These businesses rely on the number of people they have to supply to sustain the business. The focus is on providing a cost-effective food service, where the food is produced in a central kitchen and therefore the quality of the food is standardized. Freshness of the food is affected as it is prepared in bulk and either transported to distant locations to serve clients or sometimes served in large pantry settings. Though this is perfect for clients looking to supply thousands upon thousands of meals at a reasonable price, it is impossible for these facilities to cater to smaller, more personalised requests.
Social catering addresses the needs of non-institutional clients. The majority of clients would seek these catering services out for their events such as parties and gatherings, whether at home, in the office, or in any place or their choice. Cooking for a social setting is a whole different ballgame as compared to a school or a hospital. The quality of the food in social settings is under more scrutiny and catering businesses are keen to please, or for premium services, to impress their clients. There are a ton of caterers out there; so the choice of whom to engage becomes a matter of your expectations on cost, quality and service flexibility.
Traditional caterers cook food (usually in bulk) in a central kitchen and deliver the food in warm boxes. Freshness of the product takes a step down as it takes time to transport the food product to the consumer. Though the quality is typically fine, the choice of menus is limited to specific sets per occasion and the food itself is pretty standardized. The guests can make special requests but it remains on the level of choice of cuisine or one particular dietary restriction (eg Halal/Vegetarian), but rarely more than that.
Luxe & Hotel Catering
Customers who turn to luxury catering services naturally expect a higher quality of food. These are services offered by the kitchens of 5-star hotels, fine restaurants or luxury catering companies at a higher price.These types of catering companies are a popular choice among wedding parties and corporates, to provide good quality food.
These organisations take special care in addressing the needs and concern of a customer. Usually the food is prepared in the central production kitchen and delivered to a remote location where the service can then be supervised by a sous chef and thus food quality standards can be maintained at high standard.
The choice of menus, services and personalization can be more limited though as catering organizations prefer to optimize their service for productivity and repeatability. So this leaves very little room for customization in case there are special requests from customers such as allergies, special cravings, styling or working around complex event programmes.
Private dining is the new kid on the block; it has arrived with a bang with many people embracing the concept. More and more people are looking for a fully customized dining experiences with a Personal Chef serving them. With growing needs of customers, the industry has seen a rise in capabilities to cater to most specific requirements, bringing a high-class restaurant experience with a chef to a location of customer’s choice. This has fuelled the emergence of a new premium catering segment: private dining.
Private dining serves discerning customers who are looking for gourmet food concepts, be it fine or casual dining, and a memorable experience. With an executive-level chef coming to your home, you get this peace of mind that everything will go smoothly. Private dining is about convinience, it has to be hassle-free, and customers are willing to pay the price for it.
Food is freshly cooked on-site, and ingredients are hand-picked specially for the event. Customers who want to get the full service, can book service staff in addition to a chef: butlers, waiters, barmen.
Private dining is becoming popular because of the emphasis laid on customer service and personalization: from the choice of chef, cuisine and service style, to wine pairing, decor and small details, which can give this little extra to a private dinner. Clubvivre is a growing on demand chef company based in Singapore offering private dining for competitive prices.
With a significant number of people indulging in luxury experiences, private dining is bound to go only one way from here – UP!