When we lived in Cincinnati (I bet you’d love to never hear/see/read that phrase from me again – too bad!) I worked in the undergraduate admissions office for Cincinnati Christian University. One of my more significant roles in that office was that of catering coordinator. This was an unofficial title, of course. But whenever we had an event that required food, I was in charge. Even if this was a staff lunch. Sometimes we had events with over one hundred people involved. Sometimes it was just 5 of us. But regardless, calling in the order & (usually) picking up the food quickly became my responsibility.
I don’t remember how this task fell to me exactly. And I remember sweating it out the first few times I did it. I’d never ordered food for people before, not even for my wedding. We had cake & punch & a few other hors d’oeuvres, for crying out loud! My mother took care of all that!! (Bless her.) Needless to say, it was nerve-wracking. What if I ordered way too little & we ran out of food?! What if I ordered way too much & wasted a bunch of food and the college’s money?! What if I ordered something wrong and it was gross?! What if I order it perfectly & it’s still gross?! What if I order it for too early & it gets cold?! What if I order it too late & people are waiting around for it?! I think you see my dilemma. All of them.
However, I soon settled into a pretty regular routine. Mostly I ordered pizza. And I figured out the equation of how many pizzas for how many people (2.5 people to 1 large LaRosa’s pizza). Sometimes I’d throw in some pasta & salad. Every now & then we went wacky and did something totally different, but not very often. When it was just my office staff I was ordering for, I mostly just needed to remember a few basic things, like my boss wanted low fat dressing with his salad, not the regular stuff. Simple things, though when you get 5 or so orders going, people on the other end can get confused, so you have to be organized and on top of it.
When we moved to Omaha, I took a job as an assistant to an executive with a health care organization. I often ordered catering for lunch meetings, large and small. I was glad CCU prepared me for it. The ordering was usually pretty involved, though. No pizzas for the bigwigs! Shrimp salads, meats and fancy sides, etc. The centralized kitchen prepared it all, brought it & set it up. So all I had to do was put the order in on time for the right stuff (sometimes tricky – I still remember the lady who didn’t eat poultry! Weird.) and make sure it was set up in the right room at the right time.
In my current position I very rarely have to order food for catering. I’m still the one that goes & picks it up a lot of the times, but that’s not too challenging. And we often order from Famous Dave’s, so YUM.
One of the best parts of being a wedding coordinator for my church currently is that people rarely have receptions at the church any more, so I don’t have to deal with food at all. I think that’s the most dangerous part of weddings besides the brides. Ha!
One thing I know: I never, ever want to be a caterer. Way too much stress & pressure. No, thanks. I’ll feed those that can fit around my table and that’s good enough for me.
Have you ever ordered catering for a crowd, large or small?