In a country where people LOVE to celebrate and bond over a meal, and with a growing population of 102 million people, it’s not a surprise that more and more businesses are focusing on food. Having been in the catering business for 24 years, we’ve had a share of experiences in dealing with the changes that are happening, both in the industry and with our clients’ preferences.
Just to inspire new entrepreneurs who wish to venture in a food business, we answered some of the questions below that many of you might have a particular interest in relation to the trends and the challenges that come with it…
A. One of the things we noticed is that clients are becoming more and more particular about the event design. Before it was very simple – just put tables, and chairs, and flowers, and the client is happy. But now, we are seeing that our clients really have a theme in mind when they acquire our services. They are particular with the food design, the style, the tablecloth, the backdrop, etc. Basically, everything that affects the look and feel of the event. So it’s important to keep this in mind and to provide these services also.
A. We’d say the top five are:
1. Move towards gourmet dishes. Our customers are becoming more and more educated when it comes to food. They are looking for something beyond the usual. Like before, a standard menu that would suffice would be roast chicken, lengua, pork barbecue, breaded fish fillet. But now, that wouldn’t be enough! We need to serve sophisticated and uniquely prepared dishes like pan-seared fish fillet with papaya and cilantro.
2. Differentiation of food among caterers. Whereas before caterers tend to serve similar dishes, we are now differentiating our menus from each other. We’ve come to work with themes just like our customers. Some caterers focus on serving Italian cuisine, others veer more towards Mediterranean. At Hizon’s Catering, we lean more towards modern Filipino and Asian. Basically, we are reinventing Filipino food. For example, instead of the traditional “Kare-Kare” dish, we serve slow roasted beef with Kare-Kare gravy and poached vegetables.
We’ve also reinvented the way lasagna is cooked and made it more Asian! What we do is we make “laing” lasagna, which is basically layers of pasta with laing and crispy pork inside. Instead of using cream sauce, we use coconut sauce.
3. Creation of a one-stop food service. We are noticing that our customers are particular about talking to just one point person, who can take care of all their food and beverage needs. So we started providing wedding cakes as well and hired event planners that our customers can coordinate with, for any requirements that they may have.
4. Customers are spending more for their children’s parties. It’s amazing how children’s parties have morphed to simple fast-food meals and clowns into full-blown events with magicians and elaborate themes and costumes. Due to the changes in demand, we’ve hired event planners who specialize in children’s parties – who take care of anything related to the food and beverage design and other needs of the event.
5. Increase of plated service. Although 90% of our orders still require a buffet style catering, more customers are trying out our plated or multi-course meals, which are served to their guests. This is a more formal, sophisticated approach to dining in events.
Although it doesn’t give that festive feeling that buffets provide, the benefit of a plated service is that food can be more sophisticated and it also gives room for better food aesthetics or design. It’s basically a matter of quality over quantity.
Given that plated services require that we use better ingredients and the need to place a kitchen at the venue to serve food, costs are usually 20% higher than your regular buffet catering service.
A. Basically we have two main challenges: (1) The need to customize our services constantly as each event is unique; and (2) our competition is getting fiercer.
About the first challenge–see, everyone’s taste is different and people are becoming more particular about what they want. The challenge here comes in being able to customize a menu FAST and to put a cost to it so our customers can get feedback on their requirements right away. We fix this by training our event planners to customize menus and by coming up with an automated system that calculates the prizing of our food. It’s really about creating a mechanism that allows for more efficient coordination between our event planners (those who serve as our front liners) and our R&D Chefs (those who oversee the creation of new food concepts).
Now, for our second challenge of handling our competition–we have a culinary team that goes around the restaurants in Manila and abroad. We are also constantly creating new add-on services like making our own vases to enhance design to ensure that we are one step ahead of our competitors.
Like any successful business, the passion that we had from the beginning and the desire to provide the best quality service possible should never run out. At the end of the day, it’s really about providing the greatest value we can offer to our customers. We keep in mind that the events we are putting up – weddings, corporate events, and children’s parties – are significant milestones that inspire us to create memories our customers will never forget.
For more than 30 years , we have been blessed to be a part of thousands of weddings, debuts, kids parties, corporate events, and private celebrations. In all these events, we make sure we are not only your caterer but more importantly your partner in every step from conceptualizing, budgeting and planning up to final execution.