Catering Magazine Catering Magazine
The Magazine for Catering Professionals
July/August 2005
The key to a successful off-premise event often lies in a caterer's ability to combine a unique venue with a client's unique needs. Six caterers share stories of corporate, social and themed events. By Scott Barrett

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Pam Gram, Co-Owner
The Pit Stop BBQ, LLC
Chatsworth, CA

"We were invited to cater a fund-raising event for the Topanga Enrichment Program's (TEP) annual fund-raiser, an annual event in Topanga, Calif., that raises money as a non-profit 510(3)c corporation to pay for programs and personnel salaries that the Los Angeles Unified School District doesn't cover.

"My child attends Topanga Elementary School, for which the TEP raises funds. A few people at the school knew about us about us but thought we only provided BBQ-related menus. They looked around and received bids ranging from $12.95 to $17.95 per person. After that, they contacted us.

"I made arrangements with the Chairperson, Marilyn Samorski, to offer a tasting for the group responsible for the event. We cooked a partial menu of chicken curry salad with pineapple, Hawaiian honey riblets, dill glazed salmon and four other dishes. They hired us the next day.

"We provided a self-serve buffet, so the people attending could eat at leisure while looking at the live and silent auction items. The final cost of the event came to a little more than $2,400. We donated the balance of $828.88 back to the school, making their cost for the food only $8.21 per person.

Our servers supported our tropical theme by wearing khaki colored shorts and assorted tropical print shirts with white aprons. It was our responsibility to decorate the buffet tables and provide all the food items, serving equipment and chaffing dishes.

"Since this was a large, organized fund-raising event, the only decoration we provided were for the buffet tables. A decoration committee handled the tables and event room. We used two buffet tables and four lines for quicker service.

"The buffet table decorations consisted of banana leaves as a runner over white tableclothes. We placed the chaffing dishes on the banana leaves. On the other end of the table we garnished the cold dishes with flowers and herbs. Between the hot and the cold items, we supplied color pots and bright, multicolored beach towels that we draped over the side of the tables. Surrounding that were coconuts and leis.

"Many of the guests dressed in tropcial garb and sported tropical drinks from several 'tikki' bars around the venue. After the dinner and the live auction, a reggae band played while guests danced.

"The next day, when I took my daughter to school, I was bombarded with compliments about the food and our presentation. Many people asked for business cards so they could contact us for future events. I believe our menu and added touches make us stand out from other tropical themed events."

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