Tom Rutherford

Organising the food and beverage and don’t know where to start? Here’s a few tips and tricks from an expert – me!

More and more Executive Assistants and PA’s are required to organise company events that were previously arranged by event professionals. The conference, meeting, launch or strategic planning day now falls to the EA and as many are quickly discovering there is more to organising the food and beverage than first appears.

Doing it yourself

When you need to look at the whole food and beverage yourself, here are some important points to consider.

1. When briefing the venue/caterer ask them to come back to you on unique ways of serving plating, dressing tables etc, with associated costs, let them know that this is a competitive pitch and the best ideas vs price will succeed.

2. Ensure your food and beverage team is properly briefed on the event so they can answer questions and get into the theme.

3. Question portion sizes of dishes, how many canapés per person, etc.

4. Work with the venue or caterer on the event schedule to ensure that each course can be served, eaten and cleared, within a limited time frame.

5. Ask how many staff are working and how they plan to serve the room? Rule of thumb is 1 waiter to 20 guests minimum for cocktail parties and 1 to 15 for sit down dinners/lunches. Anything better that this will improve in service to you guests

Using a Food and Beverage Director

When the event’s food and beverage needs to be exceptional and executed to many people, it is a good idea to get in a food and beverage specialist to help you. Just like large scale events have a stage manager and lighting director – a leader for every component of the event, it is vital to have a food and beverage director to look after the budget and execution and to ensure that the quality of the food and service is first class.

A food and beverage director will work with you and your caterer to:

1. Get more value than you can buy yourself.

2. Deliver greater efficiencies and ensure a continuous and seamless delivery of menus and wine choices across multiple venues and events.

3. Test and enthuse venues, caterers and chefs, for a more inspired result.

4. Suggest menu concepts that are memorable and that work.

5. Negotiate wines from reserve lists, at prices for standard packages, negotiate and manage wine delivery and consumption.

6. Manage the floor, bar and kitchen staff.

7. Manage the budget to achieve budget surplus and memories of the event.

8. Provide the leadership of a project manager to maximise food and beverage quality and delivery.