'What Makes Us Special'
"When We Marched In The Mud"
"A summer some years ago we were bused two hours out to a dinner party for a big organization, held in a vast field. A large group of us had been there the day before on setup. The Kitchen and Dining room tents were connected, and then it was a couple minutes’ walk to the Cocktail / Auction Display tent. There was no awning connecting the tents and the ground between was dirt with patchy grass. Light rain had been forecasted as timed to pass before the party started. Ha!-Ha!-Ha! Right as Cocktail hour started and the guests were in the Cocktail tent it became a downpour. Then in a blink, buckets! One minute out and you were drenched!
Everyone was dry in the Cocktail tent, but hor d'oeuvre passers had to run between the tents. Given plastic rain slicks and covers for their platters, they dashed but were quickly soaked from legs down. When Cocktails was over the downpour wasn’t. So even guests had to dash; women in heels draping a partner’s suit jacket over their heads, a few shrieks escaping. And by then the dirt was mud and we had thrown down extra six foot tables to give guests a path.
All the servers had damp white jackets, mud splattered tux pants, and soggy black dress shoes --- and almost four hours still to work before we could collapse on the bus back to the city. We grumbled to each other as we passed in the back of the house.
But on the dinner floor we were warm and good spirits for the guests, who had a good bubbly time and a story to tell. I think it gave the Catering company a useful horror story to tell future clients when pressing them to invest in awnings and wooden paths! (And if we asked, we were reimbursed for ruined shoes.) Hated as the conditions were, afterwards there was a fierce pride that we had carried it off! We had a new story to tell." -- Trayce
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'WHAT MAKES US SPECIAL'
The “Us” is reserved for what is called Off Premise Caterers. We are the Travelers of Catering – going where we are called. We upload and offload trucks, traveling in and out of town, going up and down stairs, and getting stuck in tiny elevators --all with the clock ticking before service.
We put on events in coordination with locations and other vendors (décor, sound, tents, performers, etc.). Conditions we are told to expect are not always the conditions we find. We have to be as flexible and alert as soldiers trained to live in the moment – as we help construct a world, serve that world, and then collapse and dismantle that world. We are Food Showbiz! Even if our events aren’t always notable, we are!
(NOTE: A search online for waiter accounts of their experiences working in the catering industry didn't even lead to one story! Restaurant waiters have written more about their experiences, such as this account, 'Waiting' by Debra Ginsberg. FIY: Working in catering is very different from working in restaurants. Cater waiters work for one client who has arranged the menu, and there is typically only one service per event, with every table being served at the same time, from tens to hundreds of people. Whereas restaurant waiters take the orders of individual guests and in the course of one shift usually serve multiple parties at one table, working primarily for tips.)