The food and the way it is served is one of those things that can make or break an event, so the host must very carefully choose a caterer who will come up with the right menu and be able to manage an event of any size. Business Review talked to Ovidiu Moroe and Corneliu Toma, the managers of Elegant Catering, to get some insight into the catering business.
What does organising a business event for a multinational company mean for Elegant Catering? How long before the event do preparations start, what are the costs involved, how many people are involved, etc.?
Elegant Catering is the leader of the event catering segment in Romania, a fact which is confirmed and supported by our clients’ recommendations and the positive feedback we receive on our integrated products and services.
We designed our offer as a novel all-inclusive service ever since the beginning in 2007, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the idea worked very well, and we’re now being sought out by hundreds of people for dozens of events every day.
Our professionalism and logistics and our dedicated team have created a renowned brand. We are grateful to our clients and we’re always trying to go beyond our limits.
We first find out the story of any event and work on a plan together with the client. We create truly theatrical performances in which the stage and props all represent the theme of the event – flowers, colours, canvasses, plates, glasses – all intertwined with the menu, which can be sophisticated or classic, fusion or traditional, Romanian or international.
Everything is created with exceptional dedication and minuteness, as every small detail of an event is a way for us to demonstrate our talent in planning and culinary excellence.
It’s easy to reach us – a phone call, an e-mail, a Facebook message or simply a visit at our headquarters are enough to give us the chance to get the information we need about the event, the number of participants, location details, special requirements, colours, flowers, menus and budget limits.
We need two days to plan events with more than 100 participants, but for smaller events a day is usually enough – we only work with fresh products from carefully selected suppliers based on our strict quality requirements and standards.
There isn’t a standard budget for any request – if you need a general menu we’ll send you our proposals and then discuss the details.
The Elegant team has 42 innovators, people who every day bring part of their imagination and soul to communicate with those who want a unique and memorable experience with us. The operational structure includes the service staff, waiters, bartenders, busboys. Event planning means that every event has someone in charge of organising it in detail, together with the production and management sides.
What would be the most difficult type of client from your point of view? How do they behave, what are their demands and do they think they know things better than the professionals?
We don’t believe there are difficult clients so we couldn’t draw up such a profile. We understand that clients want to see the people they work with make an effort to find solutions for their requests, provide alternatives and a fast service but at the same time be involved and responsible. They want to get the attention they deserve and see that they really matter.
They say that “difficult clients” are a test of professionalism, which is why a successful interaction with such clients brings great professional satisfaction. Our success is based on our good relationship with clients. We’ve always wanted to cater to the most challenging demands, so we’ve come up with solutions for any problems. We provide consulting for any event, regardless of its type or size. We have a team of talented chefs and we carry out tasting sessions before each event to let our clients try our dishes and set or change the menu so there aren’t any issues during the event. By collaborating with our partners, we also provide locations where clients can organize their events. We have the logistics that are suitable for any event theme.
For us, building a customer relationship is one of the most important concerns, so we’ve managed to pass the test of time and stay on the market for 12 years. The relationship with the client means more than signing a contract, and the trust we get from clients weighs more than any fee or profit.
What are the qualities of a good Elegant Catering employee? What do they need in order to be perfect for the business?
The ideal employee must be dynamic and have a rich imagination. At the foundation of this business are employees who do everything with passion. For them, Elegant Catering is a part of their experience and life. It is important for any new colleague to be confident in their own strengths, to have a desire to develop, and through sustained training sessions, we can help them turn this dream into a reality. Human quality is more important than having experience in the field, because our character is different and it can be achieved only by combining the qualities of those around us. In order to survive on a fierce competitive market and make a name for ourselves, we’ve turned the initial story of the two associates into the story of all the employees.
How did this business start and what did it take to get to this point? What are some targets for the near future?
This business started from a dream. With much perseverance, hard work and ambition, we managed to make it a reality. It took a lot of patience, we were hit with a lot of refusals and distrust, but these things helped us become much stronger. We took every criticism and turned it into advice, we channeled our energy and put in the effort to be able to build Elegant Catering. Our target has always been to bring a smile to our clients and we believe that we have reached our goal. But it’s not any type of goal, it’s one that is meaningful. Our passion has been defined by the conviction that our work matters. For most people, interest without a meaningful purpose is almost impossible to maintain over the course of a lifetime. For us, the sense of meaning was born early, and so was our motivation to serve others. After years of disciplined practice, we’ve come to a point where we can call ourselves professionals. Next, we want to go beyond our limits and continuously improve the quality of our services.
Looking from the outside, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
We believe that our biggest strengths are mostly at the organizational level. We are a well-welded team that supports itself and thus we manage to make any activity we undertake be efficient. Also, the staff training is at a high level, which makes us always ready for any situation. The quality-price ratio is another feature that represents a strength in our opinion, and there are many others.
Weaknesses are represented by our extremely understanding nature. Even if the client has a demand that is not consistent with our role, we embrace it and commit ourselves to it. We are also very understanding internally, when it comes to our employees. We do not necessarily consider it a weak point, but at the moment of maximum tension in the company, this aspect may slow us down. Also, our desire to respond to every request we receive may be seen as a weakness. We want to satisfy all customers, but sometimes we have to admit that it is impossible.
What are the least complex events you can organize? Have you ever been asked to do a couple’s dinner? What about a business meeting? And what has been the most complex event? What did it involve?
For us, no event is more complex than the other. All events are equally important. Yes, we have been asked for events with a small number of people, which we were delighted to take on. We’ve also had requests for dinners in two, there were special, emotionally charged meals, which also transposed us in the charged atmosphere. We prepared the event with the same emotion the customers expecting us had, with the same desire to do everything perfectly. We have had countless requests for marriage proposals, we have organized romantic dinners or picnics on the lake, in parks, etc. We are glad that they trusted us enough to call us at such important times and that we’ve had the opportunity to take part in it.
Are the menus fixed? If not, what is the most extravagant menu you offer? What makes the customer choose such a thing? What does a successful event entail?
The menus are not fixed. We have designed several menu options that we considered to be suitable for events with different themes. However, these can be changed at any time depending on the client’s preferences, the available budget, etc. We’ve designed classic, fusion, and combined menus. Elegant Catering has always strived for excellence, so we can fulfill any wish.
If you were to draw up a top five of the most demanding, complex, but beautiful events that you have organized, what would they be?
Some of the most challenging events we’ve done were: Business Gala, BCR, Microsoft, the opening of Promenada Mall, Sky Tower inauguration, US Embassy, Embassy of Japan, Embassy of Italy, King Fisher, DELL.
How many events do you organize per year and what does this mean for your business? How much could you organize annually?
On average, we organize about 5,000 events per year. For Elegant Catering this means success. For us personally it means that we do our job and do it well. It means that everything we’ve invested in this project is rewarded by the high demand. It would be difficult for us to estimate how many events we could organize annually, but we want to do as many as possible.