Outdoor catering offers a number of opportunities for food truck operators. Here are five tips to help food truck operators prepare for an outdoor catering event.
With summer fast approaching in most parts of the country, more people are planning their outdoor events, and that’s good news for food truck operators. But while the warmer months are ideal for serving outdoor catering on occasions like weddings and picnics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed how catering operators plan events.
Social distancing guidelines have forced many places to allow indoor dining at reduced capacity, while others have stopped indoor dining altogether and moved to serving guests on their outdoor patio.
Accepting catering events can open up a number of opportunities for food truck companies, but first, the food truck operator must be prepared to prepare dishes outside of the typical kitchen environment.
Check out our top five outdoor catering tips to help prepare for your next outdoor event.
1. Know where you live
It’s best to visit the site well in advance of the event so you can plan your al fresco dining and see what resources are available to you.
The layout of the venue can determine what equipment you’ll need to bring along with your service plan. For example, if you’re working out of a truck that needs to be parked out of sight of guests, it’s important to know how far your servers will need to move dishes and other supplies from your preparation space. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure the space is large enough to accommodate your guests while promoting social distancing.
If you can’t get to the venue before the day of the event, be sure to call the site representative and talk to them about the site plan. Remember to ask about even the smallest details that you might have discovered if you had viewed the site. When asked about terrain, electrical connection placement and lighting levels can easily be overlooked, but these details may affect your ability to work on the day of the event.
2. Know your zoning restrictions and obtain the required permits
Zoning laws are commonly used to distinguish between commercial and residential space, and often specify how a particular geographic area is to be used.
Local government policies can include zoning restrictions for an event, especially if you work in a temporary location such as a closed street or parking lot.
In many places, permits are also required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Health, the fire chief, and other officials. If you are not planning this event, make sure you know the approved plans to avoid fines.
3. Layout your menu according to space
When choosing menu items, consider how outside conditions might affect what your guests would like to eat. Some factors that may influence your decision include available space, time of year, and noise level.
For example, if your guests are dining next to speakers playing music loudly, some customers may not want to sit for long and prefer to move the food easily to a quieter location.
Customers in crowded dining areas may feel the same way. On the other hand, guests at an outdoor wedding are usually willing to stay seated for a full meal, regardless of the noise level or the number of people present.
4. Have a backup plan for inclement weather
The weather is one of the hardest parts of serving outdoor catering, as it can instantly disrupt your meal service if you’re not prepared for it. However, it is important not to assume the event will be canceled if the weather is less than ideal.
Preparing for inclement weather with the correct protocols and supplies can help save the event in the event of storms. For example, having a canopy tent on hand can provide shelter for your guests as well as your equipment.
During setup, take the time to see if the extension cords and alternators that power your appliances can be safely protected from rain. Many outdoor catering supplies are not completely weatherproof, so covering your prep area is a must to keep it safe.
Failure to prepare a contingency plan may leave you scrambling on the day of the event and may hinder your ability to perform your duties.
5. Choose the equipment that is compatible with the space
Cooking outside the traditional kitchen environment can present many challenges for those unfamiliar with it. Without the amenities of a kitchen, having the right outdoor catering equipment for your space can determine how smoothly your event will run. Here are some of the key components to consider when deciding how to set up a temporary outdoor kitchen.
Electrical power sources and connections. Having an electrical power supply is useful for any refrigerators or carry-on cabinets that you may need to prepare food. Even if the place provides them, consider having a generator and extension cords on hand to ensure that your appliances can run when you arrive at the location.
When buying a generator, make sure that its voltage is compatible with your equipment. You don’t want to invest in a generator with less capacity than your hardware requires.
Liquid propane or natural gas for cooking. Decide if you want to use liquid propane or natural gas as a heat source for cooking.
Liquid propane is more energy efficient, so you may not need to bring as many heavy tanks with you to your site. On the other hand, natural gas is often more cost-effective than propane.
When choosing your power supply, don’t feel restricted to the option your devices are already set up for. In many cases, you can purchase conversion kits to make your supplies compatible with your chosen source. Be sure to arrange with a professional to securely install your conversion kit prior to your event.
Portable cooking equipment. If you serve outdoor catering often, you may want to invest in mobile outdoor catering equipment. It’s easy to move supplies like outdoor grills and portable gas ranges from one place to another. In addition, several options are designed for simple preparation, so you can connect to the power and start cooking.
Outdoor catering events can help your business make the most of the warmer months. Additionally, as we continue to promote social distancing, outdoor events provide a safer environment for your guests and employees than indoor events.
This article was provided by The Webstaurant Store.