This post appeared on our original blog back in July 2012. Grant Achatz's Next is in the middle of a Throwback of their own: through December 21st they are revisiting the menu from the long-closed Evanston restaurant Trio.
Grant Achatz is one of the most progressive and inspiring chefs in the world. Every few months, his restaurant, Next, changes its menu to reflect a new culinary theme. The same menu is served nightly throughout each period. Thus far, Next has celebrated the cuisines of Escoffier and Ferran Adrià of El Bulli, as well as Achatz’s own childhood reminiscences. Reviews of the restaurant are always incredible as is the long list of diners eager to spend hundreds of dollars to experience the creative menus and culinary wonders.
For all the acclaim the restaurant has garnered, however, the idea of regularly recreating the menu isn’t revolutionary to catering companies and our chefs. We too serve different themed menus, except, rather than changing them seasonally, we do it constantly. It is not unusual for a caterer to prepare anything from Mediterranean to Asian, Classic French to Texas BBQ…all in a single week!
There are other challenges unique to the catering world. For example, while a fine dining restaurant serves dozens of guests at various intervals, caterers may be required to serve hundreds simultaneously on a strict timeline. Caterers are often responsible for designing different visual themes that may extend to equipment, decor, and even server uniforms. Add to that the challenges of producing events in historic venues, tiny galleries, private homes, or a tent under the stars, and you begin to understand how complicated the job of “Caterer” can be.
How many times have I heard catering chefs say they yearn for the familiar routine of working a restaurant line? How many times have I seen fine restaurant chefs, stripped of their normal
surroundings and equipment, wrestling with their first off-premise event? Caterers should take heart! I believe that if you can master the off-premise event with its ever-changing demands, curve
balls, and peculiarities of cooking and serving spaces, you are prepared to succeed in any hospitality setting. Consider that you are positioned to be the industry’s “Next” big thing.