The Caterers Corner
Menu wording and discriptions Caterers Corner: Menu wording and discriptions
By nvchef on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 12:41 am: Edit

I seem to be struggling with menu wording
and descriptors for our food. some clients
think we are too simple and some think we
offer too much info then others think we are
doing fine. I've tinkered with wording and think
I'm doing OK then I'll hear that we are weak in
that area. Are there some gereral guidelines
to follow. I hate being reduced to using "Buzz
Words" but I'm afraid we are loosing business
to other caterers before they even phone us.
I'm open to any ideas! Thanks

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

nvchef, when I had a catering business I made a simple menu w/ offerings of apps., entrees, beef, chix, fish, pasta..ect, a few desserts and that was it. Most clients already had an idea of what they wanted, yes some did not then there were those who wanted a custom made menu. As long as you have a basic menu and you express that the menu is a guide not written in stone, (unless it is) the customers have a good choice.
Sure you can get fancy and have a menu with countless items to choose from, then they'll say you have too much, maybe you should have several different menus to choose from.
I had reception menus, light lunches, lunch, dinner, (sit down), buffet...etc. As you well know some foods just don't lend themselves for buffets. Basically your clientele and what you sell will dictate what you do w/ the menu.

By Tmarta (Tmarta) on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 05:51 pm: Edit

This is working for me...I am in an area of small towns that were closed farm communities, but are suddenly growing with we "brought-ins"....we have either farmers and country people who have never tasted anything as exotic as Chinese food or Italian salad dressing, ( I KID YOU NOT! ), to their educated counterparts and Brought-ins, who demand real food and upscale choices. Anyway,
I make easy fliers, weekly menus and daily boards, and then have a more descriptive "catering" menu readily available for those wanting more information. You might see if it works for you. Either that, or do a two-tiered menu, descrptive name, and then a "flowery" detailed description of the item. Oh, I also had to change a few of my specialties from names that they came with or had meaning to me, to a name that is generally more descriptive in itself, as much as it hurt sometimes. You have to always take your clientele into consideration. Give that a shot.

By Tmarta (Tmarta) on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 10:05 pm: Edit

Yeah, me again. I have different menus for different occassions-I have a weekly luncheon catering menu, a carryout catering menu (a buffet/dinner catering menu with pastry and dessert menu, which is my main "descriptive menu"), and a fast breakfast/lunch menu. We do have a small restaurant, but most of our meals, as well as our pastry business, is catering.
Somebody is going to tell me I'm spreading myself too thin...but so far, it is working. As I had said, I have to meet the demands of diverse groups.
DO be flexible...listen to the needs of your clients, BUT, you can gently guide them towards your own specialties which will meet their needs. And you will be more comfortable.

By CaterSteve on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 10:01 am: Edit

Hi All! I'm DoC in a large facility in South Fla. My God, what a diverse group of people we have here! ( I'm originally from Boston) I have had to write menus for Corporate, Lunch, Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Specialty Brunches, and list goes on. Lately, alot of clients are asking for Buffet menus. ( I don't have any "buffet" menus in print!) So, I decided to tell people that buffets are very personal, and everyone has a different idea as to what they want set out on their "buffet", so if they could kindly describe to me what they want to serve, and how they'd like it to be presented, I could bring it to the chef and get a price. This is really working well for me! (being in South Florida, you never know just who could be sitting out in your ballroom wanting to discuss their event with the DoC)The last 2 "buffet" Menus were designed by the client, which saved me the hassle of going back and forth with them with items and prices, and priced by the chef at about $90 each!! Liquor seperate of course, lol. I'm soo glad I didn't have buffet menus created, now I have two which sell pretty well!!

Any others on this matter??

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 04:03 am: Edit

The answers you are looking for are best answered by someone in advertizing. I am very lucky, my wife does international and domestic adverts. for a fortune 50 company. It's amazing to know that some pockets and ethnic areas need "adjective's" some need "descriptive" and so forth.
It seems like the more affluent and educated palete needs adjectives,firery,glazed,infused,smothered etc.
The less afluent and less food educated need descriptions, seared,baked,fried,spicy,etc.
ps never assume that your customers know about the food you are talking about.

By TMarta on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 03:34 pm: Edit

Panini's right on it. People who don't cook know little about what seems to be the simplest phrase which we may use without much thought .(Panini, it's the one you helped with the flour issue. My neice got mad that I used my full name online, and my husband would be , if he knew!). Read menus around you. Give the descriptions as much flair as you dare, but keep it simple. Again, take your clientele into consideration. Who are you trying to reach? What qualities of each dish do you think that target would appreciate? Play those up. Sometimes, you need to use different qualities of the same dish on different menus.We all need to follow our instincts, but if you have friends who can take a look in from the outside and give you an honest opinion, all the better. Try the menu descriptions out on others, (not you mother!).

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