Christmas is coming and the Goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old Man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny then a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you.
Christmas is on Telly and the Shops are getting rich,
Snow fall through December, Gas price rising, what a Bitch.
Supermarkets want your pounds, though your last few pence will do,
If you have no money left they'll take your credit cards too.
Yay! It's Chhrrrrissstmaaaaasssss! as Mr Holder still seems to be shouting in shops, on your radio, even on the TV. I do love this time of year. Love it as a Family man, and love it as a Chef.
In my capacity of a professional Catering Man, the enjoyment of writing menus, recipes, talking to local suppliers, creating marketing, posters, updating the businesses facebook etc is immense. Sounds sad and frankly boring, but It is a grand event that requires a lot of meticulous planning and effort to achieve what you aim to be the best in your area, especially when you finally get to see your competition's menus printed in the local papers and 'Visitor' magazine.
The whole team enjoy this period too. I have three cracking people that are the backbone of my kitchen, all just attained their level two qualification, and are like excited sponges. They love new recipes and menus as this gives them new practices and methods to try, new dishes to execute exactingly and consistently, and most important of all their chance to add input and thoughts which broaden their understanding.
To create these dishes and place the marketing and advertising in place is the point where you then watch intently on the diary, e-mails and listen to customers discussing the food on offer, to see if you truly have made a tempting feast or just offered something that everyone else has. If it is the case of the latter, dear chefs, then all you have possibly going in your favour is the price.
One thing I have noticed this year, is that belts have definitely been tightened out there. We offer two Christmas menus. One is called Simply Christmas, which is a more traditional two course meal for £15, the other is called Indulgence, which is a sexier (yes, it is a good word) three course affair for £25.
We have actually gained more bookings this year then the previous two, which is mainly down to the hard work of the team raising a good name for the Pub as well as repeat business from last year and those bookings passing on their experiences. We have in fact got at least one big booking from now until Christmas each lunch time and at least two for each evening. There is, however, more two course menus booked than the very popular last year, three course fayre. Talking to some of the parties hosts, this is mainly due to the fact that most people are finding it very hard to spend money this time, especially with the impending tax rise in the new year, the increase in utility costs, fuel costs and, of course, the need to ensure that there is enough money available to buy family and friends the gifts they really want.
With the Menus, there is a big difference in price, but then there is a lot more going on with each dish in the Indulgence menu and well worth the money. The most important factor in the business during this current 'Economic Climate' is that you need to cater for a range of peoples budgets. There are people out there that can happily afford the very best of everything, but there is also those that have less but still want a wonderful dining experience. The Simply menu gives that opportunity, as it is still good, local and flavoursome food, which is why we have ended up with a diary that will make other businesses envious and avidly waiting for their phone to ring.
Also, we have been flexible. I love my menus. They are perfectly balanced from start to finish, but I have been more than happy to make them tailored to suit the individual as well as parties. And that is part way to what helps fill the book. Adaptability and good old fashioned Hospitality.