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Questions and answers 2 – USA

So, as promised at the end of last week, part two, of my answers to some questions posed by a US magazine column, as to the differing trends through Food and Beverage to date. Check back tomorrow and Thursday as usual for this weeks posts. Tomorrow I will be touching on cluttered desks, and Event Management, the bits you can’t learn…..

How much more important has it become lately to accommodate events with special dietary restrictions (vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, etc.)? What innovative ways have you found to do this?
When working with Kosher or Indian clients, we mostly defer to the experts. Where religious restrictions are in place, or even the re creation of a dish “like mama used to make”, and these factors are paramount to the success of the event, we spend time creating relationships with companies we feel reflect the ethos of The Langham London, and together we guide the clients, creating a partnership that leads to a successful event on site. That said, a plan moving forward will be to utilize the multicultural pool of chefs we have on site, and develop our own Indian catering offer – allowing for an authentic menu to be produced here by expert chefs, and under the banner of The Langham, London. We balance the number of these “outside catered” events with those we produce through the hotel itself, and yield this accordingly through the course of the year – factoring in high and low demand periods. I believe it is less about innovation per se – I don’t want a client to feel that they are hiring the space from us and that is where the relationship ends. As a hotel, and employing a Special Events Manager who only deals with these kind of events, we look to build relationships in the same way as we do for any event.

We offer advise and expertise to all clients, will arrange to meet with them together with or separately from their chosen caterer – as a hotel we offer both favorable rates for guests who wish to stay at the hotel for the evening of the event (or longer) and offer of course a suite to the bride and groom on the evening of their event. Spa treatments, pre wedding reversal dinners, dress fittings and jewelry design….just a couple of the services that we can offer irrespective of what event you may be holding or which outside caterer may be providing your menu.

What can you tell me about ways you’ve found to keep you meetings and events F&B as cost-effective as possible,
especially in light of ongoing economic concerns?
I used to work with someone who would tell me that “ideas are cheap” and indeed, there is the need to find the balance between creating the wonder the client wants, and then hitting them with a bill for thousands of pounds to make it happen. Once again, how we address this both in advance, as well as during the course of the event meetings is key, and working with our clients to see how best we can find the balance is extremely important. From the food point of view, everything has to be costed, each ingredient of each menu item, the menu itself down to the smallest leaf….sometimes over a hundred ingredients for one full menu – only in doing this, and consistently searching for the best purchasing methods, can we ensure that both the hotel, and therefore the client, are receiving the best prices.

Utilizing similar items or ingredients through multiple outlets, or ensuring that there is as little wastage as possible, all contribute to the maintaining of a food cost, without the need therefore for menu price increases – irrespective of what the marketplace around you may be doing.

What do you see as the biggest trends in meetings & events F&B going forward?
As mentioned above, with so many different offers in the marketplace at this time, more and more frequently we are tasked with coming up with a new take on “something I saw last night when out for dinner”. Restaurant style food within a hotel banquet environment is extremely popular, and finding new ways to present food is an ongoing challenge we relish. Cookies need to become more than just cookies, fruit, more than just fruit……how we cut, present, display….how we infuse, hang and melt……imagine the window display of your favourite store, the feelings it stirs up inside and the way in which you are drawn in – realizing after a period of time that you are just staring at the hypnotic effect of the display….this is what we want for our food and beverage offer – a visual feast that blows the senses.

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