In recent years, off-site events have enjoyed quite an increase in popularity. Regardless of a type of a celebration – a corporate event, a wedding, a birthday party – people prefer taking a break from the city’s hustle and rent a spot outside Sydney to toast to a happy occasion (of any kind).
For Sydney catering services, this means coping with a few additional challenges in terms of food transportation and storage, tricks to keep the meals fresh and heated, but most of all – maintaining a hygienic environment.
What it takes is an awareness of potential hitches, which comes with experience – and Fast & Fresh Catering has had the opportunity to cater for a number of off-site Sydney events and thus would be well-prepared for any challenge. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of priorities to keep in mind and prevent any issues that might occur.
Storage and food temperature control
All equipment used for food transport should be properly insulated and capable of maintaining appropriate temperature, whether it is hot or cold. Meals that need to be refrigerated cannot be kept at a temperature higher than 5°C, while dishes that are served warm need to be stored at 58°C or higher. That way you ensure the food is kept out of the TDZ (Temperature Danger Zone).
Among professional caterers, cabover trucks are considered the most optimal transportation vehicle, as they come with refrigerated units appropriate for carrying perishables. Just be sure to estimate the capacity of the vehicle to avoid driving back and forth. Look for specialty insulated vans designed with a variety of accessories, including shelves, storage units, and multi-temperature compartments that will enable transportation of both hot and cold meals.
Furthermore, it is imperative to avoid food contamination which, again, can be prevented with proper storage units. First off, ensure raw meats are kept away from RTE foods, and not just in transport. If the on-site catering space is large enough, consider setting up separate workstations and you’ll eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.
Furthermore, it is essential to pack up enough utensils, especially if the event is planned to take place for several hours. Each meal needs to be served with a designated spoon or fork, and don’t stir away from packing extras. Especially if the food will be served on a buffet table – additional plates and cutlery are necessary for guests who are going to be looking for seconds. Considering, more single-use paper and plastic items are a preferable choice for an off-site event, as they minimise the chances of contamination.
To obey all health standards even when catering off-site, set up portable hand washing stations and pack gloves so that staff can put on a new pair whenever their tasks change. Even if they don’t get dirty or torn, it is advisable to change them every two to four hours – and hands need to be washed and treated with sanitiser each time before the gloves are put on again. Extra aprons are essential, as well, since it is extremely unsanitary to rest a food tray against the dirty clothing.
What many caterers fear is forgetfulness, and off-site catering in Sydney can be tricky to pull off if several key pieces of equipment are left back at the kitchen. The city is big and getting back to pick up what was forgotten can take too much time and in the end – not worth the trip. For this reason, it is best to make an ultimate checklist of absolute essentials – from cutlery and cooking equipment to foods and spices in case you need to prepare a few extra meals on the spot. However, this is not advisable in inadequate environments that cannot be properly sanitised.
Note that an additional source of heat is not only required for preparing more food, but also for maintaining certain meals warm on the spot. Naturally, the cooler the weather the more difficult it is to keep the plates heated until the mealtime. Fortunately, now it is possible to find workstations that come with temperature-adjusting options and can as such be used for warming, carving, or chafing at the same time.
Since off-site catering is likely to grow in importance, we advise preparing one universal checklist for the next event and then segmenting it to several ones in accordance with the type of event. This knowledge will come with experience, just be sure to note every possible mishap that might happen (forgotten plates, additional lighting, cooking equipment, lack of serving tables, etc.) and at some point, you’ll be 100% prepared for any challenge that comes your way.
Aside from the above-listed concerns, off-site catering in Sydney should be handled like any other – with regards to guests’ special dietary requirements, seasoned foods and spices, adequate equipment, strategically-placed workstations, creative food display, proper appetisers, and trained staff. Keep the host’s wishes and requirements in mind, and off-site catering event won’t be any more stressful and hectic than any other Sydney catering service you provided over the years.