African culture, food, heritage by kikesanya 26th August 2021
Planning special events can be a daunting task even for the best planners, but the end result is always worth it when you take time to hire the best planners and vendors.
In the African community, food is a major part of most events, in fact, there is always loose talk about the quality of meals served and would often times put the host and caterers under so much pressure.
Having managed and owned an African catering business in the Uk for a while, I can confidently say it is one of the most stressful things I have ever done, from the extensive scrutiny from self proclaimed home cooks, lack of value for time and sheer reluctance to pay enough for required services, the list is endless.
African food requires lots of patience and love, many of the meals are labour intensive and need to be slow cooked to achieve the desired taste and consistency, cooking time can range from an hour to 6 hours for some dishes so it is a bit unfair to want to pay the same price you pay for a platter of sandwiches.
I could go on about the need to be ready to pay a few extra quids for a good caterer so that they would not need to cut corners.
When hiring African Caterers, make sure you ask for a possible tasting session and past event photos to know if you are happy to proceed. You should also make sure they have the necessary hygiene rating and cook in a hygienic environment. Money should also be discussed.
My most important tip is for you is to hire the best not the cheapest, the best does not necessarily have to be the most expensive. I know you are probably working with many vendors and money might be tight, but in my opinion, catering should be prioritised. Good and fresh ingredients make great tasting meals so chances are if you pick a caterer based on them being too cheap, they are probably cutting corners.
Hire a caterer close to your event venue, some African food tend to go off because of the pressure on the caterers to deliver hot food to distant locations, many caterers also start to prep days before the event in order to meet up, they might also not be able to hire extra staff if they have not been paid enough.
Try to read reviews online before hiring a caterer, although Africans are very hard to please and would rarely give good reviews, but on the other hand are very quick to judge when things don’t go well, giving a good review when your expectations are met or surpassed does encourage the caterer and would also help other potential clients choose reliable caterers for their events.
Always remember that even the best cooks have bad food days so when giving feedbacks, try to refrain from insults, be constructive with criticism and I’m certain many reasonable caterers will offer a refund if your expectations have not been met.
Vendors are not slaves, they are not uneducated people who cannot get a 9-5 job as perceived by many in the African community, they are individuals running their businesses trying to be good citizens so it is important to respect their time and act in a professional way.
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