Maugie: Not my cup of tea

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Maugie Lyons, industry expert, questions the standard of event catering, and dares to suggest that caterers are not getting it right…

Less is more, or is it? The full Liberace may be what some clients like for their special events but understated seems to be classier and to some suppliers it is certainly an opportunity to increase their profit margins.

When it comes to food service, are we cutting too many corners I ask? I remember when Pizza Express denied that they had reduced the size of their pizza. Yet popular belief

has it that they were larger in the 80’s. With smaller chocolate bars, less slices in your sliced white loaf and 225g of coffee where once there were 250, our big brand food suppliers have successfully managed to get more from our pockets for less.

Which brings me to my point. Less can be more and in marketing one of our key strengths is to create a demand for products that may not be needed. We have taken this to another level in the special events industry. Our clients were steered away from labour intensive canapés to bowl food. Sold as more substantial than a canapé yet never satisfying the guest. Now that organisers are prepared to spend a little more, they are being advised to take the mezze/tapas option when they want a three-course dinner. The pitch is that generation X, Y and Z like to graze. Well caterers, I have news for you; this country is full of baby boomers. You may not win this one.

Finally, the UK ranks fifth in the world of tea drinkers. So, why is tea served from coffee flasks at conferences? Are all caterers coffee drinkers? Why do we have to attend industry exhibitions, pay a small fortune for a weak bag of tea hanging out of a cup of tepid water and be expected to squeeze said bag with a little stick and then put the  bag on the table? Have caterers lost their pride? Is the home of 2012 Olympics prepared to be judged by its tea service? In this instance more is called for! Enough said. I need a cuppa!