Helpful Catering Tips

27.04.2010 Catering Event, Helpful Catering Tips, Local San Diego No Comments

Gaslamp Catering

It seems somewhat befuddling that with the number of options for food service located within the gaslamp quarter in our beloved downtown san diego that we find so much work in the area.  After taking some time to consider what my clientele is looking for, many fine restaurants can’t provide competitive offers.  I narrowed it down to three main factors.

First was the flexibility.  by coming to me they can have more control over what is being put on the dinner plates of their guests.  Personal chefs are versed in a broad range of culinary techniques and have the tools to provide a fresher option to a pre cooked reynolds wrapped meal.  This also allows my clients to mix cuisine within a meal.  They are not tied down to mexican, italian, japanese or any other flavor.  Whether they are by petco, market street, broad street or in the east village, using a catering service allows the most options for their guests.

Second is something that you don’t receive when ordering out.  Personal service in your own environment.  Ordering out fine dining is simply not the best way to go about impressing a guest.  when hiring a personal chef or a catering company in the gaslamp quarter you bring in an element of personal attention to you and your guests needs.  The personality of your meal is accompanied with the character of those preparing it for you.  Personal chefs know that half of their job is to please the customer.  That what makes them different from a executive chef working in a closed kitchen.

Finally Familiarity with the area makes many of our clients choose me time and time again.  In the Gaslamp Catering is a hot commodity, businesses flourish and when you have the advantage of having worked from horton plaza to the world trade center to east village and each small area of the gaslamp quarter you are able to use local knowledge to ensure that the job gets done right and in time.  Parking, logistics, timing and planning correctly all come easy after having experienced the specific needs of the clients and locations of downtown san diego.

I am glad to have the opportunity to assist so many greatful clients in the gaslamp and always impressed with the level of sophistication of our guests palettes.  it is a joy to work in downtown san diego and the gaslamp is certainly a growing gift to all of us whether we are at the clubs, enjoying appetizers at a networking event, entertaining clients or enjoying a private function at the Icon The Gaslamp has a great synergy for Caterers like us at convivial catering.

06.01.2010 Helpful Catering Tips, Local San Diego, personal chef tips 1 Comment

Personal Chef San Diego

Cooking for private parties and intimate occasions takes a different type of chef.  Doing this takes not only outstanding talent but also the ability to communicate effectively while concentrating on the task at hand and accompany the atmosphere with a consistently jovial personality.  Here are a few tips to help you walk the walk if your catering and a few tips to help you find the right personal chef in San Diego or if your outside of San Diego.

1. Know your role:

– Always be sensitive to the atmosphere of the occasion.  The atmosphere and tastes of your guests will depict type of service that is expected and the style of cuisine that is required.  Remember that as a personal chef you are in fact responsible for more than great food.  In most cases you have been hired to create a mood at a personal gathering or add an exciting flare to a small social event.
As a personal chef be prepared by understanding what the job calls for and being ready to provide a fitting solution.

2. Be comfortable in any setting:

– As a personal chef I face unique scenario’s in each job.  The way that I make sure I am comfortable in any setting is by asking appropriate questions prior to the job.  These questions go beyond the general catering questions regarding menu, volume and style of food.  Ask specific questions.  What equipment is available?  What is the purpose of the event?  Are you looking for entertainment or a quiet setting with incredible cuisine?  be prepared to provide the added effort in possibly recommending a bottle of wine for the client to serve with your meal.

3. Personal chefs provide personal service:

– Be highly attentive to the clients needs when providing personal chef services.  Remember they have invited you into their homes and you are providing a hospitality service.  Lose the back kitchen personality and be prepared to put on your waiter hat.  Personal occasions like this give you the opportunity to present exceptional culinary and social talent which goes a very long way with catering’s number one marketing tool.  Word of mouth.

Personal chef's need to understand their setting

Contact Convivial catering for a personal chef experience.

18.11.2009 Catering Event, Helpful Catering Tips, Local San Diego No Comments

Corporate Event Catering Guide

The Essentials of Successful Corporate Event Catering

A daytime catered business lunch

A daytime catered business lunch

Why is there a need for business event catering so popular in San Diego?  It is a time saver, because everyone has to eat, and by conducting business during mealtimes two birds are killed with one stone. However it is a major undertaking to ensure that event catering goes smoothly.  These are a few tips that I have learned over the years on booking and providing top level service in a business catering environment. It also may be a requirement, in order to get in front of clients that you’ll have to provide a meal.  The true goal of this short term investment in your customer is to create more loyal business and generate more long term revenue.  The reason we conduct business over meals is multifaceted but primary among them is that happy well fed clients are more receptive to doing business.  If a client eats an excellent meal and receives impeccable and professional service one is more inclined to listen to the person that provided the meal.   The meal is a reflection upon those that provide it.  We must remember this important fact.  The meal in a corporate setting is a reflection upon those that supply it.  If the meal is of subpar quality and/or the service is substandard, that is representative of those that provided the meal.

So we have determined the importance of providing an excellent meal with great service.  How does one execute this?   You need to determine the type of event that you trying to create.  Is this going to be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail party?  What type of service?  Will it be a buffet or plated dinner?  If it’s an appetizer party will those appetizer’s be passed or on a stationary buffet?  How formal is the event?  What type of décor will there be?  Are there dietary restrictions or specialized requests of attendees that need to be addressed?  Are there Vegans, Vegetarians, Kosher, and Food Allergies such as lactose, gluten, or nut issues?  All of these are integral factors in ensuring that your Corporate Event goes smoothly and your clients are happy.  It is important to address all of these questions ahead of time so that you are not surprised by them at the event and are forced to scramble on the fly.

When you have satisfactorily determined the answer to all of these questions you then need to select a caterer.  The selection of a caterer is of primary importance.     The caterer needs to provide all of the components to fulfill your needs for the event and your client’s needs.  You need a caterer that will provide exactly what they state they will provide in their quote.  The caterer needs to provide professional, unobtrusive yet friendly service.  The food needs to be of high quality and fit within the dietary requirements of the client.  The caterer needs to be timely.  The caterer needs to work within the budget and bring value commensurate to that budget.  The caterer needs to be professionally attired and provide service per your requirements.

So how does one choose a caterer?  You can find a caterer through the internet, through a referral, through the yellow pages, or from local advertisements.  Regardless of how you locate the caterer there are several ways to vet the caterer to ensure that they will accommodate your requirements.  First you can interview the Caterer and ascertain their level of experience, whether they have done the type of event your are looking to create, do they have catering testimonialsLinkedIn is also another online tool that often has posted recommendations on the caterer you are evaluating.  if your looking to find someone local and learn more details about the business every business should have a google maps profile to help customers become accustom with their regional services. check for references, have they received any awards or recommendations, have they been reviewed or featured in any publications, what is there food style, and can they meet the needs of any specialized dietary requests or specialized service requests?  That is an excellent starting point but if you have the time the best way to evaluate the capabilities of a caterer is to see them in action.  Ask the caterer to let you come to another event that is similar to the one that you are creating.   This firsthand knowledge is invaluable in the selection process of a caterer.  You will be able to see the presentation of the food.  You will see the execution of the event.  Is the caterer serving the food at the time it was slated?  Does the décor look appropriate and aesthetically pleasing?  You may also ask the caterer to sample the food at that event.  This way you get a first hand tasted of food as executed during an actual event.  Tastings presented by the caterer are another great evaluative tool and will be specific to your event however it is easier to execute single dishes at the caterer’s business than it is onsite.  You should also ask the caterer for references and contact those individuals for their opinions on the caterer you are considering.

Once you gain an understanding of the caterer you will be working with you will have all of the items in place in order to create a successful corporate catering event.  So make it happen! Bring in more business through successful corporate event catering.

19.10.2009 BBQ catering, Helpful Catering Tips Comments Off on San Diego BBQ at the Q.

San Diego BBQ at the Q.

BBQ tips | convivial catering San diego

It’s an early Monday morning in Ocean Beach, the fog is yet to burn off and fall temperatures are creeping in, adding a crispness to the air.  There are three things that come to mind on a day like today.


1. Prepping for the boardroom lunch that is planned to serve at 12:30.

2. Setting up for an fall inspired BBQ

3. Monday night football:  The Broncos and The Chargers collide tonight at the Q in mission valley.

Luckily Convivial has invited it’s staff to tailgate at the Q and celebrate a successful Summer catering season.  The days work will end early and leave time for festivities.  Having a top NFL team play 15 minutes away is one of the benefits of being a San Diegan and I would like to offer a few helpful tips that convivial uses when providing BBQ catering that will make your tailgate party a hit tonight.

1.  Using the best cooking medium:

  • Charcoal: This is the preferred heat source for our bbq catering events.  allow charcoal to burn until white on the outside.  This will burn off all contaminants such as lingering lighter fluids or carbon from altering the taste of your meal.
  • Gas: this is certainly an upgrade in ease of use, and while the taste is similar many guests will prefer the char and smokiness gained from charcoal.
  • Electric Grill: not here not now.  this is not the time to plug in your favorite boxers genius infomercial product.
  • Mesquite and hickory smoke:  whether your using charcoal or gas you can add a hickory mesquite or fruity smokiness to your meats with wood chips.  If you take advantage of this be sure to let the wood sit in water for while before adding them to a smoker box (for Gas) or directly on top of the charcoal.

2. Finding your camp:

  • Getting your spot: Make sure to get in early.  You’ll avoid entrance lines, have time to prepare properly and get ready for the game.
  • Top tailgate areas:  The Q has a great bunch of fans and plenty of potential to meet neighbors when tailgating.  If you find one you can easily post up behind your car/ truck.
  • Check the wind:  This is obvious.  check to make sure that your tailgate party can breathe easy.

3. Cuisine Tips:

  • Meats:  I prefer using rubs for chicken, marinades for steak, and glazes or marinades for pork.  Try experimenting with a bit of cola, or a bit of beer on steaks, this will tenderize you BBQ and add flavor.
  • Warm drinks:  The cool weather is the perfect reason to mix your guests some drinks using hot cider, cocoa or coffee.  Your designated driver will appreciate the alternative when you offer them a non-alcoholic alternative.
  • Think of your guests: Do you have vegetarians in the group?  Do you have dieters or picky eaters?  Be sure to have options for anyone who has particular tastes or unique eating habits.  Leave no guests tastes unattended.
  • Invite your neighbors:  You’ll pick up the best tailgating tips from the people next door.

4. Leave it as you came:

  • 1 gallon of water to put out your bbq and avoid any fire hazards.
  • 1 garbage bag for any waste (paper plates, bottles, cans)

Our goal is to entertain and create a fun event with food that everyone remembers.  Hopefully a few of these tips will raise the bar at your next tailgating event.  Hope to see you in the lot and learn from your bbq experiences as well.  For more ideas and tips check back frequently.  To experience convivial catering first hand request a catering quote

Enjoy the game!

09.09.2009 Catering News, Helpful Catering Tips No Comments

Wood Stone Oven Guide.

When your looking for a unique cooking experience consider the options offerred by Wood Stone oven company.  Just like the name says, the ovens are available in a wood burning model that is mainly used in high end cuisine that requires an authentic smoked taste and in old style pizzeria’s.  There are two things about Wood Stone Ovens that stand out to me as unique in my experience running kitchens and as a San Diego personal chef prepping and cooking in other’s kitchens.  First is the ability to cook on a true stone surface, the entire oven is made of a cast porcelein stone that retains a nice even temperature and allows the cook to use different area’s of the oven for different periods of the cooking process.  Second is the option to have these ovens installed with gas heat.  This gives the cook a truly authentic look with the flexibility and control of gas heat.  The cooking surface is still a stone material and this gives the chef a broad range of options when preparing everything from breads, meats, quiches or pizza.  The only issue for a caterer is space that one of these ovens consumes.  While the cooking surface is larger than most any oven the additional space taken up by the porcelein dome and gas equipment may not work for larger volume events.  I personally prefer a viking range and a few bakers pride ovens but am consistently impressed by the authentic look and hearth baked taste associated with a well tamed Wood stone.

14.08.2009 Catering News, Helpful Catering Tips, Website updates No Comments

Welcome To Convivial Catering

San Diego catering services demand the highest quality of food and a level of attention that is met in few geographic locations.  Convivial Catering operates each event with the processes and supervision of executive chef Jeff Heavey.  Chef Jeff Heavey and his staff implement the skills learned in years of training under many of the worlds most distinguished chef’s and executes catering experiences that make memories.

Convivial’s staff takes the guess work out of catering events.  Sample menus are available for each specific catering need.  For those looking to create a truly memorable occasion on their special day Convivial offers fine cuisine that will fit the broad range of tastes required for wedding catering.

Business Catering must be well presented, timed perfectly and consistent.  Convivial is proud to recommend healthy solutions for businesses looking to provide delicious and convenient meals to staff members.  Many San Diego businesses choose Convivial’s business catering to impress clients and partners and leave a lasting impression of quality.

Many of the best experiences that Convivial has the priveledge of being part of are with San Diego’s fundraising communities.  Many of the events that are catered are a dirct result of our commitment to providing reasonable solutions to event catering and having the flexibility to maintain a cost effective yet delectable product, consistently.

Thank you for joining us in our mission to continue as San Diego’s premier catering service.  We appreciate the opportunity to impress.  You can contact us to see sample menus, learn about the options that exist for your unique catering need and to get a quote for our services.