To have a thriving catering business for over 35 years it requires you to focus on more than the food on the plate. Catering by Michaels, this week’s Cambro Featured Foodservice Business of the Week, knows that and is very upfront about their belief that catering is “about building a relationship with you, understanding your personal style, and delivering a complete experience for you and your guests.”
Jeff Ware, Director of Operations, shares some insight into this thriving Chicago-based catering operation.
What inspired you to get into foodservice?
A sheer love for food and the ambition to combine work with passion. I am lucky to get to do something I love on a daily basis and make a career out of it at the same time.
What do you love about your business?
We are a custom caterer, delivering a completely unique experience for each of our clients, and as a result, we are constantly evolving. We devote a lot of time and effort towards testing and developing new recipes and exciting presentations in order to stay on top of what’s seasonal and what’s trending. We currently manage a database of over 15,000 recipes (and growing)!
What is the most interesting thing to happen to Catering by Michaels?
Every time we think we have seen it all something new happens. Catering events with Cirque du Soleil, Lollapalooza, NFL Draft, Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali. We have had trucks burn down, we have had the power go out and lost all of our inventory; we have created custom meals for people who seem to be allergic to everything; we have worked on airplanes, trains, in tents, on rooftops, and underground garages. We have moved a wedding at the last minute due to a bomb threat and we have evacuated 100,000 people from Grant Park due to dangerous weather.
What has been the biggest business challenge you overcame?
Oftentimes our biggest challenges are the ones completely unexpected. For example, while catering for Lollapalooza in 2013, we were preparing for dinner service when the festival was hit by severe thunderstorms and 70mph winds, forcing the venue to evacuate all 100,000 people in attendance. Because of the large scale of the event, we were working in three separate on-site kitchens on opposite ends of the 115-acre park. In less than 30 minutes, we quickly packed up all of our equipment, salvaged as much food as possible, and locked up all of the tents before taking shelter in a hotel across the street. Once the storm passed, a decision was made to resume the festival. Though our prep time was diminished, we were able to reset all three kitchens, heat the food, and serve it within an hour and thirty minutes, half of the time with no electricity as we waited for the generators restart.
What Cambro products help Catering by Michaels work?
The list of items goes on and on: Beverage containers, ingredient bins, round storage containers, food boxes, and front loading food pan carriers.
Links for Catering by Michaels:
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