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Top catering professional Leon Drogy shares his tips for a successful party

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Leon Drogy notes that when most people think of a caterer, the traditional banquets, conventions and weddings come to mind. The food is served at dining tables or a self-serve buffet.

According to the National Association of Catering Executives the catering industry is a $7.1 billion a year business. The downturn in the economy has slowed down the growth, but demand is estimated to increase over the next five years. Consumers are now spending more money on parties and catered functions again and corporation’s budgets have loosened with stronger corporate profits.

Leon Drogy has seen a marked increase in the demand for boxed lunches for casual events, and corporations holding working lunches in their boardrooms. The demand remains high for the typical catered functions; weddings, special occasions, Bar Mitzvahs, christenings, sweet sixteens and the annual New Year’s Eve Ball.

Emerging Trends

Leon Drogy is a catering professional who has spent time working at a number of prestigious institutions. He makes it a point to stay on top of industry trends at all times, thus ensuring that he always delivers the most modern sampling of foods for his clients.

The shift is away from the traditional carving, pasta and salad stations. Clients are more food savvy and more health conscious. They are requesting that the food be locally sourced and the ingredients be in season and organically grown. Clients are willing to pay the added costs of organic. There has also been a surge in catering requests for a vegan menu.

Corporations realize the benefits of healthy eating. The Heart Foundation notes that healthy eating results in increased productivity, more energy, less stress and anxiety, and lower absenteeism.

There is growth in the ‘mini’, cocktail style and small plates. No longer are the huge cakes of years past that we used to see at weddings or anniversaries. The demand is for small individual cakes stacked in a display.

Leon Drogy notes that there is still a demand for crab cakes, mini sliders and pureed soup in shot glasses. What is new is that traditional beef in sliders has been replaced with buffalo or bison. And the hot break-a-way this past year has been spicy sweet potato fries.

Parties are also now themed around one signature cocktail as opposed to a full bar. Typically the cocktail is the star of the gathering and are served with fruit as a garnish in the drink.

Leon Drogy on the Cost of Catering

Presentation is as important as the food for clients. They want clean simple lines that enhance, rather than overshadow the food. Caterers have to be organized and need to consider multiple things when planning an event.

An important consideration is the guest list and whether the guests will go to the stations or be served at tableside. They need to know what supplies are required depending upon the style of the event. They typically supply tablecloths, utensils, dinnerware, wine glasses and napkins.

Leon Drogy notes that buffets are often higher in cost than sit down dinners. This is dependent on the client’s menu selections and will be influenced by the number of stations, the size of the guest list and the style of service. When the caterer has to take into consideration specific dietary or religious needs the price will be reflected. These include Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian, Vegan and food allergy requests.

If hors d’oeuvres are being served the standard is three to four items to be either served stationary or passed around. The price of the menu can range anywhere from $15 to $300 per person.

When pricing a catering proposal these timeline matters will be taken into consideration:
arrival time of the staff, bar open time, meal serve time, rental pick-up, and out of venue time.

In the future, Leon Drogy hopes to be able to continue to strengthen his skills as a catering professional. The strong reputation he has earned over the years has earned him the trust and respect of his clients.

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