Event managers often take on on logistic decisions for their organization or client. This process includes selecting dessert options among the wide range of food and beverage choices.
Many pastry chefs can create delicious desserts for corporate events, likely without a significant difference in taste, quality, and price. So, what criteria, other than these three must-haves, are key to picking dessert providers?
After a little reflection on my personal selection criteria, I boil it down to the following*:
1. Individualized Assistance:
Whenever I request a proposal, I provide lots of background information on the event’s location, topic, my target audience, and the message I want to convey. I encourage follow-up questions, and am available for clarification. I put time into the request, and like to see the same effort put forward by potential contractors. Vendors who provide me with a personalized suggestion, rather than send me their standard portfolio, almost always get their foot in my door. Who has the time and energy to evaluate a 20-page portfolio?
2. Ability to Communicate Vision:
Everyone has a different visual in mind when they think of a white chocolate and cherry parfait, or a fruit tartlet. So, photos or drawings of how ‘my’ dessert option would look definitely help me make a decision. Also, I always appreciate a few thoughts on why certain options were suggested for my event and guests. This part of the proposal process offers the perfect opportunity for my vendors to show me that they understand what I am looking for.
3. Extensive Portfolio:
The ability to choose from many different types and styles of desserts is vital. I love versatility, especially since I often organize events in an international setting. Showcasing culinary specialties of other countries is always a big hit with my guests. This can be accomplished by simply throwing French crepes or soufflés, Turkish baklavas, or Austrian cakes into the mix. And displaying little notes on the history or background of the international dessert serves as a convenient, and fun, conversation starter for guests in the buffet line!
4. Fresh Ideas:
I also try to steer away from the ‘been there, done that’ options, not only when selecting the desserts themselves, but also when determining creative presentations for them. Beautiful plates or glasses, desserts on spoons, a creative display arrangement: Show me some fresh and unorthodox ideas for presentation. Any arrangement that will make my guests remember the desserts, and thus the event, sure is a winner to me!
5. Response Time:
Requesting countless proposals from multiple vendors when organizing an event is the norm. So should be receiving a timely reply. While I understand the advantage of larger vendors with sales staff, I do look for acknowledgement of my RFP (request for proposal) within 48 hours, regardless of the vendor’s size. Details do not yet have to be spelled out, but it is essential to know that my request was received, and when I can expect an answer. It is vital to always provide information when you said you would. Being reliable and trustworthy is the basis for a successful business relationship!
6. Relationship with Vendor:
Once I find a selection of vendors that I can work with successfully, I typically work on establishing long-term relationships. There is no need to start from zero for every event, or for every client. Valuable time and money can be saved when all runs smoothly, from the presentation of a vision to its implementation. Trust is key, and my goal is to have things running like a well-oiled machine
Now, can I move on to the tasting part?
* This post was inspired by a LinkedIn feed started by Christy, a pastry chef, who was interested in finding out “What is the best way for a dessert provider to introduce their products to you?,” and my answers to her question.
Special thanks to Martin Steger for providing a second pair of eyes to this post.