RHC Blog: How to serve excellent food at your events

What’s the key to an audience’s heart? Good food! Find out why serving excellent food at your next event may improve attendance.

All too often at events, the food just isn’t up to standard. Increasingly, food is becoming an integral aspect of events, so treating it as an afterthought just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Whereas previously the humble burger and chips may have satisfied a large crowd, today’s event-goers want to sample something high quality and delicious that offers something a little of the ordinary. If you’ve noticed a dip in attendance at your events, why not take a fresh look at the food you’re serving – is it high enough quality? Does it meet the demands of today’s consumers? And if so, are you telling people about it?

Providing attendees with excellent food is something we’ve taken to heart at RHC. Every year, we host the Royal Highland Show, which is a celebration of Scottish farming and produce, and sees crowds of 190,000 flocking to our sites. That means 190,000 hungry guests from across Scotland and around the world. Representing Scotland, we feel a responsibility to only the serve the very best. That’s why we teamed up with Saltire Hospitality, high quality caterers that uses local suppliers.

Here Becky Peters, Sales Manager at Saltire Hospitality shares her advice on how to serve excellent food at events.

Know your supplier
At Saltire Hospitality, we emphasise using high quality ingredients. If you want to serve great food, you need to use great ingredients. But how do you determine ingredient quality? Know your supplier. Go to meet them, talk to them about their produce and their values – how is their produce made, how sustainable are they? Ask as many questions as you can – a good supplier should be able to give you all the information you need with ease. Wherever possible, we only use local, Scottish suppliers, as we are able to easily meet with them, and we know that Scotland offers produce of an exceptional quality.

Think inside and outside of the box
Keeping up with new food trends and serving the unexpected helps to keep things interesting – it’s so important to add an element of excitement to the food you’re serving, especially in a time where event-goers are searching for unique experiences. We are fortunate that we have a team of creative chefs who are constantly innovating and coming up with new ideas.

But you should always have your customer front of mind. If you’re not serving the right food for the right audience, then they will leave the event feeling disappointed. To avoid disappointing, try to understand your event-goers – which changes are they willing to accept, and which foods could they not do without? For example, at the Royal Highland Show, although our customers are receptive when we try something new, if we didn’t serve our locally-sourced roast beef and our signature strawberry tarts, we’d have a riot on our hands!

Tell everyone
When you’re catering for a large event, you will inevitably have a large team – from the KPs, to the chefs to the front of house. If this is the case, make sure everybody knows your values, and why you do things a certain way. It’s all very well using high quality ingredients and sourcing locally, but if you don’t tell your customers, they’ll never know what makes what you’re serving them so special! Your front of house staff in particular are your loudspeakers – if you let them know what makes your food so fantastic, they’ll be able to share this information when they’re serving attendees. For the show, we have a two-day training session followed by on-the-job training, to make sure all of our staff can wax lyrical about our fantastic food with confidence.

Be prepared
Events can be busy and unpredictable. Unless you’re a clairvoyant, you can never fully prepare for what will happen throughout the day or week, but you can do your best to manage elements that are within your control. Are you absolutely sure of how many people will attend the event? Have you considered what food will be in demand if the weather changes suddenly? What can you do to make sure you never run out of your most popular products? Try to ask yourself as many (reasonable) what-if questions as possible to give yourself the best chance of a successful event.

Have fun
After the weeks and even months of preparing, events can go by in the blink of an eye. We’re always so shocked at how quickly the Royal Highland Show seems to come to an end. If you’re enjoying yourself and having fun, your team of staff and your customers will feel positive about what you’re serving. Allow yourself the time to interact and engage with event-goers – you may gain a loyal customer or some valuable feedback.

Our ability to respond to the latest demands in the events industry is something we’re proud of, and part of what we feel makes RHC the venue of choice for event organisers and guests alike.
Interested in hosting an event at the RHC? Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.