AEV Catering Working Group meeting - 26 November 2015
The last meeting of 2015 for the AEV Catering Working Group was held at Manchester Central Library on November 26 2015, with Brian Kirker of Olympia London acting as chair pro-tem. The chair welcomed a new member, Stuart Tomlinson of Olympia London and after hearing the apologies and approving the minutes of the previous meeting, the group briefly touched on the matter of setting up a LinkedIn page for itself, in order to facilitate group discussions. It was agreed to ask AEV's PR company, Vividink, to look into a six month trial of a closed LinkedIn page for the group to use privately.
The group then moved on to the main agenda topics, starting with its investigation into measuring catering and retail activities at events. It was suggested that recording the z-reading (running total of cash taken) from catering and retail tills was an effective way of measuring revenues during an event. It was recognised that some concessions don't want to use tills, whilst some venues were simply charging a flat rate for concessions, whilst other venues were innovating with mobile and roaming services like 'Beer Backpacking'.
The next agenda item, Key Performance Indicators, (KPIs) revealed that most member venues keenly tracked and measured their KPIs. The discussion expanded to focus on the obstacles faced by catering teams in meeting their KPIs, particularly around large formal banqueting arrangements. The apparent lack of trained silver service staff, the lack of modern, well positioned kitchens and the problems of temporary food stations in large venues were all cited as issues.
The group then moved on to look at head counting practice and necessity. It was noted that there were several issues in accurate headcounts, needed for licensing purposes and attendance measurements. Several members recounted their measurement systems, ranging from ticketing events, using overhead electronic counters and admitting visitors through turnstiles, and their experience with each.
After examining head counting, the group went on to discuss the relative merits of event profiling, and it was revealed that most members carried out some form of profiling for their events. This has been used to see what foods are likely to go down well at what kind of event, and enable catering teams to deliver the most appropriate and popular catering services.
The group then discussed the creation of a paper to explain the work of the group and try to encourage more members to join. The group agreed unanimously to bring their ideas and suggestions for the paper to the next meeting, with a view to drafting the paper and promoting it through the AEV website.
The round table news and general updates followed with new advice on reducing acrylamide, a carcinogen, in cooked food. Present in all foods that contain starch and that are cooked at high temperatures, the official Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice is to fry at lower temperatures, frequent changes of oil or fat, and to opt for alternatives to grilling, frying or baking ingredients.
There was also a mention of the trend for rare hamburgers. The FSA advises cooking hamburgers thoroughly all the way through, but in September amended its advice. The FSA now suggests that caterers can serve rare hamburgers with suitable safeguards, including robust, validated HACCP-based procedures being in place throughout the supply chain, cooking the hamburgers to a temperature or time capable of achieving a meaningful reduction in pathogens, and counselling customers at the point of ordering about the raised risk.
The group then went on to approve the next dates for the working group to meet as Thursday 18 February 2016 and Wednesday 30 November 2016. RDS's generous offer to host the next meeting was gratefully accepted by the group.
Kirker then thanked the attendees, and Kane Bridgeman of Manchester Central, in particular for the excellent lunch and then closed the meeting.