Glorious Food by Gill Potterton

Glorious Food by Gill Potterton

"Although Catering is my main business, I love to do Cookery Demonstrations and Tastings, as well as food writing for local publications, as this enables me to share my passion for good food with a wider audience."

Catering for your Special Occasion

Thursday, 20th August 2009

Every party or event I cater for is unique. Of course unique to the person, family or organisation making the booking, as it is their special occasion, which is precisely why it is also unique from my point of view, in both the planning and the execution.

The first point of contact to discuss a booking is exciting and challenging; to try to establish what the customer wants, and give them the confidence in our services to proceed with the booking. Each and every event deserves a fresh and focussed approach, and I find meeting with a client to discuss in detail their requirements is absolutely crucial, ideally at the venue, to ‘walk through’ exactly how they want the event to run. It is interesting how different elements of a special occasion are important to different people. Some people worry about the smallest things, and assume the bigger matters will take care of themselves, and vice versa!

I might be catering for a Birthday Party, Engagement or Anniversary Celebration, Garden Party, Christening or Funeral Reception, Dinner Party, family lunch or supper, so the catering requirements can be very diverse. But whether the event is big or small, formal or informal, indoor or outdoor, summer or winter, the importance of both the quality of the food, and exceeding the customer’s expectations on service are paramount, which ultimately means attention to detail. So whether the client is concerned about the number of canapés, the colour of napkins, the dressing on the tomato salad or the choice of desserts, the catering should be planned exactly according to their wishes.

For bigger events, the venue is of prime importance, and will probably determine the most appropriate type of party food. As the caterer, I like to work closely with the venue manager, staff or hire company, to ensure all the arrangements come together perfectly on the day.

In the current difficult economic climate, there is a definite trend away from booking a swish hotel or golf club for a special celebration, towards organising a more affordable event, at a more low-key venue, using a local caterer. An attractive and family-friendly Church Hall or Community Centre facility might be perfect for a Christening or Funeral reception, a Birthday or Anniversary celebration. Over the last months I have forged links with, and catered at different local venues, building up a growing list of helpful contacts. There are two such venues in Caterham, both with fully-equipped kitchen facilities, plus furniture, crockery and cutlery, and ample off-street parking. The Douglas Brunton Centre is available to hire in the evenings and weekends and offers plenty of space plus a safe garden for children to let off steam, while the Centenary plus a safe garden for children to let off steam, while the Centenary Hall offers modern, recently-refurbished facilities, plus a licensed bar. For a more upmarket venue, I would recommend the function suite at Dunottar School in Reigate, set in stunning grounds, and again the personnel I have met there could not be more helpful.

Of course, there are many advantages to holding your party at home, particularly if you have a lovely garden to enjoy, so perhaps all you need to safeguard against the vagaries of our climate is a Marquee. I would recommend White Tent Events Ltd, based in Bletchingley, who supply a vast range of Marquees and associated equipment and accessories, meeting your every need, either in your garden or at a larger outdoor venue. The company was established three years ago by Andrew Prickett, who is charming, helpful, efficient and totally hands-on, which I firmly believe is the only way to run a service-oriented business. Visit which is a very user-friendly site, insisting that ‘there is no such thing as a silly question’, which should encourage any marquee novice. Andrew offers a free site-visit, to come and discuss all your requirements, ensuring that everything is just as you would wish – a man after my own heart!

Please call Gill on 07590 621015 to discuss your requirements or email


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