Gábor Marosvölgyi, director of catering at The Kitchen Caters, the catering service of the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, looks back on how the business has grown since it was launched in 2016.
BBJ: The Kitchen Caters was launched in 2016. Three years on, what have the highlights been to date, and how has the service evolved over time?
Gábor Marosvölgyi: The concept of The Kitchen Caters is based on quality, creativity, flexibility and reliability. Our existing and new clients come to us for exactly these same reasons, which is why we have been able to grow the business year by year. We deliver not just Kempinski Corvinus standards, but the best restaurant standards too outside the hotel. Competition is fierce in town but, by taking catering ahead of the curve, we also mitigated the challenges of that competition.
Of the many highlights in the past three years, I fondly remember the opening party in a beautiful private villa in Dunakanyar with a stunning view over the river. We took the guests to the venue by boat. We also catered some 1,700 guests at a factory opening. We organized a three-day Indian wedding for 500 guests, while we managed a flying buffet/buffet combo catering solution to host 1,500-plus people at another company event. It took more than 100 staff.
BBJ: How many events do you handle a year, and what is the range?
GM: We easily manage 80-100 events annually for anywhere between 15 and 1,500 persons.
BBJ: What is the most difficult challenge you have been asked to fulfil, and what was the most unusual venue?
GM: Our strength is that we deliver the same high standards and quality in any environment, be it an industrial hangar or an elegant location such as the Museum of Fine Arts. The functions of this recently renovated historical museum were enhanced specifically so it can host events and provide a spectacular backdrop.
Another advantage we have is that we can always fall back on the 24-hour backup at Kempinski Corvinus. For example, the rain started coming down at the Indian wedding, which was held in Buda Castle. We immediately opened and set up the ballroom at the hotel and transferred 500 guests, the catering apparatus and staff there. Home and dry! That was only an option – and a doable option – because of the infrastructure, and importantly, Kempinski Corvinus’ Ten Rooms event space is flexible enough to handle such last-minute arrangements, however crazy.
BBJ: How many people make up The Kitchen Caters team? Do you ever have to take on additional temporary staff? If so, how do you maintain quality?
GM: The core of the team numbers 15 and we almost always employ temp staff. Given the volume of work, we tend to end up working with the same temporary aides a lot of the time. We always also hold thorough training for chefs and servers alike, and provide briefing before the events.
BBJ: What are the latest trends in outside and event catering?
GM: Office catering and flying buffet. Instead of traditional buffets, show cooking and interaction. Induction ovens and lamps are hot, pun intended. Green and sustainable catering. Farm to table. And we take dietary restrictions and requirements very seriously.
BBJ: What sets The Kitchen Caters apart from your competitors? Why should a business, an organization or an individual choose you?
GM: Aside from restaurant quality, our strength lies in the smart management of the hotel’s resources. We’re competently capable of delivering the highest standards in any outside venue and location. We are also ahead of the competition in terms of preparing fresh meals, and the flexibility of our menus. We always have back-up for dietary choices and restrictions, even in circumstances when we are not in advance informed of allergies, for example. There are less complicated situations too: the host may have booked a limited range of drinks only, like soft drinks and wine but guests are asking for beer. We’re prepared for all eventualities. We can’t say no!
We also have state-of-the-art equipment to make sure we are able to prepare fresh meals on the premises. We provide our own plates, glasses and cutlery for up to 1,200 persons. Indian food is becoming more and more popular, and we now have our own Indian chef, Dhanpal Singh Negi. It has happened already that a client specifically requested an Indian menu after sampling various menu options.