April 25, 2005

Fun with Indecisive Clients

The Food Whore doesn't have the monopoly on nerveracking clients:

Tuesday: Can you work for us next sunday? [checking calendar.... Crap!] no, sorry, I'm already booked next sunday well what if you made the food in advance? [cursing myself for limiting myself to in-home catering] I don't usually cook out of a certified kitchen, I only cook in private homes. I could, but they add to the expense... ok, then you can cook at my house on saturday and I'll bring it over to the party on sunday. It's only for 40 people. [that's an interesting way of getting around that, and it won't void my insurance! And it's a small party....] sure! let's do it.
     spend Tuesday night coming up with a diverse menu of appetizers that can be served cold, and things that won't suffer if they are made ahead and reheated. I enjoy the challenge.

Wednesday: Ooh, that menu looks great, but they've decided that they want to go with Tapas and Sangria. Can you make Tapas? [groans to self] sure, I can make Tapas. I can make anything! Ok, that's great. And do you think you can have some servers available to help with serving the food and the clean-up? [while I'm not there?] Oh yes, of course, I've got a couple people that I trust who I can arrange to be there ok great. So you'll still make everything at my place, and bring it over? there's no kitchen to speak of at his place, it's all one great room, so we can't do any cooking there. [damn, I'd love to see this house....] yes of course, that's still workable
     spend Wednesday night coming up with a menu of Tapas-inspired appetizers that can be served cold, a few things that can be reheated, and while kind of resent having to create a second menu, I would like to do a Tapas party!

Thursday Hey, I got your proposal, but I want to make it clear: I like you, I really want you to do this party, but The Committee hasn't approved you yet. [I hate committees...] Oh, well, of course, it's all up to The Committee. That's fine. No problem. Just let me know.

Friday Yay, they picked you! I'm so happy! [Yay!] Yay!
     Send out an e-mail to everyone to see who can work this party. They call me back, and I book them for next Sunday, just a week away.

Saturday I work two parties: one where I'm setting up my favorite sous-chef to work a small, informal party in a private residence, so I do all the menu planning, shopping, and start the prep at 11:30am, 90 minutes before she is due to arrive. Then I drive off to Encino to do my OWN, super-formal party, for which I've also done all the menu planning and shopping, plus all the prep, plus I have a server to do the table-service and help with clean-up. 12 guests and a 20 lb prime rib that barely fit in my largest roasting pan. We went from walking in with bags of raw groceries at 2pm to a clean kitchen again at 11pm. I'm exhausted.

Sunday (this is a message on voicemail) There's been a change in plans... It's not 40 guests, it's 140 guests. They still want Tapas. We're going to need more servers. I'm sorry, I really just found out. I'm not even officially in charge of planning this party, I sure hope you can still do this... [laughing maniacally... seriously, Kelly's looking at me like I've lost it. I call back the client:] I'm not sure if this is going to work, but I have a couple of ideas. I can still make the food for 50 people like we planned, and we can just add to it with frozen appetizers, or delivered items. We can even put casserole-type things in chafing dishes, so people can serve themselves. . I might be able to get you an additional person, and my servers can still help with managing the buffet and the clean up... but (paraphrased) I have serious reservations about being responsible for a party of this size that I can't even be on site to manage. Gosh, I hope I don't have to cancel you and go with another caterer... [oh come on, do not DO this to me! I've already put more time into planning your party than I should have!!] Well, you know, I've already booked staff for your event, and I really hate to cancel people who may have already turned down other work. [I hated it when the catering companies did that to me, and I vowed I wouldn't be that kind of boss!] Well, I'm not sure how another catering company will react if I tell them that I have to use someone else's servers.... .... .... Ok, look let me think about this. Give me 24 hours, and I'll let you know what's going on for sure on Monday. Sure. Ok. Fine. No problem. You've got my numbers, right? Ok? Great! Talk to you on Monday!
     spend way too long blogging about client. wonder what karma I've invoked upon myself to have to work through this problem, that's not even my problem, for a client who I shouldn't even be working for because I've already got a Very (VERY!!) Important Client booked for Sunday night already!

Monday Hi, Chef, yeah, well, I've decided it's going to be too much trouble to have only half of it catered and the other half done a different way, so I've found someone who's going to just cater the whole thing. Sorry. [Yes!] No problem, that's ok. well, we really want to work with you again sometime, it's just that this time isn't going to work out [happy dance] no, really it's okay. I understand. [realization:] So, do you still want my two workers, the two people I booked for you? I just hate to book people and then turn them down, in case they've turned down other work... No, I mentioned it to the other caterer and they said that they'd rather not work with people they don't know [bummer] well, yes, I can understand that, I guess I'd probably say the same thing. But we really like you and we'll call you again sometime soon, ok? [...] yes, sure, that will be great, I look forward to it. Bye bye! *click*
     Call both the people I'd booked for her party and tell them, "I'm sorry to do this to you, but the client canceled, I hope you didn't turn down other work because of this, but on the bright side, trust me, this is a blessing in disguise."

Last thing I ate or drank: walnut bread

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  1. I would not blame you if you fired that client...what a pain!

  2. LOL...good grief, I can relate! Talk soon...

  3. I've been reading you for a while, and it's always awesome to see how much you love what you do, even when things are insane!

    I hope this kind of stuff doesn't happen very often (although I think you'll always land on your feet when it does).


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