Thursday, June 2, 2011

What it Takes to Serve a Family of 500

Interview with Enache Popp, Operations Manager, Food & Beverage for
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What is the largest single sitting that you have done?
Enache: Our largest party was 1,200 guests. It was a “plated” event meaning the event was served as a three-course meal, including appetizer salad, entrée and dessert.

How long does it take to make that many meals?
Enache: With the size of our kitchen staff we are able to produce food for a large group pretty quickly. We start the previous day making the sauces and salad dressing; cleaning and trimming vegetables; grating cheeses, etc. Event day always goes more smoothly when we have all these items ready to cook ahead of time. On the day of the event we “dish up” the salads first so they can be loaded onto carts and chilled before service. This process involves moving the plates along an assembly line adding each element along the way. When done, the plate is covered, stacked and loaded onto a cart and placed into a walk-in refrigerator. Entrées are created much the same way. For larger parties, we use multiple serving lines. An empty plate is transformed into a fully portioned plate complete with a lid in less than 4 seconds per plate. For the event with 1,200 guests, we used multiple lines which allowed us to plate in less than 50 minutes!

How are you able to serve so many meals so quickly?
Enache: For most events, guests need to be served quickly so they can return to their meetings after lunch. For a quicker turnaround, we pre-set the salad and dessert on the table at the last possible minute before the guests arrive. To serve the entrées quickly, two servers work together as a team and service four tables. This made it possible to serve all 1,200 guests in only 11 minutes.

What qualities does a Banquet Manager need to have?
Enache: An understanding of logistics and good organizational skills are needed for banquets. We use the information provided by the sales team to ensure the room is decorated and ready; we make sure the food is delicious and prepared on time, and, of course, after the event is over, we clear the tables and break down the room to prepare for the next event. It is our job to do this while providing world-class service.

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