Throwing on the Service Apron was a Lesson
Learnt in Event Management

A personal story from our Managing Director...

COVID-19 has affected us all. Maybe it isolated us from the ones we love, restricted us from visiting our workplaces or having our incomes restricted to JobKeeper.

My daughter, foolishly, followed her parents into hospitality. Kate runs a bar which she turned into a takeaway during COVID-19 restrictions and 2 weeks ago reopened under social distancing rules in the guise of a restaurant. She has a 16 seat capacity and having opened in August 2019, has few staff covered by JobKeeper.

To keep her business afloat, and not being able operate as a bar under the current restrictions, she has embarked on a restaurant format with a max of 16 people in the premises at any one time. However, she’s learned that bartenders struggle with the ‘stress’ of serving 16 people in one sitting in a restaurant.  So in the last 2 weeks, she has lost the few staff she had on JobKeeper.

To support her business, 2 weeks ago I took a few friends and family to the restaurant to sample her degustation menu. I have to say that I’ve had a very privileged event life. Never had to run drinks or food. But last Saturday night I stumped up to help her out. I was full of bravado that I could do this, and I will say that when she accepted my offer to help out on the floor, I felt very confident. The confidence disappeared when faced with a POS that I was unsure of, a complex menu of native Australian ingredients with a Japanese twist (who knew that a quandong was a native peach or that strawberry gum was a by-product of a gum tree) and nothing but my knowledge of customer service would serve me well as a waiter.

Once I dealt with the fact that the POS was nothing like I taught others in the 1980’s and the glass washer had a mind of it’s own, and given that her menu was 6 courses of food with accompanying cocktails (none of which I had to make) and we only had to deal with 36 diners over 5 hours, it was a lot of fun.

However, I was surprised and a little bit shaken about the dance between the kitchen and the guest.

I’ve run jobs for hundreds of people for a dinner. I’ve had terse words with function supervisors when my running sheet has gone long. I’ve had stand up fights with chefs who have demanded to serve. During all of this, I’ve stood my ground as the ‘event manager’.

One, six hour shift in my daughter’s establishment, with a really good chef has opened my eyes.

A 16 person sitting will never equate to a dinner for 400, but hearing the call for ’10 minutes on the duck’ and seeing the difference between cooking that duck tsukune (meatball) on the grill for 10 minutes versus 12 minutes is the difference between heaven and hell.

I’m still getting my head around how I can make this work for my delegates, but I’ll be damn sure that the next time I have the privilege to go on site and run a job, a meeting with the chef will be a higher priority than ever before.

Next Saturday night when I put on my apron and serve at Isabel Bondi, my first port of call will be the chef.

Author - Julie McGraw

It would be great if you could take 30 seconds to vote for GEMS Event Management Australia in the Spice Magazine Hot 100 Services and Suppliers. Just complete question #1 - Best Event Company...and your'e done!
Thinking about outsourcing your conference or event management?

Or maybe you already have plans to do so, with a tender ready to release. If so, we would love to know more. We can also provide you with some tips for inclusion, detailing changes being incorporated into events as a result of COVID-19.

Don’t forget to add GEMS to your tender invite list or reach out to ask for guidance. With over 25 years in hosting complex, multi-faceted events beyond 1,000 attendees, we can help deliver your next big event.

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Contact Michelle Glasson, Director of Marketing and Business Development
+61 2 9744 5252 or email [email protected]