06 May Custom Corporate Catering – A Conversation With Donna Wadsworth
“It’s been just bonkers! BONKERS,” Donna exclaims as she enters her Tuscan Tasting Room, where I’ve been waiting. Donna Wadsworth, Head Honcho at Savoury City, has been in the custom catering world for many years, and while many people who’ve been catering as long as Donna would be considering hanging up the chafing dishes, she has no such intentions. On the contrary, she’s fast becoming the new Queen of Custom Corporate Cateringin Vancouver–and, as I find out, with good reason!
Chris: Why is Savoury City so sought after in the corporate catering market these days?
Donna: I think it’s partly because of the consistent collaborative relationship I have with my Executive Chef, Mathew Koyanagi. We love innovating, reaching and keeping it fresh and exciting. And, we both have the same passion for the best organic and locally-sourced produce and ingredients.
Chris:So this is not “your father’s” concept of corporate catering then.
Donna: Lord no! The old boring and bland lunch meetings went out with big shoulder pads and hair! Today people are demanding healthy and fresh and flavourful! In general, Vancouverites are much more sophisticated when it comes to food than they were, perhaps, 20 years ago.
Chris: How are you catering (pun intended) to this emerging culinary sophistication?
Donna:In many ways, it’s about staying true to our food philosophy. For us, it’s always been about quality, flavour, and creativity! Right now we’ve created a gorgeous Deconstructed Nicoise Tuna Salad–beautifully seared fresh tuna, grilled asparagus, greens, free-range hard boiled eggs, roasted beets, steamed green beans, olives and a really flavourful vinaigrette.
I love this concept for corporate meetings because it’s healthy and easy to eat and BEAUTIFULLY presented! We use fabulous serving dishes, like slate–very West Coast!
In general, it’s about remembering that, at the end of the day, we’re feeding people. We don’t let the corporate label interfere with the satisfaction of making people happy through great food! And I think business owners and corporations are understanding this too. Food has always been a way to show how much you care, and when you take the effort to provide your staff with truly great food, it sends a strong message!
The Menu is the Message
Chris:It reminds me of Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement “the medium is the message.”
Donna: Yes! In this case, it’s the “menu that’s the message!” When we provide your staff with something that’s healthy, custom and exciting, they feel appreciated–they feel they matter.
Chris: So, action in the form of food, speaks louder than words.
Thinking Inside the Box
Chris:I know you do many different types of corporate catering. Can you talk about one style that you’re currently preparing today?
Donna: Right now, we’re preparing a large order of Boxed Lunches. These are super popular right now! They are totally custom. In fact, we recently did 600 of them for a breakfast meeting that was held by the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace. Everything is made from scratch–vegan power cookies, fruit salad, coconut yogurt parfait–all vegan! Plus the boxed lunches are totally environmentally friendly, which I LOVE!
A Seat at the Table
Chris: These days people’s diets are much more diverse than in the past. Is this a factor?
Donna: Absolutely. And we love being able to cater to the individual within the group. Again, it goes back to understanding that we are cooking for people, and recognizing that everyone has a different dietary reality. We ensure that there is something for everyone, and no one has to sacrifice flavour for that choice. Right now gluten-free is big, as is vegetarian and vegan. We’ve got a wide selection of items that will easily accommodate everyone and no one has to feel left out or isolated.
Food is really about bringing people together. It’s a social thing, and we strive to bring that philosophy to every event.
A woman on the Go
Just as fast as Donna rushed in, one of her assistants popped their head into the room, signaling that she was needed in the Kitchen! And with that, she was off! When your this popular, there isn’t much time to sit down for too long. And Donna wouldn’t have it any other way!