50:50 bet

THE 50:50 catering rule may seem like a good option for event managers and organisers on tight budgets, but speak to some of Perth’s caterers and they’ll tell you there are better ways to bring catering costs down.

The 50:50 option is usually used as a main course option that works by serving 50 per cent of the room with one dish, usually meat, and the remaining 50 per cent of the room with another dish, usually chicken or fish.

This means that, while there are two dishes on offer, the event organiser does not pay for providing the choice as the caterer has a confirmed numbers of meals to cook.

According to Sheraton Perth Hotel food and beverage manager Dario Orsini, the 50:50 rule, or ‘alternate job’, offers a form of flexibility without raising the cost of the catering.

“If it’s a big catering job and you do not want to spend more money you can go for the alternate job option. It can keep the cost down and give a choice,” Dario says.

The 50:50 rule works best in social settings or where people are bringing their partners, because guests can swap meals between them and thus provide the illusion of choice.

However, while the cost benefit and flexibility might be seen as a benefit for function organisers, caterers rarely suggest it as an option.

Beaumonde Catering director Mark Dimmitt says he refuses to offer the 50:50 option because it undermines his brand.

“We think that it looks tacky and offering it would not be good for our reputation,” he says. “There should either be no choice in the menu or you spend the money and give people the choice.”

Hyatt Regency Perth catering sales manager Karen Teong says she advises against the option because of the negative feedback it can generate.

“We don’t encourage it, especially for corporate events or award nights, because we get people wanting to eat the other option or telling us they do not like the format,” she says.

“But we do provide it if they want to use the alternate job and it can work well in the wedding market.”

Mark says that, with function organisers feeling the pinch of tighter budgets, a good way to provide choice in the menu without taking orders or using the 50:50 rule is to use a menu item such as a tasting plate.

“There are a number of things on the plate. We do a lot of them and it is a good alternative if you do not have the budget to provide choice,” he says.

Mustard Catering marketing manager Melinda Nordstrom says Mustard is offering shared menu items to help provide a choice for event organisers restricted by a tight budget.

“We are doing things like a shared entree; it’s a big platter that sits on the table, and then money can be allocated to the main course. People are also choosing dessert platters that have a range of tartlets that people on the table can select from,” she says.

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