The growing appreciation for finer things in life has also extended to the area of catering. From plain banquet tables covered in white tablecloth and basic chafing trays, we are now wow-ed by the set-up of the place, food presentation and diverse menus. And one such service provider is Teaffani Catering. Founders Jerome Ong and Rachael Ang calls it an accidental business for they were from the finance and marketing lines respectively. It was during a trip to New York in 2010 that Rachael was smitten by a Russian Tea House. Coupled with her love for the English High Tea culture, she desired to bring these experience to Malaysians and began catering from home.
Teaffani’s cuisine and art of presentation appealed to customers looking for something different. “If we do not go to the same restaurant few times a week, why should catering experiences be the same? The idea of catering is to understand what our customer wishes to achieve and go all out to meet them; be it having ‘live’ station, westernstyled plating or the straightforward buffet,” said Rachael. Although they began small, they had confidence that there will always be a demand for upmarket food providers as customers are willing to pay beyond food for the experience which includes set-up and decorations. Persistence certainly paid off as Teaffani Catering has made its mark as a caterer for big corporates and even has served Malaysian royalty. In 2016, Teaffani’s team was the official caterer for the novel Dinner in the Sky where diners are hoisted with table, chairs alongside the staff 150 feet into the air. Food is pre-cooked in the central kitchen and brought to a satellite kitchen. It is then heated up and finished on site. Some of the challenges include changes requested in less than 24 hours as the food is already sent out to the satellite kitchen. In a compact space, it is also challenging to ensure that SOP is followed and to keep the food temperature correct with the unpredictable weather.
Teaffani Catering is set for sustainability as they move into their new central kitchen. The space is a combination of advanced equipment such as combination ovens, blast chillers and the traditional wok cooking to complement the menu it serves. Jerome opines that equipment can be wasted without understanding its use. Thus, internal training is vital to maintain quality and integrity of food as well as to abide by the Halal, ISO and general food safety requirements. In terms of outdoor catering, the founders shared key details to look into such as:
• A detailed study of the floor plan to determine buffet line layout.
• How far is the work station to the guests’ area? It must not be disruptive to the event.
• Will it require fans and tents? What is their contingency plan in case of rain?
• Always check the electrical and water supply.
• Insulated food warmers are a must. Clients are also advised to discard food after 4-5 hours (except for pastry and cakes) as the bacteria would have multiplied.
Undeniably, Teaffani Catering is a homegrown success and the brand has also edged into regional recognition with its “Service of Excellence Award 2017” by the Asia & Australasia Awards, sanctioned by the Luxury Travel Guide.