About Neo Garden Catering
The catering industry has picked up in recent years with many Singaporeans preferring a fuss-free catering experience for group dining over eating out. Neo Garden Catering is one of the most popular choices of caterers, firmly establishing itself as a household brand, with their signature curry chicken earning fans islandwide.
From a humble catering company founded in 1992, the Neo Garden brand has expanded to include other catering lines like Orange Clove Catering, Deli Hub Catering and Best Catering. Collectively, they fall under Neo Group Limited.
Besides their reputation for good food, Neo Garden Catering also clinched “Highest Number of Events Catered by a Company in One Day” in the Singapore Book of Records for two years running. But to me, the biggest claim they have to fame is the ability to cater for 500 people in just 3 hours!
For all their accolades, the glue that ties all these together is undoubtedly the professionalism and experience of their delivery staff, or catering captains as they are called. With Neo Garden Catering clinching the top award in the Caterer category of the Influential Brands study 2014, I had the privilege of being an honorary catering captain myself, shadowing one of Neo Garden Catering’s finest for a day - meet Mark and his assistant Gilbert.
Being A Catering Captain For A Day
Our order for the day was a catering event for 100 pax at Ngee Ann City. I couldn’t wait to get started.
8.30am - Set Off
For a large order above 80 pax, catering captains usually have an earlier despatch timing to allow for the setting up of buffet structures. The food is sent later to ensure the time from kitchen to table is kept as short as possible.
Once Captains arrive at work, they are immediately despatched. Catering captains typically do several deliveries a day. They also each have a tablet attached to their truck to access delivery orders, contact details and GPS for easy navigation.
For this delivery, we left 3 hours earlier to prepare for a buffet that was meant to commence at 11.30am.
9.00am - Arrival and Unloading
Traffic was slow moving along the highways but Mark navigated the snaking queues easily. Arriving at Ngee Ann City’s delivery bay, we were greeted by a chaotic network of delivery trucks attempting to park, enter or exit the premises. Miraculously, the trucks found their way around each other and we managed to find a spot close to the only delivery lift servicing the building.
Mark and Gilbert proceeded to unload the buffet structures from the truck. Gilbert tells me only strong men can be found in this industry - he lifted 3 heavy-looking tables by himself!
9.30am - The First Setup
It took us almost half an hour to transport all the equipment to the venue. The allocated space was tight, but Mark managed to turn it into an attractive setup complete with tealights and artistic cutlery arrangements.
10.00am - The Second Setup
The first set up was complete and it was time to move to the next pantry. Mark explains the importance of arranging the food warmers in “L” patterns, typically known as a “high-low setup” for a more visually appealing buffet display. Simply putting the warmers side by side doesn’t cut it. “The arrangements have to be aesthetically pleasing” he says, demonstrating that Neo Garden Catering’s philosophy of “delivering the restaurant to you” applies not just to the quality of food, but to the impeccable décor, as well.
The catering captains go through a rigorous training programme that emphasises the high quality of service of Neo Garden Catering, including designing aesthetically pleasing set ups. This set up was assembled on the spot, piece by piece. Mark believes in making the buffet look as good as it tastes and emphasised the importance of attractive decor that he believes is unique to Neo Garden Catering.
10.30am - Food Arrives
As soon as they finished setting up both banquet tables, Mark got a call notifying him that the food had arrived. We hurried down to the carpark to receive the food from their manager. All three had good working relationships with each other and it was heartening to see the manager himself helping Mark and Gilbert with the physical work.
11.00am - Finishing Up
Once the buffet is set up and ready, Mark uses the tablet to capture images of the setup and pictures of the buffet that will then be automatically sent to HQ.
What I Learned
- With the client as priority, food is sent later to ensure maximum freshness, even if it means greater logistical hassle.
- Keeping with the times, the delivery captains use tablets to access delivery orders, contact details, and GPS. This also helps ensure that everything is accounted for at all times.
- Neo Garden Catering’s catering captains undergo a rigorous training programme in order to deliver excellent service.
- Everyone, from the manager to the delivery captain, is part of a family, and there is mutual respect among the crew as they help each other out as best as they can.
Why Neo Garden Catering?
One delivery with Neo Garden Catering’s catering captains has already given me an idea of how labour-intensive and stressful this job can be. The efficiency of these catering captains is one of the reasons has the confidence and capacity to cater to large orders in a short amount of time.
The whole time I was with them, Mark and Gilbert were nothing but professional. Given time constraints, I was unable to see how these captains handled the process of cleaning up, but I am confident it was conducted with equal professionalism. The intricacy of planning and efficiency of execution of the event was a real eye-opener for me.
The next time you order with Neo Garden Catering, you can be sure your delivery is in good hands - it’s no surprise Neo Garden Catering clinched the top award in the Caterer category of the Influential Brands study in 2014.
About Influential Brands
Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer driven and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.
Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviours, values and to understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in the purchase journey. The programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationship with their consumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.
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Read More Influential Brand Stories by TSL
This post is part of Influential Brands 2014, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.