As Director of Catering Sales, Susan Johnson oversees the sales development over at Pinnacle Catering. Susan is an industry veteran with over two decades of hospitality leadership experience in hotel and catering environments.
The team at Pinnacle Catering is really awesome, and we are super excited for Susan Johnson insights:
Cater.com: As a veteran in the catering and hospitality industry, what are your biggest insights to what makes an outstanding and memorable event?
Susan: We are guided by relentless focus to achieve the highest level of customer service. Our employees genuinely care about our business and take great pride in our brand promise of providing exceptional services and culinary expertise. It’s all in the planning and working closely with the client months in advance and working out every detail. The details can be small and large and making sure we are truly accessible to the client—day, evening, weekday, weekend, whenever they want to discuss their event. We focus on long-term relationships that have resulted in continued growth for thirty years.
Cater.com: You’ve had the opportunity to host both royalty and foreign dignitaries during the course of your career. What unique challenges does serving this type of clientele present, especially when they are used to exceedingly high standards?
Susan: Our marketplace is home to one of the world’s premier health care institutions, the Mayo Clinic that has a strong international composition of patients, families, professionals and medical personnel. We are often asked to cater for international guests from the Middle East, Europe and Asia, therefore research is key and local sourcing of ethnic and culturally accurate ingredients and preparation is of upmost importance and critical to our success. Our customers are increasingly mindful of the importance of sustainable practices and farm to fork initiatives utilizing local and seasonal foods for the freshest, superior tasting and most in season creations available. When dealing with royalty and foreign guests security always comes into play, so being able to adjust and make changes at the last minute is often involved.
Cater.com: Pinnacle is known for its artistic showmanship. How would you deal with a potential client who is interested in a more low-key and understand fare, with maybe a dish or two to represent their family culture or heritage?
Susan: The world is in deed a melting pot of traditions, cultures and heritages. Our clients seek heritage inspired foods that connect them to different cultures, techniques and fusion of flavors. I love hearing their stories of important family gatherings and traditions that may spark ideas that will make their upcoming event personal and uniquely crafted for them.
Cater.com: We love that Pinnacle Catering is not only deeply committed to your community but to the environment as well. Can you share some ways that you and your team are consistently working to be as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible?
Susan: We partner with Greener Fields Together, a collaboration of environmentally responsible parties, including farmers, distributors, retail locations and foodservice operators, who have come together to make steady, measurable improvements in sustainability and food safety practices. We are proud to take a leading role and bringing this to our customers.
Cater.com: What advice would you give to a client who has a large event with an unusually large amount of picky eaters, small children and friends and family members with various food requirements and allergies?
Susan: Our customers are health conscious; care about food quality, origin and ingredients, so our Chef driven menus need to be thoughtful, innovative and in tune with all dietary needs. Our community is health care driven, and we are very prepared to serve any dietary need that may arise.
Cater.com: Can you share the last time you turned something that could have gone badly into a positive experience for a customer?
Susan: I have been lucky in my career I have not had to face that challenge. I believe so strongly in pre planning and going over ever detail. That is really the key to an exceptional outcome.
Cater.com: What tips would you pass onto someone to get the most out of their wedding tasting session and consultation? What are important questions that some couples don’t know to ask that could influence their decision making process?
Susan: A. how many servers for their wedding / ratio per quest