The new Bay Laurel Catering facility reflects what a campus-based operation can and should be. Located on the floor below Center Table in Willow Hall, Bay Laurel Catering can now offer a higher level of organization, production and delivery. It’s an evolution that didn’t happen by magic.
As Dan Faires, manager of program operations, notes, “A lot of thought was put into the facility. We considered all angles of the lifecycle of our product: How it arrives. What happens to the product when it’s in our care. How it exits the facility to the event, and finally, what happens to it afterward.”
Imagine a blueprint of the catering kitchen and think circular in design. The raw product is delivered to the loading dock and is processed, inventoried and quality checked by the purchaser (the employee who ordered the food from the vendor). Next, the product is packed in the walk-in or storage areas, followed by the culinary team’s creating and finishing the dishes. Then the service team receives the product on the facility’s other end and loads it onto a truck for delivery to the event.
New equipment enables the culinary team to work more efficiently, to simultaneously produce increased menu variety and volume. Examples include greater grill and flat-top square footage, plus the addition of a blast chiller and a roll-in cart washer in the dish room. Gained efficiencies include the ability to dedicate a specific griddle for gluten-free production and to use multiple combi ovens to finish cooking for an array of events simultaneously.
Equally important is the perfection of the food. And that includes recipe development, maintaining high quality standards, and consistency of product. As the executive chef, Jacob Moyer leads a team of cooks and students who meet the needs of campus groups ranging in size from a half dozen to hundreds—on a strict deadline. Jacob, who has been with UW Dining for almost 20 years, including the past 12 of these helping to develop and grow Bay Laurel Catering, is also responsible for updating menus and expanding food options.
Manager of Program Operations Dan Faires
Executive Chef Jacob Moyer
When Dan, who began his career at the Hotel del Coronado (a five-star resort near San Diego on the world-famous beach of Coronado Island), moved into his current position four years ago, Catering was not sustaining financially. He says the team adopted a mind-set that focuses on their relationship with clients, a lesson learned from his career that also includes serving as regional director of sales and catering for Lancer Hospitality, plus positions at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, Sheraton Grand Seattle and The Golf Club at Newcastle. “I wanted to build a rapport founded on trust and then cultivate it."
Bay Laurel Catering went back to basics and followed the sales adage that it is easier to grow the business you already have. They gathered clients in one room and allowed the award-winning culinary team to showcase their talents. More than 300 campus partners attended the first Bay Laurel Catering showcase.
“The vast majority of our guests were blown away and overwhelmingly replied they had no idea we could do this," he says.
As for more of the new, Dan wanted to have a place to further elevate the guest experience prior to the event. “We created a tasting and conference room, an inviting space where our sales team can meet directly with our clients and allow them an opportunity to taste our food and experience our service.”
The sunlit tasting room