Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Etiquette of Free Food

As the owner of a food business, I am asked to give away my food...a lot. I carefully pick and choose where the best events are for my business, get myself motivated, and start cooking. I hire staff and buy ingredients. In case you didn't know, the vast majority of benefits and expos and demos out there are unpaid events for the folks serving the food. The compensation is a presence at whatever fabulous event is taking place.

Taking part in these events is fun, hard work, and a great chance to mix and mingle with fun folks and potential customers. However, sometimes, these events aren't as great as they could be. I know -- they're work events, so get over your bad self and quit your belly aching. Am I right?

In the spirit of getting you the best food and best service possible, I'd like to give you a few helpful hints for the next time you're at an event featuring free food. Take it as you will, tell me I'm a terrible ingrate, but just take a minute to read:

Helpful Hints for Attending Events with Free Food

  1. Food businesses love to give away food. Sure, it costs us money and time, but who isn't happy to snag a free, freshly-baked cookie when given the opportunity? We want you to love that cookie and really enjoy it. True fact.
  2. It's ok to say please and thank you. In fact, I absolutely adore folks who stop by and say, "May I please have a cookie?" Of course you can! Thanks for making my day brighter!
  3. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice right back 'atcha. Walk up to me while you're on your cell phone, snag a cookie, then mumble as you walk away...the reception probably isn't as warm.
  4. Don't ask us if you can please have 3...or 4...or one for your aunt's grandma's dog. We're given numbers that we need to hit (my last event was for 350-400 people). If we run out of food, people get angry with us. If you're looking for extras, feel free to swing by toward the end of the event. No one wants to pack up food to take home, and we'd be more than happy to share once we know we've got enough for everyone.
  5. We're here to talk about our business as much as we are to give you goodies. We love the opportunity to talk about what we do with you. Don't be afraid to stay for a minute or two to ask questions. We love that!
  6. We are required by the Health Department to obtain (and pay for) an event-specific license and follow their rules. We will pay more attention to their rules than breaking them on your behalf. Sorry, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. 
  7. When you ask if we brought gluten-free, diary-free, Paleo etc., don't be miffed with us when we say no. We're trying to appeal to the masses here (remember the 350-400 people mentioned in #4? Yeah...that.), and your special diet doesn't make the cut unless we're at a health-focused event.
  8. Don't walk away while telling us that C may stand for cookies, but it also stands for calories or whatever fat-issue you may have. If you don't want a cookie, a polite no thank you will do just fine. Don't yuck my yum Debbie Downer.
  9. I understand that you may have no interest in my services -- that's totally cool. Not everyone wants to take cooking classes (or enjoys Mexican Food, or likes pasta). Just use those fabulous manners and we will still give you a cookie or whatever we're handing out that day. And we'll still hope that you enjoy it. Because we didn't get into the food biz for money. Most of us got into it because we like to cook and make people happy. Promise.
Easy, right? Essentially, be nice, use good manners, and understand that I'm paying to be there to give you free food. I want you to think that my business is awesome, and maybe to even come by and take a class sometime. We love you, and we love seeing the look on your face when you enjoy something awesome that we made. So drop by and say hello, and a quick thank you as you leave. You'll feel good, we'll feel good, and we'll definitely want to do it again.

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