Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Eunice Power Featured In Sunday Business Post

The Lasting Power Of Catering Success
Sunday Business Post
30 January 2011
Tina-Marie O'Neill

Ten years in business is a milestone for any enterprise, not least a small catering business operating in a highly competitive market during the worst economic downturn in living memory.

Yet, none of this seems to faze Eunice Power, who not only is an award-winning chef, caterer and cookery book author and tutor, but also one of the co-founders and director of the annual Waterford Food Festival.

She also works on an ad hoc basis with Tourism Ireland, and often travels overseas to prepare meals using Irish produce for foreign ambassadors and trade ministers.

Power opened her guesthouse and cookery school business at Powerfield House outside her native Dungarvan in 2001, after working in contract catering and the hospitality sector in Ireland, Britain and Switzerland.

She also began supplying her local specialist greengrocer, the Country Store, with homemade breads, cakes, jams, chutneys, ready-meals, soups and other seasonal produce.

'The business evolved over time when, about five or six years ago, I was approached by clients looking for outside quality catering,' she said.

'That is both a mix of formal and informal dining, to a high standard - not the kind that requires disposable plates and cutlery.

'It extends to corporate functions, conferences, weddings and other offsite events and can be both outdoor and indoor - so [can be hosted in] marquees, private estates and houses, castles or even a hay shed,' said Power.

Her client list includes Irish Rail, Dublin City Council, Pfizer, the Royal College of Surgeons, Waterford County Council and Tourism Ireland.

A recent increase in demand for onsite catering - preparing food at the client's chosen venue and cutting out room rental costs - from the corporate and wedding sector led Power to rebrand and relaunch her website, and reposition herself in the market and build the business further.

'Catering is considered a lucrative business, but it's hard to make money on good quality, wholesome food in Ireland,' she said.

'A lot of catering firms are closing, so you have to simultaneously keep your business small but be able to scale up for any occasion.

'A dinner party for 20 people is easily doable. A sit-down dinner for 1,000 is in a different league.

'I have a good organisational background from working in hotel management in Shannon. Catering is demanding and requires stamina and an ability to work under pressure. 'You also have to build up a good reputation for your business. If you use local suppliers, they will look after you.

'You have to have a strong core team and invest in training them. And you also need to pay people and get paid on time.

'I haven't had a chance to think about celebrating a decade in business,' Power said. 'But I will organise something for it. I can't let it pass without marking the occasion,' she said.

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