Article and photos by Rhianna Mc Kenzie
Planning any social event has many challenges, but with the help of a new and innovative service, finding the right caterer can now be scratched off that list.
Onlé Caterers is an online catering directory that allows consumers the opportunity to connect with caterers, chefs and cooks throughout the country. Chief executive officer of the company, 25-year-old Dariel Charles spoke candidly with Business Day on this initiative.
For Charles, this was a two-year passion project. Having started the company as a small catering service four years ago, Charles has always had an interest in the food industry. Although he is not a cook himself, he managed the company that delivered daily fresh lunches to customers. He decided to expand the business in a different way, after noticing a gap in the industry between talented caterers and consumers.
“It’s all about spreading love and creating opportunities through food,” Charles said. His aim is to “continuously transform the food sector” by bringing the industry to the digital age. Onlé Caterers officially launched on September 11 and already has a wide range of caterers and chefs signed up. The site boasts well-seasoned professionals as well as new and emerging talent.
“I wanted people to experience food,” Charles said with passion, adding that it was his primary interest for more people to have a way to reach out to the many talented culinary artists in the country. It was also important to him that consumers have more sophisticated and healthier options than the usual fast food they had grown accustomed to.
He opined that people usually think of a culinary experience in two ways: fine dining and street food. “The catering industry was neglected,” Charles said, and he sought to address the problem by bringing food to the consumer’s fingertips. Prior to this, it was customary for people to find their caterers by referrals, but that tends to limit the search. He said Onlé seeks to correct this problem by providing a safe space where consumers can find and assess caterers, in order to find the best fit for their needs.
One of his clients is self-taught chef, Jade Clement of Portionz catering. “I’m already getting orders,” says Clement. “It’s a brilliant concept! It’s a new way to market the business…and touch base with clients”. The site works by creating an online profile of each registered caterer, showcasing their work with photos of past jobs and information about the caterer or chef, as well as the maximum and minimum number of people that they are capable of catering to. Consumers may then peruse their profiles and select the ones they are most interested in, fill out a contact information form with details of their event and their specific needs and expectations. The selected caterer will then respond through the site and provide a customised package and pricing for the customer, who can then decide if this is the right fit for their event.
Charles’ vision for the company is to “continuously open opportunities for customers and caterers” and he is continuing to develop his brand. “The idea is to make food accessible”, he says, adding that he is looking into having food prepared by clients and delivered through the site, expanding the very limited delivery options currently available. This offers consumers the option of having food cravings properly satisfied with a wider range of options.