Bikes & Bites Delight: Afternoon Tea Catering Case Study


In August 2023, Siri from Brompton Bicycles reached out to Pearl Lemon Catering with a specific request for an afternoon tea event designed for a group of Chinese investors. They were in search of a catering company capable of delivering a traditi

Our brief was to create an authentic and elegant afternoon tea that would both honour the traditional aspects cherished in British culture and appeal to the sophisticated tastes of the Chinese investors. This included a selection of finely crafted teas, an assortment of delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of exquisite pastries. By integrating classic elements with impeccable service, our aim was to provide an exceptional culinary experience that would impress the guests and facilitate a warm, conducive environment for Brompton Bicycles’ investment discussions.

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

The Scope of Work

The original scope of work agreed to was:

  1. 3x teas to choose from
  2. Traditional style crockery 
  3. Traditional finger sandwiches
  4. Scones
  5. Cakes
  6. Spreads
  7. Artful presentation of afternoon tea

With providing the above we would have to find and create recipes, source crockery, purchase all ingredients and train the team on presentation

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

Below was some of the training

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

Costing the Ingredients

Constructing the quote and determining the total costs for this event proved to be one of the most intricate aspects of the preparation process. Axel and Lydia were tasked with meticulously designing a menu that would resonate with the traditional British afternoon tea experience while appealing to the Chinese investors’ palate. They needed to source all required items, ideally from one or two suppliers, to streamline procurement and ensure consistency in quality.

The process involved taking traditional recipes and scaling them appropriately to cater to 40-50 guests. This required precise calculations and adjustments to ensure that each dish could be produced on a larger scale without compromising on quality. Additionally, the cost of ingredients was only one part of the

A significant and unique expense for this particular event was the need to purchase new crockery. The event demanded traditional-style crockery that differed markedly from the sleek, modern sets the team typically used. This requirement was essential not only for aesthetic and thematic consistency but also to enhance the authentic experience of a traditional British afternoon tea, thus ensuring the setting perfectly matched the high expectations of the guests and the occasion.

Leading Up to the Event

Communication for the event was meticulously managed to ensure clarity and efficiency. Most of the discussions between Pearl Lemon Catering and Brompton Bicycles were conducted via email, which allowed for detailed exchanges and easy reference to previous conversations. For more immediate needs or quick updates, some communications occurred over WhatsApp. Siri maintained regular contact with Deepak from our team, ensuring that all requirements were clearly understood and any changes were promptly addressed.

Internally, our team used a dedicated chat group to keep all discussions related to the event separate and easily accessible. This approach helped maintain organised and focused conversations among team members, enabling effective coordination and quick sharing of updates.

The two-week preparation period gave Lydia ample time to meticulously research and order all necessary items. This duration also allowed her to make any adjustments as required, ensuring that every detail was perfectly aligned with the expectations for the event. Additionally, Lydia compiled a detailed itinerary, which she shared with Siri a few days before the event. This document outlined the schedule and logistics for the afternoon tea, ensuring both teams were fully aligned and prepared for a successful event.

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

As Lydia ordered crockery and kept tabs on shipments into Axel, Axel had to go local for ingredients. Oddly enough, many suppliers did not have the scones and spreads needed.

We ended up with the below crockery

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea
Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea
perfect afternoon tea

Setting Up at the Venue

The team arrived about 30 minutes before the guests to set up the tables. Ahead of the event, Lydia prepared an itinerary for the day of to share with Siri so they knew what to expect.

Our team set up place settings, tiers and tea sets. Got scones, cakes and sandwiches artfully displayed. And filled bowls with spreads and toppings for the scones.

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea
Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

Hurdles and Obstacles

One of our team’s major challenges was the initial failure of the crockery delivery. Lydia had to manage the complex process of filing claims for a refund as the original crockery never arrived. In response, she ordered an alternative set, and our team anxiously hoped it would arrive in time. Fortunately, the replacement crockery was delivered just one day before the event, narrowly averting a potential crisis.

However, this last-minute arrival did not allow sufficient time to thoroughly verify the sizes and quantities against our requirements, resulting in a shortage of some pieces. The measurements listed online didn’t match perfectly with what we received, leading to discrepancies we could not address due to the tight timeline.

Moreover, this event marked the first time we implemented our finger sandwich recipes on a larger scale. While scaling the recipes, we encountered difficulties estimating the correct quantities, leading to an overpurchase of certain ingredients. Adjusting these ratios on the fly was a challenge, and while we managed effectively, it was a learning experience in recipe scaling.

An additional hiccup occurred on the day of the event itself, which started later than scheduled. Although our team was on-site early to set up, most of the guests, who travelled by bike, arrived around 30 minutes late. This delay required us to adjust our service timing dynamically, ensuring everything remained on track despite the initial setback.

Despite these obstacles, our team’s ability to adapt and manage unforeseen issues ensured the event’s success, demonstrating our commitment to providing exceptional service under pressure.

The Outcome

The Brompton team was very happy with the event, and we made a great impression. However, we ended up leaving the crockery there to be sent back, as people stayed and mingled much longer than planned.

We had a great time and used this opportunity to fine-tune our afternoon tea services to provide the best afternoon tea in London.

Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea
Catering Case Study Brompton Afternoon Tea

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