ShaSu's: Bold move, great service
Latoya Grindley, Gleaner Writer
Feeling for a dinner for two at home? Well, leave it up to ShaSu's catering services to make it extra special. All you have to do is enjoy the moment.
With training and years of experience in food and beverage and business administration, Sue-Ann Montaque and Shapea Barnaby-Lazarus made the bold move to merge their knowledge, ideas and, of course, love, to create their own service company.
Montaque (the chef) brings to the table extensive training in hospitality and food and beverage, having studied at the University of the Technology. After studying, she garnered invaluable experience at The Ritz-Carlton hotel, where she spent six years. Barnaby-Lazarus holds a master's degree in business administration and, safe to say, she handles the administrative aspects of the business, which is complemented by years in the service industry.
Together, they gave birth to ShaSu's Catering Service in 2006. "We just noticed customer service was lacking and we wanted to do something exceptional and unique. Sue-Ann is very instrumental in cooking and coming up with menus, and I am in the service industry. So we just thought, 'Why not do something that incorporates both our experiences and delivers good customer service?' " says Barnaby-Lazarus.
Catering companies are definitely not new to Jamaica and Barnaby-Lazarus and Montague recognise this. So, in an attempt to give their company an advantage, they have been promoting their personalised service. That is their catering service for private or intimate dinners, which can be as small as two people.
With the company's motto being 'Whatever you can imagine, we can create it', persons can request a specific menu to be created for a special occasion. With this personalised service, meals are prepared in the confinement of the client's home.
Other than its well-detailed package of personalised catering, ShaSu's also extends its services to special occasions and functions such as weddings, birthday parties, showers, as well as board meetings and banquets.
The company is not only focused on meeting the food needs of clients upon requests, but also encompasses other areas of event planning. "It doesn't stop at food for us. Based upon the client's request, we will source additional things such as cutlery, decor, servers, etc. Basically, we try to fulfil every need to make the occasion special," notes Montaque.
Since launching in 2006, like most businesses especially in the early stages, ShaSu's has had challenges; but for the most part, its recognition has been growing. "One of the challenges is to get people to trust you. If they are used to someone catering for them who they know and trust, it is really challenging to have them use our services. But it is getting better through mostly word of mouth as well as from the support we get from family and friends who use us for events," highlights Barnaby-Lazarus.
The company has increasingly been proving itself. "Just recently, we were at Osmosis where we were the only ones to offer only desserts and that was fantastic. We also did something with the Canadian High Commission during the Christmas holiday," says a proud Montaque.
Providing exceptional food and service are what Shapea Barnaby-Lazarus (left) and Sue-Ann Montaque aim to provide through their service-oriented company, ShaSu's Catering Services.
It is no secret that food is expensive, especially when there are special requests. However, Montaque says they try to make their prices as competitive as possible. "When making quotations, we sometimes try to do some checking around. We can be flexible too. For example, if a client says this is too expensive, if we can, we will tweak it a bit. And also if you have a budget, we will plan a menu accordingly."
According to Barnaby-Lazarus and Montaque, the prices attached to their services are not only determined by the delivery of good food, but also include great customer service. "We do focus on exceptional customer service. We speak to the individuals before in order to create the menu which will fit the theme of the function as well as to fit their personality to some extent. To date, we have never had an unhappy client."
The duo, who currently make up the entire company, says at times, if needed, additional help is sought to assist in preparation and execution.
ShaSu's can be contacted at 410-6576 or 872-8690.
A very creative concept by ShaSu's catering consisting of bloody mary soup shots with olives.
A sample of the creative dishes prepared by ShaSu's Catering Services.Simple but fancy are the decadent khalua infused chocolate mousse.
- photos by ian allen