Great food is an important aspect of any wedding. Caterers offer their best to people in terms of delicious food and optimum hospitality. However, the catering industry these days has been stormed by innovation. Catering is considered to be an art in today’s world and it is here that Debyazah, co-founded by two young Saudi entrepreneurs, Noura Alhowaish and Nouf Masoud, stands out in the catering industry.
The following are excerpts from an interview of Nora Alhowaish and Nouf Masoud:
Tell us about your catering business and how you got started.
Debyazah Fine Hospitality is a successful result of merging two separate businesses into one. The first was “Lolita’s Kitchen,” a home-based business owned by Chef Noura Alhowaish. Her passion for cooking world class dishes and preparing special delivery orders made her famous for her unique style of cooking, sophisticated taste and high quality products. However, I had a business consulting company “My Contemporary,” which was specialized in launching trademarks of local brands in a modern global style. The idea of Debyazah began after I studied the local market and discovered the investment opportunities in the supply field and therefore wanted to take advantage of these opportunities for which we established a local catering company offering new services to fill the market niche.
In Saudi Arabia we do not hear much about female wedding caterers, why did you decide to get into this line of work. And why did you choose Saudi Arabia for a career?
Catering business is known for its demanding nature, it requires a strong physical and mental effort, long working hours and dealing with the opposite sex. Moreover, success depends on the company’s management not only in terms of the product, but the services it offers. Although, it is considered as a masculine industry, we chose to be in the hospitality business mainly because we understand fine hospitality as ways of living. We seek fine hospitality in every decision we make and eventually became passionate about it and wanted to deliver to the world through our catering business concept post studying the market and knowing for a fact that the hospitality market is increasing and that it is a great business opportunity.
What do you do at local weddings and what inspires you to come up with your ideas?
It is great to work in the hospitality field, whether it is a wedding, engagement party or a family and friends event. We are always in a celebratory mood and appreciate fine and fun occasions. Success in the hospitality industry is determined by the company’s management style and it’s the sum total of every small job before the big ones. The greatest quality of a product and high standards of a service drive sales, especially with a little creativity, but development in the management system is the only thing that brings success to the business because the trick is not to increase the sales, instead it’s utilizing the resources.
How do you develop a bridal menu?
Developing a bridal menu depends on the concept of the wedding. To ensure that the menu complements the wedding, we as fine hospitality caterers try to understand the wedding concept, the bride and groom’s vision and later come up with the hospitality plan that determines the pre-dinner catering delights to the main dinner style, which can be buffet seated or semi-seated.
Is it nice working in the wedding field?
Yes, it’s huge and a very tiring field. However, we find it interesting, enjoyable because it depends on creativity and we consider Debyazah Fine Hospitality a successful business concept. The best thing about catering food for a wedding is being able to make the occasion more memorable as wedding food is the utmost important thing for everyone.
Do you have any advice for others who are looking to start their own wedding catering company?
We advise fresh business entrepreneurs to have their own individual business concepts as there is space for all newcomers in the Saudi market, especially in Jeddah. There are some points that one needs to keep in mind:
1. The business concept should be an added value to the market and not a copy of a successful business.
2. Work with professionals who will help you in developing the business concept.
3. Define your personal strength and weakness and build a complementing team.
4. The curse of knowledge: Information should be adaptable, we shouldn’t limit ourselves instead one should be open to explore and use knowledge as a guide. Sometimes working on the basis of a book without taking the market situation into consideration can be a failing strategy.
5. Be focused on what you offer. Don’t mix hospitality with event management as several caterers focus on the hospitality management of the event rather than the planning of the event.
Since you have organized several events, what tips would you give to transform an event from average to successful?
We at Debyazah offer hospitality management with a focus on food and beverage. Since we plan what the guest will be drinking and eating during the event, we divide event hospitality into three parts accordingly:
Phase one is pre-dinner: This phase focuses on the drinks, finger food and small delights that will be provided to guests upon arrival until the dinner is served. We think of hospitality as one full story and the core dinner is only the introduction.
Phase two is dinner: The dinner is the main part that reflects the event theme. We decorate the buffet tables, which is the main service we offer. As we are buffet designers, the adaptation of the design or the theme will be on the dinner tables. Debyazah is known for high standards in design quality because we believe it’s not only about beautiful designs but also about a functional concept.
Phase three is post-dinner: Here we recommend a café event where we can have a dessert station along with coffee and tea.
However, event planning is all about understanding the client’s hospitality style and taking it to the next level by introducing unexpected delights and making it that much more memorable. To reach client satisfaction, we send our design team to the event venue and interview the client to know her/his vision, the colors, theme and all about her/his dream event. Later, we start proposing ideas that functionally complement the house!
Debyazah clients are amazed at how we can turn simple things into great hospitality ideas and work with what they have.