Sara, back to your role as Executive Chef. When you do a lunch or a demo, have you personally tasted these dishes first? How do you compose the menu? Who does the planning? Who procures the ingredients? Do you have themes to the menus?
My sous chef, Jenn Webb does most of the hard work. She plans the menus based on recipes from Gourmet (occasionally we step out and do one of my recipes or some other outside chef's) and then she and Ewa Kryspin, our prep cook and dish washer do most of the prep. We order the groceries from many sources - a local boutique grocery store (where James Beard use to buy his meat) and fish store almost every day, but sometimes we work with Chef's Garden in Ohio which grows the most extraordinary designer vegetables and also with Brown Trading Fish company out of Maine. We also try to visit the farmer's market in Union Square whenever we can. And occasionally we go down to Chinatown or to stores in Little India on Lexington Avenue in the 20's.
We taste everything, over and over. There is no point spending all that time working on something if you forget to add salt and pepper (or whatever else it needs like an acid pick me up such as lemon juice)
The meals are tailored to the client. We find out what their dietary restrictions are and also what their level of sophistication is. We wouldn't want to serve skate wings to young media planners or a plain old steak to a foodie client.