Curious about the secret ingredients to The Lazy Gourmet’s longevity, we asked general manager Kevin Mazzone about how the company has adapted and grown to stay at the top of its game after all these years
How have the food preferences of Vancouverites changed over the years?
I’ve found that our clients have been a little more discerning. People are travelling a lot and experiencing more international flavours, which they are demanding here. At the same time people are still looking for food that is local and sustainable, so having to balance that with an international focus is something that’s definitely changed.
How does the company stay on top of its clients’ changing food interests?
All of the managers travel a lot, so they see the world and taste the world. We also go to conferences. We will see a new restaurant or new concept out there and we’ll actually go taste it, talk about it and start a dialogue with other chefs or event professionals about it.
So with all the options for consumers to choose from, how has The Lazy Gourmet managed to stay relevant and ahead of the competition?
We’re lucky because we have 35 years—36 years this year—of experience in our market. We consider our customers more like clients; long-term partnerships. Some of our clients have been with us since the beginning. Also, owner and president, Susan Mendelson has been the most amazing mentor. She has everything, in my mind: the food knowledge (she has published 10 cookbooks), the business knowledge and the experience of producing some of the largest events Vancouver has ever seen. Also, we hire a young staff so the balance of experience and freshness really drives our company.
How would you describe the company culture at The Lazy Gourmet?
We definitely have fun. We’re always looking for new things and we’re very collaborative. The team is very goal oriented so making sure that we’re always moving forward and focusing on the client are the most important things.
How is that culture reflected in your food and services?
You can taste when food has love in it, and ours certainly has love in it. Our executive chef, Jenny Hui, has been with us for over 14 years. It’s really important that people have the passion behind what they do because you can feel that even in a sales person, a dishwasher or the executive chef. If you don’t have passion then you’re not going to see that in the food, and you definitely see that passion in our food.
What influences the direction of your menus?
When planning menus we really look at what the clients’ needs are. We create menus that are fresh, use local ingredients and are going to be enjoyed by our clients and their guests. We also look at things from a feasibility standpoint. The catering point of view is very different than a restaurant point of view. When we design a menu we know that we’re going to be able to execute it with 100 per cent accuracy and make it perfect for the client and the guests.
What role has the city played in your success?
Since we began with a shop on 4th Avenue in 1979, the city has embraced our food and our culture, and people thank us all the time for a job well done; but really, we thank the guests and thank the clients for choosing us and putting their faith in us. One doesn’t hire a caterer without having a good reason—there is always a purpose. It is very special for us to be chosen by the client to be a part of those moments. I thank them for choosing us.