The banquet and catering division at West Point is similar in many ways to the majority of food service establishments around the U.S. Clients come with a need, desires are expressed, options given and a basic event order is generated. The order makes its way downstairs into the hands of the Executive Chef. Working in a timely manner the Chef orders the appropriate amount of inventory necessary to cover the meal. What happens after that is a team effort that differs very little from on site as opposed to off premise events.
West Point is home to a large facility capable of catering several events at once. There is one kitchen that handles the entire work load. It is a prep, hold and expedite kitchen. If regular, restaurant line service had to be performed there, one would have difficulty in doing so. There are many electric hot boxes, speed racks, several walk-ins and freezers. Large tables used as assembly lines hasten plating for more formal events. Plate racks for salads hold many and zippered covers protect them while in storage. The service elevator works very hard, in fact the entire operation would have to halt if it were to fail! If only for a short while, there are stairs!.
On premise service styles vary, from self serve buffet to plated courses, family style to brown paper bag lunches. All styles except formal, fine dining service have representation. The staff breaks itself into teams to tackle how ever many B.E.O.s there are for that day. Often times the event start times roll right into each other so timing is critical. While one team is plating, another is prepping, plating or portioning for the next party. Most of the preparation is taken care of the previous day. The regular staff is well used to using efficient technique in handling such high volume. Food is held in hotboxes, being careful not to overcook while waiting for service. You seem to get a sense of timing, being able to see the food in your mind and what it is doing while in the hotbox.