Despite all the information, the insights, observations, interpretation, songs, jokes and stories we share, sometimes it’s the simple preparations and proper ground work that establish appropriate expectations for our guests, and this truly distinguishes a master tour guide from his peers.
“… master tour guide …”
This past summer I was tripling down on an overnight destination, sharing the same remote hotel property with another McCarthy’s Party group as well as a third bus tour operated by a company from the mainland. With few outside dining options, the hotel management made a very wise decision when they opened a banquet hall and offered a special ‘Bus Buffet’ in addition to their fine dining restaurant and gastro pub.
I was thrilled with the addition, and assumed that the extra capacity and options meant my guests would be well looked after that evening. A great comfort since I was feeling under the weather and took advantage of the opportunity to head straight to bed for a long night’s sleep.
Imagine my surprise when I was presented with a litany of complaints at breakfast the next morning. So confused that I immediately sought out my co-worker and fellow guide, Francis Corrigan to discuss the situation. When he heard of my guest’s complaints he was even more surprised than I was “Geeze boy, don’t know what they’d have to complain about. They had a beautiful spread of food. There was a nice salad. They had 2 or 3 lovely entrees, lots of vegetables and as much dessert as you could possibly want. And what do they expect for $14.95 per person? Sure there was lots of room in the restaurant if they wanted anything more than that.”
“… I hadn’t done a proper job explaining …”
And that was when it struck me. I hadn’t done a proper job of explaining how the buffet worked in Newfoundland.
Most everyone outside rural Newfoundland expects a hotel buffet to be loaded down with a wide assortment of foods that promise to tickle every fancy. From Toronto’s Royal York to the Sheraton in St. John’s, a hotel buffet usually consumes a massive amount of physical space, and its standard to find a full-size salad bar at the starting gate.
Well, in ‘Outport’ Newfoundland we offer “A” salad. Mind you, it will be nice and crisp, colourful and fresh. They’ll replenish it frequently, and when you consider every single ingredient in that salad had to be flown or trucked from another part of the world, we should in fact be offering praise with every bite.
“… offering praise for every bite.”
While hotels on the mainland offer an array of entrees, rural Newfoundland focuses on the tried and true methods we’ve been using for years. We are forever preparing church suppers, fund raisers, family dinners and home-style weddings, and have therefore become experts on delivering buffet staples for crowds of people. The standard usually includes three choices; a lasagna or another form of pasta, a fry of fish, and a meat dish (pork, chicken or beef) served in a delicious mushroom cream sauce. Add vegetables and a few pies, cakes and cookies and you can provide a quality meal for “t’ousands” if so required.
“… a few pies, cakes and cookies…”
Did you ever notice that nobody ever talks about food security or any shortages of grub during the days that followed 911, despite the thousands of stranded air passengers we had to feed in Newfoundland while there were no ferries or flights delivering any extra food to the island? Well, this is how we did it. It’s an affordable, effective, functional and fun way to serve crowds of people in a most efficient fashion.
A great meal deserves a great story and while some might say, “this is just a bluff, eh!” – a good guide will have some fun and explain “By golly, you’re right! In Newfoundland its a Bluffet.”
Great job Francis!
Thanks for the “Heads Up”