Wassermann & Company

"Our awareness of the guest governs our actions"

Wassermann & Company impresses visitors to Messe Basel through its virtually unlimited gastronomic versatility. An interview with Doris Graf, Head of Sales & Events.
Wassermann Catering
Wassermann & Company manages the catering for all the events staged at Messe Basel and offers its guests tailor-made concepts with authentic cuisine and service. In carrying out its work, it incorporates as much local colour and down-to-earthness as possible and as much international flair and innovation as necessary. The food is prepared in the modern production kitchen, located directly on the Messe Basel site.

Doris Graf is the contact for stand catering and the food delivery service at Messe Basel, including the Congress Center Basel (CCB), as well as for the St. Jakob-Park stadium and the company's party service for corporate customers. The Head of Sales & Events at Wassermann & Company grew up in her parent's restaurant business and earned her spurs at the five-star Colombi Hotel in Freiburg. Otto Koch, a highly regarded star chef, has been a close companion to her on her decades-long path through catering at the topmost level all over Europe.

Interview with Doris Graf

CCB: The name Wassermann & Company needs no further introduction in Basel today. What sets you apart as a successful event caterer?
Doris Graf: One key component of our recipe for success is our versatility. This is based on the wealth of experience acquired by our managers. Like our CEO Frank Wassermann, I grew up in the 5-star hotel business, where unconditional quality counts. Our awareness of the guest governs our actions. This is a credo that is lived out by all the employees.
We cover all the different options for catering at events with 50 to 5000 guests, from crew catering right through to VIP catering at the highest level, from gala dinners to congresses with up to 5000 participants, yet also for the small, exclusive opening of a boutique, for example.

What has been the biggest challenge in the history of Wassermann & Company to date?
In February 2017, at the World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, we were able to cater for a total of 15,000 guests in the VIP area over eleven days of the event – at an altitude of 2000 metres, with a great deal of snow, in a two-storey tent with an adjacent production kitchen.
As soon as a large number of events are taking place simultaneously on one and the same day, things get exciting for us. Such a situation naturally occurs frequently in the course of our work at Messe Basel, including at Swissbau, the Baloise Session or big congresses that span several days in the Congress Center. And, it not infrequently happens that football matches are being played in the St. Jakob stadium at the same time, with around 1200 hospitality guests.

One of your innovations is called "Lunch in a glass". What precisely does that involve?
With "Lunch in a glass", not only the cold starters and the dessert are served in portions, but also the hot food – for example, a delicious courgette risotto with ratatouille and strips of beef fillet in a glass jar. This has the advantage of enabling us to serve the food at a very high speed. There is no need for dishes on a buffet with a number of different components or for guests to even have to ladle out their own food. Speed is an enormously important factor in the congress business and our "Lunch in a glass" has proved highly popular. Despite the speed, our high quality standards still prevail, together with an appealing presentation, true to the motto "a delight for the eyes too". While we were not the inventors of this method, we are developing it further and perfecting it a little more at each event.

Among other things, your outstanding catering was explicitly praised at the big 2018 AMEE Conference – especially the quality of the advice and the food. What does this feedback mean for you?
I have vivid memories of working with the AMEE Conference. And that naturally includes my work with the CCB team too. We all greatly enjoyed the close and professional cooperation – and, yes, we received a great deal of praise and positive feedback. In the corridors it was possible to hear people referring to the "best catering ever" at times, which naturally fills us with pride. Even if congresses form part of our day-to-day business, it is still not an everyday occurrence for us to have to cater for 3800 guests at a constant level over a period of four days. Feedback of this kind is, of course, a delightful confirmation.

How can you reconcile your high quality standards with the budget expectations?
We not only stand out on account of our five-course gala dinner menus for 100 guests at the topmost level, but also through the wide variety of our offerings that satisfy the most diverse requirements and budgets. During our first customer contact we listen very carefully to find out what is important and what the cost limit is. We then put together the dishes and the service concept on this basis. Whether fillet of beef with a truffle sauce or a simple stew – everything we create is perfectly crafted and presented in an appealing and surprising manner. We aspire to quality – at all the different levels.

What does the near future hold in store – including with regard to your work for Messe Basel?
Since we are a proven event caterer, we will be continuing to work on innovative concepts for stand catering and the delivery service. When it comes to public catering, we regularly come up with and implement pop-up restaurants and concepts that go down well in the exhibition halls. We are currently developing a web shop commensurate with the digital age so that we are available to our customers 24/7.
We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the MCH Group, the Congress Center Basel and the individual exhibitors at exhibitions and congresses.