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Mise en place redux

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mise En Place For Event Packing – Part 1

 “Misen en place” applies to the warehouse for pulling and packing materials for events in my book. Here’s why.

When packing for off-premise catering events I found thru the years from packing thousands of events, that you need some tools, discipline, organization, a plan with processes, and a good sound system helps too.

Packing Bag and Contents

A Few Important Tools

Packing  “aka” Packin Bag

I use a divided shotgun shell pouch. The center divider helps to keep items separated and easy to find. You find the pouches or shell bags at any good gun store for about $15-25.00. My first pouch lasted over 20 Years and preformed other “holding tasks” with ease… Drywall screws, fireworks, staple guns, tape measures, colored chalk, and cold cans of beer all seem to fit in the pouch nicely.

Recently my pouch was pinched, with a five-finger discount. I went out and bought a new one. It was also good opportunity to check out new Glocks and argue the merits of a Glock vs. Sig.

I saw some fancy new bags in leather and nylon, a rainbow of colors including pink, with extra shell loops and pockets, which might improve organization. In the end, my basic black ballistic nylon bag does the trick and offers greater flexibility. I try to keep the one trick ponies to a minimum.

The “packing bag” holds everything you need, close at hand for packing; 1½” wide masking tape, a black sharpie marker, work gloves, pen, highlighters, and cell phone. Once in a while you need to toss in a small calculator.

Give the music some volume, synch the bag around your waist, grab a clipboard and the event pull-packing list — you are now ready to pull and pack quickly and efficiently.

The packing bag idea is to have the most used items readily available for use — no walking back and forth to get a pen, or tape, because your packing bag holds the tools on your waist as you walk around!

The Packing Pull List

 I’ll discuss in another post about how to create and use the ultimate pull-packing list.

Clip Board

 Serves as a place to hold the list, a clean flat surface to write notes on your packing–pull list and “highlight” or mark thru the completed items.

Masking Tape

1 ½” wide masking tape is sufficient for labeling totes, sealing containers, or holding bubble wrap in place, etc. You always need to label hot-cold food transport boxes – “AKA” a Cambro. It’s best to write on the masking tape neatly and put the labeled tape on the front door, instead of the top or sides. Labeling on the front allows anyone to see and the labeling is less likely to get covered.

Black Sharpie Marker

 I like the medium sized or chisel point black markers. Neatly printed Black ink on a light background is easy to read from a distance, especially when you are looking for something in a hurry or low light conditions.


 To write notes on the pull list about changes, substitutions, etc.


 Yellow highlighter marked thru a line item, indicates what was completed. Yellow is best for marking “completed” on pull-packing lists in case you need to make photocopies.

Sometimes you need a second color for noting specific issues to be aware of.

Work Gloves

There’s nothing worse than showing up to perform four star service with hands covered in ban-aids and grime.

If you pack, load and unload many items — taking them to and from events — invest in some comfortable work gloves. Say good bye to cuts, splinters, sharp metal edges, broken glass danger, aluminum oxide tarnish, knuckles with abrasions, etc.

Cell Phone

Then there are times you need to call the planner or the Chef, etc. to better understand what they are trying to accomplish — sometimes you have to make substitutions, deal with broken equipment or shortages quickly or even go to plan “B” and you need to tell someone quickly. No one likes surprises…

Having the cell phone in hand allows you to make the call and get it handled. Let your other incoming calls received go to voice mail till you are done packing.

As you start pulling & packing — make it a point to avoid all interruptions — short of the building being on fire.

I found often that many packing mistakes occurred because the packing staff was interrupted repeatedly during the packing process to socialize, ask questions and make requests that often had nothing to do with the event at hand. As in Surgery, you don’t interrupt the Doctor to ask about a golf tee time next week.

 At one Caterer, the recommendation was made that when the warehouse staff started packing — they turn on a blue light with a sign below stating:

Do not interrupt the packing team while the blue light is on. Write a note or come back later.

Thank you,

The Warehouse Packing Team and Event Staff


Station Location Marker


The packing bag also works well when you arrive on site and walk the venue for set up.

Just reach in the bag and pull out your masking tape and label where setups and station are to be placed. This helps the staff unloading — so you don’t end up handling things twice.

Happy packing and hold on to your aprons,