Literally cooking up a storm of gastronomic retro Malay dishes has been Kuzie Catering’s forte since its inception in 1992. The company has since then established itself as a reputed food and wedding planner. Having had the opportunity of serving a long list of VVIPs locally and overseas, including royalties, the Kuzie Catering brand is synonymous with Malay haute cuisine. Although a relatively small outfit, the company continues to dominate the local catering scene by providing excellent food and services. In a recent interview, Raja Muhammad Danial Bin Raja Roslay, CEO of Kuzie Catering Sdn Bhd, talks about the company’s capabilities and business model, it is past and current successes and the vision for the future.
Kuzie Catering is a well-known catering and wedding planning company with a reputation for serving excellent haute cuisine Malay food. The company was founded in 1992 by Raja Muhammad Danial Bin Raja Roslay’s late father, Datuk Raja Rosly Raja Mazlan, popularly known as Pak Engku. The name, ‘Kuzie’, is a combination of the names of Pak Engku and Danial’s mother, Ramziah Samah.
Kuzie Catering was established at the right time as it fulfilled the growing demand for exclusive services from an urban sophisticated population yearning for heritage food. “Kuzie Catering has served the British and Brunei royalty and the top echelon of Malaysian society. We were the caterers during Prince William’s visit to Malaysia in 2012,” remarks Danial.
“We have a strong and loyal relationship with our customers as we cater to all their social functions, regardless of size, occasion or location,” says Danial with a smile.
Having taken over leadership of the company in 2018, the young Danial excitedly shares, “I want to carry on the legacy of my father in providing excellent services and food.”
Exuding a quiet boyishness charm that belies the strength and determination in moving forward towards greater heights of success, Danial was forthright. “I might be young in terms of age as I am 22 and undoubtedly there is nervousness but I am keen to learn and ensure the continuity of the business.”
“We are industry leaders based on our value proposition of food and services quality that differentiates us from competitors. The menus are exclusive consisting of popular retro Malay cuisine with the signature dishes, Daging Dengdeng, and Nasi Briyani,” explains Danial.
“We have three to four engagements monthly with the average crowd of 1,500 per event costing around RM55,000,” says Danial. A successful milestone has been the catering event for an 80,000 crowd for a one-day open house. “I have catered for 45,000 people since taking over which I consider an achievement itself,” says Danial with a sense of pride. “This is despite our small employee size consisting of 15 employees including the 4 chefs.”
“So far, the team who used to work for my dad has given me the same level of support they gave my father and we have managed to continue business as usual. These are loyal employees and we work based on trust. On top of that, the added support of relatives keeps Kuzie going,” says Danial. “The internal team of employees is supported by partnerships with specialty companies for the different levels of service engagements. The employment of temporary workers for the preparation of food further rationalizes costs and enables efficiencies in services.”
Danial has initiated aggressive marketing programmes within the private and public sector preferring personal meetings where he is able to present Kuzie’s portfolio of services. “However, all our employees are considered marketing representatives as they promote our services during and after events.”
“My age and the lack of experience is a challenge as I am still learning the ropes of the business,” acknowledges Danial. The notable challenges faced by Danial are competition within the industry based on pricing strategies and sustaining a high level of quality in food and services. “We have started promotions offering services at competitive prices as a way to sustain the competition, such as the current RM45 per customer promotion,” Danial adds.
As the youngest in the team, the Danial’s style of management is ‘bottom-up’ where teamwork is emphasized. “We would meet to discuss everything, down to the smallest detail there is,” reveals Danial.
The inspiration for the business comes from his 19-year-old sister and his 18-year-old brother, and mother who lives in Pahang. “They provide me with the support and inspiration to carry on with the business. I do have cousins who work with me, one handling purchasing and another is the chef,” says Danial.
Even though still single, Danial believes in a 9-to-5 schedule and a good rejuvenating rest during the weekends. His favorite pastimes after work and during the weekends are working out at the gym and playing the golf course. Being an exponent of “silat”, Danial also gives martial art lessons to students at his alma mater in Bangi over weekends.
Danial has got plans to venture into the ready-to-eat meals industry. “My next move is to come up with this type of convenient food products – pop it into the microwave for two to three minutes and your meal is ready,” reveals Danial. “And the long-term vision for the company is to be able to expand outside Malaysia with plans to open restaurants in Brunei and the Middle-East,” says Danial with unmistakable confidence in the tone of his voice.
Danial’s advice for the young entrepreneur is to be adventurous and to persevere in one’s pursuits and endeavors as there is always a risk in everything one does.