Catering 101 - Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Catering but were too Afraid to Ask.
I Don't Want to Look Back and Think I Could've Eaten That
Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Catering but Were Too Afraid to Ask.
In the last 9 months we've been sewn into the tapestry of memories for family reunions, weddings, bat mitzvahs, birthdays and just-becauses; if only just a tiny stitch. We've hustled, broken a few dishes, bandaged a few cuts; but mostly, had a really good time. Truth? We've really learned a lot. More on that in a second. We've also seen an incredible spike in cost, across all industries. From the basics: milk & eggs; to the gourmet: French Gruyere, Spanish Jamon. Finally, to the sustainable: gasoline & paper products. Covid-19, the invasion of Ukraine, causing an inflation in natural resources as in gas, electricity and water, has put a squeeze on all our wallets. You know this, I am sure. Sometimes, I receive a call from a client who asks me to explain my prices. Now, you've all seen the Tik Tok reel with the angelic voice singing “I Don't Owe You Affordability” ? Sweetly, if not sardonically, playing over pictures of the most gorgeous creations. It's a sort of “oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah” jig. It's very funny. Except, it isn't. Here are a few tips when hiring a caterer:
Have a budget*: High-end, luxurious caterers run between $50 - $150 per person on food only. On-site Chef, Wait-staff/Sous-Chef, etc. etc. etc., are separate costs .
Brownie points for knowing your stuff*: Do a little research before you reach out to any caterer when you're on an app for vendors or doing a google search. On App generated leads, vendors pay for leads. If you're looking for a Taco Truck or a Sushi Chef, contact them, not a caterer that specializes in Mediterranean. Review caterers menus on their website, follow their social media. These are great “catalogs” to see their work. That's why they exist. In this case, stalking is welcomed. The hardest clients aren't the picky ones, they're the ones that haven't a clue. Or, sadly, want caviar and champagne but, at Mickey D's. prices. A Big Mac Combo Meal is $11. Want to make it a large? $12. Would you trust a luxurious caterer who's prices were $12, $15 or even $20pp?
Mazel Tov*: Caterers, wait-staff, bartenders, mixologists et al. are in the service/hospitality industry. Not in the “servitude” industry. We're happily there to help you have the best time of your life, treat us as you want to be treated. In the US, we all know, gratuity is how we make a living. It's an awkward game to request gratuity or make your hired professionals wait for it "to-be-paid-at-a-later-date. Be kind, be generous, especially if they've gone the extra mile for you & your guests.
Chef Knows Best*: Your chef has been creating her menus for years (sometimes decades), trust them. Assuming that hiring a caterer is not an every day event, but for a celebration, live a little. Be adventurous! Try the Roasted Eggplant Caviar, you'll love it, I promise! ;)
Cry If You Want To: Special diets: If I've heard this once, I've heard it 1,000.000.00 x . Example: In a party of 50 you may have 1-3 guests (5, tops!) with special dietary concerns. With all due respect, this is your party. What you should only be concerned with, is having a well rounded menu that includes, (but not limited to) salad, protein, carb and veggies. That's it! Not, “I have a vegan coming, a gluten free coming, a pescatarian coming and one guest that doesn't eat anything that's green, or white, or *&^!!, coming”! Seriously? You'll go crazy. You're just adding more stress to your life. Fuhgetaboutit! I promise you, guests with special dietary needs do not expect a whole party to cater to them. Since, you've been so thoughtful to have planned out a well rounded menu, aka Mediterranean Menu, (wink, wink) they'll never feel slighted.
A Night to Remember*: What's the one thing guests remember about a party? The FOOD, of course. The ambiance, the decor. Then the DJ and the venue. Really good caterers are those who love food, people, and they themselves, to celebrate. We're part of the energy that created the magic for your special day. Spend your budget where it matters most.
Eat This Not That*: Chicken travels better than steak and fish. Want it any way? Great! Make sure your chef/caterer can cook it in your kitchen or outdoor grill. Same goes for (hot) pasta, best to have it made on site. Not possible? We have many menus that do travel well as well as resources to help you find a way to make it work.
Drop off vs. On-site*: We do both, however, keep in mind that with a drop off, you're responsible for the plating and set up, we're just dropping off the food in disposables. In all honesty, it's best to have, at the very least, a drop off with set-up. If, having an on-site chef & staff isn't in the budget. There's still an added cost, though not as great as having us do it all for you, but better than you doing it all yourself.
Buffet vs Sit Down*: The menu cost doesn't change, only the cost on servers. You'll need more servers to wait on guests seated (plating, running, serving) than serving from a buffet. So, a buffet party for 50 needs only 3 total staff, whereas a seated party for 50 could need up to 10 wait-staff.
If you've read all the way to the end, congratulations!!!! You deserve a prize: Take 20% off your next order with us. Any order. Email letting me know you just read this blog and what you'd like to order, plus all the deets. I'll help you with all the rest. June Holidays & Celebrations: Grads: June 1 - 15th Dads: June 19th Juneteenth: June 19th Summer Solstice: June 21st Anthony Bourdain Day: June 25th * Your Day* : June ? “If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food. It's a plus for everybody”. - Anthony Bourdain *If you or anyone you know suffers from depression or in need of emotional support the Lifeline Network is available 24/7 across the U.S. Call (800) 273-8255