Is That Really a Thing?

This weekend we had the pleasure of serving a meal for a wedding. The decorations were beautiful. The bride and her dress were beautiful. And, since it was an outdoor ceremony and reception at a local county park, most importantly the day was beautiful.

When the bride and I started discussing her meal six months ago, she was in a slight panic. Her caterer that she had originally hired had decided that he couldn’t afford to do catering anymore after a disastrous showing at RAGBRAI last year. Unfortunately, that was the case for a few caterers in our area. Not so much that they went out of business, just that business hadn’t been as expected for such a big event.

In any case, she was frantic to find a new caterer and we had met at the bridal show a couple months previously. She had tried the food, but of course, already had her caterer picked so had passed us by at that point.

Fortunately she remembered us in her time of need.

As we discussed prices and what her budget was, we started throwing out ideas for her menu. We did the usual pork sandwiches, hot buffet, yada yada yada.

Then she asked if we had ever done breakfast before.

A plan started developing for her to serve Brinner at her wedding reception. Yes. It was served at 5:30 in the evening. That is the best part of Brinner…also known as Breakfast for Dinner.

Her menu consisted of pancakes, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage links, and bacon.

Quite possibly one of the best wedding meals we’ve ever done. It was delicious. It was creative. And most importantly, it was fun.

Remember, this event you are planning? It is your special day. You need to decide what kind of message you want to send your guests.

You want it to be memorable.

Five Questions to Ask Your Caterer

Occasionally, I will get messages wondering about our services. Not surprising since people want to get the most bang for their buck. Many times, the bride (or party-planner) isn’t sure what questions she (or he) should be asking so here are some ideas for you as you prepare for your next party.

  1. Do you have a food license?
    This is probably the most important question. There are a few reasons you should consider this (and why you should consider not have family members or friends prepare a meal for your wedding or party guests).

    First, you have your safety issues. If a business has a food license, then that means someone from the health department has been out, checked over the area where meals are being prepared, and deemed them worthy of cooking for others. When you rely on family and friends to cook your meal, no matter how wonderful a cook they are, there is no one checking on their food handling capabilities.

    Second, a business with a food license, takes the liability if something was to happen to the guests at your party. While we all hope this should never be an issue, do you really want to risk family members being blamed for food poisoning? Catering businesses need to prove that they have the capability to provide safe food, and know the proper temps for serving food.

  2. Do you have references?
    Another excellent question. References mean that a caterer has been doing this and has a track record of making people happy: providing a good menu, food that tastes good, and price that is affordable. A good caterer should be able to provide at least three recent (within 3-6 months), non-family references. Even better is when they have repeat business, but as a caterer, that can be slightly more difficult depending on how often a person plans a party.
  3. Do you require a deposit? What are my payment options?
    This is a double question, as money tends to be. Be sure you know, up front, what you are expected to pay before an event and when the final payment is due. It’s also a good idea to check on whether the deposit (and payments made) are refundable in case of a change of plans. Many caterers do require payment in full by the event. Other financial questions might be whether they accept credit cards and checks. I would be leery of a business that accepted cash only.
  4. Will I get a written quote? How long is the quote good for?
    Make sure a caterer is willing to give you a written quote prior to making any definite plans, but find out how long they will honor the price they have given you as well. You will want time to research your catering options and credibility of potential caterers. Nailing down a caterer a year in advance is great from the standpoint that you can mark that off your “to-do” list but it is also one of the most expensive (and remembered) parts of your wedding so you want to make sure you have made the right decision.
  5. Do you provide servers? Tableware? Do you charge mileage?
    Along with these questions should be whether there are additional fees. Also, make sure to read the quote/contract. If these things aren’t covered, ask the question. The last thing you want is to be surprised by additional fees on the day of your party.
  6. Choosing a caterer doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need to be prepared, do your research, and know what questions to ask.

Recipe of the Week – Fruitie-Licious Punch

I love punch. Ice cream punch. Fruit punch. Lemonade. Nothing better than taking a drink and quenching your thirst with something fun, fruity, and delicious (except that it’s always served in such small glasses).

This week’s recipe is Fruitie-Licious Punch, named after one of my favorite cereals that it tastes like: Fruity Pebbles (don’t judge, I love sugary cereals). It is super-easy to make and, if the occasion calls for it, can even include vodka; otherwise, it makes a perfectly yummy non-alcoholic and family-friendly drink to serve anywhere.Fruitie-licious Punch

And that’s it! Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Enjoy!

Choosing A Menu – Hot Buffet Style

Often we are asked to “send me your menu and price list”.  The best part about our catering business is that we have no set menu!  We let you choose what you want and price it from there.  That is what “Creative” is all about, right?

We do have a “fall-back” menu that works well for weddings: our two-meat buffet.  It all starts with a lettuce salad, complete with homemade dressing, plus additional goodies like sunflower seeds and croutons.  Our standard dressings are Ranch, Thousand Island, and French, but we can do other dressings as well if you like.Lettuce-Salad

Then we have vegetables and potatoes.  Glazed carrots are my favorite.  Sometimes people will choose two vegetables to give their guests more options, which is great.  I’m a huge fan of starches, so potatoes and dinner rolls are top on my list too.  Mashed potatoes are real, freshly peeled, cooked and seasoned perfectly for your pleasure.  Depending on the meat chosen with the meal, you will usually get two different homemade gravies as well.  We also do baby reds or cheesy hash browns.

Mashed-Potatoes-Gravy

Meat options for a two-meat buffet include oven baked chicken, roast beef, turkey, ham, or pork loin.  The most popular is pork loin and the oven baked chicken.  Mark cuts the pork loin right on the spot for your guests, which is a nice added touch (and something we don’t charge extra for).  The meats are all seasoned to perfection and melt in your mouth.Chicken-Roast-Beef

Again, this is a fall-back menu.  We love having the opportunity to do fun and different things as well, so make sure to shoot us some ideas as to what you are thinking about as we love to experiment!