I’ve always been one to try and help when I could. So when a reporter reached out asking for contributions for her “Ultimate Catering Guide,” I jumped at the opportunity. I enjoy working with caterers and attending tastings (Read about that here!), so this “Ultimate Catering Guide” seemed like an article that would be a great extension.
Today the “Ultimate Catering Guide” has been picked up by 20 newspapers across the US! Here’s the list of newspapers that published the article.
— Anchorage Daily News
— The Sacramento Bee
— The Fresno Bee
— The Modesto Bee
— The Tribune
— Bradenton Herald
— The Telegraph
— Belleville News-Democrat
— Lexington Herald-Leader
— Sun Herald
— The News & Observer
— Centre Daily Times
— The Herald
— The State
— The Sun News
— The Bellingham Herald
— The Olympian
— The News Tribune
— Tri-City Herald
The writer, Erin Davis, was nice enough to share the article with us! Check it out below.
ULTIMATE SUMMER CATERING GUIDE
You’re poolside, tasty beverage in hand, lounging away when suddenly…you remember next month is Grandpa’s 75th birthday. After all the graduations, end-of-the year parties and summer festivities, can you possibly have another party in you? For the harried host, hiring help may be the best bet for maintaining a laid back and hassle-free holiday. Look to our ultimate catering guide to keep this summer satisfyingly simple, without shell shock to the wallet.
DON’T PUT IT OFF ‘TIL LATER — CATER
“Not all caterers are created equal,” cautioned gourmet caterer and author of A Harvest and Halloween Handbook Pamela Layton McMurtry. “Creativity, quality, good service and helpfulness, and even overall attitude can vary.”
Do your homework. “Caterers are often referred or found by word-of-mouth,” McMurtry said. “Check local bridal stores, florists and photographers for a quality, reputable caterer.”
Scope out potential caterers by researching websites and local reviews; are previous clientele, references and menus available? Is the caterer a large company, or individual? Are they formally trained or caterer by hobby? Determining the answers will narrow your choices, and in the process, clearly define personal preferences.
“Ask for a tasting before booking a caterer,” said Stefany Allongo, Founder and Chief Consultant of The Majestic Vision. “This will allow you to try various menu options available within your budget.”
“Most caterers will charge a fee for the tasting,” Allongo explained, “which typically is applied to your total balance once you have booked.”
McMurtry suggests looking to favorite restaurants as catering options. “This will ensure both the reputability of the business and allow you to request your favorite menu items,” McMurtry said.
WHEN IT COMES TO COST, ARE YOU LOST?
For some, the appeal of catering a meal may lessen when considering cost.
“In terms of pricing, each caterer differs based on the type of food being provided,” Allongo said. “Pricing will vary from a BBQ buffet ($13 – $17 per person) and a more formal sit-down dinner ($40 – $55 per person). Keep in mind that the price per person does not usually include staffing fees.”
Most businesses (and individuals) are willing to negotiate. Ask a potential caterer if they would be willing to work with a set budget.
“A professional caterer should be happy to create a custom menu,” Allongo said. “Most companies will provide both a tasting sample and contact information for previous client menus and recommendations.”
Creating a “supplemental” menu can help to cap catering cost. Instead of catering an entire meal, choose to cater a portion of the meal. Bring in fruit, meat and cheese trays, but provide your own side dishes, beverages and desserts. Be aware that many catering companies require a specific per/person minimum.
To further reduce cost, research catering prices at local grocery stores that might offer more cost-effective options.
SEATED OR BUFFET, CAKE OR SOUFLFE?
Now for the meat of catering: the menu. “Catering options this summer can range from something as simple as a BBQ Buffet with pulled pork or fried chicken for a Fourth of July party, to something as extravagant as a three-course sit-down dinner for a milestone birthday,” Allongo said.
Again, pricing will determine the simplicity or elaborateness of a catered menu.
“For an actual dinner party, whether buffet style or sit-down, I would recommend starting with a salad of field greens with strawberries, toasted pecans and goat cheese,” Allongo said. “Then offer a duo plate (or two options on the buffet) of citrus skillet shrimp over roasted potatoes and lemon pepper grilled chicken over wild rice and sautéed zucchini; the main dish to be accompanied by a roasted summer squash and tomato rotini.”
Warmer weather months present a perfect opportunity for a “less is more” meal motto. People tend to be less inclined to partake in large portions; an appetizer-only menu works perfectly.
“I would recommend sweet corn and crab fritters, prime sirloin tostada with avocado salsa, spoons of lemon pasta salad and cocktail franks in puff pastry with Dijon mustard,” Allongo said.
Last but not least, think fresh fruit for the summer sweet tooth. McMurtry’s suggests catering something in the way of Strawberry Shortcake made with scones, sliced strawberries and Creme Chantilly (sweetened whipped cream).
FINAL TIPS STRAIGHT FROM THE CATERERS’ LIPS
Many caters provide services above and beyond food and staff. “They can coordinate rentals, consult on invitations and provide the labor for set-up and cleanup,” McMurtry said.
“If you are throwing the party at home or in an event space,” Allongo said, “see if the caterers will assist you in necessary rentals such as flatware, dishware and glassware, a cooking tent if your home kitchen isn’t large enough, and tables and chairs with linens, if needed.”
Some caterers may be able to offer additional services and/or recommendations for event musicians, photographers and other extras.
McMurtry suggests spicing up a catered event with greenery. “Fresh flowers for table centerpieces and a tall arrangement for the buffet table add so much class. Order flowers through Costco or a similar wholesale club.”
If you need help creating your dream wedding, please feel free to contact us! We’d love to be a part of it!