Friday, December 31, 2010

Future Food

It's NYE! I always love New Years Eve because it makes me think about what is to come in the near future year. I think most of you are like me and love change and innovation. Innovation is in everything that we enjoy from furniture/design, fashion, technology, and even food. Food does not stay constant unless you choose to make it that way, so why keep a traditional cuisine in a modern wedding? I came across some knowledge of this amazing chef in Chicago who has a restaurant called Alinea. This chef inspired me to pass on the inspiration to brides-to-be that are considering catering choices, or specifically, the style of the menu course. I'm all about progressive trends which is why I started this company in the first place-to offer something new and in the mindset of forward thinking. Chef Grant Achatz, who tutored under famed Thomas Keller in Yountsville, CA, brilliantly decided to change the experience of eating all together. By separating the flavors of each invididual ingredient and using the latest culinary technology, he combines avant garde presentation with modernist cooking techniques bringing an interactive experience for his guests to enjoy. This style of cuisine is fashion forward, innovative and interactive - all of the most important elements that I prefer to bring to the table with my clients.

When it comes to selecting the elements of your wedding, I always suggest presenting something new and exciting for your guests to enjoy. This will always leave a long lasting impression on your guests minds. This style of catering may be influenced by celebrity chefs such as Thomas Keller and newly reknowned Grant Achatz, but don't let that stop you from suggesting his style/techniques to your own chosen caterer. A caterer should be able to work with your desires and present the quality and style of presentation suited for your event.

Here are some tips to consider when selecting a caterer:

  • First and foremost, make sure the caterer has a license.
  • Find out if the caterer specializes in a particular style of service, such as modernist or traditional, or ethnic/regional.
  • Try and work with a caterer that is not only reputable but affordable. There are many caterers out there and many are highly qualified as the high-end caterer yet more affordable and willing to work within your budget.
  • See what is included in their price: plates, silverware, glassware, table linens, etc. This will help decrease the cost of having to rent these items from an outside vendor. Altough, make sure to get a detailed pricing of their price of these items compared to an outside vendor-sometimes it can save you money in the long run.
  • Make sure you know exactly how many staff members will be available for your event. Also be sure to verify what type of attire they wear and that it coordinates with your theme correctly.
  • If your wedding or event is being held outdoors, the caterer must have a portable kitchen. Also make certain that they have a back-up plan if anything within the portable kitchen breaks or needs repair in the middle of your event-you don't want to be stuck without food!
  • Be sure to gather detailed information as to whom will be supervising the catering staff at your event in case anything goes wrong. Many caterers work multiple functions in one day, and they have the staff to spread around each event to do so successfully. It's very important to know who is handling your event specifically in case of any mishaps or need of immediate assistance.
  • Another major element to consider is whether the caterer has insurance. We all want an event to turn out flawlessly, but there is always that rare possibility that could occur and you don't want to be liable for damages. Make absolutely sure that they have valid proof of insurance-if not, do not work with them otherwise you could be liable for any damages.
  • Discuss the arrival times with the caterer as well as the event itinerary to ensure that everything is cohesive. You want to make sure that the food is prepped in time for the event as well as making certain that they are still at the event until the end, unless otherwise agreed upon.
  • It happens, guests arrive unexpectedly even though they didn't RSVP. You better make sure you can accommodate them just in case. Most caterers add a few extra plates for this reason. Make sure that it is included in your contract. The rule of thumb is to add about 5 extra plates for unexpected guests. 
  • Some guests are allergic to certain ingredients or have specific dietary restrictions. You must accommodate your guests needs. Make sure the caterer is well aware of any guests with specific needs such as food allergies or dietary restrictions - you don't want any medical emergencies on your big day.
  • Last, but not least important, make sure the caterer is a qualified caterer by ensuring that they use fresh ingredients. It's sad to report, but there are many caterers out there pulling the wool over their clients eyes by buying pre-store bought food/frozen ingredients and heating them up and serving them for the price of a qualified caterer. Don't be fooled by these unprofessional types of vendors.

What has been your experience with selecting and working with caterers?

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