What does it take to cater your own wedding? Why it’s a good idea to hire a wedding catering company!
We’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering catering your own wedding or big event. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to hire a professional, or DIY some things. Keep in mind, there are NO wrong answers when making decisions for your day, so do what is best for you!
Do You Have Access to All Equipment and Supplies You’ll Need for Food Prep and for Presentation?
- A professional caterer should be able to provide all equipment and supplies agreed in your contract to execute your event.
- In our case, we can also provide dishware, real or disposable, among other items that we agree upon in our contract. That way you don’t have to worry about any of those details as your day approaches.
Have You Factored Food Prep Time Into Your Wedding Week Timeline?
- You’ll have a lot to do in the days and weeks approaching your wedding. You need to think about the time it will take for your or your loved ones to create the food for your wedding.
- Some food items can be made in advance, but others must be done on the day of, and you need to keep in mind how much time you’ll need to prepare those items
- Once you prep the food for your event, you’ll have to make sure you have the right space to safely store the food until time to serve it!
Have You Thought About Who is Responsible for the Food and Beverages During the Event?
- If you provide your own food for your wedding, you may have to ask your family and friends to help!
- Sometimes it’s hard to ask your family and friends to help with such a task knowing that they are there to celebrate you.
Have You Considered How Much the Food and Equipment Will Cost?
- Caterers can often get the best pricing on food since they order in bulk and have access to more options than you can sometimes find at your local grocery store
- They can also help you create the best menu just for your event.
- You also need to keep in mind that you’ll have to so some research to know how much food to serve since it’s on a larger scale that most events.
Have You Checked With Your Venue’s Requirements For Vendors?
- Keep in mind that some venues require you to have licensed professionals as vendors, and it’s important to check with them to see if you’re allowed to provide your own food
- If you’re planning on serving alcohol, some venues require insured bartenders and sometimes even security staff to ensure that no underage guests are partaking in the libations, and that no one gets out of control as well.
How Will You Keep the Food Safe to Enjoy?
- Food safety is a very important thing to keep in mind. You must be able to maintain the proper temperature of the food you’re serving, before, during and after the wedding.
- How are you going to transport the food to the event?
Hiring a professional caterer may or may not be the best decision for you. If you’re not sure which is the best fit for you, reach out to someone to ask! We offer complimentary consutations for anyone who is interested in booking our services, that way we can ensure you are comfortable with what we can offer before you’re committed!
Did you see Chef Serge on his recent appearance on KARK Channel 4? He is continuing his culinary trip around the Mediterranean with this Shakshuka dish, a tomato and pepper stew with poached eggs is a great vegetarian option for breakfast. Serve it on top of a toasted piece of bread for a quick, easy meal. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s not only delicious it’s beautiful!
- 2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. Aleppo pepper or red pepper
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 6 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tbls. tomato paste
- 5 large eggs
- Fresh parsley and mint, garnish
- Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add the onions and green peppers and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until soft.
- Add garlic and spices and saute for another 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and simmer until the tomato mixture begins to reduce, about 10-12 minutes
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Gently crack the eggs into the mixture, keeping the egg yolks and whites together but not scrambled.. Cover and reduce heat until eggs look poached and are done to your preferred doneness, between two to three minutes.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and mint, if desired, and serve
Chef Serge recently appeared on KARK Channel 4 to demonstrate the cooking of a Baked Cod with Chermula Sauce. This is part of Chef’s culinary trip around the world starting in the Mediterranean. Chermula Sauce is very similar to the Latin American Chimichurrie Sauce, which is also made with cilantro and parsley. This is a very easy, delicious Mediterranean recipe for a simple weeknight dinner, but it’s also fancy enough for when you have company coming over.
Baked Cod with Chermula Sauce
For the Sauce:
- 1 cup Cilantro Leaves
- 2 cups Flat-Leaf (Italian) Parsley
- 1 Tbls. Fresh Mint
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp. Ground Coriander
- 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- Pinch of Saffron (optional)
- ⅓ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Freshly-Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 1 large lemon)
For the Fish:
- 4 6 oz Cod
- 4 Slices of Fresh Lemon
- Add all ingredients for the sauce into a food processor and pulse until it makes a thick paste.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Drizzle the fish on both sides with the Chermula Sauce. Place one lemon slice over each piece of fish.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is flaky and cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Local catering prices can fluctuate with the market, much like food you’ll find at the grocery store. However, we strive to get our customers the lowest price for their food we can.
Don’t get overcharged for your catering!
- Do Your Research – find them online! Websites, social media, reviews, all of this information is out there for you to use!
- Ask questions: Catering is what we’re passionate about, so don’t be afraid to ask us questions! Be honest with your expectations.
- Accurate Pricing Information: Websites often contain pricing information, you can contact a caterer to get more detailed information.
- Don’t compare catering prices to grocery store or restaurant prices: For example, at a restaurant, you bring your family and sit down at a table and are served food prepared right there. Caterers have to bring all of their equipment, dishware, staff, etc. to a venue, serve the guests, and then pack everything up and travel back to their business location.
- Be Honest About Budget: We know “budget” can sound like an ugly word, but in reality- it’s necessary! When we ask for a budget for your event, we are not looking to nickel and dime you. While we work on proposals, we keep your budget in mind. If it starts to reach your budget, we can have a conversation with you instead of sending number you weren’t expecting.
Each catering event is different. Some people want all of the bells and whistles we can dream of, and others just need simple options. There are no wrong answers!
- Don’t get charged too much for your catering. Your caterer should be able to walk you through lots of detailed decisions that go into deciding what your needs are for your specific event.
- What Should Your Pricing Include: We actually have checklists that we go by to determine what details to include in your proposals, and which ones you don’t need! That way you get exactly what you want and you’re not paying for unnecessary equipment, food or services that you really don’t need.
Choosing a local, experienced caterer should help walk you through the process of selecting your menu, making changes, and being clear on pricing from the start.
We always provide proposals that line item our services, food, equipment, etc, that way you can see exactly where each penny is going. It’s important to know what you’re getting for your money!
Do you have more questions about what goes into pricing for your catering? Let us know!
Turkey is a very popular entree this time of the year, so we wanted to share one of our favorite recipes for this classic Orange Rosemary Brined Turkey Breast!
- 1 1/2 Cups Apple Juice
- 1 Gallons Water
- 2 Tbsp Rosemary, dried
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup salt
- 1 cups sugar, brown
- 1 ½ tbsp peppercorn, black
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 ½ peeled orange
- 12-15 pounds turkey breast, boneless, raw
Brining the Turkey
Combine apple juice, water, rosemary, garlic, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and the peel of 3 oranges in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large container. Place uncooked turkey breast in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
Roasting the Turkey
When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.
Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.
Getting Away from Office Potlucks
Celebrating Holidays, birthdays, and accomplishments in an office setting is a great way to motivate and support your co-workers. These events are even more exciting when food is involved!
We’re noticing a trend in the corporate world that is shifting away from your classic office potluck, and towards business catering. We feel that it’s important to think about all of your options when celebrating any Holiday at work, but hiring a professional caterer can be a great option for most!
Here’s a list of things to consider when you’re planning the next office Holiday gathering:
1. How much time do you have to dedicate to organizing and planning a potluck? Potlucks will usually require more planning than hiring a professional caterer, since you’ll have to determine who is participating, what they will bring, how much they will bring, etc. A lot of times you can handle the planning of a catered event in a lot less time, just a phone call or email can get the planning started.
2. Are you concerned about food safety? Does your office have the appropriate place to store the hot and cold food for the potluck? It may be difficult to keep the food at the proper temperature until it’s time to be served in an office setting. It may be a better option to hire a caterer that can bring the food in right before it’s time to eat. When you hire a professional catering company, you can ensure that the food was prepared safely following food safety guidelines as well.
3. Are you afraid catering will be too expensive? The truth is that catering sometimes will be more expensive than a potluck; however, that’s not always the case. If you can opt for a disposable drop-off (where the caterer can bring in the food, set it up buffet style, and then leave), you may be shocked at how affordable those options can be!
4. Do you have enough staff willing to provide food and other items? It’s important to make sure you have enough employees willing to participate in providing food and the other items needed for a potluck. People seem to be busier than ever, so you must keep in mind what is realistic for your team to be able to provide for the event.
If you’re considering switching your Holiday gathering from a potluck to a catered event, you can always keep it simple. A great option for most offices would be a disposable drop-off catering. This way the food is delivered fresh and hot and is set up in a buffet for your co-workers. The clean up is often a breeze as well! You may be shocked at how affordable this option is.
We encourage you to see all of your options so we can provide you the Holiday celebration that suits your office best!
Do you want a meal or finger foods?
There are many things to take into consideration when choosing the menu for your wedding! Hors d’oeuvres can be a great choice for you if you just want to encourage movement and mingling at your event or if there is not enough seating for all. If your event is during lunch or dinner a meal may be a better option for you. Here are a few things to consider when deciding the best options for your special day:
1. What is the size of your plate?
People tend to adjust the amount of food they take according to the size of their plate! If you are planning for finger foods a cocktail size plate will work perfectly. If your plates are larger it may be a better option to plan for a buffet style or a plated meal.
2. What is the style and time of your event?
Hors d’oevuvres can be a great option with a more casual style of event. There is no need for forks or spoons so your guests can pick up snacks as they socialize and move around with other guests. If your style is more formal you may want to consider Hors d’oeuvres during your cocktail hour or before your plated meal, action station, or buffet. If your event is during lunch or dinner it is a good chance that your guests will eat more. If your event is at a common meal time, you’re guests will more than likely expect more of a full meal. If your event falls in between common eating times, you may not have to provide such a full meal, depending on other factors, of course!
3. Other Factors can affect the amount of food you will need at your event:
a. Location of Ceremony and Reception- Guests tend to leave earlier when they have long distances to travel after an event.
b. Will there be entertainment or alcohol?- We find that people tend to eat more when alcohol is being served and tend to stick around longer when an event has entertainment.
4. Your budget.
While many customers assume that Hors D’oeuvres will be less expensive than a buffet dinner, that is not always the case. It is important to remember the time it takes staff to produce a larger number of varying small treats vs a larger quantity of a dish. Whatever your budget, it is important to discuss details with your caterer so they can help you find the best options for your special day!
Speaking with your caterer about your vision for your special day will help both of you come up with the best menu for you. Of course we are happy to show you multiple options that include hors d’oeuvres, plated dinners, buffet style, etc. and we can help you choose what is best for your special event!
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when planning for an event. We’ve heard from a lot of our clients that they’ve never ever had to order catering before. So how do you know where to start? One of our favorite parts of the planning process starts at the consultation. When our guests come in for a consult, it gives us the opportunity to get to know you and help us create the perfect menu for your unique event! We’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to come in for a consultation to help you be prepared for what to expect.
Is My Date Available?
This is arguably the most important question that you can ask (usually when you’re setting up the consultation). You don’t want to have your heart set on a vendor and then realize that they aren’t even available on your date! For example, Vibrant Occasions Catering is able to cater several events in one day, but we also have to ensure that everyone gets our best, so we are conscious to not over-extend our staff on any given day.
What Are Your Priorities?
It’s not a bad idea to figure out what your top priorities are for your event. If you LOVE food, then it may be a top priority for you. If having your favorite band play is your dream, then that may be your top priority. Having an idea of what is important to you will help with the next step!
What Is Your Budget?
Once you have your priorities in order, then you can plug them in to your budget. We understand that it’s hard to know how much certain things cost, but at least you can have a general idea of what you’d like to spend overall, and what you feel is the most important things to spend your money on. We understand that just because you are getting married, doesn’t mean your daily life gets put on hold. You definitely want to make sure you’re paying attention to this along the way!
What Kind of Food?
Yes, there are endless options for food! You definitely don’t have to know exactly what you want. We are here to help you figure out the best menu specifically for you! It is always a good idea to have a clue of something that you love (or even hate!) as a starting point.
- 1 lbs. New York strip steak (2 steaks)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 Tbls. butter
- 1 Tbls. olive oil
- 4 Tbls. diced shallots
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup beef stock
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. Louisiana Hot Sauce
- 1/2 lbs. egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 tsp. minced parsley for garnish
Season both sides of the steaks with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Sear both side of the steaks until it forms a brown crust, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and keep warm. Add the diced shallots, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and saute until the mushrooms are cooked and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Carefully pour the brandy over the mushroom mixture and, while tipping the pan away from your face, light the brandy on fire with a long-handled lighter. Allow the brandy to burn until it extinguishes itself. Reduce the heat and add the mustard, cream, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and Louisiana Hot Sauce to the pan. Continue to cook and stir, being sure not the bring the sauce to a boil, until sauce is reduced by 1/3. Return the steaks to the sauce. For medium, leave the steaks in the sauce for 5 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Allow it to cook longer if you want your steak to be more done. To serve, remove the steak from the sauce and slice it across the bias. Spoon the sauce over hot, cooked egg noodles and top with the sliced steak. Garnish with chopped parsley. NOTE: I totally forgot the parsley in the picture because I was so excited to eat!
Leah Seale, our Event Producer, wanted to take some time to outline common catering myths and explain some of the attributes that make Vibrant Occasions a little different than most. There are quite a few aspects of what we do that make us stand out, and I want to make sure you know where to turn when you’re looking to make your celebration, whatever kind it may be, perfect for you!
Catering Myth #1:
YOUR BILL IS 90% FOOD
Food is a very important part of your catering budget, however, a caterer’s bill may include many other components depending on certain goods and services you choose. Labor charges can be a significant expense and will often be listed separately. Labor amounts can depend on the number of guests, the style of service you choose (plated meal, passed hors d’oeuvres, self-service buffet, etc), your menu selection as well as the duration of the event. Another aspect of labor that your caterer may be responsible for would be the bartending. They may be providing the complete alcoholic beverage service with glassware, ice and napkins as well.
Caterers can often be responsible for the tabletops, too. They can handle the china, stainless and glassware you require, along with many other rentals from tables, chairs, dance floors and tents.
If you are not working with an event planner, it’s even possible for your caterer to handle the details such as floral centerpieces, decor and props, too!
Don’t hesitate to discuss details with your caterer. They should be able to walk you through this process and make sure every little detail is taken of.
Catering Myth #2:
CATERERS ALWAYS SERVE “RUBBER” CHICKEN
Let’s be honest. A lot of people have a preconceived notion of what a caterer’s chicken is going to be. We all have had those frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu dishes at banquets, and that gives us all a bad wrap! You can always taste a difference in a chicken entree that is made from scratch by a professional chef, and one “prepared” by folks simply opening a frozen product. You want to be confident that your caterer is preparing the food for your event just for you, and the quality of the food itself is top-notch.
It’s ok to ask your caterers about how they prepare your food. You should be confident that the quality is going to match the vision you have for your event.
Catering Myth #3:
HORS D’OEUVRES ARE ALWAYS CHEAPER THAN A MEAL
“We have a tight budget, so we’ll just stick to hors d’oeuvres for the meal.” We hear this often. Trust us when we say that caterers understand budgets and the limit that they can put on your event. Something that a lot of catering clients assume is that a buffet meal is always going to be more expensive, but they neglect to consider certain factors that can change the cost. A lot of the hors d’oeuvres require more preparation and labor time than menu items on a buffet. If you do choose to go with all appetizers, you do have to provide a wide variety of options and fillers. The time of day, size of plates and the amount of alcohol being served are all factors to consider as well.
Your caterer should be able to look at the details of your specific event and help you decide what are the best menu options to satisfy your guests while maintaining your budget.
Catering Myth #4:
SET UP TIME ONLY TAKES AN HOUR
This statement is very rarely true for most events. Remember, your celebration is uniquely you. Your caterer should be able to estimate the time needed, but it shouldn’t be compared to any other event. Many factors go into the preparation and setup time, including unloading equipment, checking the tables and chairs, setting tables, distributing our supplies to the proper places, prep and finalize menu items, etc.
The caterers want to be as prepared as possible to tackle any last minute issues that may arise during your event, and proper set up time assures that they can handle any curveball thrown their way.
Catering Myth #5:
PRICING IS ALWAYS COMPARED TO A MEAL AT A RESTAURANT
When you go out to dinner, do you stop to think about the little details like the stemware, table linens and place settings? Experienced caterers essentially are bringing a restaurant to you. They tote around a restaurants worth of equipment to mostly bare venues that often have many logistical challenges. Most caterers will have to prepare, or at least finish food on site, so that requires extra equipment, too. While catering isn’t always as inexpensive as going to a restaurant, you are able to enjoy delicious, handcrafted food while enjoying a unique setting for your celebration. You get to decide what you want, and the caterers just make it happen!
Vibrant Occasions would love to be a part of planning your next celebration. We hope these myths helped you understand what to expect when using a caterer. Never hesitate to ask questions and make sure you’re getting exactly what you expect.