Many customers wonder “what happens after I send you a catering request? ” “How do we finalize a menu?” “Do you do tasting so we can be sure of our choices?” “You are the caterer, but how does it work with the venue, the bartender, and the other suppliers?”
We have assembled below a first set of responses, just click on a topic to see the full text for that topic.
Once we have received your catering request, we will reach out to you to set up a first interview. Expect the discussion to last about 15 to 30mn.
Why an interview? Well, we love to get to know the people organizing a party or getting married on the assumption that the food they want is often a reflection of personality and lifestyle. Our first interview also tries to understand the demographics of the people attending (typically for a wedding, two generations with different “risk profiles” when it comes to food), your taste preferences, the pageantry of the event (ceremony, speeches, dances, etc.), the format of the meal (plated, buffet, truck, etc.), as well as the relationship with other providers (bartending, equipment, venue, etc.).
For a wedding for example, the process we typically follow in this first call involves asking you about:
1. Some context on you and your guests
- A bit of background on who you and your partner are (since food is often a reflection of personalities),
- Who your guests will be (particularly mix of young, often more culinary adventurous people, and older, possibly more conservative people, although there are huge variations)
- Number of attendees
2. Some questions around the venue and logistics (some people already know, others do not, no worries there!)
- Venue / Setting if you already know, or what your ideas are if you have not decided yet
- Preferred serving format; will you need the truck?
- Timing / pageantry of the event as you see it (interaction between inside and outside settings, dancing, speeches, ceremony, etc.) and coordination with other services (equipment rental, bartending, etc.).
3. Some questions around the food itself
- Is there a food “theme” you would like ? (e.g. French, Mexican, etc.)
- Are there any dietary restrictions you and your guests may have?
- Would you prefer a traditional menu, or a mix and match of items?
- Cover the question of budget in a bit more details than the initial form
For a corporate event for example, the process we typically follow in this first call involves asking you about:
- Understanding your company business, description of the “occasion for this event” (e.g. product launch, retirement party, team party etc…)
- Who the guests will be, and their dietary restrictions, number of guests
- Preferred format; will you need the truck
- Timing of the event, schedule (speeches etc.)
- Cover the question of budget in a bit more details than the initial form
We then ask our executive chef Lorena Lorenzet to prepare a first menu as a function of this first conversation, and then organize another call. It typically takes three iterations and calls before you become comfortable with the menu.
Once you feel comfortable with your selection, we invite you and a guest of your party for a tasting at our kitchen in Malden.
- We do tastings for free for events over $2000. Many caterers will charge you $200 or more for a tasting, we don’t.
- Chef Lorena cooks the full meal we agreed to (in slightly smaller portions), for you and a guest.
- The tasting takes place at our kitchen facility in Malden. Once you arrive at our facility, you will meet Chef Lorena. We set up a specific room beautifully for you; flower centerpiece, beautiful silverware and glasses, water and wine. We have a printing of the menu and we make some notes with a pen as you react to the food.
- Based on our experience, this is when our guests get excited about the food and start asking questions about our Chef, and her experience, which she happily explains if she can join us. Not only the food is excellent, but the moment is a lot of fun!
- Chef Lorena brings a dessert when it is on the menu, but also often adds it just for fun even when it is not on the menu…
- We summarize our findings together, and we zero in on final choices for your event.
- Once we have agreed on final choices, we secure a deposit of 40% of the cost of the event and we commit to each other at that point.
Well, as you are learning during your preparation phase, a successful event also requires coordination between four parties: the venue, the equipment company, the caterer, and the bartender.
Having a point person on your side to serve as coordinator between all vendors is a key piece to flawless execution and success of your event.
Over the years, we have offered catering services in different types of venues; however our venues of choice are farms and estate properties with a farm-like atmosphere for weddings or corporate events, and private properties for family parties or private parties.
The basic offering from a venue includes the place itself, typically a mix of outdoor and indoor. They typically also provide, the tent, tables and chairs. This is usually it. They look to others (usually equipment companies) for table cloth, glasses, flatware, silverware, dishes, etc.
We often get the question: “Can you recommend a venue?” Some of our regular venue partners include Connemara House in Topsfield, and the Trustees, that own about 140 great properties in greater Boston (e.g.Long Hill in Beverly, or DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln) .
Of course, we will be happy to work with the venue of your choice.
Since many venues do not have a commercial kitchen, a food truck to serve as a mobile kitchen is great option for your event.
Our main responsibility is to serve a delicious meal your guests will remember and that will make your event a success.
To translate this in action terms, we will prepare the meal you decided on, bring it onsite, and serve it to your guests in the timing we have agreed to. Of course, our price includes all the equipment needed inside the kitchen as well as the equipment required for serving.
However, our price does not include the rest of the equipment, meaning tablecloth, glasses, plates, silverware, bread baskets, coffee cups, etc. Usually the organizing party selects an equipment company to provide all this. But keep on reading…
The equipment company
Well, most people need help with the equipment (again, meaning tablecloth, glasses, plates, silverware, bread baskets, coffee cups, etc.) needed for a meal at a party or a wedding, because usually they do not think of it as a separate vendor.
We have worked with Events for Rent in the past, (http://www.eventsforrent.com/). They are located in Peabody on the North shore like us. The other advantage is that their prices are on their site.
Clients sometimes ask us to quote a price that includes the equipment, which can do on a case by case basis. We however do not have a set price structure for that.
The bartending company
You will need a bartending company to provide this service. As a caterer, we cannot do the bartending ourselves because it requires a bartending license that we do not have.
As a rule of thumb, there are usually three parts to the bartending cost:
- Permitting, license fee and basic equipment (bar structure) and ancillary (ice, mixers, olives, tonics, etc.).
- Bartending manpower cost.
- Cost of the alcohol itself. You can:
- Buy the alcohol yourself from a liquor place. This is cheaper, but forces you to guess at consumption and you are stuck with what is not consumed.
- Rely on the bartending service company, that will typically offer “consumption pricing”, i.e., only ostensibly charge you for what your group drinks, but with a heavy mark-up.
You should consult a bartending company and let us know who you choose.
- We are one of the only food trucks that can bring together the popularity of food trucks with the corporate professionalism required by venues like Connemara House and the Trustees.
- We are organized, well prepared and know about spreadsheets! We will make the “get to the event” easy for you so you can focus on your day.
- Our food is fantastic, farm-to-table, and can offer a large selection of items to meet various serving conditions such as buffet, plated, etc..
- Our prices are reasonable compared to traditional caterers
- We listen to you and act!
Want to send us a catering request? We will be happy to help.