C’est si bon! Delicious Catering Insight to Feed Your Reception Appetite | Restaurants
Whether you’re planning a small or large wedding reception, it’s best to gear up with a bit of knowledge before you go hunting for a caterer. I had the opportunity to meet with Michelle Pethel, catering coordinator of the restaurant Gabe’s Downtown. Gabe’s is one of the best-kept secrets of metro Atlanta offering classic upscale Louisiana fare in a casual setting. The restaurant’s executive chef and co-owner, Gabe Toups, was also executive chef at New Orleans’ renowned Broussard’s in the French Quarter as well as the Metro Bistro. Who else to receive great expert advice on selecting a caterer for one of the most memorable days of your life? Michelle offered some wonderful tips in choosing the right caterer for your reception.
- Book your caterer as one of the first things to do on your wedding planning list. “You have to make sure you have time to establish an RSVP date that works well with the caterers’ final count day,” says Michelle.
- “Figure out what your total budget is for catering, and let the caterer know,” shares Michelle. “Tax and gratuity is usually not included in the menu costs. You also have to think about that. That’s why it’s best to give them your complete budget.” This will allow the caterer to offer certain foods or other options to stay within your budget.
- Check your caterer’s Facebook page. That’s going to tell a lot about their services. “Facebook is a good judge because people will write on the wall. You’ll see pictures and how they interact with their clients. If you read a negative review, feel comfortable in asking the restaurant or caterer what happened… We also have Tumblr… not every caterer has a blog, but we do.”
- “Make sure they have the food that you want,” says Michelle. It sounds simple enough, but think again. Although you have chosen a theme for your wedding and imagined the type of food you’d like to serve your guests, some caterers may not provide it. Also, depending on your needs, find out if you can order menu items a la carte, or if you are required to stick to their packages.
- Ask if the caterer will provide linens, china, silverware, and glassware. If this is a critical need on your reception list, remember to find out when talking with various caterers because some will only provide the food. Keep in mind that if linens and the extras are provided, it could increase your catering charge.
- If there is a caterer that you desire to use, make sure your venue allows you to use outside catering. Some places require that you use their preferred list of vendors, which may include caterers that are unfamiliar to you. As a result, this might affect your venue selection. “If food is important to you, consider selecting your caterer before your venue,” Michelle says.
- Be certain your venue has a kitchen, especially if you have a sit-down dinner. Having accessibility to a kitchen allows your caterer to prepare and serve your cuisine at a high quality.
- Although sit-downs are more expensive than buffets, you are usually offered a better selection of foods.
- “Trust your caterer’s opinion,” says Michelle. “For example, if they tell you fried food does not work well on a buffet unless you have a fryer there, trust them.”
- Lastly, but most importantly, taste their food! Their display and presentation may be stunning, but that doesn’t mean their food is. “Think about what’s most important to you,” Michelle emphasizes, “Display or quality?”
To learn more about catering choices and fine cuisine, Michelle at Gabe’s Downtown is an excellent source.