Friday, August 1, 2008

Catering Tastings

Over the years we have attended many catering "tastings" with our clients. Some caterers and reception venues do a good job at a tasting and others are dreadful. How would you like to be the bride and groom (along with their parents) paying $ 30,000. to a hotel for your wedding reception and at your final tasting be served a single salad with 5 forks for all to share? This really happened and was embarrassing. The hotel continued the fiasco by serving one entree next to the whole group next and expected everyone to use the same forks to dig in together to taste. No wine was offered, no hors d'oeuvres to taste, no bread, no dessert, no coffee, no courtesy, no class. Let's just say that although the wedding reception that was held there a couple of months later was fine, I never recommended the hotel venue again.

Now let's look at a better scenario: I was with a client last week for a tasting at Classic Catering People in Owings Mills. They are catering the bride's August wedding. The bride and groom along with the groom's parents and I attended the tasting along with our wonderful sales executive Terri Young. Terri is not only one of the best catering managers in the area, but always develops a killer menu for the event.
At this tasting, we were led to a private room with a beautifully set table. I had arranged for the bride's tablecloth choice to be delivered the day ahead in order for her to see it on the table with the china, glassware and flatware that the catering is using for the wedding. Everyone was offered a drink by a wonderful server. After some conversation about the schedule for the wedding day and logistics of the rentals for the wedding, our server proceeded to bring out a parade of 10 crazy good hors d'oeuvres choices. (Be sure to see the next blog post which contains valuable tips to use at the tasting). Seven types of fabulous morsels made the cut. The guests will be thrilled.

After a nice interlude of a few more minutes of logistics discussion, the server arrived back in the room with the first course options. Half of us were served a Layered Summer Salad of mixed greens, watermelon croutons, feta cheese, toasted Sesame seeds and radishes in a soy-lime vinaigrette and half of us were served a Stack of Fresh Mozzarella and Red and Yellow Tomatoes with a Basil Vinaigrette. The food was beautifully presented and it was a difficult choice because they were both delicious. Since the wedding hasn't happened yet, I won't reveal the final choice here.

May I just mention the creative bread basket? It was filled with housemade garlic bread, petite ciabatta rolls, and butter triangles. Delish.

Of course in typical Classic Catering first class service, the entree selections came out next. Once again we were each served a complete plate presentation of 2 choices of entrees with accompaniments of vegetables and potatoes. They were very impressive plates of food. Again, I'll leave actual choices from everyone for now but promise to post more after the wedding takes place next week.

The tasting appointment lasted about 1.5 hours and the bride and groom left full and satisfied that their wedding reception food will be awesome. It was a wonderful experience.


Shayna Walker said...

We have a venue that does exactly what you described first - and it's one of the BETTER tasting experiences locally. Many of our caterers refuse to do them at all (it's regional, but still wrong). I'm going to have to send our caterers a link to your post and hope they'll get a clue. Great tips!