As weddings have, by default, changed this year, the job of wedding vendors has changed, but it hasn't changed the fact that you still need your vendors. Especially caterers; you have to eat.
On this week’s podcast episode, we're joined by ROOTS Catering, Chef Craig Barber, to walk us through the wedding catering, what wedding catering looks like these days in the times of smaller and virtual weddings.
Bustld: Can you still have full-service catering with such a small group?
Chef Craig: So, you can still have full-service catering for a small group and we actually do have some smaller events that we are providing a chef, and maybe a server and a bartender for. And if it's a small group, you can still get all the service that it would require, especially if it's like an outdoor event for 11 to 15 people and then you have a bartender, a couple of servers, and your chef on site. You still have a really, really great experience. And arguably, an even better, more memorable experience than you may have had on that blink of an eye of your normal big day. But yes, you can still have full service. You just can't have it on the scale that you may have been imagining.
Bustld: What do you think is changing in the way of traditional wedding catering kind of as things are changing and restrictions are changing?
Chef Craig: I think that the restrictions right now are obviously forcing us to make changes to the weddings and events that we're having. But I think some of them are actually going to stick around long-term…. I think weddings will tend to be smaller going forward for a while. And then for the other large weddings, how that looks different is with our service style. Essentially, we have served buffets so there's no guests touching the plates or the utensils, we have served stations, we're even doing a boxed wedding this coming weekend. So every single station that they would have gotten normally, is all going to be in a nice, tied box.
Bustld: When you're doing a smaller wedding, is cocktail hour still necessary? Is this something that couples should still do?
Chef Craig: I think it's necessary, but I don't think that you have to really restrict yourself to the concept of cocktail hour. I think you can, depending on the size of your wedding. I hate passed hors d'oeuvres at events that are small anyways because it just gets awkward for everybody really quick. The server might as well just stand in the crowd and join the conversation at that point with him, holding the plate of food because there's no point going around asking all 12 people if they want the same thing over and over again. You can still do the cocktail hour; we're just modifying the cocktail hour. What we're doing is trying to get people to do some sort of grazing table type of situation. However, we're just modifying the way that guests are having access to the food and the way that we are actually plating and making the food. So, I think just kind of stepping outside of the box from the actual cocktail hour and just making it the socialization part of the event, but definitely keeping it.
Bustld: So, as things change, do you think— is it even safe to pass food at this point?
Chef Craig: Right now, we are not doing any passed hors-d'oeuvres. Like I said, our main goal is to reduce contact between our staff and our guests for both the guests' safety and our staffs' safety. So I think there will be a time when it's perfectly fine to pass hors-d'oeuvres where it won't be any different than somebody going out to eat at a restaurant anyways. But currently, no passed hors-d'oeuvres. And if somebody is looking for something passed, we did a wedding where we changed all passed appetizers to things that are individually compartmentalized, or on individual service where it was either on a pick or on a spoon, or in some sort of vessel, with a mini fork or something like that. And then the tough part was figuring out the cocktail napkin situation. So we put cocktail napkins in small stacks all over the event, and people could grab them as they please.
Bustld: When we're looking at these smaller weddings, how does that affect pricing for the couples when you can't order in bulk? Typically, you order in bulk, you get a better price. So how does that affect your couples or are you keeping it in about the same as it was before?
Chef Craig: So for us, we're not charging any more than what we would normally charge for a regular event. What's actually happening is folks have, let's say they have a $10,000 budget for their wedding, all of a sudden, they have— they can get a heck of a lot more for a lot less people for $5,000. So the budgets, the per person budget, is actually expanding.
Bustld: If couples are going virtual, how can they still incorporate a catering option?
Chef Craig: So if couples are going virtual and they want to incorporate a catering option, then, really, Little Fete or some sort of delivery catering is the way to go. Contact your catering company and see what their options are for drop-off for your event because you can make a drop-off almost as nice as what the full service would be. You can even ask your caterer to provide the full setup for you with chafers, and the display, and things like that, with the little notes and instructions on things of where the food goes once it's ready. We've done that for quite a few clients. And then we provide them with the large empty bins. They put everything in the bins, leave it on their doorstep, and then we come pick it up the next day, bring it back to our place, and sanitize everything.
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