Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why use a caterer for your wedding? STEP AWAY FROM THE CATERER ???


Why use a caterer for your wedding?
PERHAPS NOT SUCH GOOD ADVICE – Bon Appetit Magazine !!

Yesterday, as if a cruel April 1st joke, but unfortunately not,  on the caterBuzz facebook group forum, a peer to peer industry support group, Rachel Holst, of Main Course California Catering, brought to our attention  article in Bon Appetit Magazine.
An article with some outrageous and frankly insulting statements about the catering 

The word about the Bon Appetit article and ensuing indignation, spread quickly throughout the on-line catering world with outrage coming from the ICA International CateringAssociation and  NACE - National Association for Catering and Events, as well as industry tradeshow and education leader, 

Together we are all industry organizations and resources representing the collective talents of upwards of 50k plus  professional passionate caterers, whose businesses range from boutique small businesses to multimillion dollar family owned concerns to university caterers and everyone in between.

Several highly questionable 
and extremely offensive statements 
struck a nerve to two with 
our catering industry colleagues in 
the April 2015 Bon Appetit article entitled 
“the BA (Bon Appetit) Guide to the 
              Most Fun 
                   Wedding Ever”  

Here’s one quote (see photo)
Bon Appetit Page 28, April 2015: 

“When was the last time you left 
   a wedding and thought 
“That meal was delicious?” 
OH, that’s right.  NEVER.”     
There is only one wedding guarantee, 
besides the unflattering bridesmaid dresses,  
The food will be forgettable”

With one broad stroke of the keyboard, 
the author and Bon Appetit Editors,  
condemned all professional caterers 
and their work as subpar.  

Publishing this slanted article, 
ignores not only the culinary talents of 
hundred of thousands of caterers, 
but also ignores the professional skills, 
food safety knowledge and offsite mad 
crazy tricks of the trade that caterers possess. 
Skills that assure your event is catered safely, 
and also get the job done with style, taste and deliciousness. 

Of course there are some caterers & restaurants 
where you leave wishing you had never 
lifted the fork from the plate to your mouth. 
But frankly there are thousands and thousands of
passionate, talented caterers
who can manage your event better than MOST restaurants ever can.  An  experienced catering chef has skills to 
pull off an offsite event that the typical restaurant 
line chef doesn't typically need (and visa versa).  

And to insinuate that all chicken served 
at weddings by caterers will be bone dry
… and not offer up solutions that do exist for tasty moist chicken

or to insinuate that all caterers are NOT experienced capable culinarians.

A good catering chef understands the secrets to producing delicious wedding food, and  can custom prepare menus to fit  your tastes, AND works  out the logistics of the venue you've chosen to make sure your event will be all that it can be... be it an outdoor space with no water or built in kitchen facilities, or a fully equipped event space.

Rachel Holst’s rebuttal to Bon Appetit
posted on her Facebook Page was spot on:

Rachel Holst

VP and Executive Chef Main Course California Catering 
Ventura, California
15 hrs (ground zero post)· 
Here is the letter I wrote to Bon Appetit today. They got under my skin and jumped into my frying pan!
I have enjoyed Bon Appetit for years. I have many clients who will see a recipe and ask for it to be incorporated into their menus for their big event.
I love making amazing, insanely delicious food for our client's weddings. We bring a whole other level of food to catering events. I trained under chef John Besh, Thomas Keller, and John Folse. I can cook you up something real nice, but better yet, I can do it anywhere you want, under any conditions, no electricity, no water, no paved or graded roads...Ask your precious restaurant chefs to do that, and they will wilt under the pressure. They can't take the heat. They need to stay in their kitchens.
I am so sad, and a little ready to take y'all out in a roller derby match, to read that you twice suggest for those who want a fabulous wedding reception to ditch the caterer. Really? Is that all you got in solving the problem of dry chicken? And your solution to it - hiring a restaurant to cater an off-site event that is one of the most important functions of the couple's lives....disaster waiting to happen when they show up late, don't have the reception site set up when guests arrive, under staff the event because " they don't do that" and everyone is still eating cold and dry food because they plated up before the toasts were over. Chicken, hamachi tostadas, pizza, you name all turns dry when not expertly served.
My company has done some amazing, thrilling and downright damned delicious catering - from slaughtering heritage pigs and roasting them Filipino style to cooking whole lamb over an open flame to cooking an entire Argentine menu on the top of a client's hill ( that we had to first grade with a loader, then seed with wild flowers and grasses and work with the equipment company to create a kitchen in the middle of no where). We do things right. Why not write about THAT? Give people great, exciting, creative options that take them out of the ballroom and into the thrill of an event? The food will be fantastic - WHEN you find a GREAT caterer who cares about the food, the guests and the client.
I invite you to come to my Outstanding in the Field dinner on June 21st at a hip permaculture farm just south of Santa Barbara. Come on, you need a break from the soul-sucking hustle of a big city. You need a Southern California farm date with a caterer who will have you on your knees begging mea culpa after having tasted our Cochon de lait.
With love, and just a pinch of pissed,
Rachel Main Holst
Main Course California
Ventura, CA

I am writing this from both personal experience as well as professional view.   I am the owner of a boutique NYC catering company, with over collectively over 74 years of catering experience in my company alone,  as well as the founder and moderator of caterBuzz, a 1437+ member catering support group, 

In our view the Bon Appetit article is riddled with inaccuracies, half truths and just plain bad advice.  

So you want to cater your own wedding via using an assortment of local restaurants  and their food  – yes, it can be done, let's check and see what you might need to pull that off…

1. Someone with the expertise to plan a well balance menu that will ensure there’s enough food for guests and their various needs and tastes. 

2. Someone who will ensure that food will be fresh, delicious, transported and held under safe temperature conditions, that ensure no guests get sick. 

Hopefully this will be a Professionally trained individual that has the equipment and facilities to bring to the event, to keep cold food cold and hot food hot and to keep all food SAFE.  #FoodSafety

3. Someone who knows that heating food up in a chafing dish is a “no-no” with the Health Department, because that food will not come to the safe temperature in time and be at risk of causing food poisoning to you, your family and your beloved guests.   #FoodSafety

Restaurant Chefs might have this knowledge and resources as well and especially those who have a catering component to their business  – Do bear in mind there is a difference between producing food on site in a restaurant space vs producing food on site in a the middle of a field.  And cooking for 200 at one time for a 30 minute dinner service, is different than cooking for 200 over the course of an evening

And if the restaurant chefs are producing food and transporting it to your site, then they are in fact not just restaurants but they are by definition  also “caterers”.   Caterers are also trained chefs with culinary degrees and vast on the job experience.   #caterersRchefs2   

4 . oh, yes, someone to deal with the leftovers – sure we don’t want to waste food and merely dump what is left at the end of the night…. However, as responsible food service professionals, your caterer will be making decisions all along the way to ensure that you and your guests enjoy the food and don’t enjoy any unwanted nasty bacterial side effects. 

5. Someone to oversee the bar service and make sure guests drink responsibly.  <<< the booziest wedding ever …. really – wonder how you would feel if heaven forbid a drunk guest from your event gets into a head on collision?  >>>

6. Someone who will be willing and obligated to be the “bad guy” who cuts off alcohol service when guests are over-imbibing.  Hopefully the professional who suggests procedures and guidelines to ensure everyone gets home safely at the end of the night and who suggests appropriate insurance policies as well.  #DrinkResponsibly

7. Oh – with todays allergen ridden and dietary restricted guest lists – some life threatening, some just a matter of choice, **make sure to label all food offerings – highlighting what is vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and have a complete list of ingredients available just in case – oh, did the seemingly "vegetarian dish" from the Asian restaurant have fish sauce in it – hmmmnnnn, couldn’t tell until one of the guests throat's started closing up due to a sensitivity to iodine…  
 #foodallergies   #labelyourofferings  #vegan  #vegetarian #nutfree #dairyfree #kosher  #seafood

Wait – we have just the person to help you …..your professional caterer can do all that – yes, we as caterers do all that and MORE!!!! 

We, as Caterers, provide more than just great food – Caterers provide food safety, Caterers provide hours and hours of planning and hand holding and Caterers offer up years of experience, a lot of talent, so much  love and incredible passion for our beloved catering industry.  Our catering industry and professional wedding vendors are here to serve you and so many, many  caterers do it with good tasting food, beautifully presented and safely maintained while adhering or shifting to meet our clients and their guests culinary needs!

"Think of catering as a 1 foot ruler", Robyn Cavallaro, Sagra Catering and Events owner in Hellerton, Pennsylvania tells her catering clients.  What you can actually see that you are paying for represents 2" on that ruler.  What you don't see that makes your event a success equals the other 10" on that ruler.  Order, shop, prep, pack, load, unload, setup/cook on site, cleanup, load, unload at shop, clean and store."  Thanks Robyn Cavallaro , for sharing with the caterbuzz members a concise, wonderful analogy that helps us as caterers explain to our catering clients why catering is more than just great food and professional service.
The outrage of the catering community is being voiced on social media sites such as facebook, twitter, instragram as well as here in the blogosphere.


click to see above to enlarge the article and on Bon Appetit's facebook page  various posts by outraged caterers made to 
Wow! As a professional caterer I am in shock to see what you have published. This kind of remarks are uncalled for and leave little to be desired from your publication. Yes, just like in every industry there are bad caterers, good caterers and excellent caterers. To make such a generalization is absurd, and uncalled for. Not every restaurant provides good or great services, this said that does not mean all restaurants are bad. This article or post devalues all the hard work that goes into catering an event. There is such much more than just the food that goes into making an event an affair to remember non the less as caterers we make sure to make food the star of the event. I will not speak on behalf of all the caterers but will do so on behalf of all the true professional caterers. We spend hours working on customized menus and pulling resources to make sure our clients are beyond satisfy with our services to the extend of making lasting friendships with some of our clients. I'm sure this hardly happens at a restaurants I my self have one client who loves your publication and we sit down to review regularly and discuss how we can incorporate recipes he has seen on BA in the several events he hosts a year. Like me there are many that do the same at least to have as a reference and starting point. I bet a big % of your subscription comes from industry professionals so to slap us with this article it's truly disheartening and disconcerting. I will be speaking with my client to stop working with your publication and to start looking at other options from the many out there. I invite you to take a closer look at the catering world to see what it is really all about. 
Thank you for your time, Fernando J Asencio, TOSS Catering& Event Productions Miami, Florida

This was brought to my attention on the Caterbuzz page today. Bon Appetit has made some very unflattering assumptions about catering. I've emailed the editors and hope everyone else does as well. I'd appreciate an apology in next month's issue at the very least otherwise this long time subscriber will be canceling.
Or find the on Facebook @bonappetitmag,
Twitter @bonappetit
Instagram @bonappetitmag

Jody Wimer posted this on her personal Facebook Page
CEO and Founder  JPC Event group
Making public rants, or voicing opinions of any kind on social media isn't my thing really... But today when I read a highly insulting and unbelievably maligning article towards my industry by ‪#‎bonappetitmagazine‬ (a periodical well followed by my peers and associates) I was stymied.
To lump all caterers as unnecessary hacks, and glorify restaurant chefs as wedding day saviors, is incredibly libelous, unprofessional and harmful. In my years pursuing and obtaining an English degree, I was taught that journalism should not harm, should be unbiased, and should not make definitive statements. @bonappetit manages to do all three things in one short, incredibly uneducated article.
I can only truly speak for myself and that of the company that my husband and I founded 17 years ago, but I know the paradigm of fresh, local, sustainable food, cooked fresh on-site at every event and served to the best of our ability with the utmost care and quality is how we operate every day. We are consistently told year after year, event after event that our food is the best food our clients and their guests have EVER had and we have the legitimate awards to back that up.
As a past board member of the International Caterers Association, I say "shame on you @bonappetit." You have bitten one of the industry hands that feeds you. And we will be canceling our subscription. ‪#‎cateringlife‬‪#‎awardwinner‬ ‪#‎sustainablecatering‬

Chef/Owner:  Everyday Gourmet, LLC, Richmond, Va

As a caterer, I'm amused (and would've been insulted had I possess a lower confidence in my cooking skills) at your blanket assumption that we can't cook wedding reception menu as well as our restaurant chefs counterpart; that our professional servers and bartenders can be replaced by the couple's friends; that our bakers (in house or at other bakeries) are not worth consulting to create a wedding cake that's memorable, both for the sight and the palate.
Yes, it's trendy to do a DIY wedding, and it makes for an entertaining article. I'm sure it sells magazines! If only you would've been a fly on our catering kitchen (or, tent) wall; you might have published a less condescending piece.

Because there's a good chance that you might have heard frantic calls from brides who decided - usually a month before their wedding, that they needed a caterer after all, that the DIY plans overwhelmed them. You might have lost count on the number of restaurant chefs who refer clients to us.

You might have swooned over the delicious sight and smell of the food our crew cook fresh for every event. You might have bitten your finger in suspense as we orchestrated 8-cook plating brigade, 32 front of the house staff, 6 dishwashing crew, to feed 400 guests a 3-course luncheon within 1.5 hours - under a tent.

You might be surprised that we actually shop, cook and plate some celebrity chef's menu at some high brow benefits while the TV personality razzle and dazzle the wealthy patrons.

You might have strained your back lugging dozens of 50-lb coolers of food, platters, chafing dishes, ice, drinks, racks for plates, glasses, silverware, linens, hopping on and off cargo vans.

And oh! Don't forget the makeshift three-compartment sink and sanitation kit. And thermometer. And fire extinguisher. The irony is the better the catering professionals (caterers, event planners, rental companies, venue staff, and so on), the less the guests know about how much work actually goes in behind AND before the event.

My broad assumption is that your writers and editors are more likely be guests at events. I wish you had taken the time to explore what's going on behind the events. Instead, you arrived late to the party, driving your proverbial bus too fast to stop it from ramming us, the event professionals that have been supportive of you all these years. As service professionals, we know this: everyone makes mistakes. The question is how would you make it right?

Owner, Bits, Bites and Boxes based in Loomis, CA
As a professional caterer, I am completely offended by your article on wedding food. To imply that all caterers serve horrible food is a disservice to the culinary industry. Your suggestion to ask a restaurant to cook food for a wedding is asinine because, by all definitions, that is in fact catering.
Ditch the caterer all together? Would you have the bride carve a pig in her wedding dress?
Having family members provide the food is an option, certainly; although potentially dangerous. Would you like a side of food borne illness with your buffet?
Yes, there are caterers that do a poor job. As there are restaurants with varying degrees of ability and quality. By and large, caterers care about their food and desire nothing more than to provide a great experience for their clients, weddings included.
You owe an apology to caterers.

I guarantee you, there isn't a restaurant in my area that could come CLOSE to matching the heart and soul we give to our clients, not to mention the taste and quality of food. How disappointing for your publication to disrespect the many amazing and wonderful catering professionals dedicated to their craft.

as found on twitter and instagram

Kate Patay, the Secretary/Treasurer of NACE - the National Association for Catering and Events
 has a great response on her blog.

Truly shocking ignorance expressed in your recommendation to skip the caterer as a way to improve the food at a wedding. We caterers love restaurants and the amazing food they produce. What makes expert caterers indispensable for events is the ability to produce great food for all the guests simultaneously - and without the benefit of the restaurant kitchen on site. To overlook the unique requirements of catering is to demonstrate a total lack of understanding of both the restaurant and catering professions. That article should never have made it past the editors. You owe caterers an apology, and you owe it to yourself to seek out the incredible food many of us produce at our events.

The caterBuzz & Catering Industry Challenge
to Bon Appetit Magazine Editors

We caterers are throwing down the gauntlet and 
challenging you to commission an article
and do your research on the many many
talented chef/caterers who know how
to make food safe AND delicious, even in
the toughest of facilities or in fields up
a dirt road. An article about those very 
same caterers whose clients love them
AND whose catering companies continue
to cater thousands of delicious weddings

with moist tasty fresh food event after event!!

Caterers and Buzzie Members With so many hashtags to choose from 
- these are being used by various folks 

- use one - use them all - use none 

but do post, and
DO make your voice heard, and BE counted...
if you are so inclined, please repost this blog link  (copy and paste)

keep spreading the word via social media
...that our catering voices matter 

and our catering chefs talents are substantial !!





#cateringlife - as this has a big following already, its a good secondary tag)

BTW: Main switchboard number for Conde Nast is 1-212-286-2860, 
ask for the Bon Appetit Department.

We hope that you will consider caterBuzz as your traveling eye for the inquisitive professional catering guys and gals around the globe.  Sharing and learning from each others as only like minded professional caterers can do, through pictures, stories, questions and answers, available here on and also on our facebook caterBuzz group page, a private forum for the catering community.  Look at the about description section of our facebook page for instructions on how to join the group as well as a bit about what the culture of caterBuzz and ground rules we play by.


Unknown said...

I've been telling my fiance that we should get someone to cater our wedding. It is a lot easier on us, and we know the food is going to be amazing. Hopefully after a few more times asking her she will give in and let me have the one thing I want. Thanks for the great article.

Unknown said...

Discover a catering company for any event is not a simple task. There are a lot of essentials to judge from price tag, to menu, to what’s gave by whom and what you need to give yourself. However with that being said, food is central and with the right catering company, it’s also graceful and predictably mouth-watering.

Unknown said...

Quality catering service is important to make sure on time, and tasty food are made. Imagine what would be the guests, bride and groom's reaction if food are tasty.