- April 23, 2013 - 1:21 pm
- Wedding Plans
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Most of us have never planned an event as complex as as a wedding before. There are many parts that need to work in concert to bring your perfect day together, like the individual instruments of an orchestra. One of the largest pieces making up your final concerto will be the food. The meal may not be the most memorable part of the wedding, but if it is not carefully prepared and beautifully presented it can leave your guests feeling 'off key'.
Before you begin the caterer search, you’ll most likely want to have your reception venue, date and time, set. Once your venue is set, you are ready to figure out a variety of other details, including whether or not they offer in-house catering or have a list of recommended caterers. You may need to rent chairs, table linens, silverware, etc., the site coordinator may have some suggestions on where to begin your search. Of course recommendations from friends and family or other newly married couples can give you great insight too!
How to Budget for your Wedding Reception
The caterer’s cost will usually fluctuate based on a few different factors:
- Number of guests
- Menu choices
- Cost of ingredients, steak is usually more expensive than chicken
- Additional rentals, ie. plates, table linens
- Presentation - buffet style, seated service or tray service
- Staff/Bartender service
Being flexible about these variables will help you and your caterer create the best menu within your budget.
How to Choose the Best Wedding Caterer
Remember this is your day, so you'll want to work with a caterer who is most willing to work with you to put together a that fabulous reception you’ve been dreaming about.
Questions to Ask Your Caterer
- Does the caterer specialize in certain types of food or service? (They should provide you with sample menus to review.)
- Can they prepare vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free or other meals for dietary restrictions?
- Will they prepare kids meals?
- Will the caterer be willing to include a recipe you provide, like a special family dish, or an appetizer with some sort of sentimental significance?
- What kind of deposit do they require to hold a wedding date? What are the payment schedule options?
- What is the refund or cancellation policy? What is the caterer's average price range?
- Are costs itemized depending on the foods you choose, or is there an all-inclusive flat rate?
- Does the caterer have printed price sheets for food selections?
- Are gratuities already figured into the total price?
- Do they require a minimum or maximum number of guests?
- When will they require the final head count?
- Do they offer menu tastings?
- Can the caterer arrange for a tasting of the specific foods you're interested in prior to hiring?(If a caterer you’re considering doesn’t offer you a tasting, taking the time to check their references becomes all the more important)
- Consider arranging a time to sample for two. It will be worth your time, since a significant piece of the budget is at stake, and you and your fiancé can make a date of it.
- Will the caterer provide tables, chairs, plates, table linens, silverware, salt-and-pepper shakers, and more?
- If not, can they coordinate rentals, including pick-up and return, with a third party?
- Can I bring in my own rentals if the cost is less?
- Does the caterer handle all table settings? Will they put out place cards and favors?
- Where will the food be prepared? Are there on-site facilities, or do you, the caterer, and the site manager need to make additional arrangements? If the caterer must bring in his own equipment, is there an additional fee?
- How will the caterer arrange the food on the buffet table or on plates? Can you see photos of previous work displays? Can you speak to previous clients?
- Who is the main contact? Will the same person you work with when planning also oversee meal service on the day of the wedding?
- Will the caterer provide wait staff? Do you provide bartenders? How many would they recommend for the size of your wedding?
- Who will oversee the event and catering staff?
- Can the caterer provide alcohol? Or can you handle the bar separately?
- If you bring your own alcohol, is there a corkage fee? How and when will you get the alcohol to the caterer?
- If the caterer will provide it, do they have an flexible wine list, and can you make special requests? How is this list priced?
- Do they provide liquor? What is the cost per drink/bottle? Will you buy back unopened bottles? Can I bring in my own liquor, and if so, is there a corkage fee?
- What are the benefits of an open bar vs. a cash bar?
- Does the caterer also do wedding cakes? Can you use an outside baker if you desire?
- Can I bring my own wedding cake or groom’s cake?
- Is there a cake-cutting fee? Will they box the cake for guests to take home? Will they box the top tier of the cake for freezing?
- How much time do they need to set up and break down?
- Will the caterer provide food for the photographer, videographer, or musicians?
- When does the menu need to be finalized? When will you provide the final per-person cost?
- March 10, 2013 - 10:39 am
- Beyond the Cafe
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by: Katherine Shaye
Looking for that personal touch? Need a little culinary hand-holding?
Chef Deb Cantrell has just the services you need to realign your dietary focus, and bring more healthy eating into your life. She specializes in personal chef services, private dinners and dietary consulting / coaching, with a special focus on medically-necessary and healthy diets.
Chef Deb and Chef Janet Z. became fast friends in the tight knit Fort Worth culinary world 3 years ago. When Deb needed a larger kitchen to expand her fledgling personal chef business, she called Janet to partner in renting the Z’s Café commercial kitchen and bring more quality food options to the masses. Z’s is proud to announce that Chef Deb has now found her own kitchen to expand her rapidly growing business!
With the advancement of nutrition studies, more and more people are gaining insight into how the food we eat affects our bodies and our lives. For some people, cutting gluten, sugar, or meat from their diet can have a positive impact on their overall health, but it can be hard to know the best ways balance nutrition levels without these foods.
Chef Cantrell has coached countless clients through newly diagnosed dietary restrictions, helping them get started on a new path through one-on-one, personal dietary consultations, including menu planning and food counseling. Imagine a whole week’s worth of meals already decided on, no last minute worries about what to cook or how to make it healthy and delicious for your food sensitive family members. Chef Cantrell will guide you through the process of substitutions. Food restrictions don’t have to mean the end of nutritious meals. With Chef Cantrell it can actually mean expanding your palate to a whole host of new delicious tastes.
Changing your diet often starts with the contents of your fridge and pantry. It’s where your meals begin. After an initial consultation meeting, Chef Cantrell will come into your kitchen and help you decide what to keep what to throw out and what healthier options might be able to replace your old favorites. Stocking your kitchen nutritiously is one of the first steps to making delicious meals that will keep your body happy and functioning. Chef Cantrell will help you learn to interpret food labels to avoid unhealthy or off-limit items.
Her blog has tips on everything from how to survive the holidays with dietary restrictions to heart-healthy foods to keep your system in tip top shape. She offers instruction sessions including tips on the best and latest sources to find recipes, locally-grown food, farmers markets and online products. She also works with doctors, nutritionists and several regional and national nutritional organizations to keep up with the latest research.
Her business, Savor Culinary Services, serves Fort Worth, Arlington, Keller, Colleyville, Southlake, North Dallas (including Frisco and Plano) and surrounding areas. Check her out and reimagine your whole diet.
- February 20, 2013 - 1:49 pm
- Wedding Plans
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In a perfect world, choosing a wedding venue would be as easy as walking into the building and simply knowing it was right. The feeling would be magical and everything else would fall into place. In reality, there are quite a few questions to ask and details to work out before that perfect ceremony comes together.
- First things first -
The first two details you’ll want to work out are your budget and your guest list. This will give you an idea of how large the venue needs to be and about how much of your total budget you are willing to spend on the location.
- Be prepared -
Planning early is also key. Venues can fill up very quickly, sometimes a year in advance. Being prepared will help you find space in your dream venue. As soon as you have a date set, you’ll want to start looking. Some locations will let you reserve space for a short time without placing a deposit. This a great way to keep your options open while not missing out on a potentially dream venue.
- Weathering the weather -
Depending on the season, you may be oscillating between indoor or outdoor options. Spring and summer temperatures make for perfect outdoor wedding conditions and the outdoors will be less space restrictive for your guests, but beware of rain and high winds. Make sure that you have a contingency plan for inclement weather. Ask the site manager what options there are for shelter if you need to hop inside at a moment’s notice.
- The devil is in the details –
Another important question to ask when you are booking a venue is what services are included for the price you are paying. It’s good to get these details in writing, especially if the ceremony and reception will be in the same location. Some reception halls don’t provide a kitchen area for food preparation and setup. If that is the case, you’ll need to discuss this with your caterer to determine what food will need to be prepared in advance, and how perishable items can be kept hot or cold. Logistical items such as guest parking, valet service, wheelchair ramps and handicap-accessible bathrooms are also important things to consider. Taking care of these questions in advance will help you enjoy your special day without any mishaps.
- Strike a pose –
Though you may have your photos taken at another location, it can be good to scout out a picturesque spot to have the wedding party photographed. Especially in an outdoors location, nature can set a beautiful backdrop requiring very little addition to the natural setting.
- Elbow room –
Will there be enough space for a band? A dance floor? If these are important to you for the reception, make sure there will be a space for them. Your guests and any service providers—caterers, musicians, etc—should all fit comfortably within the space. Find out the square footage of your venue to help you plan out table positions, serving stations, and the entertainment setup.
Most importantly, remember to relax a little. Your wedding reception is meant to be a grand celebration with your friends and family. No matter what you decide that piece will be great.
Check out our list of local wedding venues for more ideas!
By: Katherine Shaye
by: Katherine Shaye
By now the slogan ‘think global, act local’ has burned itself into the mainstream consciousness, and is a basic tenet of many environmental and cooperative based movements. Still, it can be hard to keep sight of what it means on an individual basis to act local. It’s hard to even know where to even start.
If you are looking to start the new year off with a local resolution, buying from small, neighborhood business owners is a very easy way to support community and ‘act local.’ Many studies show that the money spent at local businesses, rather than large chains, is more likely to be used to purchase products from other local businesses further strengthening the community economy. This gives every dollar more power to circulate in and strengthen your neighborhood. The dollar you spend at the family owned hardware store may be used to buy dinner vegetables at the farmer’s market for the hardware owner. The farmer may then buy jeans from the local seamstress. Each iteration gets the consumers what they need and creates new opportunities.
A great place to shop local is your community farmer’s market or food co-op. Food here can often be easily traced back to the very farm it was grown on, sometimes located within miles of the market. Aside from the environmental benefits of buying food that doesn’t travel far, another advantage is that the food is often fresher. Growers who send their products across thousands of miles have to pick produce before it is ripe so it can ripen on the road and be ready for consumption when it arrives at your grocery store. When food is grown closer, it can spend more time growing on the vine, making it tastier and healthier when it gets to you. Also with a farmer’s market, you can speak directly with the food growers finding out the exact processes involved in bringing the food from a seed in the ground to a veggie on your plate.
Shopping local is a choice that allows you to worry less about pesticides and preservatives, and more about the positive effect you can have on your surroundings. Looking for the best place to find locally grown goods in your neighborhood? Check out Local Harvest- http://www.localharvest.org/