An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

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Sometimes money is the cheapest way out

By on Oct 31, 2008, 9:27 am in Celebrations, Learning Experiences, Reflections on the Catering Life, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

My coach made this statement to me earlier this week.

It's a statement I couldn't agree with more when it comes to hiring a caterer.

A few years back someone I know well (who shall remain nameless!) had a big bash to celebrate her 50th birthday. She was trying to save money, so decided to do the work herself. She selected a great menu (she is a great cook), planned her shopping and prep work, shopped for a couple of days, cooked for a couple of days, pulled out all her serving platters, bowls and utensils, and decorated her buffet table. And then, of course, she had to clean her kitchen before her guests showed up, since we all know guests always like to hang out in the kitchen. Especially when the hostess is still doing last minute cooking when her guests show up. She was at least smart enough to hire a helper to be there at the time of the party.

The night before the party the hostess/honoree tossed and turned in her sleep being overtired and concerned about everything going well. She hadn't spent time deciding what she was going to wear at the party, and still wasn't quite dressed before the first few guests started showing up, and she didn't have time to fix her hair the way she would have liked. While her guest all heartily enjoyed her party, she was pretty exhausted through it all.

Her helper had kept the kitchen clean during the party, and was able to wash many of the platters and serving dishes, but when she woke up the next morning, she still had to pack them, along with all the table cloths, away again. Later that day she had to return the items she had rented.

A couple of years later, I catered a 50th birthday party for a client. I met her at her home a couple of weeks before her party. Together we walked through her home and yard, decided where we would place buffet and guests tables. I was able to see what her decorative sense was. It was clear that she loved lots of color, so I made a point of bringing brightly colored fabrics to drape her buffet table.

On the day of her party, my staff and I arrived a couple of hours before her guests were scheduled to arrive. She let us in, said hello to everyone, then disappeared into her private quarters from which she emerged an hour or so later looking fabulous- coiffed, made-up and dressed to kill.

She greeted her guests in a relaxed manner and partied hard all night long. My staff greeted her guests  as soon as they arrived with drinks, passed hors d'oeuvre and at the appropriate time, a beautifully appointed buffet.

At the end of the night, when my staff and I had put away the leftover food, packed up all the serving pieces I had brought, we stopped off to say goodbye to my client, who was still enjoying drinks with her last few guests. I'm sure she slept in the next morning.

The contrast between these two provided a stark lesson for me. While it certainly cost more to hire a caterer, isn't it nice to really be able to enjoy your own party just as much as your guests?

The following is a quote from that client. It's a review I really love. It's  exactly how I want all of my clients to feel after their party.

“You and your staff made everything go so-o-o smoothly … The food was succulent and beautifully displayed. Your staff was attentive and friendly… [we] were able to just relax and enjoy our guests…It was the party I had dreamed of!”

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