Everyone has a different twist on the art of catering, but just like art, it comes in many forms. Through my eyes, the art actually starts with my client and their vision, and it can be as simple an execution as a 10-person dinner or as complex as a multi-day conference with 5,000 people. It can also be the dreams a client has had of a perfect wedding day experience or a dinner celebrating those most important to them. Either way, the end result is the same, and my job is to bring that concept to life by customizing, offering selections, and executing a beautiful delivery all through the creative world of catering.
Photo: The Mamones Photography
The art of customization
I once handled a wedding where the couple met at Austin, TX’s Clive Bar and had an amazing nightlong conversation over a specialty cocktail named Peppermint Surprise. Because this was such a precious memory for them, they wanted to fold this experience and story into their wedding as well. Thus, we recreated the cocktail and greeted their guests with it as they entered the reception. We even wrote the little story of how they met and placed it around the bar so their guests could read it at their leisure. This generated a pure connection between the guests and their hosts, all over one specialty cocktail, but it also allowed their guests to feel as if they were a part of the original special encounter.
Working with my clients to uncover their unique stories, and understanding what I can do to add their own flavor to the event is my favorite part of all. The personal connection and special nuances that can be infused into events is what keeps me excited each time I connect with a new client. Each one is different, but each one has a special story.
Photo: VIM Studio Photography
The art of small plates
So often people are out to dinner and wind up sampling a bite or two off each other’s plates. Why is that? It seems that everyone likes variety in a meal and in the event world, small plates can be the perfect solution for our curious nature. Wolfgang Puck Catering has an endless menu with so many delicious options that it makes finding the right combination of flavors and themes easy to bring together. Being able to have an assortment of little bites to eat somehow generates an excitable buzz at any event.
There are times when moving the catering from a buffet option to small plates allows the creative ability to present an array of different cooking styles all in one night. Just as impressive as the flavors, presenting the small plates in a unique environment merely adds to the experience. We once hosted a very large event where we provided an assortment of small plates and added a “chef action” station component. We placed our many small dishes on various shelves as if they were works of art and allowed our chefs behind the unit plating for all the guests to see….what a unique and memorable experience!
The art of plating
It seems that we all have those friends now that have to take a picture of the plate before they can eat—or that person might just be you! It’s true, a beautifully presented dish can have those at the table pulling out their phones to snap a picture, post, and brag about what they are about to eat. It’s more than a compliment to the Chef, it’s actually an important part of the guests experience before they even take a single bite.
Just as important as the high quality ingredients, so too is the presentation of the plating. It’s a work of fine art with attention to color, balance, and harmony of the dish with the extra layer of understanding how all the flavors work together.
Utilizing unique ingredients such as edible flowers and fresh produce can certainly elevate even the most traditional dish to an elegant display of art.
In the end, one thing I pride myself on is finding what’s important and special to each client and bringing their vision to light. Because everyone sees art differently, each affair is as unique as the individual, and seeing the look on their faces at the end of the night allows me to know I fulfilled their wishes.
Dana Carroll, CPCE CWC, is the Senior Catering Sales Manager for Wolfgang Puck Catering.