Yep. I'm branching out into Sponsored Posts (or at least a sponsored post).
But instead of giving you the usual "this company is so wonderful because blah blah blah" in my voice, I thought it would be a lot cooler to let Elizabeth of Whoa Nelly! Catering have her say in her own voice.
And her voice is perfect for ESB. So without further ado....
hi, i'm elizabeth griffiths, the co-owner of Whoa Nelly! Catering. my partner, stephanie bone and i opened Whoa Nelly! Catering to be a fresh voice in the often stale world of special event catering. we love catering weddings, but there is one question that we get so often that we felt like we wanted to address it in a public forum: "why the f* does it cost so much!?"
catering a wedding is expensive. there are lots of caterers out there, and there are a wide variety of price points to choose from. that being said, if you want a caterer who cares passionately about the caliber of food being served at your wedding, get ready to spend more money than you would on an enchilada bar from the neighborhood taco joint (not that there is anything wrong with going that route. god knows, steph and i love a 'lada and a marg'...)
we're just going to lay it out here: if you hire us to cater your wedding, you should expect to pay between $75 and $100 per person on food and service. (note, that does not include rentals. why the f* rentals cost so much should be a blog of its own, not just a post...) but back to our average quotes: can we do it for less? yes. will you have to be flexible, and willing to streamline what you want? yes. is it our job to give our clients the very best value for their money, and get them as close to their vision as is financially possible? every. single. time.
so, you might ask, then why does it cost so much to have whoa nelly! cater your wedding? well, here are three basic reasons:
1. ingredients. there's a lot of lip service given to using farmers market ingredients. most of it is BS -- like if you use a local, farmers market ingredient in one dish, all of a sudden you're legit. we buy every single piece of produce we use at the farmers markets. one bunch of the beautiful, spicy, picked two-days-ago arugula that we buy from flora bella farm costs almost as much as a 3# bag of the pre-washed, picked-2-weeks-ago, flavorless stuff. But because we use these vibrant, delicious, heirloom ingredients, our salads look like this:
not like this:
one more note on ingredients. we buy all of our meat and dairy from companies who are raising their animals with care. one thing that boggles my mind is the prevalence of "filet mignon" on catering menus. one pound of niman ranch filet mignon costs $22/lb. one pound of commodity-grade, industrially produced filet costs $9/lb. If you are being quoted $35 per person for a menu that involves filet mignon, just take a minute and do the math. I think you can guess where your caterer is getting their meat.
2. labor. it takes a lot (seriously **A LOT**) of hours and a lot of people to make food for 200 people at one time. it is obvious that it take a lot of people the day of -- to make sure that everything comes out at the right time and the right temperature -- but it's the prep that makes a wedding sneakily expensive. Stephanie and i will EASILY spend a week's worth of 12 hour days in the kitchen prepping for an event (that's how long it takes when you actually peel your own garlic and pick your own thyme...) this sounds like a complaint, but it isn't meant to be. we are proud to run a company that doesn't cut corners by buying garlic in a jar, or using dried spice blends. stephanie even makes our pesto with a mortar and pestle (email us to find out why it makes a difference). if we were the kind of company who served the same menu at each wedding, it would make our lives easier, and our menus cheaper. but we really, truly believe in the value of creating custom menus for each of our clients. as is always the case: bespoke = be ready to pay more money for what you want.
3. time. the third thing we almost always get asked about is our "catering service charge." we charge this service fee as a way to compensate our administrative team (read: elizabeth and stephanie) for the time we spend working on your wedding, outside of the kitchen. i think with bigger companies, it's not such a big deal to have an assistant fire off a menu, or have an event manager be the one who's on site for your wedding. at Whoa Nelly!, we are the assistants, and the event managers, and the dish washers, and (of course) the cooks. that makes our operations small potatoes compared to some of the behemoths in the industry, but for the right type of bride, we hope it's reassuring to know that our personal hands are going to be all over every single aspect of your event -- from the first email to the last dirty sauce pan.
there is a pervasive myth out there that you say the word "wedding," and all of a sudden, the prices skyrocket. i say this is a myth not because weddings aren't expensive, but the myth is that the only reason the cost goes up is because of the "W-word" itself. it's expensive to produce a menu for 200 people that requires 8 cooks, 12 servers, and a full outdoor kitchen build-out. that being said, our worst nightmare is to have a bride who feels like they didn't get what they paid for. we want to have the happiest brides in town. we want all the girls and boys getting married out there to tell their friends about what an AMAZING experience they had working with us -- that's how we want to build our business -- not through gimmicks, or groupons, or trade shows (jesus, lesson learned the hard way on those...)
so, the bottom line is this: your wedding is supposed to be your BIG DAY. it might be a big budget day (that's what having a 200 person guest list will do for ya), but it doesn't have to be. what it should be is a chance for you to think about your priorities for how you want to celebrate. one of the very best weddings we did this year was a cocktail-style reception for an incredibly fun and creative bride and groom. we were able to work with them within their budget, because they understood that with only $25 per person to spend, they weren't going to get that lame-ass filet mignon. what they got instead was this. it didn't cost a whole f*ing lot, but it was a lot of f*ing fun.