Faery Godmother needed!!!!

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by the saucy cajun, Apr 17, 2002.

  1. the saucy cajun

    the saucy cajun

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    O.K., I admit it. Every once in awhile someone just gets me. I had a bride call today. Wedding for 150 at 2:00pm. Date is only a month away. (Hmmmmm???) And basically no budget. By some strange reason, we're not booked that day. But I know most caterers in town are - especially the cheap ones. She basically told me that under all the circumstances she was thinking of doing it herself and getting meat trays from Albertson's. (Lord help us!) She sounded about 16 years old on the phone. I got the feeling she'd forget the napkins. I'd love to help her, but I refuse to do the carrot & ranch dressing thingie. (Never have - never will.) I thought of a ice creme sundae buffet. You know, all kinds of ingredients, and you make your own. Could really be pretty in silver. But I'm afraid that may be too "creative" for her. Anybody have any suggestions? I figure the only way for me to do this & not compromise
    my business is to do something slightly off-the-wall with great presentation.
    The Saucy Cajun
    ps I just realized why I want to help her. I think it reminded me of one of the most memorable weddings I ever did. The girl had gotten pg at 14 and refused to give the baby up for adoption. When she was 20 she married the father of the child. The little girl was the flower girl. When it came time for the father/daughter dance they played "Butterfly Kisses" and the bride danced with her father while the groom danced with his daughter.There wasn't a dry eye in the house! That was over 5 years ago & they're still going strong.
     
  2. joan

    joan

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    Hi again!
    I don't know what type of budget you are working with, but on the economical side how about:
    a mashed potato bar? Martini glasses, or champagne flutes for service with their choice of toppings,/ stir ins some suggestions, chives, bacon, sour cream, flavored cream cheese- smoked salmon, shrimp, caramelized garlic, and so forth. The same idea works with baked potato's, pita pockets etc..

    If it is at 2:00 pm most guests probably wont be ravenous, so you could always do the sundaes as you suggested or perhaps shortcakes with various toppings and of course one of my more popular events: fondue stations, each table has their own fondue's (2) one savory one chocolate/maybe with a hint of Framboise or Grand Marnier? Accompanied by bite sized cubes of bread, veggies etc for the savory and of course strawberries, fruit or angel food cake, bite sized frozen cheesecake, flavored pound cake or brownie bites. The guests love the interaction and as long as you have plenty of the fruit and veggies it is generally a hit.

    hope this helps inspire you!!

    Good Luck!!

    Joan:)
     
  3. marmalady

    marmalady

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    What does 'basically no budget' mean? Has she given you any $ amounts at all?

    If the crowd is that young, why not a couple of long muffaletas? Salads/cold pasta dishes; I like the fondue idea, too. Or a big pot of jambalaya or gumbo.
     
  4. the saucy cajun

    the saucy cajun

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    I'm sorry! I didn't make myself plain enough. When I said "no budget" I meant no $$$. She didn't give a $ amount, but you could tell just the way she said she had thought about doing it herself but she thought she'd just call and find out how much a caterer cost. I donna'. I turn down jobs all the time because what they want is just not what I do. She just sounded so wistful. And part of the problem is that she read somewhere (don't you just HATE that) that afternoon is the cheapest time of day to get married (she said this) because you can serve finger food. Hey, we're in Louisiana! Jambalaya, red beans & rice, muffalettos, a great pasta dish - all these are less expensive than "finger food"!!! ( I think we should write a petition to the bridal mags to get then to quit writing this @#$%!) What I think she's aimimg at is a "tea", although she wouldn't call it that. Lots of nibbleies. Which is great on the food cost, but awful on the labor. Plus I have an event for 200+ a week later with my all-time best client. (She's from here, but lives in L.A. now with her Academy Award winning husband. She always uses me when she give a party here and I love her to death, but she's VERY time consuming and she usually comes in at least a week or 2 before the event when she'll start to think about the menu! And I always cook everything for her myself. However, she tips extremely well!!! Not to mention the fact that every guest at her parties is a potential client.) So whatever I do for this has to be low budget - low labor. I forget who wrote this on the forum recently, but they basically said either high cost ingredient simply prepared, or vice versa. I agree. That I can do. But both? However I LOVED the fondue idea. I'm just afraid that even that would be too much $ for her. But I think maybe I'll just send her the ice cream menu (extremely low$)& the fondue (very low$) and see. I guess in a perfect world we could just go around making everything taste good and look good and never have to worry about what it cost the client or what's in our bank account. Chef's heaven!
    The Saucy Cajun
     
  5. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    One of the nicest most honest, real wedding receptions I've been to was 20 years ago at the brides home and it was potluck!!! Both were getting doctorates at Tulane and were neck deep in loans. It was a blast. Sounds kinda trite to suggest it but it is a viable solution to no $$. I'd be amazed if they didn't have an uncle that can make jambayla or a group of family/church that could pull off a nominally priced reception.
    Or see if some student at the cooking school wouldn't want the experience.
    I used to live in Hickory Ridge, when it was on the edge of BR is it now in the middle of suburbia?
     
  6. joan

    joan

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    Isn't it funny how much effort goes into getting a bid? I find myself scrambling to get everything perfect for the initial send out because I hate to lose a cater, and quite often they are the extra low budget events, but in the same respect they are almost always the most appreciative and some times the funnest to work with.
    I hate to say it but quite often I find myself saying, you would be better off going with a few platters from Costco, you can use the extra money for your Honeymoon.
    I did this on one occasion and the Aunt appreciated my "Honesty" and booked the event for them, you just never know.
    Good Luck!!
    Joan:)
     
  7. henry

    henry

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    Well, this is just my opinion, and doesn't answer your question, but...

    Why does a budgetless and clueless person have to have a caterer for a wedding? Is a cake, punch, nuts and mint wedding a thing of the past?

    My nephew's wife had to have a grand reception at a big hotel with wine, dinner, music, etc. They went ahead and had children first before the wedding because of no money, then used some college loans and many credit cards to pay for it. They could only afford to invite mostly family, and we were the ones least impressed since we knew the situation.

    I'm all for creative catering and love to read these threads about how you guys pull it off; but, I just can't see why young couples would create more debt when they're just embarking on life, or causing mom and dad to dip into their retirement funds to do the same.

    However, I've been to a mashed potato bar wedding and it was great!

    H.
     
  8. chefteldanielle

    chefteldanielle

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    This is the story of my life..
    Us people pleasing fools..
    I love it..
    mashed potato bar...
    how about baked potato bar ..
    I have decided to make up menus for 4 different types of people..
    The no $$ type..
    The some $$ type,
    The $$ type
    And the als carte lots of mula type..
    Lots of work but it saves time in the long run..
    Good luck on your venture..
    let us know what you ended up doing..

    danielle
    Sorry iam not much help..
    iam stunned too
     
  9. chef david simpson

    chef david simpson

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    Sounds like a waist of time and energy to get so worked up over
    "nothing". And the ice cream bit at a wedding, HHMMMMM, probibly not a good idea.
     
  10. the saucy cajun

    the saucy cajun

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    Yea, I know I shouldn't get "worked up". At least 99% of the time I don't. It's just every once in a while someone just hits me right. Plus, being creative AND hardheaded, I feel a little thing like money shouldn't stop me from getting something done! And it bothers me not to have anything to offer LOW budget clients in general. That creativity & hardheadedness says that there is a solution that while being extremely low end in both food & labor, becomes, at least somewhat, high end due to creativity & presentation. I guess it's rather like Thomas Keller's fondness for cooking offal. His point is that anyone can cook good food, but to take "garbage" and turn it into haute cuisine - that's COOKING! I'm curious though Chef David. Why don't you think the ice creme's a good idea? If the melting's the problem I think I've got that one figured out. Pack it into chafer liners, store in a sub-zero, and fill chaffers with ice for service. Please let me know your thinking? And Danielle, you've got the right idea. I have menus for +$, +$$, and +$$$, just none for -$!!! I guess that's really what I'm working on. Yes Henry, thanks to bridal mags, movies, etc., cake & punch weddings are a thing of the past. Joan, I've sent them to "Sam's", but like I said , I get the feeling this child would forget the napkins! Shroomgirl!!! I live in Broadmoor!!! And yes, Hickory Ridge is right in the middle of the burbs now - it goes all the way to Jones Creek. And you just gave me a great idea!! I get my extra help from Caila (Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana) so I know some students already. Some of them are real gungho. ANYTHING to pad that resume. Maybe I need to start an staging/intern program for these rare "special" cases! (I already have an "events" intern from LSU.) Boy, what a "welcome to the real world" for Caila students!!!!!!! (Alice Waters meets Ronald McDonald!) I could also use them for the occasional small charity pro bono work that I now turn down. That extra advertising would "pay" me for my time, the students would get experience, & those "special" clients would get a real deal! Don't you just LOVE this forum! You start out trying to solve a problem with one individual client and you end up adding new menu suggestions and beefing up your advertising!
    The Saucy Cajun
     
  11. chef david simpson

    chef david simpson

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    It's not the melting. It's the fact that it is a wedding with white dresses, rental dresses, tuxedos, kids with thier Sundays best. Just not a good idea. How about a fruit bar or a salad bar and chips and dip. You got to know cheap people almost always have lots and "lots" of booze. So chrunchy and filling stuff should be in order.
     
  12. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    "Sure. You are getting married and need a catering for 120 and have $300 to spend, cake and all?"- phone call to my restaurant, last spring.
    Mints may be out of style, but people have no idea. What did I do? I planned a menu for them, made a list of EVERYTHING they would need for the meal, told them where to buy everything, helped them make a list of friends and family to do the cooking and serving. All told it took me an hour. She thanked me and told me that I as the only caterer that even would talk to her, and she was relieved that her reception dinner could be done the way SHE wanted. I told her that I could'nt do the job for that money, but the important thing is that her wedding was perfect and maybe in the future when finances were not so tight I could cater their anniversary dinner.....
    I have no problem with letting people know that to have me do the cooking and serving that will cost a certain amount of money, even beyond the food itself. In cases like this, she could buy everything for the cost of my labor and set-up fees and she didn't have that kind of money. I DO NOT ACCEPT EVERY CATERING! I would rather the customer be happy than to try to compromise the catering by TRYING TOO HARD TO MAKE IT WORK! But if I don't accept the catering for whatever reason(usually no money) at least they go away with enough information to do it themselves, or with an idea of what to expect from anybody willing to do the work. Honesty. It works wonders! And it keeps me out of trouble.....
     
  13. chefteldanielle

    chefteldanielle

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    brilliant!!!

    I like that idea and will gladly start doing that as well.
    Thank you.
    Danielle
     
  14. the saucy cajun

    the saucy cajun

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    Sorry if I've kept you all in suspence (LOL) about this wedding, but I've been going slightly crazy with other weddings. But the saga continues! After submiting menu suggestions to the bride, she emails me & says she is going to Sam's to make up a menu!!! My husband almost feel off his chair laughing, then proceded to list her menu almost to the dish. The only difference was he said those frozen quiche and she listed cocktail sausages in bbq sauce instead!!! (I had a lot of fun teasing him about what a lousy caterer he was because he forgot the sausages!) Then, the next morning I get a call...opps..she had forgotten to list the quiche! I LOVE IT!!! She wanted to go and buy everything she (thought she) needed & have me "just warm it up & get it on the table".I explained we did not do it that way, and that she basically had 2 options. Either call Manpower, which I would not recomend, or hire me as a consultant (which I already do) for $35 an hour. Bring me a list of oven temps and times, along with how many friends and family she could get to help. I would divide up the responsibilies and make a time sheet and a shopping list with amounts needed. It would probably take an hour or so. That was 3 days ago & I haven't heard from her since! I have the feeling that she wanted me to "do" the wedding for about $35! I really hate to say this, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but once again it seems that the less money someone wants to pay, the more work they will cause you! I have people tell me all the time how I'm the first caterer that they've called who will really try to help. That all the other caterers just blew them off. But it's those same people who are drive you crazy! I'm begining to think I'm confusing LOW budget with wanting something for nothing. EVERY wedding we've booked this year has been in the med-high to high range. Time spent on low buget quotes was "wasted". Also, in looking back over the 10 years I've been doing this, it's almost like the higher the price, the less hassle. But I really hate the idea of just blowing people off.
    The Saucy Cajun
    PS Oh, Chef David, I found your comment on booze really interesting. Down here it's just the opposite. When I was a child ALL weddings were afternoon teas with absolutely no liquior served. Times have changed, but the less affluent "country" people tend to be Southern Baptist etc. and so if they do drink, they keep it to themselves! In fact, I've never attended a wedding with an open bar and the only one I've catered was my son's which was held in an Irish pub. Most weddings have wine & beer. I guess we like to put our money in food instead!
     
  15. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    Because of your description, alarm bells are going off all over the place. If you'd like to help the kid, fine, but if you have strict payment rules, I wouldn't budge an inch. Whatever you usually collect as a deposit, make sure you get it all.

    Boy, carrots and ranch dressing? Sounds like where I live now. These people open a can of pinto beans and call it a wedding. That's one of the reasons we're moving. Can't make a living doing food here because someone's aunt showing up with a platter of fried chicken constitutes "a wedding buffet."
     
  16. chefteldanielle

    chefteldanielle

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    I feel your pain...
    OMG.. iam desperately trying to come up with something that no one has done before..
    So far I have been unsuccessful.
    Danielle