Got a catering gig cooking for a Colombian family.

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by mrchef, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. mrchef


    Likes Received:
    I just accepted this catering gig that my neighbor hired me for. It’s for a wedding with a predominantly Colombian family and I’m not sure what to prepare. I’m totally unfamiliar with their native cuisine and I don’t know of any restricted food ingredients that they might have. To add fuel to the fire, my neighbor told me that the Colombian women in her family are really critical, especially when it comes to food and cooking. Now I feel really nervous. To anyone who has ever been in a similar situation, I need your help!
  2. halb


    Likes Received:
    How about asking the family what they would like to see on the menu? And don't be surprised if none of it is "Colombian".
    drirene, sgsvirgil and flipflopgirl like this.
  3. sgsvirgil


    Likes Received:
    Retired Owner/Operator
    First things first. You need to gather some information.

    - How many guests?
    - Location of the event in relation to the kitchen where you will be preparing the menu.
    - How many hired help such as kitchen staff and servers?
    - Pay your staff hourly or a flat rate? If so, how much?
    - Transportation
    - Buffet or table service?
    - Do you have the equipment to hold the food?
    - What are your costs i.e. food, plates, forks, knives, napkins, tablecloths, commissary rental, gas etc.
    - Do you have a supplier?
    - How many courses?

    All of this information needs to be gathered and factored in so you can decide what sort of flexibility you can offer in terms of your menu. You should be in regular contact with the person who is planning the event so you can do your job.

    When you do make contact with the event planner and if they want traditional Colombian cuisine of any sort, you should probably be upfront with them and let them know you don't have any experience with traditional Colombia fare. Like halb said, its entirely possible they may not even want Colombian food.

    However, if they are asking for traditional Colombian food and you have never made that sort of food before, you may want to consider taking a pass or bringing someone in who has experience with it. Its better to not accept a job than accept a job where you are in over your head and you eff it up, especially if the person who gave you the gig lives next door.

    Good Luck! :)
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    drirene and pete like this.
  4. sgmchef


    Likes Received:
    Retired Chef
    Hi mrchef!

    It's great that you at least came here looking for a little help! You may want to get help a little closer to home though, if they do want a Columbian menu...

    If you involve the mother/mother-in-law of the hosting family to help you with ingredients, flavors and food items (during the menu planning phase) this can deflect criticism from you a little if there are any issues with the food. Maria told me "lots of garlic in the beans"...

    As others have said, they may not want the foods they eat every day, If they weren't mostly Columbian what would you want to offer? Start there. I never liked trying to make a meal that competes with what their mother used to make, especially if Mom is right there!

    Maybe make an item that you do very well and walk it next door for them to sample. "What do you think of this?"

    Do a little research on Columbian flavors and apply those flavors to items you like to make. Things like a stewed Chicken, Queso fresco, Plantain and Chorizo Egg roll with a garlic coconut dip... Familiar flavors in a new wrapper, so to speak...

    Good luck!
    meezenplaz, drirene and flipflopgirl like this.
  5. meezenplaz


    Likes Received:
    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    With such a big traditional family, you may end up cooking something
    YOURE good at, and end up with several ladies bringing their own
    traditional stuff and fully expecting you to serve it. ( some of these old
    schoolers have trouble with the concept of catering. lol)
    So if you dont want your wedding gig to end up a semi pot luck,
    sit down with them and get that cleared up now!