Some Important Facts About Your Catered Food

Fresh is often a subjective word.

Even if you are not a bonafide foodie, chances are you have wet your chops in some local hip bistros, right? You know - ultra fresh food, creative menus, and fabulous plate presentations have become the norm. The very thought your wedding food might have been frozen is unimaginable.

This fact is not lost on wedding caterers and most will tell you they only serve fresh food. Which is subjectively true, because it was fresh at some point on it's way to your guests' plates. So - is there any way you can suss out an honest answer? One option is to consider the price point.

Man of the caterers in Napa and Sonoma counties use largely the same suppliers, so the cost of their menus should be similar. Ask your wedding planner for food-only quotes so you can compare food costs accurately without linens and other rentals. If there is a major cost difference for the same menu, you may have identified the true cost of fresh food.

After all, how can one caterer bid $65 per guest while another charges $90? Caterers with low price points may be cutting costs by using cheaper cuts of meat or even frozen food. It is considerably more expensive to hire trained and creative chefs to create memorable dishes than it is to tear open frozen food boxes.

Fresh food should be prepared on site.

Your guests know the difference between greens that are bright green and snappy and dull greens that are mushy. Some caterers simply don’t have the staff to do a competent dinner on site so they thaw and cook early in the day and bring your appetizers and entrees in hot boxes and hope for the best.

In a perfect world, all caterers would prep your fresh foods and trim seafood at their facility beforehand, and prepare and cook on site at your wedding. We know the freshness is key to providing a tasty meal, and we also know the key to freshness is to go from stove to plate. If you want fresh food, this is how its accomplished.


This is no magic wand you can wave to guarantee stellar service at your wedding. So you have selected your menu and caterer - but did you ask how many staff members they are providing?

When was the last time you wasted time waiting for someone to take your order in a restaurant? Call me crazy, but I don't think your guests will want to wait, either. Don't be afraid to ask your caterer how their staff is trained and if you can see a training manual. After all, your guests should never feel ignored or if their needs are being treated as an imposition.

Style Matters More Thank You Think

Have you thought about your menu design? Most caterers in Napa and Sonoma counties work with internal or freelance designers and they can offer you a lot of options for changing up your menu to compliment your wedding design and style.

Good Menu Design Is More Than 3 Columns of Food Choices

A well designed menu will make it easier for your guests to order and will insure they get what they want.Some couples have defined ideas about their menu; others prefer their wedding planner to make their decisions.

Your chef should also be included in the menu design process - often they will bring suggestions like a local seasonal vegetable or a special sauce to pair with an entree.

Customer Service Matters

Think about your meetings and conversations with your potential vendors. Were they prompt when responding to voicemails and emails? How long they take to respond is often a good indicator of how they view customer service as a whole.


Before you make your final vendor decisions, do your due diligence and talk with the venue manager. All wedding venues in Napa and Sonoma counties have their reputations to uphold, and they are always looking for vendors with a high level of commitment of customer service to partner with.

Just remember not to over analyze your options - perfection doesn't exist in this world yet. Sometimes a photographer will take a fuzzy picture at a crucial moment, limos get flats, and servers will drop a plate or two over the course of their careers.

Lura Albee