Friday, November 11, 2011

Wedding Reception Catering: A Haute Dish in N. Andover, MA

After the ordeal with the seamstress I almost didn’t want to think about catering for my wedding, or anything else wedding related.  But I started to feel the first bout of pressure and time constraints.  Here I have 3 days off; I should be making the most of them, not wallowing in one bad experience. 

And yet, I was NOT going to make the same mistake twice.  I would NOT be blindsided again.  I was determined to educate myself this time about what I might expect when it comes time to talk to caterers.  So I Googled “Wedding tasting,” and Google Suggest gave me “Wedding tasting etiquette” so I went with that, and I made myself some notes on what to ask:
  • Do you have tastings?
  • Is there a fee?
  • Can I bring my mom?
  • I have a variety of dietary needs:  Chicken, fish, vegetarian and vegan
And before I sign a contract, I should ask:
  • For pictures of staff attire
  • If I bring my own wine, do you serve it? 
  • An estimate for price per plate
Next, I dug out two of the caterer’s information that I liked best and had set apart from the rest.  I made a list for each of them, for each course, that had both my likes and would satisfy my guests’ needs.  And I took a deep breath, and called A Hot Dish Catering in Haverhill, MA.

And found that the number was out of service.

That didn’t help the anxiety I was still feeling from just one hour ago.  I had previously messed up the seamstress’s number too.  So I looked online, got the new number (they moved to North Andover and changed the name to "A Haute Dish"), and called.

The owner/executive chef Jennifer was just as personable as I remembered.  Just like my JP, she got to a clearer phone so that we could communicate better.  I told her about our dietary needs, and she was okay with it.  I went through her menu and picked out items that would cover our range of needs.  And sure enough when I told Adam about my menu choices after, and he was happy about the crab, goat's cheese, salad, and palette cleanser.  He wasn't thrilled when I told her I almost don't want dessert because we have such a big cake for what we need, but then I remembered our vegan can't eat it so I'd like fruit.  But she said that would work well (don't worry Adam: remember, TWO different cake flavors.  Mmmm).  Plus she got me thinking about a few things I was unsure of:

1.    She asked if I wanted a chicken meal and a vegan meal that everyone with dietary restrictions could select and I said that I’d really prefer a chicken, a fish, and a vegan dish, but that she could just add cheese for the vegetarian and she’d be happy, and she said that could work.
2.    She mentioned that instead of salad we could have soup, and I was tempted at first since it WILL be the winter.  But when I thought about how many soups I’ve made for their lunches I decided that they’d be sick of soup.  Plus the salad with goat’s cheese and nuts sounds awesome, and easy enough to make one without cheese for our vegan guest.
3.    She asked me if we like potatoes or rice with our chicken and I faltered, haha.  I really don’t eat EITHER.  Although it hasn’t been a conscious decision, for the last few weeks I haven’t been eating carbs with my meals other than corn and carrots.  And Adam, well, he likes potatoes, I know, but on the other hand he likes rice with Indian food.  But since we’re not doing Indian food I told her potatoes.
4.    She asked if we’d have hors d'oeuvres during the photos, and I said I did want that.  But when she learned I’d have so few guests, she said we’d be finished with photos so quickly we might not need it.  I said that on the other hand, those few guests not involved with photos would have nothing to do in the meantime, so a little something might be nice, and she said maybe she could do a platter, so I was happy.
5.    She asked if I was going to have a meal count for her in advance and I said I can do that.  What I didn't say is I'm looking forward to creating a menu to put in with the invitations, hehe. 
6.    She asked me if I needed a bartender, and I said I’m not sure; I was really thinking of just wine.  She said we could do wine, beer, and a signature cocktail, and to make it more classy we could have a bartender, but when I told her 12 people she again said maybe I don’t need one because they can take care of themselves.  I’m a little iffy on what that means; I hope we don’t just have a cooler somewhere of beer and bottles, haha.  So I said maybe she could go over costs with me with and without later on. 
7.    She asked me if I need linen and flatware.  I was SO glad she brought that up!  Mom told me caterers might be able to take care of that for me and I sort of didn’t believe her, haha.  I said we have silverware but DO need linens, plates and cups.  That made me feel good.

And when it was all said and done, instead of telling me a day I should come in to taste things like I expected (and was prepared to ask about a fee, because I learned online that sometimes they do charge) she said she’d Email me a proposal!  I was so psyched!  So I can have time to really look it all over, decide if I can afford it, and have no pressure to say how I felt about it right away.  Perfect.  In the meantime, I think tomorrow I’ll call the other place.  Because even if they give me a harder sell, I’ll have to say, “I am awaiting a proposal from one other place.”  And they’ll know that I’m an informed consumer.  Phew.

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