A Catered Affair - 4th of July Party

Classic New England Lobster Rolls with Tarragon-Caper Mayonnaise 
Exhausted, drained, achy and sore are some of the best words for me to describe how I'm feeling the day after a large catering event. While that might not seem like the way someone would be happy to feel, the word that bears the strongest feeling, and sort of cancels out all those other ones, is satisfied. Oh, so satisfied. You see, most people only think of all of the work that goes into putting on an event happens the day of. I can't say I blame them, up until this point I did too. After all, it's easy to. You're at a summer BBQ, ice cold beer in one hand and a plate of food in the other and it's easy not to think about all the work that goes into getting that food on that plate and in your hands. And to be honest, that's what a good caterer wants you to think; the food comes together smoothly and the process is effortless and seamless. Since catering is still pretty new territory for me, I thought it would be fun to devote a post to a behind the scenes look at a catering job.

Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Dried Cranberries
The first step, once you get a client, is deciding on the menu. This is one of my favorite parts; pulling together a list of items that the client can choose from and then presenting it to them. While there can be some back and forth on this, once it gets agreed upon, the cost of services is determined and then it's off to work..making grocery lists, planning what can be prepped in advance and developing a plan for the work that needs to be done the day of the event. During this time, every last detail gets mapped out -all the way down to what plate each item will be served on, how the food will be presented and how it will look on the table. The client wanted a somewhat classically grilled menu for approximately 35 guests. Our final menu for the party was:

Trio of Dips
Garden Fresh Salsa with Mango
Served with Homemade Spiced Pita Chips and Assorted Fresh Vegetables

Classic New England Lobster Roll
Tarragon-Caper Mayonnaise 

Spice Rubbed Steak Tips
Grilled and Topped With Fresh Herb Sauce

Grilled Chicken Skewers
Marinated With Mixed Herbs and a Mustard-Lemon Sauce

Couscous Salad
Grilled Summer Vegetables and Dried Cranberries

Caesar Salad
Hand-Pulled Roasted Garlic Croutons and Homemade Caesar Dressing

Grilled Corn on the Cob
Coated with a Lime-Chile Parmesan Spread

Strawberry Shortcake with Basil Whipped Cream

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

Once the planning was done, it was off to six different grocery stores in two days, including a stop to my favorite store, Restaurant Depot, a members-only food warehouse (similar to a Costco, only specifically for people in the food business and only carrying food and food service supplies.) A trip to Restaurant Depot means hanging out around food and restaurant supplies while chef coat clad professionals fill their carts with mass amounts of food. What can be more fun than that?

Spice Rubbed Steak Tips, Grilled and Sliced with 
After the shopping was done it was into the kitchen to start prepping the food. Hours later, we were left with a messy kitchen and limited refrigerator space. On the day of the event, we packed up our chef gear and after a quick stop for some much needed Starbucks, were off and ready to get cooking. Once the grill was hot and the oven on, we got to work, pumping out some serious food, all the while talking with guests, plating food and serving it. In total, we spent about 8 hours cranking out food for guests and then cleaning up the aftermath of our day in the kitchen.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime-Chile Parmesan Spread
At the end of the day, we drove home almost too exhausted for conversation, silently watching the fireworks bursting around us and the sense of accomplishment hanging heavy. Yesterday I worked my tail off making people happy through the food that I made and it was the most satisfyingly kind of exhaustion I've ever felt. In two weeks, we're catering a wedding in Maine and I can't wait to do this all over again. What can I say? I love my job.


Megan said...

What a gorgeous spread! Sounds like the event was a huge success!

Maggi said...

Just think of the day when product is DELIVERED to you! no more RestoDepot!

Jen said...

Sounds like you guys did a great job. The menu sounds fantastic!

Mom said...

Wow! Katie and Richard this looks fabulous - I am so glad everything went well. Unbelievable menu and pictures!! Congratulations on a very successful event!

Anonymous said...

Looks great just wish there was some leftovers in my fridge!
The other Mom

Melissa said...

Congrats on a great catering job! That's awesome you're doing a wedding already!

purabi naha said...

Oh...The spread is gorgeous...the yummiest dishes all together! I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog!! Loved your blog and your photography!! Do visit mine if you love Asian (especially Indian) food. Shall come back again very soon!

Ché @ Knight at the Restaurant said...

Congrats, the food and menu look insane!

People totally don't realize all the prep work involved in catering. I catered my mom's wedding a few years ago (casual, small guest list, not a huge deal) and literally worked through the night. Everything just takes so much longer than expected, but you're right - it's totally worth it.

Can't wait to hear about the wedding. Post pics!

Elina (Russian Bites) said...

The menu sounds fantastic! I can definitely understand how exhaustion and satisfaction go hand in hand. Happens to me with every party I host. I can't even imagine how incredible it would to call it your job!
PS - I want that mini lobster roll! Can you share your secret recipe with us? ;)

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Thank you all for all the comments and welcome new readers! Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself! :)

Kerstin said...

What a tasty menu, I'm so impressed! Can't wait to hear about the wedding catering :)

Elizabeth said...

Katie this is a fantastic post! Congrats first of all, but what a great idea to do a peek behind the scenes.

Shannon said...

that is awesome!!! sounds like everything went well :) the menu, fantastic as well, i'd surely love some of... everything :)

Dominic Pablo said...

All the dishes look delectable, but that grilled corn cobs looks the yummiest for me! What I do when I grill corn cobs is soak them for at least 30 mins in water before putting them on grill; this will make them plump and tender.
Dominic Pablo @ SolaireGasGrills.com

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