A Matter of Taste

Chef Larry Barrett
Simply Gourmet Caterers

A tasting should be one of the highlights of planning your wedding, one of the first steps in making your dream a reality.

Start by contacting three caterers by phone or email. Do your homework, ask friends for referrals and read reviews on line. Let the caterers know what foods you enjoy. Are you planning a buffet or table service dinner? Would you like passed appetizers? Inform the caterers of your food, beverage and service budget. Next a personalized menu should be created for you. Make sure all the details you discussed are on your menu. You can make tasting requests when setting up your appointment, keep it simple: “we love scallops and potato gratin can we try those?” A good caterer picks up on what you’d like to sample and focuses on items you discussed earlier.

Every caterer has their own formula for tastings. Some charge a fee that goes toward the final bill when you book with them. Most do not charge a fee, they are excited to let you sample their food~you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. Some caterers have group tastings, several couples sampling cuisine at the same time. I like tastings that focus on one couple enjoying a fantastic dining experience. This personal attention allows you to ask important questions in a relaxed atmosphere.

The tasting is not only about the food, it gives you an opportunity to observe how a company operates. Every caterer has it’s strong and weak points, this is your chance to size them up. Notice how your food is presented, plates should be beautifully garnished. Was the food delicious? If the answer is no, move on. No matter how great the support staff is, your palate is saying no. If a company can’t pull off a tasting for a few guests, the food will not shine on your wedding day. Discuss your menu with the chef. If there is an item or two that needs tweaking, see if your wishes can be accommodated. Don’t over think, just make common sense decisions.

The most important aspect of a tasting is the clarity it provides. Now you know the food, the presentation and you’re acquainted with the sales staff and chef. You will be speaking with your caterer many times over the next year. Make sure they are someone you trust and can laugh with. Caterers are like culinary fairy godmothers, you make a wish and they make it come true. Planning your special day requires a lot of work, but remember to enjoy yourself, this is a once in a lifetime experience.

Tasting Etiquette
Let the caterer know your food likes and dislikes before the tasting. “I hate capers and basil”, the more specific, the better. A good company takes careful notes and follows through on tasting requests.

Make sure you have a personalized menu from the caterer before your tasting that is within your budget.

Make sure everyone necessary is in attendance~bride, groom and anyone responsible for making important decisions.

Take photos of the food to view later, this helps keep everything fresh in your mind.

Best not to be overly critical, if the food is not for you move on.

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