A Caterer For Holiday Parties

Jo McGarry
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Friday - October 14, 2005
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I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but the holidays are just around the corner. And recently I’ve had more than the average number of requests for good caterers. Not just for holiday parties, but for weddings and simple family get-togethers.

It’s hard to find a caterer, because unlike a restaurant, you rarely get a chance to try before you buy. If you’re lucky, you’ve attended an event, been impressed with the catering and taken the number of the company. Most people, however, have no experience with catering until the team arrives at their home ready to set up. A friend of mine recently catered an office party at her home in Kailua, and used a very well known restaurant as the planners and executioners. She describes the event as “horrible.” The caterers were late, offhand, the food was very average and they didn’t clean up the kitchen. “At the end of the night,” she says, “I felt as though I’d done more work than if I’d put on the event myself - and the food was really poor.”

Finding a caterer small enough to suit your needs - and budget - but large enough to cope with extra guests, a bar and the menu you want can be a bit of a minefield. So, here are a couple of my best offerings for holiday parties. Fred De Angelo (former executive chef of Palomino and most recently of Tiki’s Grill and Bar) now owns and operates his own company, Olino Events (265-3352). I’ve recommended them to several people who were just thrilled with the results. Fred and his team will cater anything from an intimate dinner in your home to a large, upscale party - and do it with tremendous style and wonderful food.

Two ex-Sam Choy employees, Grant Sim (former director of catering ) and Chef Troy Terorotua have formed their own company, Big G’s. (218-4096). The two can provide a menu for anything from a simple beachside wedding to elegant dinners and large corporate parties. Their innovative recipes and distinctive dishes are guaranteed to please almost everyone - and they have an unbelievably good poke bar that travels with them. They set up at your party with a selection of fresh fish and make poke to order. It’s a great idea and guests will love it. If catering on a smaller scale is something you’re interested in (I had someone ask for help recently in catering a dinner for two at home), then you might want to try your favorite restaurant. You’d be surprised at how many chefs are willing to come and cook a special meal at home - for the right price. You have to figure in a hefty per person charge, and at least a 20-25 percent tip, but in terms of impressing that special someone, it’s hard to beat having a chef in the kitchen while you’re opening the wine and giving your guest your full attention!

The most important thing with a caterer is that they understand what you want. Be sure to let them know exactly what you want ahead of time - and not just on the menu. If you want full set up, service and expect them to clean up the kitchen and do the dishes, then make sure you find out in advance if that’s included. If you want someone to take care of drinks and run a bar, then discuss that too - don’t expect the chef to be running around doing everything.

The best way to make sure you’re going to have a stress-free holiday party is to use caterers that come highly recommended. It’s not the time to open the yellow pages and stick your finger on the first one you find.

Most companies are beginning to get heavily booked through the holidays, so call them now.

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