Finding the Perfect Caterer for Your Wedding

March 1st, 2017

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Whether you and your fiancé have your hearts set on a lavish selection of truffle-infused haute-foodie delights or a cozy comfort-food buffet, or maybe even a hip and fabulous food truck (hint.. hint… nudge… nudge!!) you’ll want to start doing your research on the many choices and do it soon. As you may or may not know, a caterer and/or venue should be one of your FIRST choices since it will determine the look and feel of your wedding.  So… without further ado.. here are some of our favorite tips on finding your perfect caterer.

  1. Recommendations should ALWAYS be welcomed:  Your wedding, well… it’s a big deal, and unless you are in the special event industry, this maybe the first  time you’ve planned something of this size and magnitude.  If this isn’t your first time, you may know professionals you can reach out to.  If it IS your first time, reach out to your family and friends who have recently planned a wedding. Or, if  you have attended weddings where you fell in love with the food and the presentation, don’t hesitate to contact the bride and groom to ask who they used.  A good recommendation may just lead you to your perfect caterer!
  2. Decide on your reception design, guest list, and BUDGET: Not every caterer is perfect for every type of event, and many caterers themselves openly admit this. Before contacting caterers, it’s best if you finalize some important decisions like the style of wedding, the feel of the reception, the amount of people you will invite, and of course, the most important, your BUDGET!! Since these are the questions your caterer will ask you during your interview, to make sure they are right for you and your event. You need to be specific about the type of event you are planning and the type of food and/or presentation you are expecting. Otherwise, you may end up selecting a caterer who simply isn’t a good fit for the type or style of your event.
  3. Responsiveness is KEY:  Your experience with the caterer during your interview process can be reflective of the way they will respond during your wedding planning. So if they aren’t very responsive or enthusiastic when you initially speak with them, this could be a sign of things to come.
  4. Consider the way you serve the meal. A plated dinner will require more waitstaff than a buffet, thus it will naturally be more expensive to serve a sit down dinner. Serving the food family style is an option that is in between buffet and sit down dinner. It requires waitstaff, but not as much as the sit down option. And then of course, there’s the AMAZING food truck (yes, we’re biased) which can add a different and fun dynamic to traditional catering styles. Your budget will vary greatly, based on the options you choose. So, consider the way you want your meal presented, served and experienced!
  5. Find out what’s included.  As always, it’s good to find out what’s included with your catering package. Do they provide linens and china or will you have to rent these items separately? What about glassware and serving utensils. Knowing these facts will affect the overall food budget.
  6. Complete explanation of the contract, cancellation policy, and contingency/insurance.  A well written contract which goes over all the details is “key” for any professional arrangement. Make sure that there is a clear and written  understanding of what is expected of them and of you.  This way, there are no last minute surprises!

Easy Ways To Customize Your Wedding Menu

February 1st, 2017

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Creating a wedding which is a reflection of you and your partner’s personality is quite standard in the wedding world.  Your florist will ask you to name your favorite colors and types of flowers.  Your photographer will want to know your favorite spots to get photos. The invitations will have infusions of your favorite colors and graphics, so why not your food? Yes, your food!

Many times, couples feel that they don’t have much say in customizing the menu… remember the check boxes on every RSVP card… steak, chicken, fish? However, if you are working with the right caterer, you will be surprised at how many ways there are to make your food TOTALLY about you and your partner.  Here are some ideas to make your reception as unforgettable as your vows!

Think Back To A Great Food Memory (which includes the two of you). Then Create An Appetizer Out of it!

Did you love those tater tots at that one burger joint and noshed on them every chance you had? Or maybe, those delicious sliders that you couldn’t get enough of? Since this wedding is about the two of you, think back to a wonderful experience you both had with food and re-create it as an appetizer at your wedding.  The servers can have a sign on the tray explaining this signature appetizer. Or, you can just mention it to guests as you are socializing. You don’t have to necessarily serve tater tots at your wedding. As your caterer if they can add a sophisticated twist for example… mini tater tot casseroles, tater tot pizza, tater tot and cheese stuffed jalapeños … I can go on and on.

Focus on Local Favorites!

Use regional ingredients to show out-of-town guests what your area has to offer.  Even if it’s something as basic as BBQ, your caterer can always find a way to elevate it. And always, always, work with caterers who take pride in serving farm to table ingredients.

Don’t Forget to Honor Your Heritage!

There is nothing more creative than to choose a menu which incorporates favorite dishes from your past. Whether it’s creating your Polish grandma’s pirogies from scratch or simply infusing flavorful Indian spices and sauces into popular and crowd-pleasing wedding dishes, will remind guests of your background and the special place it holds in your life.

Don’t Forget The Vegans & Vegetarians!

With so many people dealing with diet restrictions, it’s always good to speak with your caterer in regards to one or two delicious options that can accommodate them all. Create at least one option for the vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free guests.  And no, we don’t mean another plate of roasted potatoes. Work with your caterer to create something that will make the meat eaters jealous!

How To Set The Perfect Date For Your Wedding!

January 1st, 2017

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The proposal was beautiful and you are ready to head out on an unforgettable adventure together… full of intrigue, happiness, sadness, challenges, and of course, excitement… Oh, did we mention that we are talking about setting the date for your wedding?!

Who knew that setting the date for one of the most special days of your lives can be so challenging?  If you are ready to set a date, check the below list of dates you may want to steer clear of.

Personal Dates

Make sure to take note of any personal events you may have on your calendar.  Such as other people’s weddings, family reunions, anniversaries, or other big events both personal and work related. Also, check your area for big conventions and festivals.  Depending on where you would like your reception, scheduling on a busy day can make it harder for parking, commuting, and even accommodations for out of town guests.

Holidays Weekends

We love the holidays, but when you have to schedule a wedding around them, things can get a bit tricky.  Make sure the logistics make sense.  A Christmas or New Year’s Eve wedding is beautiful and many venues may already have everything decorated, which means you can save a lot of money on event design.  However, traveling can be brutal and hotel costs can skyrocket at this time.  You may find more guests would be willing to miss your special day so that they don’t have to incur more expense during an already costly time.  Or, a Valentine’s wedding can be stunning, but pay attention to the floral bill, especially if you want red roses, they are the most expensive during this weekend.

Other dates to think about:

Mother’s Day (always a Sunday) Talk with your mom to make sure she’s okay sharing this weekend with your special day. And consider if you may want your anniversary to fall on the same weekend as Mother’s Day if or when you become a mom?

Father’s Day (always a Sunday)As with mom, talk with your dad about doubling up on this day. And grooms, make sure you’re okay with celebrating your anniversary the same weekend as Father’s Day if you decide to have kids.

Halloween Avoid it if you’re terrified that someone might actually show up in costume (and embrace it if you want them to!).

Days of Remembrance We’re talking about historically significant days (like the anniversary of September 11) that may be off-limits if you come from a big military family. Or, that could make them all the more meaningful—it’s up to you to decide.

Major Sporting Events If you’re die-hard sports fans—or if you’re worried your guests might have a hard time choosing between your wedding and the big game—avoid getting married during popular sporting events. And if a lot of your guests come from the same alma mater, watch out for homecoming weekends and bowl games that might conflict.

Unlucky Dates If you’re superstitious, you might want to watch out for these historically inauspicious dates from across several cultures.

The Ides of March For ancient Romans, an “ides” was simply a date that marked the middle of the month—until Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15 in 44 B.C. Since then, “Beware the Ides of March” has become the mantra of this superstitiously unlucky date.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Friday the 13th The unluckiest date of the year has questionable origins. Some historians say it comes from the 13 diners who were present at the last supper, but the famous Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi doesn’t include a 13th law, which suggests this superstition is as old as 1700 BC. And it wasn’t until a successful novel titled Friday, the Thirteenth was published in the early 1900s that Friday became part of the unlucky equation.

January 13, 2017

October 13, 2017

April 13, 2018

July 13, 2018

Leap Years Greeks and Romans thought that starting any new life event—from getting married to baptizing a child—in a leap year would bring bad luck.

Following Leap Year: 2020

Saturday, February 29, 2020

 

10 AMAZING Things To Add To Your Cheese Platter

December 1st, 2016


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If you are one of those people who can’t seem to get out of the “cheese and crackers” plate, you will LOVE this article!

Something I hear from many of my friends is that they can’t seem to get creative with the cheese plate.  It seems like it’s always an after thought with the main meal taking most of the priority.  Well, here is a cheat sheet of some of my favorite things to add to a cheese spread.  Use all these ideas, or just a few.   I guarantee these items will always be a success!

Marinated Olives

Olives are a staple on a cheese plate, however marinated olives are even better! Most supermarkets have a plethora marinated olives at their deli section and I love that you can buy them by the pound and choose the amount you would like to serve.  However, they tend to be a bit pricey and if you are sticking to a budget, making your own is always a better option.  I simply mix a little garlic (not too much)  and my favorite spices (but not too spicy) in olive oil and pour over my favorite olives.  Let them stand for an hour and you should have a great addition to your cheese plate.

A Variety of Cured Meats

Whether you choose salami, prosciutto, or ham, cured meats are always a delicious addition to any cheese platter.  If you don’t like cured meats, you could also serve deli meats, such as roast beef, turkey, or chicken slices.  Your guests will love making their own combinations of cheese, crackers, and meats.

A Variety of Breads

Most people opt for crackers with their cheese.  And if you are serving a cheese plate as an appetizer, before a big meal, this will probably be a great option.  However, if you would like the cheese spread to be your main meal (maybe for a wine tasting party), consider adding various kinds of breads to the table.  Bread can fill up those hungry guests and adding additional bread accoutrements such as olive oil dip and soft cheeses will guarantee that no one walks away from your party hungry.  Also, consider using breads that are “out of the box” and your guests would not normally consider purchasing, such as olive ciabatta, any flavor challahs, egg breads, etc.  Of course, have one “neutral” bread that everyone would like such as a french baguette.

Fruit

Fruit is a MUST!!  Fruits are beautiful, delicious, and best of all, help the digestive process.  Fruits have always complemented cheese and the best part of creating a cheese platter  is adding fruit which may be out of the box a bit.  Grapes are always great, but fruits such as figs, cherries, and strawberries look beautiful and taste great with cheese.  Of course, doing a bit of research and checking to see which cheeses go with which fruit is always recommended. For example, stay away from any high acid or citrus fruit.  But it’s not rocket science so don’t overthink it!  And don’t forget, dried fruit is wonderful too!!

Honey

Honey is a wonderful addition to any cheese platter.  It is the perfect juxtaposition of sweet and sour.  Generally, I recommend you use varietal honey which is made from bees who pollinate on just one flower rather than bees that pollinate a bunch of different kinds of flowers.  Also, just drizzle a little honey on the cheese, don’t soak it.  A little goes a long way!

Honey goes really well with aged cheeses that have a good amount of nuttiness. Parmigiano-Reggiano, a tangy Cheddar, or any of the alpine cheeses (Comté, Gruyère, Appenzeller).  Other sweet and creamy cheeses like ricotta, goat cheese, or feta are wonderful with a citrus based honey.  Don’t forget the blue cheeses which are spectacular with honey.  For some, the spicier the better, but you may want to experiment to see what you and your guests like the best.

Other Wonderful Additions:

Pepperoni Chips – Simply place pepperoni slices in your oven at 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until they get crispy and serve!

Chocolate – Did you know that dark chocolate and Parmesan cheese have been scientifically proven to work well together.  That’s right, scientists have actually proven that these two items are perfect for pairing.  Here’s the link to the full article on HuffingtonPost Taste, it’s fascinating.  And the good news is that  your guests will be WOWed by your brilliance   Another cheese you may want to try with chocolate is mozzarella cheese.  But don’t over do it, just a small amount will make a huge impression!

Fondue – So many of us think that we have to have wedge cheese on our cheese plate, but a hot delicious and creamy fondue will bring oohs and ahhs!  Plus, they are very easy to make.

Nuts – Don’t forget the nuts!!  Almost any nut will look wonderful on your cheese plate.  You can do a little research to see which nuts pair well with cheeses, but honestly, it’s hard to go wrong.  My ultimate favorites are almonds and cashews.  They work well with most cheeses.

Preserves – Fig preserves are incredible on top of a delicious brie!  Other preserves such as plum, apricot, and even wild blueberry are unbelievable!!   Stop in at your local supermarket or gourmet grocer and talk to the cheese monger about the best pairings for their cheeses.  I find that the people behind the counter can answer all my questions and even teach me a thing or two!  Also, if there is a special gourmet cheese section at your grocer, take a look around to see if other items are displayed.  Many times, the cheese section has all you need to find the perfect preserves.

Things to avoid would be vegetables, spicy foods, heavy garlic flavored crackers and breads, citrus or high acid foods, and Tannic Red Wines.

Five Holiday Napkin Folding Ideas We Are IN LOVE With!!

November 28th, 2016

As food industry folks, we know how important presentation can be, and we can’t help but be a little obsessed with Tablescaping…. yes, it’s a thing! Here are our five favorite holiday napkin folding ideas to impress your guests before the first bite is ever taken!

1. The Elf Hat Napkin Fold

Absolutely in love with the Elf Hat the creative folks at goodhousekeeping.com came up with… pure genius!

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For those of you who love to watch videos… here ya go!

2.Elf Shoe Napkin

Who wouldn’t want an Elf Shoe as their place setting! serendipitypatchwork.com.au

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3.The Classic Swan Fold

4.The Double Roll

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The folks at thepartydress.net know how to set a beautiful table!

5. The Scarf Fold

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In case you want to be “out of the box” we are loving this “scarf fold” from rachaelraymag.com

Our TOP FIVE Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes!

November 22nd, 2016

Celebrating Thanksgiving may be fun for most, but for a few of us (who are watching our waistlines or have specific food restrictions) Thanksgiving can be a challenge.  We scoured the web to find five of our favorite recipes that are perfect for just about anyone! Whether you are vegan, paleo, diabetic, or just love eating clean, these delicious recipes will make your Thanksgiving a bit easier.  And from all of us at Beauty of the Bistro, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love, family, and delicious food!

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1. Cauliflower Mash With Ricotta and Roasted Garlic

Delicious and healthy, Katya (Little Broken) / Via littlebroken.com created a yummy and healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. YUM!!

2. Roasted Broccoli, Chicken, and Cheddar Quinoa Bake

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Who’s says comfort food has to be rich and unhealthy. This delicious Quinoa bake will make you rethink “comfort”!! Two thumbs up to Serena (Domesticate Me) / Via domesticate-me.com!

3 Individual Baked Apple Crisps

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Basically a crustless apple pie recipe, made for you by BuzzFeed Food editor Christine Byrne.

Recipe: Core 8 medium apples without cutting all the way through to the bottom — leave about a ½-inch of uncut apple at the bottom — then cut away a little bit extra so there’s a well in each apple about ¾-inch thick. Put the apples on a lined baking sheet, then sprinkle each apple with cinnamon and 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and top with 1 teaspoon unsalted butter. Bake until the apple is very soft, 30–35 minutes. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with your favorite maple granola.

4. Curry-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Add a little kick to your sprouts with some black pepper and curry powder… need we say more? Lokness (The Missing Lokness) / Via themissinglokness.com

5.  Salt and Pepper Roasted Green Beans

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Thanksgiving without green beans? We think NOT!!! Thank you theresacookinmykitchen.com

 







Five Simple Tips on Staying SANE While Hosting the Holidays!

November 21st, 2016

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So, you’ve decided to host a soiree during the holidays, congratulations!! Now, it’s time to prep yourself, and we’re not just talking about the food and décor. You need to prep your mind, body, and soul because hosting a holiday function can be a whirlwind of emotions, pressures, and expectations.  So before you deck the halls or order the turkey, read these simple tips for hosting the day and enjoying it too!

  1.  PLAN AHEAD… YOU’LL THANK YOURSELF!!  It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday details.  Did I decorate enough? Are there enough Christmas lights? No matter how small or large your holiday party will be, creating a game plan is key! Don’t let the decorations consume your life. Allow yourself permission to “let go” of certain decorating elements while spending that time checking to see if you have enough plates, seating, cutlery, or even refrigerator space for your upcoming celebration. Delegating responsibilities to guests and family members is also recommended. Chances are, they’ll want to contribute and would be happy to bring over extra plates, utensils, or prepared food to your party. You may even want to ask another family member (or two) if they would like to come over and help you prep.  I know plenty of hostesses that make preparation for the party —  a party on its own.  Allowing the helpers to sip cocktails and catch up, while preparing the meal.
  2. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS!! Visualize your party focusing on what type of Holiday celebration you are expecting this year. Will it be large and over the top? Or small, cozy, and conservative?  Once you decide on your vision, share it with others you will be inviting. Many people will be relieved to know that they don’t have to wear their jacket and tie to your Christmas dinner, because you are keeping it relaxed this year.  While others would be disappointed if they showed up in yoga pants to your posh Cocktail party. Realizing what you want and sharing your vision with guests can make the evening more relaxed, no matter the atmosphere. And keep the expectations to a minimum.
  3. KEEP IT REAL!!  Keeping your exceptions realistic, not obsessing over the details, and simply “letting go” can be life changing.  For some, this is easier said than done, but part of having a well executed evening is realizing that you are not in control (or should you be) of everything, and most importantly, that’s OK!  Uncle Willie may talk about politics and grandpa may make those “colorful” jokes everyone feels awkward hearing. But, that’s OK and that is what makes your family unique and special.
  4. PREP AHEAD!! Planning ahead is key, prepping ahead is a MUST!!! Creating dishes you can make one or two days before the party will not only save you time and energy, but a massive amount of stress.  Focus on salads with grains, which will absorb flavor over time and will actually taste better the day after they are prepared.  Make ahead dips, such as hummus and pesto, are perfect for holiday entertaining and can be prepared well in advance.
  5. WHATCH YOUR INTAKE!! Whether you like to splurge on alcohol or food, maintaining control over both, during the holidays, will contribute to your overall emotional and physical state. It’s easy to “let go” and reward yourself, because hey… it’s the holidays! But overindulging on both alcohol and food can be hazardous.  So, if you are hosting, fuel yourself throughout the day with healthy nutrition and consider limiting your alcohol consumption to stay emotionally connected and in control.

Our FIVE “MUST HAVE” Menu items!!

November 14th, 2016

Chances are, you’ve seen us rolling through the streets of Kansas City. You may have even joined us at the food truck frenzies at First Fridays, hanging out in our regular spot in Stilwell, or even at one of the many private events we’ve catered.  But if by chance, you are still wondering what to order the next time you see our truck, here’s a quick cheat-sheet on our TOP FIVE menu items. These made-to-order sandwiches and sides are RIDICULOUSLY delicious and are the best bites in town… if we do say so ourselves!

BOOM BOOM BURGER!!

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With a name like that, you bet it’s INCREDIBLE!!  This super-tasty, unique burger is served on a Farm to Market Brioche Bun and is a whopping half pound of delicious meatiness, covered in Pepper Jack Cheese and sports a huge dollop of our very own Broccoli Slaw (MERCY!!!!). And if that isn’t enough, it rocks enough Roasted Salsa and Jalapeño Aioli to make you truly come back for a second one, on the SAME DAY!

BOOM BOOM TACOS!!

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Set your phone to mute because you won’t want anyone disturbing you while you’re digging into these incredibly delicious tacos stuffed with mouthwatering Applewood Smoked Pork, our famous Broccoli Slaw and covered in our housemade Salsa and Jalapeño Aioli.  Served on flour or corn tortillas, these tacos will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites… oh and did we mention, they’re good…like really, REALLY good!!!

AUBRY ROADHOUSE BURGER!!

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We could stop with the BOOM BOOM Burger, but if you are a Beauty of the Bistro fan, you know that we have several delicious burgers, including this gorgeous beauty… AUBRY ROADHOUSE BURGER!!  This knock-out burger is served on a Farm to Market Brioche Bun and features a half pound of mouth-watering burger, covered in Smoked Muenster cheese paired with Bacon Jam and Arugula… you’re welcome!!

PORK BAHN MI!!

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We all have our favorites, but this one is definitely EVERYONE’S favorite!  Our Pork Bahn Mi sandwich is… well, beyond words! House-made Smoked Pork piled on a French Baguette and generously topped with Chipotle Mayo, Raspberry Habanero Sauce, Pickled Carrots, Sliced Cucumbers, Jalapeños and Cilantro. We should mention, BRING YOUR APPETITE!!

CUP OF MAC N’ CHEESE!!

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Life is good, but it sure is BETTER with some of our delicious Mac N’ Cheese! America’s favorite comfort food classic, our bowls are creamy, satisfying, and full of LOVE!!! A true must have from Beauty of the Bistro!

TIPS on Hiring a Foodtruck For Your Wedding – YES… YOU WILL LOVE IT!!

November 7th, 2016

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When the time comes to planning your wedding, the choices and possibilities, for every aspect of your wedding, seem to be endless.  From photographers to floral designers, most brides are looking for a wedding vendor who will bring the most creativity and style to their special day.  And although creative photographers and floral designers are important, let me tell you a little secret… why not invest that same creativity and style into your caterer and hire yourself a food truck… yes, a FOOD TRUCK!!

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PROS AND CONS

If you are considering hiring a food truck, you’re moving in the right direction! Food trucks are the HOTTEST trends in weddings and give a special event an infusion of creativity and customization your guests will LOVE.   But as always, logistics have to be considered to make sure that your wedding is right for a food truck.

There are many reasons to move forward with booking a food truck, fun atmosphere, delicious specialty food, variety of food trucks and food styles,  freedom with creative menu planning, not having to make your guests travel from ceremony to reception location, and may be less expensive than most traditional caterers… I can go on and on with the many benefits of food trucks.

However, as with anything, there are a few cons to consider.  Limited number of guests can be served per food truck, no seating provided, limited access (some reception venues do not allow food trucks or may not have space for a food truck to park), may not serve alcoholic beverages, may be in high demand or difficult to book.

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CONSIDERATIONS TO ELIMINATE OBSTACLES (CONS)

  1. Consider  your venue.  If your ceremony location does not provide you with a caterer, than a food truck may just be what you are looking for. Speak to the ceremony venue to see if they have an outdoor or indoor area appropriate for your reception, specifically to see if they can accommodate space/parking for one or more food trucks.
  2. Consider the season. Summer may be the obvious choice, but spring and late fall are good options to consider as well. These months are cooler and guests do not have to deal with extreme heat.
  3. No matter the season, make sure to plan for the weather.  Needless to say, if you are having an outside reception, you will be taking weather into consideration.  Setting up a tent or arranging seating in a shaded area will help your guests feel comfortable or have respite from an uncooperative weather issue.food
  4. Consider the guest count. Guest count is key in terms of planning how many food trucks to incorporate.  Some food trucks can only handle 75 people or less, others can handle more.  Speak with your “first choice” food truck to see if you will need to add more food trucks to your reception. Having multiple trucks can be creative and unique.  For instance, you can have Beauty of the Bistro (yes, we just recommended ourselves) and add an additional food truck for strictly dessert, such as ice cream or funnel cakes.  Or, you can have two to three food trucks offering a variety of menu items such as one specializing in BBQ, another in pizza, while another is totally committed to burgers. The possibilities are endless.img_1374
  5. Consider the seating. In terms of seating, think of food trucks as a hip, modern take on buffet service. This means you have basically two dining options: Set up formal tables so guests can grab their food and have a sit-down meal, or put utensils and napkins in a central location to encourage guests to stand and mingle while they eat. We recommend setting up areas to sit. Having a mixture of cocktails tables and sitting areas is a great idea, but make sure that there are PLENTY of seating areas for guests who want to relax and enjoy their meal.

 

Five Entertaining Tips to SAVE YOU TIME at Your Next Party!!

November 1st, 2016

With the holidays fast approaching, there’s a high probability that you’re contemplating hosting a special dinner or even a holiday celebration.  Nervous? Don’t be! Just think: lots of people manage to do it every single year, and somehow they survive.  So, if they can do it, YOU can do it!! And with our five easy (time saving) entertaining tips, there’s no reason why your next soiree shouldn’t be your BEST… holiday or any day!

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SERVE CHAMPS!!

There is nothing that can dress up your party more than some bubbly, the ultimate sign of a celebration! Having glasses of champagne waiting for your guests, whether at the front door or at an area reserved for cocktails, immediately adds a festive element to your home. You can still serve beer, wine, or mixed drinks, but champagne adds an immediate “welcome to the party” vibe. It’s kind of like confetti going off every time a guest walks in your door, but much cleaner! Best of all, you don’t have to stop what you are doing to offer or make your guests a drink as soon as they walk in. To really impress, add a strawberry and a sugar cube to each glass to create a champagne cocktail…BOOM!… you’ve just created your signature drink for the night. Yes, it’s that easy!

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INCORPORATE AS MANY “MAKE AHEAD” DISHES AS POSSIBLE!!

Give yourself a break and try to prepare as much the day or night before as possible. Make-ahead recipes are perfectly acceptable for entertaining, and a little secret, sometimes taste better than “day of” dishes because you let the flavors marinate and blend over a period of time. There are several salads, like potato and pasta, that taste much better prepared ahead and chilled than if you were to make them an hour before the party.  Cheese balls, dips, and pestos can all be prepared ahead of time, ready to be quickly incorporated into your appetizer tray a few minutes before the guests arrive. So, save yourself time and energy on the day of your party, instead spend that time enjoying a glass of bubbly before the guests arrive… see, you GOT THIS!

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DON’T BE SHY TO ASK YOUR GUESTS TO BRING SOMETHING.

It’s pretty much a given…  you invite someone to a party or dinner, their first question is “what can I bring?”  It’s perfectly acceptable (even encouraged) to let your friends know what to bring to your party… as long as they ask first.  Guests don’t like to come empty handed and chances are, they’ll probably bring something anyway… most likely wine! If they ask, tell them EXACTLY what to bring, as long as your requests are simple… HUGE time saver!

Also, if you are having many guests over, don’t feel obligated to cater to every dietary restriction.  If a guest has specific food allergies, you can ask them to bring something for themselves. For example, if they have gluten allergies, have them bring their own crackers or a side dish which you can incorporate onto your table and share with others. Chances are, your guest will be excited to share their item or prepared dish with other people at your party.

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SET THE TABLE AND DO ALL THE DECORATING, THE NIGHT BEFORE!

This little entertaining tip is known by all the experienced hostesses. Setting your table, the night (or even a few days) before your party, not only saves you time on the “day of”, but also gives you a chance to really play with your table design.  If you realize you are missing something or want to add a little something extra, you have plenty of time to find something vs. running frantically to the store. The same goes for cleaning and organizing the house before the party.

appetizers

appetizers2

OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE!

There is no better way to save time, while planning your next party, than to realize YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING!! Outsourcing certain things, especially the tasks you may not necessarily enjoy, is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged!! Some hostesses have a simple system, preparing the dinner and delegating the dessert and appetizers to a caterer or grocery store, or vice versa. We know some hostesses that don’t prepare ANY food and outsource everything to a caterer. As a rule of thumb, if you have six or less guests, you can handle most things on your own and may want to purchase appetizers and/or desserts at the store.  But if you have more guests, consider outsourcing certain tasks to a professional caterer… Beauty of the Bistro, for example (yep, we just recommended ourselves!!).  Delegating certain things to professionals allows you, as a hostess, to focus on what you enjoy most about entertaining, spending more time WITH your guests than AWAY from them!