How do caterers get it all together? It’s the lingering question I’ve been asking myself since I started this position back in February. I get the different elements– culinary, sales and operations, the planning and promotional aspects of it–but how does it all come together in the end? This fall, I’ll be spending some time at Mintáhoe Catering & Events here in the Twin Cities to help put all of those pieces together.
Last Saturday I spent the early afternoon with Ron Bigley and his operations team at Mintáhoe to experience loading up for the day’s events. I’ve heard from many caterers this month that they’re having “the busiest September ever!” and Mintáhoe is no exception. Four weddings left the commissary in Hopkins, MN, destined for locations in and far outside of the Twin Cities metro area.
For the first part of the day I worked with Jeremy and Jenny, the captains for an event in Red Wing, MN, a little over an hour outside of the Twin Cities. The distance to the event was one challenge. Jenny assured me that she didn’t want to forget anything because the trek to the event site was longer than usual. It was also a barn wedding– in a round barn– so she frequently checked in with her sales rep to ensure that they’d have a space to prepare in and outside of the facility. There were also several dietary restrictions on the docket, eight combinations of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian, with almost one at each table. And the service was family style, so Jeremy and Jenny wanted to make sure they had plenty of extra platters and serving utensils to go around.
“And none of the sales reps write their event sheets in the same way every time,” Jenny informed me as she tried to decipher what the event’s garbage situation would be (she was prepared to carry the garbage away, in case there was no on-site disposal).
As three other weddings prepared to depart from the commissary, the team worked smoothly together, making sure that everything they took was clearly labeled for them to take.
There were so many details and pieces to put together, and Jeremy made sure to check on every last detail: “The biggest task is to anticipate anything that could go wrong. We want to make sure that all of our bases are covered.”
After helping to load up a couple of the trucks, I followed event captain Justin out to Eagan, MN, to a wedding at a lovely community center. There weren’t too many challenges at this event, especially since the community center came equipped with a recently remodeled huge commercial kitchen. Space was no issue, it was a basic wedding buffet, and the event was pretty straightforward. Justin told me that the biggest challenges were making sure the influx of new September staff (back to college means a lot of turnover!) knew what they were doing– especially since it was a particularly busy September. He wasn’t worried about his crew of new servers, but he was keeping his eye out for details.
Although he did have to have someone come out from the commissary because the bread had been left behind. These things happen once in a while, but the event was ready to go off without a hitch.
Making sure that all of the pieces are in place– that everyone is going out in time, that everyone has everything they need– and anticipating any future problems is a huge part of the caterer’s job. The days are long, but the exhaustion that comes with a busy September after a long summer is well worth it.
Thanks for letting me come along, Mintáhoe!