Taste Test: To Have and to Hold

Perfect-sized, scrumptious finger food is the ultimate wedding-catering challenge. We sampled the goods from six top providers.

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Smoked salmon and quail egg on a potato pancake from Calihan Catering

Hors d’oeuvres, wedding planners will tell you, set the tone for the rest of the evening. “If presented beautifully, they create a sense of excitement at the beginning of the party, an immediate impact,” says wedding planner Marina Birch, of Birch Design Studio, one of the city’s high-end event producers. Two of the caterers we interviewed reported that cocktail receptions serving hors d’oeuvres only—typically lasting three or so hours—have become popular recently.

With that in mind, we arranged comprehensive tastings with six top caterers serving the Chicago area who have the wherewithal to pull off a large-scale wedding. After making selections from a large menu of choices, we tasted, took notes, and picked the caterer’s best entry in each of six categories: meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetarian, and “wildcard,” a free-for-all grouping meant to capture a particularly novel dish. For each pick, we give a “yes” or “no” rating (Y or N)—based on presentation and taste—to indicate whether we would order it if actually planning a wedding, then explain why. Assuming a three-hour cocktail reception for 100 guests, we also asked the caterers to calculate the cost per person for the six passed hors d’oeuvres (all prices include necessary serving dishes, forks, and trays, as well as cooking and serving staff, tax, and delivery). The results:



6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I have worked with Wendy Pashman as a vendor many times
and always said if I ever held an event in my home,
The Entertaining Company would be the FIRST place I'd call
for culinary treasures my guests and I would never forget.
Absolutely LOVE her innovative style. She's the best.

Kathie Nicolet
Chicago Pianist
Preferred Vendor: Mayor Daley's Office OF Special Events
Chicago History Museum

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