Chef de Cuisine Joel Taylor
I frequently hear the requests for caterers on EatGR, and why not? We are all about food discovery. The responses that I see to those requests always intrigue me. The names of a few dedicated caterers pop up, but frequently the suggestions are for local restaurants. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am happy that restaurants do catering and I realize that it is an important part of their business/survival, but what about the guys who only do catering?
I got to thinking about how much tougher it was for a dedicated caterer to capture the attention of their average patron. In our food community, pictures are posted all of the time from restaurants. Rarely, if ever, do I see anything posted about a caterer. This was not lost on David Castro, President of Applause Catering + Events.
Castro, an EatGR group member, had been asking me for months to come in to Applause to see what they do. I had only ever used one caterer before, and I left all of the planning of that event to others so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Due to lack of time on my part, and confusion about what he wanted, I put him off for about a year. Inevitably, though, we travel in the same food circles and were destined to see each other a fair bit. After running into him several more times, he convinced me that I needed to come in and see what they were all about.
My meeting with Applause was at their offices on 3755 Broadmoor Ave SE, Suite C in Kentwood. As expected, I got a full tour of their facility. A commercial kitchen behind the office space with smiling chefs working feverishly on some pretty good looking food, a large storage area in the back and an upstairs storage area with “props”. Maybe there is a better word in the industry for what that is, but it was essentially a storage area with themed “props” for presentations at off-site locations. I had never considered the possibility that if you did a themed presentation that decor had to come from somewhere. Castro also explained to me that Applause has multiple dedicated facilities and several partnerships with local places to hold events. Since I am a newbie to catering and how it works, this was good information.
Excited that I had gained some great knowledge, we exited the back of the facility and returned to the office area where Executive Chef Mark Williams was there with food waiting for us. I failed to realize that the chefs were feverishly making food for us!
Curried pork belly pho, lavender grilled lamb with porcini risotto, pan seared duck with roasted beet hash, and chicken caprese with roasted redskin potatoes. WOW! Not at all what I would’ve expected.
As it turns out, Applause wants people to know that they are always thinking out of the box and have all sorts of creative foods and presentations available. They even have “The Barbecue Boys”, a separate division of Applause Catering that just does Barbecue. They didn’t have to get all fancy because I am all about barbecue, but who was I to complain.
I also found out that it is common practice for people who are looking for a caterer to sit down for a sampling like this in advance. Looking back, that makes a lot of sense. Unlike a brick and mortar establishment, you really have no other opportunity to try out the food.
So with the tour completed, and the my tummy full, I was handed a courtesy bag that included menus and other valuable information. I was also told that if I wanted to hold an event with Applause and didn’t see what I was looking for in the way of food or other amenities, to please ask them about it. They assured me that they could pretty much do anything that I wanted.
Epilogue: Since my tour of Applause Catering + Events, I did decide to use them for a FOODNAMI! event so that I could introduce EatGR group members to the diversity of their menu and give their services a try. It was a smaller event with roughly 30 people which was well received by the attendees, and the food did not disappoint.