Food for thought

Posted on 03 May 2013 at 11:00am

How do you feed a hundred hungry friends? Caterer Wendy Krispin can show you how

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ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

You know the joke about NASA? That the astronauts sat on top of a million pounds of explosives in a machine built by the lowest bidder? Well, you could say the same thing about the way many people pick a caterer.

“It’s definitely the biggest expense for most weddings,” says Wendy Krispin, who has been in the business for 30 years. “I’d say 60 to 70 percent of most weddings [is food].”

When it consumes so much of your budget — and it’s usually the one tangible thing your guests have to remember from you big day — it makes sense to get what you want.

“One of the biggest mistakes people do is piecemealing,” says Krispin, president of Wendy Krispin Caterer in the gayborhood. “They’ll say, ‘We’ll do our own alcohol,’ and not realize we can order it for them and deliver it.” And usually at a discount.

In her years planning parties, Krispin has seen trends come and go … some good, some bad. But “there’s always something to learn — you have to change,” she says.

Even so, Krispin does have some trends she likes and some she doesn’t.

“We’re seeing a lot of vegan and vegetarian requests, and gluten-free,” says Krispin — and that’s all right with her. (At her Design District restaurant, Royal Sixty, she’s moving toward a more organic menu as well.)

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EAT UP | Whether you plan a sit-down dinner or stick with buffet or passed apps will affect what kind of experience your guest have, says Krispin.

Krispin also enjoys how many weddings are requesting “stations:” Pizza bars, Southern Comfort bars, etc. Rather than being more work for her and her staff, it’s what Krispin lives for — to show her creativity and make a wedding unique. She’s not as excited about the “mashed potato” craze, but even that she can roll with.

“I try to make the toppings more interesting,” she says. “Instead of cheese, sour cream, bacon and chives, we’ll throw on turnip confit and creamed corn and fried chicken.”

Indeed, such invention is where choosing a good caterer becomes essential. Krispin interviews her clients to come up with the best ideas, asking questions like, “What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?,”

“What’s your favorite restaurant?” and “What foods do you absolutely not want?” She then builds a menu around that, often coming up with ideas even the couple hadn’t considered.

As for the decision of whether to do a seated dinner, buffet or pass hors d’oeuvres, Krispin takes a simple position: “It’s what the couple wants.” Still, she has some suggestions.

First, the best meal may depend on the time of day the reception takes place.

“Hors d’oeuvres are better for early in the day or later in the evening,” she says. “If you are having the reception at dinner time, it’s gonna take a lot to feed people.”

Second, let the space dictate the style.

“We have an event coming up where the parents wanted a seated dinner, but it’s not possible [in the space],” she notes. They had to decide whether the location or the style of food was more important.

“If you’re doing a buffet, set the table for your guests,” she says. It not only saves the hassle of them grabbing silverware to shove in their pockets, it allows you to present a fancier buffet.

Third, the meal will largely be price-driven. If you only want to spend $12/person, you’ll get what you pay for.

With so many decisions, a natural question is: What happens if the couple have different ideas about what they want their dream reception to be? It’s not as clear-cut as you might think.

“More and more, then men in straight weddings are making all the decisions about the catering,” she notes. “The women are sometimes so concerned about how they will look, they turn it over.” But mostly the conflicts she sees aren’t between couples, but where parents disagree with their children’s decisions.

But on those occasions when they brides- or grooms-to-be can’t agree? That’s a different discussion, Krispin says.

“If you can’t agree on one meal, you probably shouldn’t be talking to a caterer,” she says; “you should be talking to a psychologist.”

Wendy Krispin Caterer, 528 S. Hall St. 214-748-5559. WendyKrispinCaterer.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.

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