Chicago Wedding Catering
March 17, 2012 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know any good caterers for a wedding in Chicago?

Fiance and I are getting married next summer in Chicago, and we have a question about catering: namely that it seems way more expensive than we would have imagined.

The biggest thing we want to know first of all is what is a reasonable price for catering. We are hoping to have a reasonably nice sit-down dinner for 100-130 guests, plus an open bar and a 'cocktail hour' (though this is less necessary). We want it to be nice and tasteful without being extravagant on one end or obviously cheap on the other. Our parents are all in shock because they did this 35 years ago and they recall it (seated dinner + open bar) costing $10-15/person, but everything we have found so far is in the triple digits per person, so we're wondering if we're missing something or if prices really just are that high.

If you have recommendations for good caterers in Chicago who aren't too expensive (or good caterers who are; if it comes down to it we can afford $100/person, but we'd really rather not) or alternative ideas that would work, that would be great too.

We know we can just call caterers and get prices, but maybe there's something we're missing--or calling the wrong caterers, or not negotiating when and how we should? This is where your experience would be helpful.

posted by notswedish to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We went with Chef By Request for our wedding a few years ago. (Our wedding was in Cook County, but in the suburbs).

They took care of all of the rentals as well as the food, and the price ended up being about $100 per person for a cocktail hour, nice lunch buffet, and an open bar. They also have their menu with prices listed.
posted by statsgirl at 1:30 PM on March 17, 2012

We used Hel's Kitchen but it was not a seated dinner. It was four hours of passed and buffet food for around $100/head (I think it was just under but I don't have the numbers in front of me). Open bar, but we bought the booze ourselves at Binny's and linens were part of the venue rental.

Hel's was right about where everyone else quoted us. A couple places were about twice as high, but no-one was really significantly cheaper except one caterer who did not include staff or dessert or bartenders or linens or glassware/placeware. In the end, we went with Hel's because they sent us the most distinctive proposal.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2012

Maurizio Malfeo catered our wedding about three years ago. He was fantastic. We had appetizers during the cocktail hour and a buffet dinner (I think we went with a buffet to save costs on waitstaff, not because Maurizio doesn't do sit-down dinners--he just hires however many waiters he needs). Our wedding had about 110 guests.

Maurizio really went above and beyond--we had several ideas going in that would have been terrible, and he gently suggested alternatives based on his experiences catering this type of event. Plus, people loved his food. I know at least a couple guests who went for seconds. He also set up a chocolate fondue bar for dessert (in addition to cupcakes from a bakery he coordinated with) that won my eternal admiration.

I believe we spent about $75 per person, including the appetizers, dinner, cupcakes, linens, flatware, etc. MeMail me if you'd like me to actually dig up the bill. I really can't recommend him highly enough. I never ever felt like he was pushing us toward a more expensive option, or pressuring us to use a vendor he was friends with. And he seemed really genuinely invested in making our event a success.

Maurizio doesn't have a liquor license, so for our open bar, we hired a couple friends of friends as bartenders, bought some inexpensive basic mixers, some juice and soda, good beer, and wine from Trader Joe's.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:40 PM on March 17, 2012

Hel's Kitchen did our wedding in September. We had an evening much like what you're planning. They were very good about working with our budget and we got it down to about $70 per person. Our entrees were salmon and a vegetarian baked pasta dish. We cut down on passed hors d' oeuvres during the cocktail in favor of a veggie and cheese table, and we had pie instead of cake. It was all very delicious and the service was great.

Like crush, we bought our own alcohol. Wine Discount Center and Binny's will take back anything that hasn't been chilled. We got sixth-barrel kegs from Half Acre--but they don't have taps and that was a hassle Binny didn't want to rent us taps for someone else's kegs.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2012

We did a Rosemont-area hotel and had them cater and after tax the cheapest package (4 hr open bar, non brandname) would be $75/person. If you want to go much cheaper than that you'd probably need to look at non-traditional caterers, e.g., BBQ, taco bar, places that don't specialize in weddings or change your open bar to wine only or something similar.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:20 PM on April 9, 2012

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