The Caterer

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Bob Spiegel of
Creative Edge Parties

How much of the total budget goes to catering?
That’s hard to say—maybe 40 to 60 percent. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced caterer who has the connections and buying power to get you the best deal.

And you’re it!
We’ve been around for twenty years. We produce restaurant-quality food in stairways and garages. We work from scratch. We never expect a kitchen—we just need a big open space with running water and good electricity.

Okay, so you’re up for a challenge. But which venues are actually easiest?
For small weddings we love the New Museum, 632 on Hudson, the Foundry, and the Glasshouses; for medium-size, there’s Studio 450. For larger weddings, our favorites are Gotham Hall, Skylight Gallery, and Metropolitan Pavilion.

What’s the average per head cost of catering these days?
For the city, low end is $125; middle is $150 to $200; and high end ranges from $200 to the moon.

Last time we checked, everyone wanted a cocktail party instead of a sit-down. Still true?
Yes, because some brides think seated dinners are boring. But sitting down to a beautiful dinner and having a wonderful conversation is not boring. Weddings with so many programmed interruptions—dance set, course, speech, dance set, course, speech—those are boring. I believe there will be a swing back to the traditional black-tie sit-down. I hope people start to use oval-shaped tables more often; they remind me of old stately dinners.

What are you excited about now?
Presenting food in new ways. We like to plan a barrage of surprises! Recently we did a party where we served four courses family-style, and the last course—a warm truffle pizza—was served tableside. And the table centerpieces were edible, made of cookies, cakes, and petits fours.

I’m sure you also get couples who just want to play it safe.
Yes, the number-one question is, “What does everybody like?” Here’s the answer: Anything warm with cheese. Couples also worry about serving fish or going vegetarian, but our olive oil–poached halibut with tomato marmalade is great, and we can make a root vegetable lasagna taste like the most amazing thing you’ve ever eaten.

Where can couples save?
Limit the bar to wine, beer, and vodka. A pre-poured, specialty drink helps speed up service but it won’t necessarily save you money. Also, a lot of people are getting a token cake for the photo, but serving passed sweets.

A dessert bar is cheaper?
A wedding cake can be either the most or least expensive part of dessert. The cost [of a dessert bar] depends on the variety offered. You never want a food bar to look ravished, so you have to prepare extra. That said, a caterer can easily calculate how many sweets a guest will eat. Either way, I like serving something beyond wedding cake. They look so anticlimactic after you cut them.

Are you feeling the recession?
Not really. I don’t want to say weddings are bulletproof, but my daughter is 3 years old, and I’m already starting to save up for hers.

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Miniature Sweets
“We do stations of mini-cakes, micro-spoons of sorbet, flavored-milk-and-cookie buffets.”
Dessert buffet, from $15 per person.

Dessert Shots Photograph: Courtesy of Creative Edge Parties

The Caterer