We recently had the pleasure of talking with the super talented folks at Crave Catering. Below they share some insight into their business as well as general tips for picking a caterer.
How long have you been in business? How did it begin?
Crave Catering has been exclusively catering off-site since 1997. It all began with a free-standing culinary stand at the Farmers Market at PSU. Folks began to crave our food more than one day a week, creating a demand and yielding a small, family-owned restaurant serving the greater downtown Portland area. That wasn’t enough; our customers began to ask us to bring them our delicious food at their special events, boosting the little restaurant into a full-time catering business. Now, we’re proud to cater at just about any kind of event and any kind of venue.
What's your specialty?
Simply put, crafting mouth-watering food out of a symphony of local ingredients. We partner with farmers and merchants within 100 miles of our kitchen as much as possible, which means the ingredients are fresh, crisp and locally grown. It’s important to us to not only create delicious cuisine but also give back to our planet and our community at the same time.
What's your favorite food?
Our favorite food is the kind that is grown by our friendly farmers; the kind that tastes best on its own because it’s that fresh and that tasty; the kind that is in season so it’s at its peak of freshness and perfection. Overall, we’re a bunch of foodies who simply enjoy a range of cuisine from all over the world: French, Northern Italian, Nuevo Latino and pretty much anything that presents something new to our tastebuds.
What do you think is key to a successful event?
The key to a successful event is hiring professionals to handle everything for you, from planning to cleaning up. Sure, you can save a dime by doing a few things on your own, but it may cost you your time and your energy while also shifting your focus from other important details of the event. We make it look easy because we’re experts, but you’ll quickly find it’s hard work and best left to those who have the know-how and the right equipment to get the job done right.
How would you describe your ideal client?
The ideal client is someone who is passionate about food and passionate about where that food is sourced. We love to work with those who share our joy of cuisine, but also love to work with folks who are open to suggestions and will confide in us, sharing their most detailed visions and dreams so we can better make those come true.
What do you think someone should look for when hiring a caterer for their wedding or event?
The things to look for when hiring a caterer would be first, responsiveness. Is the caterer quick in returning your calls and sending a requested proposal to you? Do they listen to your vision and needs and appropriately reflect that back to you? If not, seriously consider how that will transition to the day of your event. When hiring a caterer, also consider the length of time they’ve been in business and even ask for references to other folks who have used them for similar events. It helps to hear outside perspectives and will generate more confidence in your decision.
What do you do, when you're not doing what you do?
Other than out learning more about the culinary world and local farms, we’re also out playing when we’re not an event. We all share a love of this region and enjoy exploring it, whether it be snowboarding, hiking, camping with our families and dogs, gardening or just trying a new restaurant. All in all, we stay entertained and happy.
Anything else you want people to know:
Well, for starters, you can check out our website for menus and follow our blog at crave.catering.com, or give us a shout at 503-224-0370
There are also a couple of things many people don’t know we do and one is catering to film crews. We’re one of the only caterers in the Portland area who has a mobile kitchen where we can tag along as films and commercials are made, feeding the hungry crew a large variety of hot food along the way. This requires a tenacity for planning ahead and a flexibility to squeeze into any location, which makes us experts at off-site catering for any type of event or venue!
The second thing is fairly new. We continue to push ourselves to be more sustainable each year. Our owner, Mark Lopez, owns some land in Southwest Washington and has begun to grown many of our ingredients. Now that’s fresh: picking them off the vine on the way to work!