At some point in our lives, most of us will need a caterer. Whether it’s for your kid’s bar mitzvah or your company’s annual convention, there comes a time when you just can’t do all the cooking yourself. But how do you choose? Aren’t all caterers created the same? The answer, of course, is no. Not only do different companies vary in experience, style, and type of cuisine, but also in their values. Here are some of our favorite caterers and personal chefs, all of whom focus on sustainability and healthy eating as well as professionalism.
JANE HAMMOND EVENTS
For about a year, all I knew about my roommate’s employer, Jane Hammond, was that her catering company made damn good food. The cutest cheeseburger sliders, perfectly cooked steak, delicious and complex quinoa salad, savory vegetarian lasagna…a constantly changing menu of late-night gourmet meals straight from my fridge made Hammond my favorite invisible roommate. It wasn’t until I worked a couple shifts with her that I realized how awesome the company really is. Not only is Hammond’s staff knowledgeable, professional, and highly skilled, but also dedicated to sustainability on every level. Staff carpool to events; compost food scraps (sometimes throwing away only one small bag of trash even at the largest events); use compostable products like cups, silverware, and napkins; buy produce, meat, and seafood that’s seasonal and sustainable; and even offer clients an opportunity to offset their carbon footprint with carbonfund.org. Plus, Hammond offers event-planning services (including décor), can cater everything from a small wedding to a 700-person college reunion, and can accommodate dietary and cuisine needs. It also doesn’t hurt that the British-born, Cordon Bleu-trained Hammond is incredibly nice.
1975 Yosemite, Berk.
(510) 528-3530, (415) 822-0310,
If you’re catering needs are more intimate than corporate, Alyssa Cox of Earthen Feast might be just the chef for you – especially if you lean towards healthy, vegetarian cooking. The Certified Natural Foods Chef specializes in providing raw, living, and animal-free foods at private parties and weddings, though she’s also been a personal chef for rock bands at events like Warped Tour. In fact, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins calls Cox’s creations “absolutely the best vegan food I have ever had in my life.” And if you just want a little magic in your own home, Cox will give you a free consultation and then schedule a cook date, when she’ll arrive with cooking utensils and fresh food, create meals and side dishes, store and label items for later consumption, and do all the cleaning.
Burners, hippies, and new-agers who frequent festivals and yoga retreats might already have come across the magic that is Table Nectar, who’ve worked with Lightning in a Bottle, The Crucible, Burning Man, and Michael Christian, as well as at wellness retreats, weddings, fundraisers, and video shoots. But you don’t have to be a member of a subculture to enjoy Kim and Andy’s “raw fusion” menus – a personalized combination of vegetarian, vegan, raw, meat-based, and international cuisine. All food is fresh, local, seasonal, and sustainable whenever possible, and veggie dishes are famous for being so good that even meat eaters can’t believe it’s flesh-free.
6613 Hollis, Emeryville. (415) 680-5831, www.tablenectar.com
Patti Searle has been cooking since age eight and was a chef for 12 years. But it wasn’t until she went on a two-week retreat that featured a raw diet that the idea for Thrivin’ Edibles was born. Now, Searle is wholeheartedly dedicated to preparing organic raw/live cuisine for individuals and events, through catering, classes, and delivery service. That’s right. Thrivin’ Edibles will deliver raw pates, desserts, nut milk cheeses, gluten-free breads and more to your door if you live between South San Jose/Los Gatos and Belmont/San Carlos/San Mateo. The rest of us can order raw desserts and HuuRaw Chips, or hire Searle for our weddings, reunions, and graduation parties. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing most ingredients are purchased from local farmers, and 10 percent of profits are invested in The Hunger Project and Pachamama Alliance.
WORK OF ART
It isn’t only clients who rave about this SoMa-based catering company: Work of Art has actually won awards for its pursuit of over 90 percent waste diversion (and, in fact, was one of the first food waste recyclers in San Francisco.) Professional staff, unique food presentation, a commitment to local farmers and organic foods, and a list of services that includes lighting design and beverage consultations make this nearly 20-year-old company perfect for personal and corporate events.
1226 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-1000, woacatering.com