12.12.2009 quote No Comments

Catering Quote Guide

While speaking with a potential client today I got a little curious and asked how many other companies they had talked to while requesting a catering quote for a San Diego personal chef. I expect people to do their due diligence and contact a few different companies, this works out best for everyone. The caterer finds someone that is the right fit for their service and the customer should be able to find a long term solution that addresses each of their needs. The issue that i faced with this customer is that they were not able to share many of the details of their event since they were hired to plan it for another person and had not already gone through this process with their boss. I had given them a list of questions that are important to know in order for any caterer to provide an accurate catering quote.


Does your catering event require proscuitto or kielbasa? Your caterer needs to know.

Does your catering event require proscuitto or kielbasa? Your caterer needs to know.

I thought I would share this with the world so that caterers have a reference when providing a quote and so that anyone in san diego that is looking for a caterer can be prepared with the pertinent info. This guide should also be used to verify that a caterer has enough information to give you the right quote. If you are not asked these questions, you may not be receiving an accurate quote and may not be dealing with an experienced caterer. Convivial Catering uses these questions to provide catering quotes to san diegan’s everyday.

1. Ask the customer “Please tell me about your event.”

This open ended question allows a client to explain the overall purpose of the event and the general environment that they intend to create for their guests. It allows the caterer to then ask more targeted questions and sometimes reveals an important aspect of the event that may not come up in a standard quote form.

2. What can you tell me about the catering location.

It is important to make sure right away that the event will be in an region that the caterer is able to service. For a list of areas that Convivial catering services check our list of San Diego Catering locations. This will also allow the caterer to ask additional targeted questions regarding additional equipment that may be necessary for them to bring.  Expect to have information ready concerning cooking facilities if the food is to be prepared on site.  If it is outdoors with a buffet style the caterer may need to provide protection from the elements such as a canopy or tarp.  This can also give the caterer some great ideas on what may catering service will best serve the client and allow a creative menu to be proposed.  This will be vital information to get an accurate catering quote.

3.  What type of menu are you looking to have provided?

This question will be addressed as every clients taste is unique and every event calls for a different style of cuisine.  First, consider the type of food to be served. Would you like to serve appetizers? If so, what did you have in mind?  pigs in blanket and seared ahi poke are going to end up with different estimates on time requirements and food costs.  Second, consider the style of food you are looking to have served, once again if it is spaghetti and meatballs for the VFW it will be a less expensive quote than Foie Gras at a wedding.  Use international indicators such as italian food or french cuisine to help describe in depth what you are looking for if you do not have specific food reuests.

4. How many guests are expected at the event?

This will be the most important factor to provide accurate information about if you are looking to get a correct catering quote.  Caterer’s will establish a cost per head and then use the number of guests that you provide to estimate the cost of your catered event.  In San diego we find that many times the estimated number of guests can grow after word of mouth spreads.  Don’t be afraid to over estimate and look for a conservative quote.  You can always go back and let the caterer know that the number of guests is lower.  If the caterer has 48 hours they can make adjustments and you as the client will not come out over budget for your Wedding, Event or private party.

5. What type of additional services would you like provided?

Caterers should be prepared with a trained serving staff, additional chef’s and have access to additional event services.  In most cases the caterer will need to assess additional overhead and may be able to find ways to save you money or provide a more fitting service with this information.

The thing to remember when getting a catering quote is to be open, honest and as accurate as possible.  This will make sure that your events estimate will be accurate and with more information a caterer has the ability to be more in tune with the type of catering service will be best while staying within your budget requirements and exceeding your expectations.  By the way that is always our goal.  To contact a qualified representative and get a quote for your catered event you can fill out our catering quote form.

18.11.2009 Catering Event, Helpful Catering Tips, Local San Diego No Comments

Corporate Event Catering Guide

The Essentials of Successful Corporate Event Catering

A daytime catered business lunch

A daytime catered business lunch

Why is there a need for business event catering so popular in San Diego?  It is a time saver, because everyone has to eat, and by conducting business during mealtimes two birds are killed with one stone. However it is a major undertaking to ensure that event catering goes smoothly.  These are a few tips that I have learned over the years on booking and providing top level service in a business catering environment. It also may be a requirement, in order to get in front of clients that you’ll have to provide a meal.  The true goal of this short term investment in your customer is to create more loyal business and generate more long term revenue.  The reason we conduct business over meals is multifaceted but primary among them is that happy well fed clients are more receptive to doing business.  If a client eats an excellent meal and receives impeccable and professional service one is more inclined to listen to the person that provided the meal.   The meal is a reflection upon those that provide it.  We must remember this important fact.  The meal in a corporate setting is a reflection upon those that supply it.  If the meal is of subpar quality and/or the service is substandard, that is representative of those that provided the meal.

So we have determined the importance of providing an excellent meal with great service.  How does one execute this?   You need to determine the type of event that you trying to create.  Is this going to be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail party?  What type of service?  Will it be a buffet or plated dinner?  If it’s an appetizer party will those appetizer’s be passed or on a stationary buffet?  How formal is the event?  What type of décor will there be?  Are there dietary restrictions or specialized requests of attendees that need to be addressed?  Are there Vegans, Vegetarians, Kosher, and Food Allergies such as lactose, gluten, or nut issues?  All of these are integral factors in ensuring that your Corporate Event goes smoothly and your clients are happy.  It is important to address all of these questions ahead of time so that you are not surprised by them at the event and are forced to scramble on the fly.

When you have satisfactorily determined the answer to all of these questions you then need to select a caterer.  The selection of a caterer is of primary importance.     The caterer needs to provide all of the components to fulfill your needs for the event and your client’s needs.  You need a caterer that will provide exactly what they state they will provide in their quote.  The caterer needs to provide professional, unobtrusive yet friendly service.  The food needs to be of high quality and fit within the dietary requirements of the client.  The caterer needs to be timely.  The caterer needs to work within the budget and bring value commensurate to that budget.  The caterer needs to be professionally attired and provide service per your requirements.

So how does one choose a caterer?  You can find a caterer through the internet, through a referral, through the yellow pages, or from local advertisements.  Regardless of how you locate the caterer there are several ways to vet the caterer to ensure that they will accommodate your requirements.  First you can interview the Caterer and ascertain their level of experience, whether they have done the type of event your are looking to create, do they have catering testimonialsLinkedIn is also another online tool that often has posted recommendations on the caterer you are evaluating.  if your looking to find someone local and learn more details about the business every business should have a google maps profile to help customers become accustom with their regional services. check for references, have they received any awards or recommendations, have they been reviewed or featured in any publications, what is there food style, and can they meet the needs of any specialized dietary requests or specialized service requests?  That is an excellent starting point but if you have the time the best way to evaluate the capabilities of a caterer is to see them in action.  Ask the caterer to let you come to another event that is similar to the one that you are creating.   This firsthand knowledge is invaluable in the selection process of a caterer.  You will be able to see the presentation of the food.  You will see the execution of the event.  Is the caterer serving the food at the time it was slated?  Does the décor look appropriate and aesthetically pleasing?  You may also ask the caterer to sample the food at that event.  This way you get a first hand tasted of food as executed during an actual event.  Tastings presented by the caterer are another great evaluative tool and will be specific to your event however it is easier to execute single dishes at the caterer’s business than it is onsite.  You should also ask the caterer for references and contact those individuals for their opinions on the caterer you are considering.

Once you gain an understanding of the caterer you will be working with you will have all of the items in place in order to create a successful corporate catering event.  So make it happen! Bring in more business through successful corporate event catering.

12.11.2009 Catering Event, Catering News, Local San Diego No Comments

Catering live! San Diego Channel 5.

Convivial Catering’s Jeff Heavey had the opportunity to once again impress the likes of Chrissy Russo, Arthel Neville, Raoul Martinez and Shally Zomorodi in this weeks Fox Morning News Spot. Once again Convivial prepared a creative rendition of a standard dish and recieved a few compliments from the staff. This is always an enjoyable event. The number of things that can go wrong on live TV is a little higher than say a corporate luncheon. The main reason being the fact that television studio’s are normally ill equipped, somewhat unpredictable and while entertaining and cooking is something convivial is accustom to do it in front of a couple thousand people can have a bit of added pressure.

The morning news give convivial the chance to be visible to many people that normally would not be aware of our san diego catering services. Many of those people that found out about our unique and delicious catering solutions are now good friends and loyal clients. Most are business catering events from early morning viewers and events requiring a personal chef. convivial appreciates the fact that this gives people a chance to be familiar with the kind of people that provide our catering services.

View our Executive Chef Jeff Heavey who begins to plate at 1:30 in the video.

The good news is it went off without a hitch. The camera angles and lighting showed the food well, the cooking area was ready when i got there and the staff and news anchors were amiable and responsive. Next time im out there I will have to come equipped with some more clean jokes to keep people involved if the set dies down at all. Whats brown and sticky? give up?

A stick.

19.10.2009 BBQ catering, Helpful Catering Tips Comments Off on San Diego BBQ at the Q.

San Diego BBQ at the Q.

BBQ tips | convivial catering San diego

It’s an early Monday morning in Ocean Beach, the fog is yet to burn off and fall temperatures are creeping in, adding a crispness to the air.  There are three things that come to mind on a day like today.

1. Prepping for the boardroom lunch that is planned to serve at 12:30.

2. Setting up for an fall inspired BBQ

3. Monday night football:  The Broncos and The Chargers collide tonight at the Q in mission valley.

Luckily Convivial has invited it’s staff to tailgate at the Q and celebrate a successful Summer catering season.  The days work will end early and leave time for festivities.  Having a top NFL team play 15 minutes away is one of the benefits of being a San Diegan and I would like to offer a few helpful tips that convivial uses when providing BBQ catering that will make your tailgate party a hit tonight.

1.  Using the best cooking medium:

  • Charcoal: This is the preferred heat source for our bbq catering events.  allow charcoal to burn until white on the outside.  This will burn off all contaminants such as lingering lighter fluids or carbon from altering the taste of your meal.
  • Gas: this is certainly an upgrade in ease of use, and while the taste is similar many guests will prefer the char and smokiness gained from charcoal.
  • Electric Grill: not here not now.  this is not the time to plug in your favorite boxers genius infomercial product.
  • Mesquite and hickory smoke:  whether your using charcoal or gas you can add a hickory mesquite or fruity smokiness to your meats with wood chips.  If you take advantage of this be sure to let the wood sit in water for while before adding them to a smoker box (for Gas) or directly on top of the charcoal.

2. Finding your camp:

  • Getting your spot: Make sure to get in early.  You’ll avoid entrance lines, have time to prepare properly and get ready for the game.
  • Top tailgate areas:  The Q has a great bunch of fans and plenty of potential to meet neighbors when tailgating.  If you find one you can easily post up behind your car/ truck.
  • Check the wind:  This is obvious.  check to make sure that your tailgate party can breathe easy.

3. Cuisine Tips:

  • Meats:  I prefer using rubs for chicken, marinades for steak, and glazes or marinades for pork.  Try experimenting with a bit of cola, or a bit of beer on steaks, this will tenderize you BBQ and add flavor.
  • Warm drinks:  The cool weather is the perfect reason to mix your guests some drinks using hot cider, cocoa or coffee.  Your designated driver will appreciate the alternative when you offer them a non-alcoholic alternative.
  • Think of your guests: Do you have vegetarians in the group?  Do you have dieters or picky eaters?  Be sure to have options for anyone who has particular tastes or unique eating habits.  Leave no guests tastes unattended.
  • Invite your neighbors:  You’ll pick up the best tailgating tips from the people next door.

4. Leave it as you came:

  • 1 gallon of water to put out your bbq and avoid any fire hazards.
  • 1 garbage bag for any waste (paper plates, bottles, cans)

Our goal is to entertain and create a fun event with food that everyone remembers.  Hopefully a few of these tips will raise the bar at your next tailgating event.  Hope to see you in the lot and learn from your bbq experiences as well.  For more ideas and tips check back frequently.  To experience convivial catering first hand request a catering quote

Enjoy the game!

30.09.2009 Local San Diego 1 Comment

Convivial Catering’s Friends.

Good friends and great associates make Convivial Catering’s products that much more enjoyable.

We want to thank a few of the San Diego businesses that we have had the pleasure of being in contact with. Convivial Catering enjoy’s the entertaining atmosphere of San Diego, and adds to the ambiance as often as possible.  We are proud to service all areas of San Diego.  We provide catering to the Gaslamp, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe.  While our network of fans is quite spread out we make the effort to create satisfying meals throughout the county.

The San diego area is full of holes in the wall spot’s that offer unique atmosphere and provocative menus.  Convivial is recommended by many of the top restaurants in the area such as Pamplemousse Grille, and World Famous and we look forward to showing our appreciation for their referrals by continually recommending there premium dining establishments. Check back to continually find more news about our friends and associates in the fine dining field of San Diego.

09.09.2009 Catering News, Helpful Catering Tips No Comments

Wood Stone Oven Guide.

When your looking for a unique cooking experience consider the options offerred by Wood Stone oven company.  Just like the name says, the ovens are available in a wood burning model that is mainly used in high end cuisine that requires an authentic smoked taste and in old style pizzeria’s.  There are two things about Wood Stone Ovens that stand out to me as unique in my experience running kitchens and as a San Diego personal chef prepping and cooking in other’s kitchens.  First is the ability to cook on a true stone surface, the entire oven is made of a cast porcelein stone that retains a nice even temperature and allows the cook to use different area’s of the oven for different periods of the cooking process.  Second is the option to have these ovens installed with gas heat.  This gives the cook a truly authentic look with the flexibility and control of gas heat.  The cooking surface is still a stone material and this gives the chef a broad range of options when preparing everything from breads, meats, quiches or pizza.  The only issue for a caterer is space that one of these ovens consumes.  While the cooking surface is larger than most any oven the additional space taken up by the porcelein dome and gas equipment may not work for larger volume events.  I personally prefer a viking range and a few bakers pride ovens but am consistently impressed by the authentic look and hearth baked taste associated with a well tamed Wood stone.

Welcome To Convivial Catering
14.08.2009 Catering News, Helpful Catering Tips, Website updates No Comments

Welcome To Convivial Catering

San Diego catering services demand the highest quality of food and a level of attention that is met in few geographic locations.  Convivial Catering operates each event with the processes and supervision of executive chef Jeff Heavey.  Chef Jeff Heavey and his staff implement the skills learned in years of training under many of the worlds most distinguished chef’s and executes catering experiences that make memories.

Convivial’s staff takes the guess work out of catering events.  Sample menus are available for each specific catering need.  For those looking to create a truly memorable occasion on their special day Convivial offers fine cuisine that will fit the broad range of tastes required for wedding catering.

Business Catering must be well presented, timed perfectly and consistent.  Convivial is proud to recommend healthy solutions for businesses looking to provide delicious and convenient meals to staff members.  Many San Diego businesses choose Convivial’s business catering to impress clients and partners and leave a lasting impression of quality.

Many of the best experiences that Convivial has the priveledge of being part of are with San Diego’s fundraising communities.  Many of the events that are catered are a dirct result of our commitment to providing reasonable solutions to event catering and having the flexibility to maintain a cost effective yet delectable product, consistently.

Thank you for joining us in our mission to continue as San Diego’s premier catering service.  We appreciate the opportunity to impress.  You can contact us to see sample menus, learn about the options that exist for your unique catering need and to get a quote for our services.