My fiance and I are planning our wedding for later this year. We are having friends and family help prepare a "picnic" lunch for our reception which is in the early afternoon. One of the items we would like to have is a large cheese table with 5+ kinds of artisan cheeses. (Humboldt Fog being the only absolute must have at this point.)
There will be roughly 200 people in attendance at the wedding and we would like the cheese to be a highlight so we will need a fair amount. While we are able to afford our local cheese shops here in OC (Picnics being our favorite) it would be hard to justify the costs they have to markup for the amount we need. Are there any good locations in the OC/LA area to purchase large amounts of cheese that are open to the general public? We would be looking at ordering 5lbs+ of each.
Picnics Fine Foods
435 E 17th St Ste B7, Costa Mesa, CA 92627
We have friends who recommended this place to us, but we have NOT tried them. Since it sounds like you have a good idea of what some of the prices should be then you can probably get an idea of how "wholesale" this place is. Good luck on your wedding plans.
If you want Spanish cheeses, try La Espanola. They are an importer, produce their own salumi, and distribute to the trade, as well as retail all their goods. Perhaps if you are buying in large enough quantity, you might be able to negotiate a better than retail price.
La Espanola Meats
25020 Doble Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90710
People throwing events often seem to believe that having a single large party entitles them to wholesale pricing. Servorg's link is fine if you are indeed a licensed retailer, but a one-timer will not be able to buy.
Why don't you contact Cypress Grove yourself, and find out what they can do for you if you order direct? A wheel of Fog is 5#, so that's a start.
And, if Picnics is your favorite shop, why not give them the business? Another misconception is that specialty shops are rolling in money- I can tell you that's often not true- gourmet food is very perishable, and the waste is enormous, and expensive. Perhaps for a good customer they'd be willing to discount a large guaranteed order. Offer a deposit on the order, and a card on the table mentioning where the cheese came from.
Cypress Grove direct has been the cheapest by a fair margin so far. I have not contacted them directly but from their standard online price so I will try this route as well, thank you.
I do enjoy the shop and would like to give them business but not at their current prices for this large an order. I don't have any preconceived ideas of how much money any gourmet shop makes in the current economy but on that same note we need to watch out for our own wallet right now. Paying for this all on our current salaries with colleagues being laid off every other day in our field doesn't help that. In calling around to at least two other shops (not Picnics), one in Orange County and one on the Central Coast where the wedding will be, I've actually been quoted higher prices than I have seen in the individual shops over the last month. I can only assume this is because I mentioned the magic word "wedding" when discussing the order. I'm sure this isn't the norm but it was frustrating as I did initially think there would be at least a small discount given based on the size of the order.
A few thoughts. If you have a contact at a restaurant or shop, you might be able to get them to place an order with a wholesaler for you. It is unclear if you plan on having a caterer for the wedding, but they could probably order wholesale. And it is possible that your venue can order food wholesale.
Alternatively, I would suggest contacting a couple of different artisan cheese makers. It was already recommended that you contact Cypress Grove. I know the Rogue Valley Creamery sells 5 lb wheels of different blue cheeses for $123. That is hardly wholesale price, but if you want a large amount of blue, it's an option.
The last thing I would suggest is that you work with a specialty shop and see if you can get a break on the price if you buy in bulk. Consider a place like Wally's, which sells Humboldt Fog for $21.92 per lb, and has a number of other artisinal cheeses. You might catch a break if you also ordered your wine and champagne from there.
If you were to order from Wallys, for a nice variety of cheese, I would recommend Humboldt Fog, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam (a triple-creme), a blue (I'd recommend a Roquefort Petit Cave, but if you wanted to stick to American artisan, they carry Rogue Creamery Crater Lake Blue), plus two firm cheeses (maybe one cow's milk and one sheep's milk). Wally's doesn't have a great selection of firm artisan cheeses, but they have Beechers Flagship Block, Barely Buzzed, and Carr Valley Cave Aged Marisa. (If you want a very wide selection of American artisan cheeses, I would recommend trying the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.)