Kosher Wedding in Chicago 2009
My sister has just gotten engaged and we are planning an August 2009 wedding, which will require a kosher caterer. We are familiar with Danziger, Kosher Gourmet and Goldman-Segal. I was wondering whether there is anyone else available as well as any unsolicited comments regarding those mentioned above. Also, if anyone knows of inexpensive venues, where one could bring in catering (not reform or conservative congregations), that would be a huge help!
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
This is an update for all those interested in the outcome of my sister's wedding at the Hyatt. We have just celebrated the most amazing and wonderful even this past Sunday. The Hyatt staff, especially Anne Bernstein and Morgan Irving went above and beyond to accommodate us. Although we had blindly selected the menu items, everything turned out delicious (except for maybe the salad, but considering how much food there was, that doesn't even matter). The hors d'erouves and the Asian station at cocktail hour were phenomenal. The dinner was pretty great too (definitely better then any other catered meal I have recently had). But the best part was the cake, which was made on premises. The cake was just plain fantastic, even though it was parve (non-dairy). Hats off to the pastry chef!! We also had some family style appetizers served prior to the salad course, which included deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, hummus and baba ganoush, and basically, by the time the main course came out, people were pretty much stuffed. That was exactly what my parents wanted because otherwise my mother would probably not sleep for days if she ever thought that her guests left hungry.
The service was really wonderful. They even went as far as to order an ice sculpture we liked (there was a standard design that came with the package, but they allowed us to pick what we wanted).
In addition to that, they have great linens, good bar selection and the dressing room/photo room facilities are awesome and spacious.
Anyway, if anyone is interested in more info, feel free to contact me. Honestly, I have gotten married and had a kosher wedding myself and have been to so so many, and this was truly the most wonderful, we could not be happier!
I eat at Shallots Bistro in Skokie pretty often (weekly-ish now - though this is a fairly new practice for me) and have used them for catering social events in my home and corporate events at my office; the last being in the past week or so. They've always provided a very good product and service to me, making things very simple.
They also have a few new chefs there. I had noticed some new items randomly showing up and asked about it. One set of dishes was obvious, as they just started serving sushi and the sushi chef visited my table to see how we were enjoying it during one visit. I was pretty sure they weren't staffed for this before. This is also one of the reasons I'm there more often; I do love sushi! :D
I had also noticed some new desserts and savory dishes, as they were serving lamb shanks the other night; something I hadn't seen there in quite some time. The waitress informed me that it was a recipe prepared by their new chef. According to the folks there, he's cooked for various celebrities and personalities; his resume sounded impressive at least. I asked how long he had been there for and he evidently worked on my last catering order as he is accustomed to catering various events.
Take it for what it's worth. My last event wasn't a wedding, but more office friendly foods and everyone seemed to really enjoy what they prepared. As a side note, the lamb shanks were really quite good!
Good luck with the decision making! I'd be interested in hearing what you eventually decide on. My wife and I spent a long time trying to decide how to work the food at our wedding. It worked out in the end, but only because we had a lot of help from some great people. I'm always eager to hear about other experiences with Kosher food in the area, as it really can be hit or miss in Chicago.
Thank you everyone for your input. After attending several events recently an comparing prices, we have settled on the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Shockingly the prices are not as outrageous as we thought they would be and after having priced everyone out and seeing what is included with the package, i.e. alcohol, facilities, linens, etc., we decided to go for it. Plus the Crystal Ballroom there is just lovely with a great outdoor terrace for cocktails.
If anyone is interested in the outcome, please contact me, I will be happy to update you. The wedding is towards the end of August.
The reality of Kosher catering -- as with all catering is that you get what you pay for. A caterer isn't McDonald's or Olive Garden. You don't necessarily get the same experience twice. If a clients budget is limited to a chicken breast, some vegetables and rice -- because it's the client who ultimately selects the menu -- it may not be the most memorable experience. If the budget allows for more -- then you'll get more. Unless and until you know what a party was budgeted for, you won't really be able to compare apples-to-apples.
I've had rubber-chicken meals from every Kosher caterer in town. I've also had some very good ones (including Danziger).
I talked and did tastings with most kosher caterers in Chicago. I finally got Rafi's contact information from a local synagogue, who suggested that Aviv Catering usually did Bar/Bat Mitzvot, but might be able to cater our wedding. From the first food tasting, we knew that Rafi was the guy we wanted. His food was far superior to any of the kosher caterers in Chicago, and his price was significantly lower. His daughter was our pastry chef, and I can truly say that I've never had more delicious pastries than the ones she made for our wedding. We were married on memorial day weekend, and innumerable people have come up to us since to compliment our caterer's food. If you're looking for a kosher caterer, I'd highly recommend Rafi at Aviv Catering. (http://www.avivcatering.com/)
you might also check out Michael C's - http://www.mccater.com/. - food is very good and he is willing to work with you on budget - in terms of venues many of the hotels have exclusive contracts with a single caterer -
Here is a link to CRC Guide to Chicago which also has links to other caterers as well as the synagogues you can contact if they have space http://www.crcweb.org/community/chica...
If you're having an Orthodox wedding, I know a lot of people get married at the Midwest Conference Center in the same building as the Concord, just off the highway. They are very familiar with kosher weddings (in short notice) and can coordinate a caterer for you.
This weekend I'm going to a wedding in Evanston catered by Shallots (a kosher restaurant).
This should be moved to the Kosher board but oh well. We used Goldman-Segal at the Westin O'Hare, and in general we were very happy with Goldman-Segal. They modified the ingredients in their basic standard menu (for instance, adding mandarin oranges to the salad) and even created a certain soup at our request (papaya!). Also, usually bringing in catering can be more expensive.
I used to work at a hotel that used Danzingers for Kosher weddings. They are good people..the price is really high.
There are some hotels that allow you to bring in the catering (b/c it's Kosher) and then you pay a per person price (maybe $20) pp as a rental fee. Check into that...
Esp. if the wedding is on a Sunday, you can get a nicer "deal."