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Need a great caterer in San Diego or La Jolla

Lisa Stein Feb 18, 2004 05:12 PM

Any recommendations for the best caterers in town ? Not terribly concerned about cost.

Thanks in advance,

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    Gayla RE: Lisa Stein Feb 18, 2004 05:42 PM

    Lisa, what are you having catered and where. What type function and what type of meal service will you need, i.e. reception w/ or w/out passed apps, buffet, sit-down with waiter service. How many people. Beverage service?

    The more information you provide the better your chance of getting a viable recommendation.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gayla
      Lisa Stein RE: Gayla Feb 20, 2004 12:35 PM

      Kalypso -
      Thanks for all the questions. I haven't settled on a site yet - but there is a strong possibility of needing a caterer.

      It is a 130 head corporate dinner. Cocktail hour with passed hors d', followed by three or four courses plated. Top shelf open bar.

      Mostly just want highest quality chowish food.


      1. re: Lisa Stein
        Gayla RE: Lisa Stein Feb 20, 2004 04:15 PM

        If your location is going to be in any kind of a hotel, you're probably going to be required to use their in-house Food & Beverage department. If it's a non-hotel type of location, whoever you book with (i.e. the venue's booker or event planner) should be able to provide you with a list of potential caterers. If your venue is on one of the many University campuses here in SD, you will be required to use the University food services catering department. UCSD and USD are very, very good - better than many private caterers - can't speak to SDSU's catering department as I haven't attended a function they've done. Many venues actually have 3 or 4 caterers they specifically work with and you might be required to use one from their list.

        If you're allowed to choose your own caterer and you're in the La Jolla/Beach Cities area you might give The French Gourmet a ring. They're pricey, but usually pretty decent and their waitstaff pretty good.

        If you do end up having to hire a caterer I would absolutely do a taste test with each one you're considering before you sign a contract with your final choice. If you're going to pay top dollar for the reception/dinner, make sure what you're going to get is really what you want and of a quality level you find acceptable. Be very specific with what you want when talking with each potential caterer. If you want something creative and cutting edge (not usually likely in San Diego) say so. If you need something executive tell them. A good caterer should be able to help you determine the type and style of food you want without being too pushy or steering you in the wrong direction.

        Having taken a few more catering orders than I care to admit to, the thing that used to frustrate me most were potential clients that would call up and ask for quotes but couldn't really tell me what they wanted. It was a lot like pulling teeth. And on the dinner, if the entree is meat, poultry or fish, you will for sure need a vegetarian option. I haven't done a catering function in the last 5 years at which there was not at least 1 request for a vegetarian option. Depending upon the make up of the group, I've also seen the vegetarian requests go as high as 50% of the total covers.

        Good luck.

        1. re: Gayla
          Paul Weller RE: Gayla Mar 9, 2008 01:16 PM

          You are spot on with your comments of doing a taste test before signing a contract. Anybody can write a great descriptor, take great pictures of food, come up with a fabulous sounding menu. Executing the food is something else again.

        2. re: Lisa Stein
          Abra RE: Lisa Stein Feb 22, 2004 09:19 AM

          Check out Ina Kuller at www.chefina.com. She's a colleague of mine, and although I haven't tasted her food, I've been drooling over her menus for years. She does big events, and I believe that she does a great job. Tell her that I sent you.

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        Emil RE: Lisa Stein Feb 19, 2004 10:55 AM

        I've used California Cuisine on several occasions, and they're always terrific. Located on University Avenue in Hillcrest. Imaginative appetizers and great service.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Emil
          mimilulu RE: Emil Mar 10, 2008 11:15 AM

          I second this suggestion - they did my wedding a couple of years ago and the food was great!

        2. n
          notjustastomach RE: Lisa Stein Feb 19, 2004 11:53 AM

          I've never used Waters Fine Catering for catering. But they have a little sandwich/soup shop on Morena Blvd. that has wonderful, chowish delights. Apparently they also have a place in Balboa Park.

          Link: http://www.waterscatering.com/

          1. d
            Dave Hicks RE: Lisa Stein Feb 23, 2004 11:48 AM

            I have heard good things from Affordable Affairs Catering www.affordableaffairscatering.com and they do everything - home, office, rental hall, etc. Give them a call and see if they can help with your specific needs.

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              PGB RE: Lisa Stein Jul 2, 2006 06:23 AM

              Check out the French Gourmet. They have a restaurant in PB. My wife used them for a large event for a musical organization and they did a fabulous job. The food was excellent. You can visit them at their restaurant and they will prepare smaples for you t taste.

              1. Alice Q RE: Lisa Stein Jul 2, 2006 03:46 PM

                Festivities, Waters and TKA are probably the best high end caterers, but they are extremely expensive. We shopped around and settled on French Gourmet for our wedding "reception" and they did a fine job - but it's not tippy-top quality food and service (we had Oktoberfest style brats and a keg, and they were fine for that!) If you really want to wow the crowd and money is no object, I would suggest Waters or Festivities.

                1. b
                  butterbutt RE: Lisa Stein Mar 9, 2008 08:08 PM

                  Waters hands down!!! I also used Jb's catering.. not sure if hes still around but the menu was great..

                  1. e
                    Ela0427 RE: Lisa Stein Mar 11, 2008 03:36 PM

                    Tapenade in La Jolla!!! Our Christmas party was at Hotel Parisi and Tapenade catered it. The food was great!!

                    1. b
                      bigjoe001 RE: Lisa Stein Mar 12, 2008 01:22 PM

                      Urban Kitchen Catering does some nice stuff. They will customize a menu for you, nice touch..I also had some good stuff from a company called chillico I think the name was. I had a sample of there stuff at the SD food and wine festival, and it was really good. They specialize in Asian stuff.

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                        rotie77 RE: Lisa Stein Mar 13, 2008 02:01 PM

                        probably a little late, but Firehouse Gourmet might be an interesting choice. Here's a link


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