Interview by Linda Stansberry
For the first installment of our event planning series, we sat down with Chris Cassaro of Cassaro’s Catering. Chris is fondly remembered by at least one visiting film crew as “the towel lady.” When Cassaro’s catered a shoot in Redwood National Park she had a supply of warm lemongrass-infused towels on hand to give to the chilly crew. The towels were a big hit and so was Chris. Little details like that, she says, make a big impression. Chris has been in the business for over twelve years and, with the help of a crew composed mostly of family members, caters to a lot of local weddings and company parties. On the day we met she was nice enough to bring us this lovely salad and a couple of Mason jars of her delicious homemade salad dressing. We quizzed her on behalf of all of you planning your big day.
HM: So, when do you let the caterer go home?
CC: I never abandon anyone. There’s no cap on my job description. Generally we clean up and pack up when the party’s done.
HM: You must stay pretty late sometimes!
CC: I don’t mind. I really like doting on people and taking care of their needs.
HM: Do you have advice for someone hiring a caterer?
CC: Ask questions. Ask the caterer what they’re willing to do. Caterers can help with a lot of things you didn’t expect.
HM: Do you have any advice for weddings in general? Have you seen any wedding disasters?
CC: (laughs) No, no wedding disasters! I would say that some clients have such a stringent timeline—down to the second—that they’re setting themselves up for failure. It’s important to have some flexibility. Changes always come about and you have to modify your actions.
HM: What about meal time? There’s always that lag between when the ceremony ends and when the meal begins because the photo shoot takes forever.
CC: Time of day is a big thing. If the ceremony is around lunch or dinnertime people might be really hungry. Maybe you can serve some hors d’ouvres. But I’d never advise a couple to open the buffet before the photo shoot finishes. The couple should eat first, otherwise they’ll never get a chance.
HM: That’s right, they’re always interrupted from eating by people congratulating them. So would the caterer be able to put aside some food just for them?
CC: Of course!
HM: What about menu planning? A lot of weddings in Humboldt take place in the summer, when it’s pretty hot.
CC: Well, that definitely influences the kind of food that I prepare. We’re really blessed to have so much locally produced food here, and that’s really been a trend I’m seeing with clients. They want things that are local and organic. I’m lucky that there are so many local vendors that can get me what I need. I can do pretty much any kind of food, including special dietary needs, as long as the client lets me know what they need.
HM: So you haven’t had any crazy, demanding clients?
CC: You mean like that show Bridezilla? No, I’ve never had a Bridezilla situation. Part of the job is anticipating people’s needs. I’m happy to accommodate people. I have always been impressed how my clients trust that we will get the job done. They rely on our expertise as I’m sure it is true for other vendors such as photographers, bartenders, etc. I would never claim to be an expert in a pompous way, but with many years under my belt, I have a confidence how things should unfold. It’s always nice when people allow you to do that.
HM: What do you say to people who are feeling stressed out about their wedding?
CC: A lot of the time I find myself saying, “It’s a process. Enjoy the process. This day is going to come and go so fast, it’s just going to happen and you’re going to wonder what it was all for.”
HM: That’s very soothing.
CC: I aim to please.
Do you have more questions for Chris? Check out Cassaro’s Catering website, Cassaroscatering.com.
Do you need help planning your big event this event season? Let us know who Humboldt Made should interview next! Email – jodie@humboldt made.com