Vendors I Know–Dave’s Specialty Foods

August 25th, 2009

Today I start a new series here on vendors I know and like.  I’ll do an occasional profile of a vendor I have worked with to give you an idea of whether you might like to work with them, too.  Today’s special guest is Dave Esau of Dave’s Specialty Foods in Mount Prospect, IL.

Dave Esau, courtesy of his website.

Dave Esau, courtesy of his website.

When you walk into Dave’s shop on West Prospect Ave., the eclectic decor and selection of local cheeses don’t tell you that you have stumbled on a French-trained chef who takes extraordinary care to select the best ingredients and prepare them as well as it is possible to do.  But when you go to a tasting there, there is no doubt that you have found one of the best chefs in the area.

Recently, I took a client to Dave’s for a tasting.  She had lined up a tasting with another caterer later that same day.  Dave brought out a superb, tender chicken dish with a balsamic vinegar sauce and some stunning vegetables.  He followed that up with just-sweet-enough desserts.  He always gives potential clients the soft sell with his trademark cheerful attitude.  The next day I heard from my client:  She had cancelled her later tasting and decided to hire Dave.  She knew (and I can confirm) that she wouldn’t find a better fit anywhere.

The other thing I really like about Dave is his commitment to local, organic, and sustainable food.  This is not just an abstraction:  It really shows in the quality of the food he serves.  Quality, however, does not translate to outrageous price.  I am always pleasantly surprised at how much you get for the reasonable prices he charges.

So, when you’re looking for a caterer, include Dave Esau on your list.  He is located in the suburbs, but he works all over the Chicago area.  It’s definitely worth the trip to his little shop by the train tracks to taste his food!

An Interesting Correlation

August 18th, 2009
The bride's friends made the centerpieces for this wedding.

The bride's friends made the centerpieces for this wedding.

A friend of mine who recently got married told me something she learned in the course of planning her wedding.  For some reason or another, she was talking to a lawyer who specializes in divorce (having nothing to do with her wedding, of course!)  They were discussing the size of her wedding budget, which I understand was quite modest, since she works as a free-lancer and her husband is a graduate student.  This lawyer told her that he had noticed an interesting correlation in the course of his work.  According to him, the larger the wedding budget is, the shorter the marriage is likely to be.  I can’t account for this surprising parallel, but I can say this:  If you are planning a wedding on a small budget, you can at least console yourself that, statistically speaking, your marriage is more likely to be a lasting one.

One Of Those Perfect Evenings

August 10th, 2009
The cake, along with all the white lights I strung.

The cake, along with all the white lights I strung.

Last Saturday, I was the coordinator for a wedding, and it was one of those days when everything goes perfectly.  That’s not to say that there were no challenges, but everyone rose to meet them.

The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was the weather.  The wedding was at Architectural Artifacts/Atrium Events on the north side of Chicago.  It’s a wonderful space and I look forward to working there again.  The one and only drawback to the place is that it has no air conditioning.  And Saturday was the first day this summer when the weather was over ninety degrees!

The ceremony was outdoors in the courtyard where the weather was bearable.  The reception was on the lower level that had stayed cooler than the rest of the space.  The caterer had also made sure to bring extra fans to keep the air moving at the tables and on the dance floor.  Only the cocktail hour was indoors on the upper level where it was rather hot and crowded.  The caterer, the photographer, and I all coordinated our activities so we could open up the lower level as early as possible to let people get out of the heat.  (I thought the bride’s godmother was going to melt!)

The band started playing at 9:00, and the lead singer invited people onto the dance floor this way:  She said, “As long as you are already sweating, you might as well be dancing.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  The guests took her advice, too.

But there was more to this wedding than just overcoming the challenges brought on by the weather.  The lovely young couple had done an exceptional job planning their entire wedding day.  They really thought through the details.  In fact, I was still getting e-mails from the bride the day before with just “one more thing” she had thought of.  She was a little apologetic until I told her that I’d rather she told me those things in advance, rather than waiting until half an hour before the ceremony.  Knowing what they really needed, I was able to take care of all the little details that made the day special for them.

And because they had planned so thoroughly (and hired people who knew how to execute the plan), everything went perfectly.  They had a lovely, personal ceremony followed by a terrific reception with food and drink, cake, flowers, meaningful toasts, and dancing to a very fun dance band.

Success Stories (First in a Series)

August 6th, 2009
The journey was half the fun.  Photo courtesy of Artisan Events, Inc.

The journey was half the fun. Photo courtesy of Artisan Events, Inc.

I began doing events before I started this blog, so here is a story from a past wedding:

The wedding guests were staying at a hotel on the Gold Coast. The wedding was at a synagogue in Highland Park. The reception was at a lovely little French restaurant in Bucktown. The first thing the marrying couple asked for help with was transportation. I chartered a bus for 25 guests and found a reasonably priced limousine for the couple. After setting up for the reception at the restaurant, I was responsible for making sure that all the guests who wanted to be on the bus were there before it left. I also loaded the snacks and bottled water onto the bus and distributed the snacks on the bus. We all rode the bus together up Sheridan Road, all the way to Highland Park, and then back into the city for the reception.  It was a lot of miles logged for the guests, but their hosts were very considerate to charter a bus for them.  The party was on wheels!  I was most privileged to have helped this couple, not only with transportation but also with finding a terrific florist and various other things that made their lives easier and their wedding perfect.