For those of us used to sweating over labour-intensive do-it-yourself parties, hiring a professional caterer can feel extreme. The word “caterer” evokes images of heavy candle-heated chafing dishes or jacket-clad waiters passing fussy canapés, which seems excessive for a house party. But catering options have evolved over the years and outsourcing the cooking (and, depending what route you go, serving and dish washing) can be a game-changer.
There are levels when it comes to catering, and it’s important to choose something you feel comfortable with. For a completely effortless experience, consider hiring a private chef. Well-known local chefs like Alex Edmonson, Xavier Lacaze and Jamie Harling run private chef businesses, which sees the chef coming directly into clients’ homes to cook (and often serve wine) for a dinner party. The next step down is full-service catering, where the food is not prepared in your home, but staff will heat, plate and serve everything. If having strangers poking around the kitchen is distressing, it doesn’t mean catering can’t be an option — most caterers will drop off food you can heat and plate yourself, potentially creating the illusion that you cooked everything from scratch (you’ll get no judgement from us).
The biggest hurdle in crossing over to become the kind of person who hires a caterer is guilt. Are guests going to think you’re a lax host? Or a bad cook? Or an imperfect person who hasn’t mastered the art of having and doing it all? Unlikely. They will marvel at how wonderful it feels to see you laughing and raising a glass with them, rather than acting like an unpaid servant in your own home, or nodding off in a corner after spending three days of non-stop prep work. So, hire someone else to do it. It will pay off in joy, connection and memories.