Industry Insider Q&A: Chef's Expressions

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A Q&A with Jerry Edwards, the president of Chef’s Expressions, a catering and event design company. Chef’s Expressions brings creativity, passion, and excellence to each and every event. Jerry’s company has been named “National Catering Company of the Year” & “Maryland’s Caterer of the Year.”

Q: What are some unrealistic expectations or perceptions people have when they first contact your company?

A: I think it is difficult for brides to judge how much a wedding costs. There are so many elements to the event that they often overlook or decide at the last minute that they want this special item that really fits them well.

Q: How about some unrealistic expectations or perceptions folks have when it comes to catering? 

A: Many people have no idea what it takes to produce a meal in an off premise setting that equals what they would receive in a restaurant. That is our goal. To provide a top restaurant experience on the plate and a stunning ambiance by using an unusual setting

Q: How do you try to properly re-frame those expectations?

A: Vision. I want the bride’s vision down to the details. I want to know what is important to the couple getting married. It’s not always the food and service. Sometimes it’s the table settings or a special cultural element that needs to be highlighted at the wedding. Once we find out the Vision, we can realistically begin to approach and design the wedding.

Q: What do you want brides to know about your field when comparing vendors?

A: We do our best to steer clients to vendors that have the Three E’s: Vendors that are Ethical, Excellent and Easy to work with.

Q: What things do brides forget to include in their decision making process when selecting vendors in your field?

A: Quality and experience. They often feel that price outweighs many items. In my 35 years of experience, I found that guests talk about three things when the event is over: the food, the music and the service. Other than that, unless a great deal of the budget was on an overwhelming floral display or an amazing fireworks display, its just the food, music and service.

Q: What do you feel is a typical price point for services in your field in the MD/VA/DC market?

A: All-inclusive of Bar, Equipment, Food and Service about $125-$175 per person.

Q: What are some things you wish every bride and groom knew about any category in the wedding world? 

A: How food should be prepared off premise. Food should never be held. It should go from pan to plate. And the need to have the service team be prepared with the proper information.

Q: What’s the advice you’d give to someone about wedding planning if you’d knew they’d listen?

A: Prioritize your desires. Be honest about your budget and find the right match for you. Not the caterer with the best personality, but the team that thinks like you think.

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.