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No, Bon Appetit, you've got to call the caterer

No, Bon Appetit, you've got to call the caterer

If you smell something burning, it's the catering profession.

Facebook has been on fire with caterers angered by a story in this month's issue of Bon Appetit. The "Starters" article instructs readers that the way to avoid lousy wedding reception food is to "lose the caterer" and use a restaurant instead. Evidently the editors think that the culinary stars work exclusively in restaurants, while caterers are the cooks who get their recipes off the back of a box of Bisquick.

The editor did apologize in a blog post on Friday, which was good. But his strike No. 2 was explaining that all he intended was to give couples "options."

To find a wonderful world of dining options, for wedding receptions and other special events, you simply have to call in the caterers.

Spend any time speaking to culinary professionals who offer catering services—such as, oh, say, Wolfgang Puck—and you will find many have extensive professional training and experience, often in high-end hotels and restaurants.

Caterers take all that talent and then serve guests restaurant-quality food in a dizzying array of settings.

For example, the nominees for the Special Events 2015 Gala Awards included Someone's in the Kitchen, which trucked in supplies to a campsite 300 miles away to serve 225 guests from a 40-by-40-foot catering tent, which turned out pulled brisket sliders, slow-roasted lamb, and apple fries in mini galvanized buckets. Oh, and by the way, the menu was kosher. (See the photo above for SITK's pulled brisket sliders on a Mae West serving tray.)

Action stations, trapeze artists pouring champagne, anti-griddles, pairings of mini shots and appetizers—so many fabulous, interactive food experiences come from caterers.

This is no criticism of restaurants. I had my wedding reception in a restaurant. For years, I worked for one of the largest restaurant associations in the U.S. (If you can't sleep some night, call me and I'll cure your insomnia by detailing the sales and payroll tax implications of banquet service charges.)

The caterers I know have the boundless imagination—and the nerve—to pitch clients innovative menus presented in sure-to-wow ways in places where no kitchen facilities even exist.

As cartoonist Bob Thaves said in praise of dancer Ginger Rogers, "She did everything [Fred Astaire] did, but backwards and in high heels." Swap out "restaurants" for Fred and "caterers" for Ginger, and that's about right. 

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