Molly (picture by Steve Garret)
As you know we love local but that is not the only reason we like FIG Catering, there food is absolutely FANTASTIC, and we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Molly Schemperl. Find out about the FIG Catering team and get some inspiration for your wedding catering needs.
For people who may not be familiar with FIG Catering, can you share a bit on how you got started in the wedding industry?
When we first started our business (my husband and me) we wanted to focus on smaller events and we handled mostly in-home parties including showers, dinners, and holiday cocktail parties. We eventually started doing in-home weddings and when we began catering full time and got our own kitchen (before we were working in a shared kitchen) we started reaching out to venues and expanding to do more weddings. This year (2012) we catered almost 50 weddings. We still stay on the smaller side of the catering industry and only handle 1 wedding per day and only up to 150 guests.
What services do you offer?
Drop-off (casual) and full service catering for groups from 2-150 guests. Full service includes bar, staff, and rental procurement.
FIG Team (photo by Jamie Kelter/Greenhouse Loft)
Tell us about the FIG Catering team:
Justin, my husband, and I are the owners. Justin is our head chef and oversees everything in the kitchen (in addition to being on-site at almost all of our weddings). I’m the head pastry chef, but also handle some wedding sales and marketing. Elyse Moore is our dedicated Wedding and Special Event Coordinator and handles almost 75% of FIG weddings. In addition to customizing proposals for couples, meeting for tasting and walk-throughs, she is on-site from the start to the end of your wedding.
What is the biggest lesson you learned working as a caterer ?
Take time to get to know your client and listen to what they want. Customized service makes us unique and allows us to be flexible with couples needs.
Is there a particular couple style you feel you cater to best?
Laid back couples who are primarily concerned with the quality of the food at their wedding and are willing to spend a little more on it (versus spending on décor, music, or other items). People who cook for themselves and understand/appreciate hand crafted food. Also, people looking for less traditional food like vegan/vegetarian or ethnic cuisines.
What is the first thing a couple do when thinking about catering?
They should think about the style of wedding they want and how they/their families and friend eat: Do you tend to be big eaters who like options? Then a family-style or buffet dinner may be better than a plated meal. Do you tend to be picky and/or want to socialize during a meal then an hors d’oeuvres stations menu may work better. Any option can be cheaper or more expensive due to the menu options and rentals you choose; you should rather think about what will work for you and your crowd the best and figure out how to make that work within your budget.
Due to the fact that at FIG we use seasonal produce, they should think about the season they are getting married in and what is available then. If you’re favorite foods are corn, melon, and tomatoes, you should not be getting married in April or May.
Picture credit 1-5 Jamie Kelter/Greenhouse Loft, 6 Brian Kinyon, 7 FIG, 8, Alix Klingenberg Photograph
What are some of your favorite location for weddings?
Greenhouse Loft, Floating World Gallery, Pleasant Home in Oak Park, Kitchen Chicago, Salvage One, outdoors in your backyard (keep in mind – this is probably not going to be less expensive than a venue with tent rental, kitchen set-up, etc.)
Can you tell me about 1-2 of your favorite requests/ ideas that a bride has come to you with?
To accommodate a large percentage of non-drinkers at a fall wedding, offer hot chocolate, coffee, and hot apple cider with toppings and cordials (for those that do drink).
Fresh nectarines or other fresh, locally grown produce as favors
Cheese tasting bar for dessert – Someone who wasn’t that into sweets got a small cutting cake, but then had a wide variety (10-12) types of cheese paired with wine, mini cocktails, and liqueurs for the main dessert.
What are the trends you are seeing for 2013
Ombre linens, Return of the plated dinner, Banquet style seating
Quick one sentence getting to know you questions:
– what is your rule of thumb you live by? Don’t be mean.
– what do you do in your free time? Eat out, swim (in a public pool)
– If you were to turn on the TV right now what would you choose to watch? Mad Men or PBS
– what book are you reading right now? or what is the last book you read? Just finished reading The 100 year old man who jumped out a window & disappeared. I usually read fiction when I read, but just picked up a client’s self-help book titled The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self which I’m looking forward to reading. I’ll have more time in January and February.
– what do you cook for yourself? Unfortunately I rarely do. When I do it’s usually something healthy soup, chili, or lentils.
Finally we have to ask but what is an item you would have on your wedding registry?
I had a very limited registry, but I’m a sucker for nice towels, sheets, and blankets.