In a perfect world, every wedding venue would come equipped with a full kitchen. Unfortunately, sometimes the spot that is exactly what you want for the reception is lacking in this one key feature. This is no reason to find a different locale, though. Although it can be a challenge, it is possible to arrange for successful catering even without the benefit of a dedicated kitchen. The following tips can help.
Tip #1: Find a Staging Area
Find out from the venue if there is a room, out building, or even an alcove that can be utilized as a staging point for the caterers. Bonus points if it has electrical access. With a few folding tables, a fully stocked caterer can equipment the area with electric hot boxes. This allows them to cook the food ahead of time and then they can keep it warm until it is time to serve.
Tip #2: Serve En Place
No space for a separate staging area? No problem! Most caterers are equipped with classy chafing dishes that they use for buffets. Set aside a long wall for the caterers use and set up tables with tablecloths in this area. If you are worried about unruly guests or wandering children, you can also cordon off the area with curtain dividers or velvet rope. Your caterers will set up the food in the chafing dishes to keep it warm. You don't have to have buffet service, though. The caterers will be more than happy to plate and bring the meals to each table.
Tip #3: Some Like It Cold
There is no reason to depend upon hot food that needs to be cooked on site for best flavor. A brunch or lunch wedding, especially in the warm season, is the perfect time to consider a wedding reception meal of gourmet sandwiches or fancy salads. If you are planning on a short reception, consider an appetizers and cocktails affair. Even if you plan on serving hot food, combine it with plenty of chilled sides and appetizers so your caterers can do most of the cooking ahead of time. It's often easier to keep foods cold than to heat them up.
Tip #4: Schedule a Visit
Don't just depend upon a description of the venue to be enough for your caterer – invite them for a tour. They will know better what limitations a kitchen-less venue can pose, so they need to do a walk-through before the big day so they can plan accordingly. For example, they may need to rent a portable cooler if they don't already own one, which can impact their costs and your final bill. With a solid plan in place, you can make any venue the perfect location for the wedding reception of your dreams.
Talk to a catering company like Grand Street Cafe to see whether or not they'll be able to work around the no-kitchen issue.