Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, April 2018
Written by Gail Collins
There are many reasons to hire a caterer for an event. For personal or professional gatherings, the benefits of leaving the prep to experts are as numerous as the guests. And the bottom line: Caterers work hard to produce an effortless event, so hosts and guests can simply enjoy it.
The first step is hiring the right caterer, so pick up the promotional cards of creative crews at successful parties. Food is the overall factor, and the type of gathering determines the method and measure. If it’s a boxed lunch, a couple of options work well. For a cocktail a party, plan on 10 to 15 appetizers per person. A sit-down dinner requires more staffing, but people eat less than at buffets, where lines develop and stations require constant attention.
Defining a party timeline keeps it lively and curbs costs. Consider a cocktail party with staffed stations for building tacos or beef sliders to circulate guests. Cut bar bills by showcasing a specialty drink and use one glass for all beverages to reduce rentals. Skip the filet mignon and focus on trends, like ethnic stews or braised meats. In the end, a capable caterer can make your event unique, memorable and affordable.
Bigfoot BBQ earned a reliable reputation with Kim Duncan of Kim Duncan Designs for their fresh take and no boundaries approach to catering. Despite their legendary smoked meat, “We had the courage and confidence to branch out,” said J. Carnes, who partnered with Bigfoot in 2008, and now, concentrates on catering. A mac ‘n cheese bar, baked potato bar and calabacitas enchiladas offered unexpected options at a wedding reception for a vegetarian family.
The rustic joint in the basement of Old Town Shops celebrated 15 years in 2017 and finds its strength in a partnership that also includes Colby Ramsey, kitchen operations manager, and John Van Landingham, the business guru. In a setting of reclaimed barn wood, checked tablecloths and downhome charm, Bigfoot has flourished. With South Carolina and Kansas style barbecue backgrounds, diners have it all—rubbed, sauced, pulled or sliced.
Catering called Bigfoot for its first gig. And that spring reception for W.L. Gore recently came full circle in their 40th Anniversary party feeding 1,200 people. The partners haven’t shied away from any opportunity.
“Our philosophy is to say ‘yes’ first and find the way to bring about an excellent product,” said Ramsey. “We push the limits and dazzle guests.”
Catering for the Armed Forces involved rigorous inspections for food handling beyond industry standards. The partners are proud to have earned the trust to feed service personnel.
So what are the catering possibilities? Bigfoot offers plenty. Caprese skewers spear grape tomatoes, mozzarella chunks and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic reduction for a handheld salad. A spectacular raw bar displays lobster tails, tiger shrimps, oysters and mussels as briny big bites on ice with a trio of sauces for pizazz. A triple berry salad with goat cheese on baby spinach tastes like summer—lively and bright with raspberry vinaigrette.
Let’s talk meat. The tri-tip presents like prime rib, ideally as a carving station. Pan-grilled and oven-finished, the rouge-centered slices maintain maximum juice resting en route to the event. Or serve the tender cuts in a baguette, dressed with avocado and green onions. Rosemary chicken with crosshatch grill marks is lean and moist with a smoky finish evoking a patio party.
Try the tacos. “It’s a five-day process to prep the skirt steak with a rub and cold smoke,” said Carnes. The caballero chicken is shredded in a tomato-cumin sauce, and the pork carnitas is house-smoked pork shoulder, seasoned with orange juice and cilantro. Standard good stuff. Toppers of lime slices, cilantro leaf, chopped jalapeño and chunky guacamole add sprightly freshness and zip.
Thinking Italian? Delicate ruffled pasta is layered with Italian sausage, San Marzano sauce and fluffy ricotta for a light forkful of lasagna. Baking off the noodles in the oven forms perfect al dente ribbons.
Save room for dessert. Banana pudding with homemade vanilla wafers is an elevated version of Mama’s, served in a mason jar with whipped cream, of course. Cobblers of peach, apple or cherry hide warm, sweet fruit beneath hand-kneaded dough. Cookies are a favorite go-to anytime, and traditional flan features delicate custard under burnt sugar gloss. Go decadent with a Bailey’s Irish cream cheesecake plus chocolate chunks or go classic with fresh fruit and cream for a berry light finish.
“Catering—you can’t wing it. It’s three days of preparation and one day of service,” said Ramsey. “Our primary goal is that the food service is effortless, our labor of love. That’s how catering should be done.” NAMLM
Bigfoot BBQ is located in Old Town Shops, 120 N. Leroux St. Flagstaff, AZ 86001, 928 226 1677, bigfootbbq.com