Our goal at Catering by Michaels is to wow the guests at every single event we cater — not just to serve them delicious food, not to make the venue look beautiful, but to leave them feeling genuinely delighted with all of the details of their event.

That’s no easy task. The only way to do it is to nail every detail. Everything from the table setting, to the linens, to the food, to the service is tailored to provide the perfect night for our clients. But surprisingly, some of the details that let us provide clients a great experience are things they’ll never even see. One of those details that is really important to us as a caterer, is the tool we use to schedule our staff: Nowsta.

Nowsta is a workforce management software that we use to build our staff’s schedules, track their hours, pay them, and rate their performance. I know, it sounds a bit mundane but stay with me. Why would our clients care how we handle scheduling, as long as it gets done? But as with the events themselves, the devil is in the details. Below, I’m going to outline some unexpected ways Nowsta helps us better wow our clients and give them an outstanding event experience.

We Can Build the Perfect Roster for Each Event

Most caterers, especially bigger ones like us, rely on a big network of part-time staff to work events. It’s difficult to manage relationships with all those employees when you’re not seeing them every day. There’s a huge range in the frequency with which these people work with a given company — some of them may only work an event with us once a month or so, while others may work with us multiple times a week. Plus, these people are taking on multiple roles. One day they might be a waiter and the next a bartender, so it’s hard to keep track of who’s qualified for which jobs. It also allows us to keep overtime in check and spread the workload across everyone who is available for shifts.  

Before Nowsta, our staffing managers had a list of all our part-time staff, and would contact them by text or email as needed to ask if they could work events for us. This tended to limit the pool of people who could actually work for us at a given event, since our managers would naturally gravitate toward staff whose names they recognized. As a result, we may find ourselves needlessly asking the same server to work three events back to back which is no fun for him and increases chances of errors due to tiredness — when we actually have a great server we could call who happens not to have worked for us in a few months.

Nowsta fixes this by giving us a database of all our workers. As we schedule the shifts for our events, we can easily sort staff by the positions they’re qualified for, availability, and number of hours worked that week to find the ideal person for each event. We can even tag the preferred staff for specific clients we work with often, which is a huge boost to our clients. Many of them like to bring back the same function director, bartenders or waitstaff for corporate events or to venues that we have someone already familiar with the space.  No matter the circumstances, we’re able to ensure that every client gets the right staff for their event.

Our Staff Are More Reliable

While caterers typically have extra staff on call to work in case of emergency, tardiness or absence, adding staff last minute or rearranging staff can throw off the rhythm of any event. A truck driver getting a late start can keep us from getting food in the oven and delay a dinner’s start time. A missing coat check attendant can lead to a bottleneck of confused guests. A late bartender can cause a rushed and unorganized bar set up which leads to slower service and bar lines are not a great way to kickoff any event.   

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Catering By Michaels
December 20, 2018

Why Hiring a Caterer Means More Time with Your Family this Holiday Season

December 20, 2018

Why Hiring a Caterer Means More Time with Your Family this Holiday Season

Catering By Michaels

With the holiday season in full swing, many are planning their seasonal festivities and holiday parties. Is there a better way to celebrate the season than warming up by the fireside with the ones you love?

We can think of just one thing that can make this picture even more perfect: outsourcing the work involved with cooking and cleaning holiday meals, so that you can spend even more time relaxing by the fire!

Catering Your Holiday Meal

For over three decades, Catering By Michaels has been helping you spend less time fussing in the kitchen and more time with the ones you love.

We know that the holidays are a busy, exciting time of year for everyone. There is a lot to get done in a short amount of time. Just as Santa relies upon his elves to help him bring holiday cheer everywhere, our team is here to help make your holiday dinner magical.

Christmas is a joyous time of year, and we’ve designed a special holiday menu that captures all those warm, delicious flavors to life:

A Taste Of Our Holiday Menu

Keep your guests full and happy with a selection of small passed hors-d’oeuvres, like our Charred Corn-Pepper Wontons, Petite Pups en Croute, or Sweet & Sour Meatballs (to list a few).

Then, enjoy classic favorites like our White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese and Apple Cider Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham (on the bone!).

Honey Glazed Baked Sliced Ham

For those of you looking for traditional with a twist, our Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Dip with Bacon, Butternut Squash Lasagna, or Wild Mushroom Pot Pie are real crowd pleasers.

Holiday Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Dip

Holiday Wild Mushroom Pot Pie

When it comes to catering your meal, Catering By Michaels leaves no detail unnoticed. It’s more than just a meal, it’s the centerpiece of your evening, and we know that more than anyone!

Take a look at our full holiday menu to see all of the delicious possibilities.

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Jody Birnbaum
December 5, 2018

Celebrating Engagements Over the Holidays

December 5, 2018

Celebrating Engagements Over the Holidays

Jody Birnbaum

Is there a better time to get engaged than over the holidays?

You’re surrounded by the people you love and spirits are already high due to all of the holiday cheer. A wedding proposal makes for a beautiful cherry on top of your end of year festivities.

For most couples, excitement gives way to the hubbub of wedding planning. Brides are especially in a hurry to start gathering information – for good reason. Venues book out quickly, especially if you’re planning a Saturday night wedding. As a result, it’s not unheard of to plan up to two years out in terms of booking the venue of your dreams.

From the catering perspective, a quarter of that time will be sufficient to secure your perfect menu. We recommend signing a catering proposal at least six months out – with more time being better.

Just like wedding venues, caterers also book up fast. But unlike venues, caterers can be more flexible in terms of the exact deliverables you’re agreeing on. This means that you’ll have the opportunity to switch up your menu specifics even after locking in your caterer.

Ideally, you’ll chat with a caterer before booking your venue. The reason? You might otherwise get locked into an inflexible arrangement.

So many people fall in love with a venue because that’s where they started the wedding planning process. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to look through the venue’s list of approved caterers and find out if that’s going to result in another large expense.

Caterers are a great place to start when it comes to establishing budget because they have all the numbers regarding details that include cost per plate, rentals, staff, and various other odds and ends that you may not have considered. Caterers work with venues and can provide a more complete picture while you’re going through these early planning stages.

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Catering By Michaels
November 21, 2018

Our Holiday Party Entertaining Tips

November 21, 2018

Our Holiday Party Entertaining Tips

Catering By Michaels

The holiday season is here, which means that holiday celebrations, events, and parties are in the planning stages by many busy hosts across Chicagoland.

Hosting a holiday party can certainly be stressful — no matter how long you’ve been doing it. There are a lot of things to consider in order to give your guests the best possible holiday party experience.

When all else fails, it helps to fall back on a solid foundation: good food!

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you might want to consider catering or delivering during the busy holiday season.

Then, even if you’re opting to take on the food aspect of party planning, you’ll want to stick around for our holiday party planning tips — based on many years of helping people throw unforgettable events.

Why You Should Cater Your Holiday Party

Hosting and organizing a party can quite overwhelming during an otherwise joyous holiday season. One of the biggest time and energy sucks of the process revolves around preparing food and drink for your guests.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider catering or delivery for your next holiday party:

  • Pre-set menus are available. When you let someone else take care of the big picture, you don’t have to bother with all the minute details of what you need to grab at the grocery store and whether or not you even have the right tools to make your desired menu items! Most catering services offer pre-set menus that can be customized according to specific tastes or dietary preferences.
  • There’s no need to join the holiday crowd at the supermarket. The holidays mean other people are also working on their own holiday parties and you can expect empty shelves for key ingredients on the day of a major holiday or at the very least, long checkout lines.
  • Full-service catering gives you the type of assistance you need the most. Full-service catering takes care of after-party cleanup in addition to food preparation and delivery, so that you can focus on your guests.

Seafood Holiday Spread for Corporate Holiday PartyHoliday Beef Tenderloin Display Chicago Catering

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Influenced by his love for travel and cooking, chef Andrew Zimmerman has married his two great loves into one phenomenal concept — and its name is Proxi.

Inspired by street food from around the world, this Chicago-based restaurant takes patron’s palates on a journey through Asia, India, Mexico, and beyond.

Zimmerman’s passion for flavor and ability to blur the lines when it comes to different types of cuisine is why Proxi is one of the Chicago restaurants we love! Let Proxi’s menu take you around the world, one boundary-blurring dish at a time.

The Setting: Raw and Elegant

Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Proxi fits in comfortably on the prestigious Restaurant Row.

What Zimmerman has been able to express through his food, restaurant designer Meyer Davis has captured in terms of the restaurant’s ambiance. An undeniable elegance sets the stage from the moment you enter the restaurant.

A playful balance of raw industrial elements and warm, inviting furnishings mirror the juxtaposition of Proxi’s fusion food style.

The vibe is both swanky and inviting, with a dining room and lounge divided by one long central bar. Patrons have the opportunity to reserve a seat at the chef’s table overlooking the open kitchen.

Proxi in Chicago’s West Loop

Proxi Chicago Beautiful Restaurant Bar

(Photo credit: ProxiChicago.com)

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