Catering By Michaels
October 10, 2018

The Ultimate Holiday Event Planning Survival Guide

October 10, 2018

The Ultimate Holiday Event Planning Survival Guide

Catering By Michaels

You may not have realized but the holiday time clock has already begun ticking. The moment the leaves start to turn and Halloween candy hits the stores — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years are practically here (at least when it comes to party planning!).

The question is: how much work are you willing to do for your holiday entertainment?

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a hosting newbie, entertaining for the holidays can be stressful. No matter how much holiday cheer is in the air, it is still the busiest time of the year. With this in mind, we’ve put together a holiday survival guide to help you host a magical holiday event!

Sending Out Invitations

Knowing how many guests you will be entertaining is an important place to start the process. Is it going to be a quaint, cozy evening with a few family members or a mingling mixer for your whole neighborhood?

If your guest list is long, online invitations are a great way to keep track of your guest list. Online invites are quick and handy, allowing people to set reminders, encourage conversation between guests, and keep an accurate headcount.

That said, traditional snail mail invitations allow for a more personal approach. This a nice touch if you’re planning to host a more intimate affair. If you decide to go this route, make sure to keep an accurate guest count as people send in their RSVPs.

Holiday Catering: Full Service + Delivery Planning

Once you have an idea of how many people will be attending your party, you can start planning the best part — the food!

When it comes to holiday planning, you can never be too prepared. If you are opting for full service or delivery there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s never too early to get your order in
  • There are often peak date charges during the holidays
  • Labor can be tight during the holidays so if you’re going full service — make sure to secure your staff early
  • Take the time to find a caterer you trust
  • Don’t forget to create storage space in your refrigerator and pantry to accommodate your order (and any leftovers)
  • Make some time to research fun, festive specialty drinks or cocktails to enhance your party

In general, using a caterer will help you free up time during the busy holiday season. Imagine how much more you’ll be able to get done without having to worry about shopping, cooking, and the dreaded cleanup. You’ll also benefit from the expertise of hiring a good caterer in terms of how they’ll work with you to plan the perfect party.

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Catering By Michaels
October 4, 2018

Introducing Our New Executive Chef: Justin Frankenberg

October 4, 2018

Introducing Our New Executive Chef: Justin Frankenberg

Catering By Michaels

We are so excited to announce our newest team member: Justin Frankenberg.

Justin Frankenberg is Catering by Michaels’ new Executive Chef, helping to develop new recipes while experimenting with new flavors.

We sat down with Justin to learn more about his past and how he can help Catering by Michaels continue to innovate.

What Did You Do Before Working at Catering by Michaels?

I was a Johnson Wales graduate. I stayed in Providence for about 8 years when the fusion cooking scene was just getting started. I worked for a few hot places that got me some good, solid cooking experience outside of school.

Eventually, I moved because of a job opportunity back in DC, where I’m from. I worked for Pesche, under two of my biggest food idols (who were both critical in terms of defining the food scene in DC). I initially started as a sous chef and eventually became the Executive Chef. Later, I worked for another DC hot spot — Red Sage.

I moved to Chicago in 2005 and got involved with catering shortly after. I started with J & L Catering but moved on once the economy tanked. I also worked for Paramount events as well as the Stefani Group, where I helped rebrand their catering division.

Upon having my third child, a little girl, and after 20 years of seeing my other kids mostly after they were already asleep, I took a break — and now I’m here!

What Experience Do You Bring to the Executive Chef Role?

I think one of my biggest assets to the team is a fresh take on things in terms of kitchen management. Much of the Catering by Michaels staff has been here for a long time (20+ years), which is amazing, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to shake things up! So far, people are responding positively to the changes I bring.

As far as food goes, I’m pretty simplistic in nature. I bring a fresh set of eyes when it comes to plate appeal, making things more modern but still practical.

I think the pinnacle of testing as a chef is being able to work in conditions which may not be ideal yet still produce great food — like so many of the venues where Catering by Michaels works! It’s a rarity to have a full kitchen at your disposal at an event: it’s more like a glorified broom closet!

What are You Looking Forward to By Working For Catering by Michaels?

There’s so much!

I’m most looking forward to research and development-related tasks. I haven’t really been in a position before where I’ve had such a strong team I can rely on so that I can focus on creating new recipes and testing them properly. We have a great system in place where we can develop and test recipes three to four times to get them right before looping in other departments (and putting them on our menu).

Unlike a restaurant experience, so many different things have to be taken into consideration in catering when it comes to the food. We have to deal with less-than-ideal conditions. I also have to think of ways to perfect our dishes by using equipment not associated with the experience I obtained during my past restaurant life.

These are all challenges I’m looking forward to in this new role.

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Catering By Michaels
September 25, 2018

Sleigh Your Corporate Holiday Party

September 25, 2018

Sleigh Your Corporate Holiday Party

Catering By Michaels

The holidays are a time of good cheer, great friends, and delicious food!

A lot of hard work goes into planning the perfect corporate holiday party. For over 40 years Catering By Michaels has been at the top of Santa’s nice list and we hope to be at the top of yours.

Holiday Party Prep

Company holiday parties are a memorable and magical event, bringing employees together. When planning an unforgettable holiday party for your team, there are many things to consider during the planning process.

First, each and every detail can make all the difference between a dull or dazzling event.

It’s never too early to pick a date and book your holiday venue. It may seem like you have lots of time, but booking in advance can take off the pressure out of not knowing where you’ll be hosting everyone.

Once you have your location locked in, the menu planning comes next. 

Menu Planning + Selection

Why are we known as one of Chicago’s top caterers? Because it’s more than just food to us. From creative themes and unique menus to awe-inspiring venues and entertainment, we’ve got you covered!

Holiday Cheese Board Display

Seafood Holiday Spread for Corporate Holiday Party

Check out our corporate holiday party delivery menu for menu inspiration, and then contact us to start planning!

Catering By Michaels
September 12, 2018

Yom Kippur: A Look Inside The Customs of Fasting & Feasting

September 12, 2018

Yom Kippur: A Look Inside The Customs of Fasting & Feasting

Catering By Michaels

The holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the holiest day of the year, when Jewish people come together, fasting and praying as one.

If Rosh Hashanah is about celebrating the arrival of the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur symbolizes the cleansing of the previous year’s sins. The majority of the day is spent in Synagogue as many use the opportunity to reflect on their individual and collective actions over the past year, and their hope for the coming year.

It is believed that on this day, a person’s fate for the upcoming year is sealed, therefore, the entire day is spent fasting and praying for forgiveness and a good new year.

On Yom Kippur, observers abstain from eating, working, wearing leather, perfumes, and acts of intimacy. This is a sacred occasion and an opportunity to clean the slate, reset all systems, and start again smoothly.

First We Fast

This year, the holiday begins at sundown on September 18. When the sun goes down, and Yom Kippur starts, so does the act of fasting. Those observing will commence their 25-hour fast until nightfall on September 19. During this time all forms of sustenance are prohibited — even water.

The Jewish tradition of fasting stems from verses in the Torah, which state that fasting on Yom Kippur is a necessary component of the day. Fasting is believed to be a vehicle for reflecting and repenting for your sins.

Those who are too feeble, sick, or young to safely fast are not required to do so. However, healthy females from the age of 12 and males from the age of 13 must fast as part of the tradition. Throughout the fasting period, the focus moves from physical needs to engaging in repentance and prayer in the synagogue.

The 5 Prayers of Yom Kippur

Even though there is no food to be had on Yom Kippur, observers still dress the table with a festive cloth and light candles before the onset of the holy day. Two blessings are said to send thanks for enabling those of the faith to reach the new year.

Yom Kippur is a special occasion for children, who observe it by lighting candles, changing shoes, and finding new prayers to learn and recite.

On an ordinary day, there are three daily prayers: Maariv (evening prayer), Shacharit (morning prayer) and Minchah (afternoon prayer). On Shabbat and holidays, a fourth prayer is added. Yom Kippur, however, is the only day of the year when a fifth prayer is introduced. Ne’ilah, the closing prayer, is said as the sun sets in the west as this special day comes to a close.

Now We Fast

After the sun sets and the holiday of Yom Kippur comes to a close, the tradition of breaking the fast begins. And this is where we come in!

During the Rosh Hashanah meal, there are strict rules about what kosher food can be eaten after fasting. Yom Kippur is much different. In general, people often eat gentler, less spicy dishes. After fasting, the stomach is much more sensitive to rich, spicy food.

The typical assortment of foods includes fruits and veggies, lox and bagels, white albacore tuna salad, cakes, and baked casseroles.

Yom Kippur Delivery CateringYom Kippur Dessert Chocolate Cake

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Catering By Michaels
September 6, 2018

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder: An Ode To The Pizza Pot Pie

September 6, 2018

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder: An Ode To The Pizza Pot Pie

Catering By Michaels

If you are like everyone else in the world — you love pizza. There is just something about the way this gooey, cheesy delight satisfies the mind, soul, and body.

It’s this universal love for pizza that has restaurants all over vying for the title of best pizza pie.

With so many different opinions, it would be impossible to claim which pizza eatery has the best pie out there. But there is one thing for sure — Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder has mastered the pizza pot pie and made it on our list of Chicago restaurants we love!

Setting The Scene: An Authentic & Cozy Pizza Haven

This cash-only eatery sits inside a historic Chicago brownstone and is best known for its famous pizza pot pies.

Just as you would expect, the setting is intimate, cozy, and overwhelmed by the aroma of fresh pizzas.

There is limited seating inside so the wait for a table can be upwards of two hours — even if you go early! The hosts are old school and only take down names, remembering faces when tables are ready. Though this means no fancy pagers or text messages alerting you that a table is ready, it’s an intriguing experience to watch the host keep things going without a hitch.

By the time you sit down the urge to eat everything in sight is so strong that we recommend feeding your inner hunger monster with some of their fresh Mediterranean flatbread. The pizza pot pies take awhile to bake but the flatbread comes out quickly to satiate your hunger while you wait. It’s made from thin pita bread and topped with flaky cheese and fresh herbs.

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder Menu: Sticking To The Basics

The menu is short and sweet, offering the following:

  • Salads
  • Mediterranean flatbread
  • Grinders (subs)
  • Pizza-pot-pies
  • Tortoni (Italian ice cream)

Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

(Photo credit: Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder’s Facebook page)

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