Here in Chicago, we take our food very seriously – and that includes everything that’s served at our wedding. The ladies at Creme are right on board with that thought process. Along with serious foodie talent, founders & friends Laura Rodriguez and Amanda Speck also happen to be super fun and down to earth. I had the pleasure of talking with them about dessert tables, Chicago-themed menus, and barefoot mountainside weddings – after they made me some killer treats, of course.
SS: Tell us the story of how Creme got started.
LR: It really started with my wedding, actually. I did a DIY wedding and we did everything from paper invitations to decorations to gifts to cake, the food and everything. Amanda did my wedding cake and all our desserts – we had whoopie pies and cupcakes and everything was delicious. We kind of rounded all the troops, all my good friends who were in the wedding party to kind of use their own natural talents to do certain things. It just kind of naturally came together. We thought, wow, if we could do that and get married, we need to do this!
AS: I remember when we sat down Laura said something like, “Is this crazy? Tell me if you really think this isn’t possible but I think we can do the whole thing.” And I said, “Sure, why not?”
LR: We had so much fun and that was really the inspiration behind it, it was just like, “Why don’t we do this? We’re good at it, we know what we’re doing and we have fun.”
How would you describe the perfect bride for Creme?
LR: Someone who has a vision; something that they know they want – like, “I want all of our food to come from local farmers” or, “I want it to be a DIY kind of vintage look.” I like those kinds of brides, the kind of people who are DIY because I love to help out as well. So, definitely someone with a vision and also someone who’s willing to try new things because we do like to introduce interesting food that people maybe haven’t tried before. But if we have the plain Jane who wants hamburgers and hot dogs, we’ll do that too. We really like doing small, intimate, fun, non-traditional weddings.
What’s the biggest mistake you see couples making when it comes to catering?
AS: Someone who has too rigid an idea, then they think they can find it for a certain price point, for instance, but it’s impossible. If they’re not willing to be a little bit flexible with tailoring the menu to work for their event then that can be a hard thing to sell.
LR: The best thing is to get them into a tasting because then you’ll sell them. Maybe they see the price and they don’t realize the work that goes behind it because everything is made from scratch, all natural, by hand. It’s really high quality food and so it does cost a little bit more, but once you taste it you realize the difference and I think that’s the mistake – just try it. Also, we always work with brides and couples to fit their budget as best as we can.
Say a couple gets an estimate from you and it’s over the budget they had in mind. Where should they go from there?
AS: Laura is so great at being creative with food to make it fit within someone’s budget. So, I think if a couple is honest with us about, “no, that’s $5-10 off per person, is there any wiggle room there?” then we can throw back another proposal that will fit it more closely. And if it means just tailoring back some of the garnishes or going with more veggies than protein or whatever, there are lots of ways to make it work. I think one of the things to keep in mind as a bride is to be really open and honest with your vendors because it’s not like anything is written in stone until you sign a contract.
What does the week leading up to a wedding look like for Creme?
L: Um, crazy? [both laugh] Hectic. Lots of lists, lots of rewriting lists. Staying up at night with the notes section on your phone. Yeah, it’s crazy.
A: A lot of time in the kitchen doing as much prep ahead of time as possible. And then, the day before and the morning of, throwing everything together and assembling.
L: Our goal really is to make sure that everything is cooked to the point where it needs to be so that it tastes really delicious and fresh and we do the rest of it that we need to on site. We don’t go with every single thing made and just rewarm it. Then everything is delicious and hot and tasty.
What are some of the catering trends you see now that you really gravitate towards?
LR: I mean, obviously farm-to-table is a huge one. We would like to do more of that but it’s really based on the client’s budget. A lot of people can’t afford it. It’s harder to reach more people when you have such a strict policy on what you can and can’t provide for them. And then the DIY stuff – I love brides who are like, “I want to make the invites for my wedding but I don’t know how, can you help me?” I would love to work with people who do that.
AS: One of the things that I love that I think is changing is people having a small cake that they’re just using to cut and then lots of really beautiful desserts that people can eat. I love homemade, beautiful things that taste good that are there just because they taste good not because they look very refined. I think there’s something more beautiful about a big, berry pie that you can cut into and that everyone’s going to enjoy instead of a giant cake that you cut and people sort of pick at it.
L: We really like the non-fondant route with cakes. We like the really nice, rich buttercream that looks like Amanda said – homey and real. You know, real food. I love dessert tables.
If you could throw your dream wedding tomorrow, what would it look like?
LR: Maybe Amanda should answer that [laughs].
AS: I love an outdoor wedding with an indoor component because you always sort of need that as a backup, right? Lots of beautiful lights and kind of mismatched although really unique, beautiful furniture, chairs and things that you can sit on. Paper lanterns, and people just having fun. I think that’s the thing – having everyone feel comfortable and relaxed because it can be hard to be at a wedding for a lot of hours and maintain that kind of energy. A beautiful dessert table; I like being able to sort of nosh throughout the night – I’m not really that into plated dinners. I feel like if you can have some passed things every so often, but also have a station where you can grab a bite when you get hungry, that’s nice. Live music I think is really, really essential.
LR: If I renew my vows, we’ll probably do it – I mean, it sounds really cheesy, but – on a mountain somewhere, just a few people, and maybe just a really casual summer white dress. Barefoot. That’s what I would do. And then lots of champagne… maybe some ceviche or something.
all photos by Stephanie Schertz