What began as a small business in 2012, has quickly grown to be a favorite among many Chattanooga locals. When it comes to catering and food, we strongly believe that Chattanooga has some of the best options – and Dish T’Pass is no exception. Not only are they a catering company, but a cooking school as well. Dish T’Pass (short for dish to pass) is all about heirloom recipes, foodlove and sharing. They are known for serving, building relationships and connecting with their clients. Whether catering a wedding, a corporate event or a nonprofit, Dish T’Pass strives to spread love through their food.
Today we sat down with Amanda Varnell, founder of Dish T’Pass, to discuss wedding day menus. There are many directions to take when choosing your wedding day meal and caterer, so we are going to cover the main points on how to choose a menu and what exactly are you paying for when hiring a catering company.
So, how do you narrow down food options?
The first thing to consider when deciding on food options is, what do you like? Yep, it’s that simple. What do you, the bride and groom, the parents, family, etc. like? Is there a particular type of food that you must have? Is it tacos, breakfast, pasta, etc? Are there traditional ethnic foods that are important to you and your family? Once you decide on a couple of ideas, it’s time to think about $$$ – What is your budget for food and how important is quality food to you? Are you willing to spend money in this area, or would you rather spend that money elsewhere? The next thing to think about is dietary restrictions. Will there be many guests with specific dietary restrictions, do you have any specific dietary requests yourself, etc.? All of these questions should give you a rough idea of what your wedding menu could potentially look like. You and your caterer should then be able to discuss your options. When it comes closer to the event date, you and your caterer will go over the menu again and make any changes needed.
Dish T’Pass has an excellent reputation with their customer service. Amanda and her team do an incredible job of getting to know their clients and walking them through choosing their menu. They ask intentional questions to make sure that your needs are met.
An inside look of a Dish T’Pass event day
As you can imagine, a lot of prep work goes into catering. Amanda estimates about a week of prepping goes into an event of around 150. Once the menu is decided, her team works on grocery shopping and obtaining the specific ingredients for your recipes. So much of what Dish T’Pass does is from scratch. They make their dressings, marinates, baked goods, etc. in-house! With that being the case, prepwork does take some time. On the day before the event, the kitchen staff chop and prepare all the ingredients for the following day. Finally, on the day of, the team begins early to cook the food. They then load them up to hotboxes and transport everything to the venue. The event staff loads and unloads, sets everything up and makes sure it all looks great. And it doesn’t end there! The staff also serves, replenishes, busses and bartends. At the very end of the night they break down, take the trash out, load up all items just to unload it at the catering kitchen. Finally, they load the dishwasher before clocking out. It surely is a full load of work!
Breaking down the pricing
Let’s briefly discuss a rough estimate of pricing for an average wedding day. You can expect to pay around $200 per staff member working your event. An average day for a team member is about a 6-7 hour day. Keep in mind that the whole day is fast paced and labor intensive. You are paying not only for the cost of the meal, but for the service that comes with it, although the cost of the ingredients will be the majority of the cost. Below is a breakdown of some prices.
$15 per head
This includes service at the event and some light snacks and appetizers. You can expect some fruit and cheese and a dessert.
$25 per head
This is about average, which includes service at the event. You can expect light hors d’oeuvres – meat, cheese and fruits. There will also be a simple buffet style meal with a couple drink options (sweet tea, water).
$45 per head
This would be a very nice cocktail hour and meal. You can expect some appetizers – meat, cheese and fruits, as well as passed hors d’oeuvres. There will also be a nice buffet with a couple entrees and multiple side options. There could also be a couple drink options
Get to know the company
Dish T’Pass was founded by Amanda Varnell in 2012. They have grown tremendously in the last few years and have won several awards. They create food that speaks for itself – think food art! Amanda is a firm believer that less is more. Less table decor, means more beautiful food to serve! Dish T’Pass strives to create beautiful, colorful food that tastes amazing. They focus the majority of their time in creating the food and less on the props for the food! When you invest in Dish T’Pass, you are investing in quality ingredients and well prepared meals.
More about Amanda Varnell
Amanda is a mother of 4 wonderful children. Before opening up her own catering company, she was a full-time mom and homeschool headmaster for 20 years. She’s a master chef and a master mom all in one! What a boss lady!
When she isn’t busy managing her business, she is normally spending time with her kids, doing yoga and trying new foods! When given the time, she loves to spend it travelling and exploring the world.