Meet our wedding team: Catering manager Claire Duthler

On Friday, April 6, we will be enjoying a tasting session at San Chez Bistro to set the wedding day menu. So we thought it would be appropriate, for the second installment of our series introducing you to our wedding team, to tell you about our wonderful catering manager. 

Claire Duthler, our catering manager

About

Claire Duthler is the special events and catering manager at San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, where both our wedding ceremony and reception will be held. Claire oversees both off-site catered events and events held in the bistro’s third-floor banquet space and its ground-level cafe, and on any given week she can be juggling more than a handful of events that can range from 12 people to more than 100.

The back story

As you read on our Location + lodging page,  we picked San Chez, which specializes in Spanish-style tapas, because we’ve had so many good times there. What we didn’t know when we decided on San Chez was that we’d be getting an extra bonus — the chance to work with Claire, who has been a sweetheart and a tremendous help since, literally, day 1. As of March, Rose has exchanged several dozen emails with Claire, called her at least a dozen times, and worked with Claire through three wildly different plans for the ceremony set-up. Claire has been a source of reassurance during all the times when Rose was pretty sure none of this would work out.

On the wedding day

You won’t actually see Claire on the wedding day, but she will have had a hand in nearly every aspect of the day — from drafting different floor plans for the ceremony –> reception room flip to storing the special-sized tables needed for the reception to ensuring that the menu is perfect.

Claire Duthler, San Chez Bistor special events and catering managerQ: How did you discover that you enjoy special events and catering?

A: It started with an internship when I was working for the conference and events office at Hope College. I loved the work I did that summer. I loved working with different groups. In this industry, you’re never doing the same thing on different days — you’re always doing something new and you’re always working with someone new. I loved that dynamic of it.

Q: From May through October, you are working primarily with wedding parties at San Chez. Now, you had the chance to enjoy your own wedding last August. How was it being on the other side?

A: It was fun being on the other side. I had an advantage — by helping other people plan, I knew the timeline and how things would go. I think that helped relieve any stress or anxiety I might have had. I think the only thing that was most stressful for my fiancé and I was that some of our friends had their wedding on the same date as ours.

Q: San Chez is obviously one of the most popular restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids. Everyone we’ve ever introduced San Chez to has fallen in love with the place. What is it about your tapas dishes that keeps people coming back?

A: There are a lot of different spices in our foods. Everything is extremely flavorful. There are a lot of combinations on our menu that people might not put together on their own — the combinations on our menu are amazing. The chefs do a really good job of pairing things together that a person at home would not do.

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Here are a few examples of San Chez tapas offerings that we hope will whet your appetite. Come hungry on May 20! 🙂

Medjool Rellenas Picantes: Lamb, chorizo and bacon stuffed dates, spicy harissa

Atún en Escabeche: Herb-seared Ahi tuna, leek and carrot ribbons, mango coulis, salsa verde

Verduras y Tortas: Spicy black bean and quinoa cakes, roasted vegetables, avo-cucumber sauce

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