Couples are increasingly in search of how to make their wedding sustainable and eco-friendly, so Minnesota-based Apples 2 Apples Catering is on a mission to provide fresh, farm-to-table catering that’s good for the Earth and for you!
For this week’s VOW (Vendor of the Week), we chatted with the company’s Executive Chef, Andrew Garner, about why sustainability and inclusivity are vital to their company and to the community. In this interview, you’ll discover how they provide these initiatives, how to get in touch with them, and what Andrew is currently binging on Netflix.
GET TO KNOW VENDOR OF THE WEEK EXECUTIVE CHEF, ANDREW GARNER
Q: Hey, Vendor of the Week! Let’s get to it, what’s your business’ specialty?
A: Apples 2 Apples Catering offers an ethical, farm-to-table concept using healthy ingredients fresh from local farms across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Our menu offers organic, grass-fed, free-range, and sustainable options served in an eco-friendly manner. We also specialize in serving those with dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy intolerance, as well as vegetarian and vegan needs.
Q: Where can we find you?
Q: Tell us when and how your business began.
A: This Little Piggy Catering began in 1979. At just 16 years old, Seth Brittain worked tirelessly for 11 years until the company’s owner approached him and his wife, Dawn, regarding the purchase of the company. Seth and Dawn took on this risk, persevered through a recession, and worked to improve the company in its entirety. With quick success, they grew into what is now known as A’BriTin Catering and Hospitality.
In order to meet the needs of all clientele, three diverse catering brands were established under this parent company. This Little Piggy Catering remains to serve those interested in a casual dining experience, while Distinctive Catering and Events is designed to serve those wanting to indulge in their dining experience. Apples 2 Apples Catering, our newest brand, serves those intrigued by the trending farm-to-table catering model. The three together have proven to be successful in satisfying a wide array of customers!
Q: What makes your company unique from others?
A: What sets us apart from others is that we cook our food on-site, so you know you are getting the absolute freshest quality and flavor possible.
Q: How long have you been in the industry? What do you think has changed the most since then?
A: I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in March 2005 and worked in the fine dining industry for 10 years before becoming a corporate chef. I grew to realize that the catering style was something I loved. The thing that has changed the most in the restaurant industry is that food sourcing and transparency are becoming much more important.
Q: What sustainable & farm-to-table catering initiatives does your company take part in?
A: Our largest sustainable initiatives include buying from local farmers and reducing the carbon footprint of our menus, along with serving the food with eco-friendly dinnerware and more. We continue to grow these initiatives.
Q: Why is being eco-conscious so important to your company?
A: Being eco-conscious is not only important to our company, but it also fosters positive feelings for clients who share this as a value.
Q: Walk us through your average day.
A: Let’s walk through an average Saturday in our peak season: I usually get to work at 5am and check to make sure our food partners are set. I check to make sure all the prep is ready and pull my rolls to proof. At about 7am I start making sauces for the day. Some days there can be 10-12 different sauces. Around 8-9am, most of my full-time staff starts arriving, and some of the food starts to get warmed. At this point, I’m pretty much done with food. So, for the next 4-5 hours I walk through every event with all the event leads and chefs.
On a busy Saturday, we usually have an average of 11 events going out. Once every event is out, I do a quick clean up and start to prep for the next day. Around 4-5pm, all is prepped once again. I typically stay until 8-9pm to confirm that most of the staff has come back and check-in with them to see how everything went, and I’ll usually get home around 9:30-10pm.
Q: What would you want couples searching for your business type to know?
A: We listen to our clients and treat them like family to provide a meaningful, trusting and lasting relationship.
Q: How far in advance should a couple book with you?
A: We recommend at least 6-9 months in advance, but as always, the sooner the better. It is very common for our couples to book us more than a year in advance.
Q: Do you have any memorable wedding stories that you could share?
A: The first time I had to make wood-fired pizza onsite with a portable oven and no real kitchen was pretty memorable. It was cold, like 40 degrees, but I was warm and in a short sleeve chef coat. The 700-degree oven was keeping me warm. It was a fun experience but also nerve-racking, and everything turned out great.
Q: What’s the most interesting request you’ve received from a client?
A: Most requests are normal, at least to me. This isn’t so interesting, and I wouldn’t do it for my wedding, but pizza is more commonly becoming an entrée for a sit-down dinner. To me, pizza is a casual dinner and something to eat on-the-go, so to sit down with an expensive, white wedding dress and eat something with your hand that has a hot tomato sauce… it is scary to me!
Q: What’s hot in party food trends right now?
A: Stations. Though many clients still want a formal sit-down dinner, more and more people are wanting to mingle and eat casually at different stations throughout the evening.
Q: What do you think we’ll see more of in food trends?
A: Stations, unique experiences, plant-based menus, and creative desserts.
Q: What are your other hobbies and passions besides creating delicious eats?
A: Landscaping and gardening are hobbies of mine. Currently, I’m growing my own giant vegetable garden, and my goal is to only eat the vegetables from my own garden all season long.
Q: What show are you binging right now?
A: Of course—like the rest of the world—Tiger King and Ozark, but I love to put on old episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond. The show is just so damn funny, and Boyle and Doris Roberts are great. It’s Bard Garret’s best role, and Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton are the best at loving and hating each other. It makes for great TV chemistry.
Q: You’re in charge of the lineup for your dream concert. Who are your headliners?
A: The Beatles, Post Malone, Sublime, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Eminem
Q: Gold or Silver?
A: Silver jewelry, gold sunglasses
Q: Black Tie or Casual?
A: Black tie! I love getting spiffy.
Q: You’re at brunch. Are you going for something sweet or savory?
A: Both – I love the combination. I love a good pancake and maple syrup with a piece of breakfast sausage. That is one of my favorite single bites. It’s simple but so satisfying!
Q: Favorite board game?
Q: Do you have any favorite podcasts?
A: The KFAN morning show after show
Q: Mountains or Beach?
Q: Who would you like to sit next to on a plane?
A: Post Malone
Thanks, Andrew, it was great getting to know you and Apples 2 Apples a bit better! If you’re interested in learning more about this week’s Vendor of the Week, reach them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a ring at (612) 339-0222, and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
For more on sustainable catering, check out this interview with Andrew discussing the topic in-depth, and to see more of our fabulous vendors, be sure to visit our Platinum Vendors page! Stay tuned for more Vendor of the Week features on our blog.
All Photos Courtesy of Apples 2 Apples Catering.