Foodies turn to Fête Catering for their catering needs

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Why can’t you do this in our homes?

For years, it was the most frequently asked question of by the patrons of Pattigeorge’s restaurant on Longboat Key.

Renowned restauranteurs Tommy and Jaymie Klauber, who owned Pattigeorge’s at the time, opened the Polo Grill and Bar, a new breed of American eatery, and Fête Catering & Ballroom in Lakewood Ranch 10 years ago. Tommy ran the restaurant while Jaymie was a professional fundraiser.

“Everyone loved Pattigeorge’s so much that they would always be asking us if we could cater their own occasions and dinner parties,” says Jaymie.

At the same time, Phil Mancini, who co-owns Michael’s on East in Sarasota with Tommy’s brother, Michael Klauber, was telling Jaymie how she needed to get into catering to really grow the business.

After careful consideration, Jaymie left her job as a fundraiser and started Fête Boutique Catering by Pattigeorge’s in early 2004.

How hard could it be she thought?

Little did Jaymie know that she would need special licenses, insurance, equipment, vehicles and a staff specifically for catering.

“Catering is a whole different ballgame,” says Jaymie.

It didn’t take long for word to spread around Longboat Key. The Klaubers began getting a lot of business very quickly, catering for private homes and high-end events.

Patrons soon began asking Fête Boutique Catering by Pattigeorge’s to cater weddings, and before long, the catering company was on the list of preferred vendors for Ringling Museum, The Powel Crosley Estate, Mote Marine Aquarium and many more.

Fête Boutique Catering by Pattigeorge’s had grown so large that it was no longer feasible for the company to work out of the restaurant’s tiny kitchen. Jaymie began looking for another space that would offer the type of kitchen, storage and loading areas that the business needed.

During her search, Jaymie came across the 24,000-square foot space that was formerly Fred’s for a very short period of time. With more than enough space to run a restaurant and a catering business, the Klaubers purchased the space, which includes a 200-seat dining room and a ballroom that can accommodate 500, and opened Polo Grill and Bar and Fête Catering & Ballroom in 2007.

Fête Catering dropped the boutique out of its name, looking to become more well-known as the caterer with both a facility as well as the ability to handle off-site catering to accommodate all clientele and price points.

In the 10 years since the catering company moved to Lakewood Ranch, Fête Catering has continually grown, having catered countless weddings, business luncheons, fundraisers, parties and community and sporting events.

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Fête Catering has catered for several Presidents, First Ladies and government officials, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

“That’s what makes it fun and keeps us excited,” says Jaymie. “Out east, we hope that we are the ones that everyone turns to for their catering needs. We do everything at every level.”

Fête Catering is now booking events – both on-site and off-site – more than a year in advance. The catering company continually receives rave reviews for its cuisine, consistency, professionalism and dedication to detail.

Fête Catering offers everything from small boxed lunches to heavy hors d’oeuvre dinners and specialty themed menus.

“We were doing stations before stations were cool,” says Jaymie. “That’s our thing — everything is customized. We find out what they like, and we create the menu around them. We do a lot of theme menus and menus to accommodate cultural and dietary needs. Whatever we are doing, it’s the best.”

Recently, Fête Catering has enjoyed growing into the more volume-based sporting events, such as rowing, lacrosse and soccer, as Manatee and Sarasota Counties have since become a sporting destination for competition.

“We enjoy taking on challenges,” says Jaymie.

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Most recently, Fête Catering was awarded one of four catering contracts for the 2017 World Rowing Championships from Sept. 24 through Oct. 1, at Nathan Benderson Park, in Sarasota.

Fête Catering will feed nearly 300 athletes, breakfast, lunch and dinner at five area hotels, beginning Sept. 13 when its first set of athletes are scheduled to arrive in Sarasota, and going through Oct. 2. It’ll be the catering company’s largest event to date.

Since being awarded the contract, Fête Catering has been busy preparing to bring a taste of the Polo Grill and Bar to athletes from Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and Ireland while still meeting the cultural and dietary concerns of the athletes, including the 6,000 calories a day they will be eating.

“We love to be in the center of everything going on in the community,” says Jaymie. “We are just so excited to be a part of it; and are looking forward to getting to cater for and spend a little time with such a diverse group of athletes from all over the world.”

While the majority of Fête Catering’s on and off-site functions go off without a hitch, in catering, unexpected things do happen. The catering company has countless stories of behind-the-scenes drama as well as stories of unusual client behavior, clients who have years of event planning experience, town gossip, political discussions at dinner parties and clients who have thrown back one too many cocktails.

Most of the stories stay behind closed doors, but there are a few that are just too funny not to share.

— While catering a wedding reception for 500 guests in Tampa, Fête Catering arranged for one of its local Sarasota rental companies to handle all of the rentals, including a convection oven to handle most of the cooking and a grill, and deliver them on site in Tampa. The rental company decided to purchase a brand-new oven for the event and future use. The oven arrived completely shrink wrapped with a virtual dictionary-sized instruction book for hookup while the grill, which the Fête Catering team assumed was gas, needed charcoal. While waiting for a new oven and charcoal to arrive, Fête Catering chefs created their own temporary ways to cook the hors d’oeuvres and send them out on time. Neither the client nor the guests knew anything was amiss, and the event went off flawlessly.

— On two occasions, while doing chef-manned cooking stations, the fire alarms went off from the cooking smoke and once a tabletop wok caught on fire. In each case, the fire department had to come.

— For an April wedding at the Ca d’Zan, the client opted to save the cost of having a backup tent based on favorable weather conditions. By the end of the evening ceremony by the banyans, the skies opened up for a good 15 minutes. With nowhere to take cover, all of the guests got completely soaked and everything that was not nailed down, including glassware, napkins and bread, among other reception items, went flying into the bay. Luckily, the wind helped the guests dry off rather quickly, and after getting a handle on the flying objects, the Fête Catering team was able to still serve a fabulous buffet dinner, which was followed by dancing in the wind.

“A big part of catering is providing solutions that are efficient and sometimes creative,” says Jaymie.