No need to rely on standard banquet and buffet options for your next meeting or event: these days, a new crop of chefs are slicing and skewering the very notion of the word "catering." From playful passed hors d'oeuvres to interactive chef stations and even seasonal craft cocktails, Chicago's top caterers can help you custom-create a culinary experience your attendees will be talking about 'til the next event.
: Molly Brewe
Team: Just over 250
Venues served: 86
Known for: Creating interactive culinary experiences that give events an unexpected twist, like ramen bars or a mobile crudité station served out of a converted wheelbarrow.
What sets them apart: Limelight Catering is part of The Revel Group, an agency of complementary event businesses that including décor services and a portfolio of event spaces — making it a one-stop shop for planners.
Notable gig: Barack Obama's presidential inauguration
Dish worth showing off: Willy Wonka-inspired edible fruit wallpaper
: Devon Quinn
Team: 550 full- and part-time staffers (all rigorously trained at "Paramount University," with no employee outsourcing)
Venues served: Around 150 including two sleek, loft-like spaces of their own — HighGround and the newly opened The Lakewood, both in Chicago's trendy West Loop.
Known for: Restaurant-quality food using seasonal, hyper-local ingredients.
What sets them apart: Paramount has an onsite greenhouse where Chef Devon grows as many ingredients as possible, including vegetables, herbs and edible flowers that get turned into whimsical lollipops.
Notable gig: World premiere of Spike Lee's Chi-Raq at the Chicago Theatre.
Dish worth showing off: A hot chocolate bar with toppings like house-made marshmallows.
: Paul Larson
Team: Around 150 dedicated staff, with more than 300 part-time employees.
Venues served: 85+
Known for: A culinary philosophy of authentic, made-from-scratch food.
What sets them apart: Their longstanding dedication to innovation and industry thought-leadership, based out of a state-of-the-art new facility in the West Loop called Larkin Hall that houses a test kitchen, training facility and private event spaces.
Notable gig: NFL Draft
Dish worth showing off: Pan-roasted sea scallops with roasted purple cauliflower florets, truffled cauliflower puree, buttered lemon bread crumbs and cream of balsamic.
: Jason White
Team: More than 250Venues served: Nearly 100. Food for Thought is the exclusive caterer for Adler Planetarium and also runs 19 East, a 10,000-square-foot event space in the South Loop.
Known for: Working with clients to create the "magic of the moment" through exquisitely crafted food, artful presentations and personalized service.
What sets them apart: The full-service catering team can also provide equipment/linen rentals, event staffing and concierge services like flowers, lighting, valet and music, along with expert advice on venues and entertaining trends.
Notable gig: University of Chicago Convocation (15,000 guests)
Dish worth showing off: Mushroom trio with crisp quinoa, flan, roasted porcinis and red wine gastrique
For more Chicago catering companies, search catering services within our meeting and event suppliers database.