BY MAUREEN WERTHER
From food trucks to full service, local caterers
are poised for a busy summer season across the
As the economy has continued to improve,
more clients are taking greater advantage of full service “soup to nuts” catering, while other customers
continue to opt for the more economical
– but still delectable – “pick up” catering options.
Michael and Heidi Hoyt of Black Diamond
Caterers, 42 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, have been creating memorable events for their customers
for 15 years, responding to customers and
always using local produce, meats, and poultry
“About 50 percent of our business comes
from weddings,” said Michael Hoyt, who refers
to himself as the number crunching side of the
business. The other 50 percent comes from the
“cash and carry” catering option.
Their most popular–and mouth-watering
–options include pulled pork, brisket, and
chicken, all made on site using their own Texasstyle
rub, Jamacian jerk marinade, and Carolinastyle
mustard sauce. Nothing is ever pre-made
and they even ferment their own pickles.
Black Diamond also offers “BDC Concessions,”
a full range of “portable” food options. They will
provide cash-and-carry, or on site grilling and
food preparation, as well as portable coffee
services and specialty services such as popcorn
and sno-cone machines.
Michael is quick to point out that, regardless
of the economy, weddings are an inevitable part
of life and Black Diamond Caterers are fully
equipped to ensure that each wedding exceeds
expectations. They offer event planning and
catering services from casual to elegant. Because
they own and maintain their own linens, china,
flatware, and glassware, clients are assured of
receiving the best quality presentation, he said.
Another long-time member of the local catering
community, Hildreth’s Restaurant and
Catering has been family owned since 1963 and
responds to their clients’ ever-changing needs by
offering a variety of affordable options. Executive
Chef Ed Hildreth has been directly involved in
the business since age 13 and he noted that,
while their catering business continues to thrive,
people are still cost conscious.
“We do a lot of food prep, with customers
taking advantage of cash-and-carry options,”
Even so, Hildreth’s in-house catering business
remains a popular venue for people planning
birthdays, anniversaries, showers, and corporate
events. Their on site banquet room, which seats
125, is always busy, partly because Hildreth’s
continues to offer quality comfort food at affordable
pricing, but also because they understand
the importance of customer service.
“You’ve got to respond to your customer immediately
or they’ll go elsewhere,” said Hildreth.
“We can do a full service catering event with a 24-
hour turnaround for clients and even less time
for funerals and bereavement events, typically
providing full service within 12 hours of receiving
a catering request.”
In contrast, Zest Bistro and Catering has only
been in existence in Ballston Spa since 2013.
But they are already making significant culinary
contributions to the area.
Carla Kuchar, owner and self-proclaimed
“chief operating officer of just about everything”
is no stranger to food preparation or catering.
She owned and operated a successful catering
company for several years in Middlebury,
Vt., before relocating with her husband to the
Zest is committed to cooking with locally
produced vegetables, fruits, and free-range
poultry and meats wherever possible. They also
have their own organic garden located next to
Zest Bistro, where they grow their own herbs
Kuchar refers to her business as a “boutique”
caterer, specializing in smaller events. She offers
a range of options, including personal chef
services in your own home, to private dinners
or breakfast meetings onsite, to “heat and eat”
options for busy people on the go, as well as
customized picnic baskets for “Track and SPAC.”
Zest can also handle larger events such as
weddings, corporate dinners, and celebratory
parties. And they provide gluten-free or “paleo”
alternatives. Kuchar doesn’t believe that taste
should be sacrificed and she encourages customers
to try their gluten-free bagels, cookies, and
their cauliflower crust pizzas.
Another new face to catering in the area,
Symphony Catering, is really not so new. Customers
historically have known their food when they
operated under the auspices of Maestro’s at the
Van Dam restaurant.
In September, they officially opened Symphony
Catering, powered by Maestro’s and
Executive Chef Danny Petrosino. Becky Harbour
was with Maestro’s for eight years before transitioning
over to Symphony Caterers as event
“We are truly a full service caterer and we
are just finding our niche in the region,” said
Staying true to their mission, “to provide superior
food quality served in a creative manner to ensure
a memorable event,” they have been busy planning
and catering rehearsal dinners, weddings, corporate
events, as well as more casual venues with passed
hors d’oeuvres and carving stations. They also anticipate
increased business once the track season is
under way and in full swing, offering catered off-site
parties as well as on-site options in the Opus and
Empire Rooms located in Maestro’s or the Library
and the Rafters at Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar on
Phila Street, which shares owners with Maestro’s.
To find out more, visit www.blackdiamondcaterers.
com, www.hildreth’srestaurant.com, www.zestcooks.com or www.symphonycatering.com.