You’ve set the date, booked the venue, finalized the guest list and have chosen your theme. Now it’s time to call Miriam Foell, owner of Fergies Fine Foods. She will ensure the food you serve your guests ties into your plan and budget, so the flavour of your day is as memorable as the wedding itself.
“One of the things we do well is we really listen to the bride and groom and their wants, and we create something to match their vision,” Foell said, noting it’s important that the menu reflect the uniqueness of the couple. “We ask them what foods they like and we always make sure to have one of their favourite food items included in the menu that day.”
Customization is the key to her business, which over the last six years has catered hundreds of weddings and is presently booking into 2018.
“We truly are a niche type of caterer in this area,” Foell said, explaining that Fergies Fine Foods has a retail storefront in downtown Fergus that includes a large commercial kitchen, in-house bakery, and is professionally staffed with a head chef, bakers and pastry chefs. The location allows her experienced team to produce fresh, homemade meals and baked goods, including wedding cakes, with complete quality control.
“We don’t have a cookie-cutter menu,” she said, recalling the diversity of two of her favourite recent weddings: a full Scottish dinner and a ‘city meets country’ theme. “Every menu we cater for a wedding is unique to that wedding. It’s about customization, and not everybody offers that.”
Adapting menus to accommodate special dietary requests for clients is not a problem for her team.
“It’s become one of our specialties,” Foell said. Careful planning and a skilled team that makes everything from scratch means clients can be assured their dietary needs are met, from gluten-free to dairy-free, allergies and more. Pride is evident in every dish her staff prepares.
“Food quality is key. In every part of our business, it’s all about the food,” Foell said, adding that in a small community, reputation is everything. “We have to have exceptional food. There is no question … if we’re going to do it we need to do it well, otherwise we shouldn’t be doing it.”
Building community relationships is central to Foell’s commitment to support local farmers and food producers.
“We buy the best cuts of meat. We have accounts with some local organic farms, and buy eggs from a Mennonite farmer, and we buy local produce when we can,” she said. And if people question the costs of using the best cuts of meat, she reminds them, “People will not remember the $5 plate they had at a wedding years down the road, but they’ll remember the great prime rib they had at your wedding.”
But it’s about more than just good food on the plate; it’s about presentation on a grander scale.
“We coordinate the food and the décor that will go along with their theme, the way the menu is presented, so everything fits with their vision for the wedding,” she said, adding she works with the venues, florists and other vendors to ensure her team fits seamlessly into the event.
As a full-service catering company, she helps clients cut down on their rental expenses by including an extensive inventory of dishes, serving trays, cutlery and glassware, enough to serve up to 500 people.
With delicious food comes incredible leftovers, and Foell believes nothing should be wasted.
“We are a zero waste kitchen,” Foell explains. “We take the food not eaten and make up full meals in freezer containers, so the couple can then have meals later.”
Sometimes leftovers are turned into breakfast buffets for guests the next day, particularly for settings like country weddings, where guests and family will gather back at the venue.
“It simply goes along with the theory that we are a full-service caterer; if there is a need we will fill it.”
Foell believes it’s her experience that makes her, and her team, a trusted source in many facets of the wedding, from advice throughout the planning stages, to dealing with vendors and anticipating unexpected issues that often occur at large events. Experience is the best teacher.
“We look after everything that they may not have thought of because that’s our role, to serve the bride and groom and their guests,” she said. “It’s a huge honour that they trust us with this and we truly go beyond the catering role, so we’ll smooth the rough edges that might otherwise occur, and that simply comes with experience.”
She adds, “It’s the reason you hire a caterer that has great experience, rather than someone who does this once in a while.”
Foell has learned that quality food and dedicated, personal service is about creating community, and there is no better proof of her business success than the repeat customers, the couples whose story she continues to be a part of with baby showers, Christenings, anniversaries and more.
“We become part of people’s lives as their lives progress,” she says proudly. “That’s the piece that brings me the most joy. It’s the piece that keeps me going … being connected to people in the most important times of their lives and to be there to serve and to witness.