Catering the Holidays

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By Marianne Weaver

The 2020 holiday season might not play out as it has in the past, but regardless of how and where families worship and celebrate, food is still a focal point. Rather than spend hours in the kitchen planning  memorable meals for your family and guests, local caterers have put together menus for families large and small, completely casual to extremely elegant.

Planning Ahead for a Crowd

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Although his business took a hit when COVID cancelled most wedding
bookings, Schneider invested his energy into creating holiday dinner menus to feed parties from 30 to 300.

Elegance To Simplicity in Manassas made its mark by catering a wide range of events, including military promotion and retirement ceremonies, celebrations of life, weddings, business meetings and more.

Owner/chef Andrew Schneider honed his skills during his 26 years of service in the Marine Corps, while working for six different commandants. He prepared meals for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Bob Hope, John Glenn and Marine Corps Generals Joseph Francis Dunford Jr., 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and James Norman Mattis, former Secretary of Defense.

Although his business took a hit when COVID cancelled most wedding bookings, Schneider invested his energy into creating holiday dinner menus to feed parties from 30 to 300.

“Having the holiday dinner catered will allow you to focus on your guests, while still having a complete meal,” he said.

Generally, he said, his holiday meal orders are very traditional: turkey, ham and pineapple, duchess potatoes, sweet potato stuffing, green beans, rolls and spring salad. But, he said, he’s also put together dinners featuring beef tenderloin and chicken marsala.

“It all depends on the budget,” he said. “Once we know that, we meet with the client and come up with something special.”

Schneider has catered holiday events at the British Embassy, The National War College of the United States at Ft. McNair, and numerous private events. Although he does not cater in-person Christmas or Christmas Eve, he said he delivers the meals ready to serve, with step-by-step instructions.

Family Dinners

Prince William-based Sweet Sage caters large and small events throughout DMV.

“Sweet Sage offers the traditional holiday menu but we also are able and willing to accommodate menu items that cater to the individualized customer,” said founder/owner/curator Sherise Campbell. “We offer catering before Christmas as well as on Christmas Day.”

After opening presents, she said families can feast on a brunch of bananas foster French toast or shrimp and grits. For traditional tastes, she recommended a dinner of herb-roasted turkey with cornbread dressing, honey brown sugar-glazed ham, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, and a vegetable. For a more upscale menu, she suggested beef tenderloin or crab-stuffed salmon with roasted potatoes and a vegetable.

“My food recommendation would be the traditional holiday menu,” she said. “I am suggesting the traditional menu because I am reflecting on the importance of family. My family normally would gather at my mom’s house for the holidays and that may not occur this year. The same holds true for a lot of people. I am hoping to help fill the void of those who are not able to connect with their loved ones during this time.”

That said, Sweet Sage also offers an array of dishes that honor her husband’s traditional meals.

“His family is Jamaican so to help keep up with his family traditions I learned to cook some of their dishes,” she said. “We make anything from Ackee and Saltfish, which is the national dish of Jamaica, to oxtail, curry goat, rice and peas and the traditional black cake that is soaked in rum and served at Christmas.”

Regardless of the main course, she discourages clients from skipping dessert. Sweet Sage offers a selection of desserts such as pound cake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, cupcakes and pies. “Sweet Sage is dedicated to focusing on each individual customer and their families’ needs,” said Campbell. “We set out to provide exceptional food and superior customer service. We understand the importance of holidays and family traditions and we want to be an extension of your family.”

BBQ and More

Dixie Bones BBQ, Woodbridge, hasn’t changed its basic menu since opening is doors in January 1996. However, during the holidays, the menu is expanded to also include smoked turkey, tastes, she recommended a dinner of herb-roasted turkey with cornbread dressing, honey brown sugar-glazed ham, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, and a vegetable. For a more upscale menu, she suggested beef tenderloin or crab-stuffed salmon with roasted potatoes and a vegetable.

“My food recommendation would be the traditional holiday menu,” she said. “I am suggesting the traditional menu because I am reflecting on the importance of family. My family normally would gather at my mom’s house for the holidays and that may not occur this year. The same holds true for a lot of people. I am hoping to help fill the void of those who are not able to connect with their loved ones during this time.”

That said, Sweet Sage also offers an array of dishes that honor her husband’s traditional meals.

“His family is Jamaican so to help keep up with his family traditions I learned to cook some of their dishes,” she said. “We make anything from Ackee and Saltfish, which is the national dish of Jamaica, to oxtail, curry goat, rice and peas and the traditional black cake that is soaked in rum and served at Christmas.”

Regardless of the main course, she discourages clients from skipping dessert. Sweet Sage offers a selection of desserts such as pound cake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, cupcakes and pies.

“Sweet Sage is dedicated to focusing on each individual customer and their families’ needs,” said Campbell. “We set out to provide exceptional food and superior customer service. We understand the importance of holidays and family traditions and we want to be an extension of your family.”

BBQ and More

Dixie Bones BBQ, Woodbridge, hasn’t changed its basic menu since opening is doors in January 1996. However, during the holidays, the menu is expanded to also include smoked turkey, ham, smoked salmon, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, gravy, cranberry and jezebel sauce.

“We offer our hot holiday food several ways: Guests can pick up pre-orders at our restaurant, we can deliver it to their home or office, we can set it up for them in disposable chafing dishes, or for large events, we set up a buffet table and keep the chafing dishes replenished,” said Chairman Nelson Head. “We are not
open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. For these guests, we offer the foods in various serving sizes  ranging from four people on up. The side dishes come frozen, ready for reheating in a standard oven an hour before serving time.”

All meals are homemade and have been for the past 25 years. Head said that in addition to the holiday specials, the entire menu is available for holiday meals. That includes popular sides of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and green beans, as well as homemade pies (chocolate, coconut, pecan, sweet potato and lemon chess) and bread pudding with caramel sauce.

“Families want to enjoy many traditional holiday foods on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but preparing all of them can be difficult and time consuming,” he said. “We make everything from scratch, just as people would do themselves if they had the time. Over the past 25 years, we have been helping families enjoy their favorite turkey, ham, dressing, gravy and vegetables without the hassle. We are proud that every year our same friends come back to us for help with their dinners.”

Marianne E. Weaver (mweaver@princewilliamliving.com) is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and an MJ from Temple University

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