Local caterer specializes in all-kinds of wedding celebrations
By Weam Namou
haldeans are known for their extravagant and large gatherings, especially when it comes to those associated with weddings. Not long ago, they celebrated the tenetha, word, where the fiancé’s and fiancée’s family came together to give their promise that they’re committing to each other. That celebration was followed by an elaborate engagement party, a henna party, the wedding rehearsal, and the blessing of the couples’ bedroom. Next came the wedding and the after-wedding party.
The new generation is doing things a little differently, having proposal parties, henna/shower parties, honeymoon parties, gender reveal parties, and on a more creative note, doing friendship dinners around Thanksgiving. While the types of gatherings vary depending on how traditional or nontraditional people are, the food is always a high priority. Middle Eastern food is a favorite for Chaldean Americans. It’s not only delicious but it’s also considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.
Previously, the parents of both the bride and groom slaved to get the food prepared for their guests but, nowadays, it’s much simpler. They basically cater, oftentimes calling Chef Carl.
“Back in the days, the mothers cooked,” said Chef Carl. “These days women don’t cook like our mothers cooked. They say, hell no! Why should I?” He laughed, and added, “They just call their husbands and say this is what we’re doing, and we’re going to Chef Carl to do it.”
Carl Hakim has been a chef for more than 40 years, and for 30 years, he has done catering for wedding gatherings, house, proposal parties, communions, graduations, hennas, and rehearsal dinners. He caters to parties that have anywhere from 50 to 300 guests.
“Usually house parties are about a hundred people,” he said. “Nobody wants to have 300 people in their homes.”
For larger parties, people normally rent a place and order the food from him. The cost is between $20 to $100 per person depending on their budget and what they want to order. Do they want a full three course meal, with or without drinks, or just hors d’oeuvres? He once did a surf and turf dinner with lobster, filet mignon, and wine. For a big party, especially one that requires service, he needs at least a two to three week advance notice.
“I have a full staff that bring the food, set up, serve, and clean up just like at any party,” he said. “It’s really nice, but if someone just needs the food, we can drop that off to them.”
For the gatherings at the bride’s home, before she leaves to go to church, popular orders include roll ups, boorek, spinach pies, and cheese platters to name a few. He’ll serve anything as long as it’s not from the red family, like grapes or strawberries.
“Rule of thumb is to stay away from red foods because I don’t want the bridal party walking down the aisle with stains on their clothes,” he said.
A good idea would also be not to include foods that are possibly difficult or messy to eat, like hummus and tabooleh, and instead to bring in meat, cheese, and spinach pies. Chef Carl’s expertise can help you work out a menu plan that would keep the guests’ and bridal party’s fancy clothes clean and their appetites nourished until the wedding reception. He has done countless catering, including for his daughter’s engagement party, and for celebrities and athletes like Mitch Albom and Matthew Stafford.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun because I’m a people person,” said Chef Carl.