7 Insider Tips from the Top Caterers in Northern Virginia

The Captivating Culinary Delights of Saint Germain Catering

Are you looking to make things a little easier in the kitchen? Chef Jeff has helped us become one of the most respected caterers in Northern Virginia, and we’ve asked him to give us the inside scoop on the techniques and tips he uses the most. From where to shop to how you can best use fresh and dried herbs, here are some of St. Germain catering’s key cooking hacks. Enjoy!

1. Buy Smart

When you get your ingredients from reputable grocery stores, local farms, farmers markets and specialty gourmet shops, you’re more likely to get superior quality items at a fantastic price. And, as a bonus, being a regular at small mom-and-pop shops and market stands means you’ll always be clued in to what’s tasting particularly delicious from season to season.

2. Patrol the Perimeter

Stick to the outside edges of the supermarket, paying particular attention to organic goods. Fresh produce, seafood and meat (look for those labeled grass-fed or organic), all-natural juices, organic dairy and whole-grain breads all pack a hefty nutritional punch — and don’t forget the wine!

3. Make Like Your Favorite Caterers in Northern Virginia and Head to the Farmers Market

There’s a reason professional chefs can often be found at farmers markets. That direct connection to local purveyors who practice sustainable land management and natural/organic farming is not only great for the economy, it’s a treat for your taste buds. You’ll find carrots that taste sweeter, meat that is incomparably fresh and fruit that’s ridiculously juicy. As a bonus, you’re more likely to discover rare and interesting items specific to your locale.

4. Seek Out Specialty Items

Specialty gourmet shops are the place to go for hard-to-find and authentic items such as ethnic sauces and spices, prepared items and unique wine and beer selections. Try out new shops, and you’re likely to discover affordable ingredients that will expand both your culinary horizons and your palate.

5. Invest in the Basics D.C. Catering Companies Love

Good foundational ingredients like superior-quality olive oil, organic butter and kosher or sea salt will go a long way toward making simple recipes taste incredible. Treat yourself to a small pepper mill to grind peppercorns “a la minute” (that’s a fancy way of saying “as you need it”). Skip iodized salt and refined oils and margarine; they just don’t offer the same intensity as their higher-quality counterparts.

6. Stock Up on Fresh Herbs

Dried herbs work for rubs and long-cooking dishes like braises and soups, but you need fresh herbs to finish a dish like a pro. Think basil scattered over the top of pizza or pasta, tarragon stirred into soft scrambled eggs, cilantro tossed in your pad Thai or carne asada tacos, and herbaceous homemade vinaigrettes (parsley, thyme and oregano are a lovely combo) drizzled over spring mix or arugula.

7. Get Your Garlic On

Always have fresh garlic on hand. You can buy whole bulbs or a jar of pre-peeled cloves (typically available in the refrigerated section of the produce department), then chop a few cloves by hand or in a small food processor to add a big boost to all kinds of savory foods. A few of our favorite tricks: Rub a cut clove on toasted bread for extra-tasty crostini, roast a whole head in foil for a luscious spread that goes well with fruit and cheese, or mash some with grass-fed butter and a blend of herbs for an unforgettable steak topping.

Chef Jeff’s expert insight has helped Saint Germain to consistently out-cook other catering companies in Northern Virginia, and you can achieve the same excellence with everyday meals following these seven simple tips. Bon Appetit!

Hungry take a look at our catering menu.