North Moore Catering Co was born out of a love for New York City's food culture and one woman's dream to bring that style to London, Ontario. For Owner and Cook Jess Jazey-Spoelstra, coming up with new ideas and concepts and making sure that each wedding has a "wow" factor is just part of what she loves about her job, which she's been doing for over twenty years. Five star service, food and ambiance are what you pay for at North Moore Catering, and we're told by both vendors and brides alike, that if the highest quality and most flavourful food is what you're looking for, then North Moore is worth every penny. And, with a Chef who personally hand picks only the freshest ingredients, creates and cooks everything on-site and focuses on presentation just as much as preparation, we tend to agree.
While food is Jess' expertise, it's not her only focus. She says she'll do anything in her power to make sure your day is as perfect as your vision. "I can arrange for everything from décor to floral, rentals, transportation, DJ, valet, invitations, favours… you name it, we can do it." We heard that North Moore Catering is known for their excellent food pairings, attention to detail and their ability to remain flexible up until the last minute. With such great raves and referrals, we had to know more about the woman, the food and the company; so, we sat down with Jess, checked out some of North Moore's menu samplings, and discovered just how they make unforgettable meals for weddings.
Food & the city...
Jess has been working with weddings for over twenty years now, having started at Wonderland Gardens when she was thirteen, bussing tables and serving coffee and dessert, which she did on and off while going to University.
Jess' education varied from English to Human Resources before she found her niche in cooking. "I always thought I liked something until I got right into it and then decided, that’s not my dream," she told The Ring. "Catering is my dream, and I’m here to stay."
Though she was a part of the industry for over ten years, it was Jess' move to New York City in 2001 that really made her realize this dream. This is where Jess says she was introduced to many new flavours and food concepts. "I was in love and New York City was my boyfriend!" she says. And this love affair continued for the next six years (even though she had only planned to stay for one). "It was, shall we say, my 'university of food and service'."
When Jess moved back to London in 2007, she decided to start a catering business that focused on NY deli-style sandwiches. The street Jess worked on in NYC was N. Moore St., which everyone called North Moore St.. "I always loved that street and the local vibe Tribeca offered New Yorkers," Jess says, "and so, North Moore Catering was born. It’s my bow to New York City without being cheesy."
Planning her own wedding just after moving back to Ontario, Jess interviewed a lot of caterers who she says seemed to be serving mediocre food at high prices. "I hated hearing the word 'NO', yet it kept occurring," she says. So, she changed her catering vision to focus more on weddings with the goal to come up with new ideas and food/service concepts daily. Jess even travels all over the world and back to New York City to taste and visualize new concepts. "I love taking a new flavour or some sort of visual presentation and changing it to accommodate a wedding for a couple hundred people."
All of Jess' training has been hands-on, which she feels is the best approach. "You can’t learn this stuff in school - I’ve served, I’ve bartended, I’ve worked in the kitchen." And over the course of her career, Jess has learned to work for hours on end with little to no breaks, in every kind of weather imaginable, and is confident that her experience has taught her to overcome any hurdles that can occur at events. "You need to know how to react quickly and how to make everything okay... more than okay, outstanding," which North Moore Catering has done with over forty weddings and countless other events.
The North Moore Catering team
With so many weddings and events each year, Jess has a team of professionals to help make sure they all run smoothly. She and her husband, Harmen, own North Moore together and are both usually present to meet with potential clients as well as make sure the wedding day is executed well.
And while the team at North Moore is certainly busy, they will only book three weddings per weekend, to ensure that their couples get the vest service and their full attention.
Jess is the one who takes care of initial table/bar set-up, room décor, setting up the ceremony and all the little things. And of course, assists with/oversees food presentation. Harmen is the Kitchen Manager and also helps with kitchen set-up and assists with plating and expediting. He's also know for his impressive skills with the BBQ- one of his favourite parts of catering.
Jess also credits much of her success to the entire team at North Moore, "Our team is down-to-earth and very fun. It's a team of professionals who obviously love working together- it really helps make your wedding planning a great experience"
Kelly Peckham and Shawn Ryan had North Moore cater their September 2009 Paris-themed wedding with hors d'oeuvres. They told us that working with Jess and her team was incredible and very personal. "Jess listened to what we wanted and strove to do anything and everything to provide it," they say. "We loved her staff at the event, and Jess delivered on every promise."
Sandra Doyle, the Service Manager/Event Coordinator is also present on the wedding day to help solve any problems. She manages staff, assigns tables, makes sure that everything is running smoothly on the service side.
Executive Chef Brian Magee is also a part of the North Moore team, along with a team of expert servers, bartenders and bar backs/busboys, who we were told Jess personally selects, hires and trains to meet her high standards.
The team has also just added a brand new member to their team. Michelle, the Pastry Chef, offers fabulous wedding cakes for a true, one-shop catering stop. All of their breads, baked rolls, breadsticks (and more!) are freshly baked in house- it just doesn't get better than that!
For Averil Farlow Caverly's wedding weekend in August 2009, North Moore Catering provided hors d'oeuvres, a sushi chef, bar service, a catered marche dinner, late night passed cotton candy and petit ice cream cones, wedding day lunch, a ten course tasting wedding sit down dinner, and catered brunch. She told us that North Moore has the "most professional catering staff to be found - savvy, quick, obliging, polite, helpful, courteous and friendly," were just a few words she used to describe Jess' staff.
While weddings are North Moore's focus, Jess also loves to donate to local charities and has done so on many occasions - just one more reason we love her! She has donated at-home cocktail parties and tasting meals for a silent auction at Junior Achievement, Bethany’s Hope Foundation, Participation House Support Services and Showdown in the Downtown for Kidney Research. North Moore also supplied the catering (at no cost) for the Participation House Bowl-A-Thon in both 2009 and 2010.
Fresh is in!
Quality, quantity and service are three things (among many others) that Jess says are the biggest selling features of North Moore Catering. But it's the details of each of these that truly sets North Moore apart. "We're known for excellent food pairings, attention to detail (we’re not just slopping food down on a plate) and our ability to remain flexible right up until the last minute," says Jess. "We can jump any obstacle put in front of us, and only experience can give you that."
Quality | Jess personally hand picks all of the meat and produce in the days leading up to the event, making sure that everything is the freshest it could be, and she only uses food suppliers for specialty items. Jess has even driven to New York for a special order for a bride!
All of North Moore's food is cooked fresh, on-site and "melts in your mouth," we're told. Even if it means bringing her own kitchen to your reception, nothing is cooked hours before and left in warming trays and steam pans.
But it’s not just the food that's quality, it’s the presentation, too. North Moore serves their dishes in unique serving ware (including customized ice bowls), with funky garnishes. Every piece is a work of art that will likely satisfy even the pickiest foodie.
Averil's biggest reason for hiring North Moore was Jess' outstanding quality with regard to the food and presentations. "Jess offered ideas that had never occurred to me, such as the magnificent 'Fire and Ice' dessert finale for the wedding dinner," she explains. "It was a twelve inch carved ice tower bowl, each bowl was topped with a sparkler - the effect when all the guests were served these was breathtaking!"
Quantity | North Moore Catering may be a bit more expensive than some local caterers; but, when you look at the amount and the quality of food that you get, it's a pretty amazing deal, and we're not the only ones who think so.
"The presentation of the entire selection of food was five star and beautiful," Kelly and Shawn told us. They add that the prices were very reasonable and North Moore didn't skimp on presentation or volume of food.
Service | Jess believes, and we happen to agree, that brides love working with her for their weddings because she can cater to every taste and style (provided the couple has the right budget, of course). "No is not in my vocabulary, and because I’m more of a boutique caterer, their food is carefully and meticulously planned from start to finish," she says.
Jess' outstanding service also extends past the plate as she's flexible with timing and says she will do anything in her power to make sure each couple's day is as perfect as their vision. "I can arrange for everything from décor, floral, rentals, transportation, DJ, valet, invitations, favours…" And with such attention to every detail, Jess also makes each bride feel like she is her only (and favourite) client.
Melinda Vine had North Moore Catering provide appetizers and food stations for her wedding and says she hired them because Jess was the only caterer who seemed to personally care about her wedding. She adds that while North Moore was a bit more expensive than some other London caterers, it was worth it. "I also believe that the reason they were slightly more expensive is that they provide better quality food, ingredients and service," she adds.
Mary McIntyre helped her son and daughter-in-law plan their August 2009 wedding and was the one who met with Jess to discuss catering options. She says that from the moment she met Jess, she displayed "confidence, flexibility, knowledge of the food service industry, experience, a great smile and a willingness to tailor the event to each couple." She adds that the food was so well received that there wasn't a bit left over! "The cost was reasonable considering the quality of the food... and the staff was also very efficient and pleasant."
North Moore style & budget to suit yours
"We can do anything, but we prefer over-the-top, crazy celeb-style weddings," says Jess of North Moore's catering style. "They are harder to do and definitely more challenging... I love to try new and exciting things... I love the 'wow' factor and I try to give that to every bride." That means, that even if you're having a simple chicken dinner, Jess makes sure it's the best chicken dinner you've ever had. And, she says she usually accomplishes this. "I get nothing but rave reviews and have never ever had an unsatisfied bride."
One of the reasons that Kelly and Shawn hired North Moore was because Jess was the only caterer they met with who came up with a unique and inspired French selection of goodies for their Paris theme. "Our guests were wowed at the event, saying that this cocktail party was one of the best wedding feasts they’ve ever had."
If you're the type of bride who wants good food, then you're probably willing to pay for it as well.
While North Moore has something for everyone, whether your budget is $5000 or $300,000 and Jess knows that brides just want the best deal, she has high standards and expects her clients to as well. "My prices are what they are... I know that whatever bride chooses me for their wedding will be getting the highest quality and most flavourful food, and in order to get that, there’s a cost," she explains. "The ingredients cost me more; therefore I have to charge more."
That said, a budget of $100 or more per person goes a long way at North Moore and includes passed hors d'oeuvres, a three course meal, a late night food station, service and basic rentals for the day.
And they will even book other rentals for you, like your DJ to the decor to Valet Parking attendants! If you're running your own bar you can even drop off your liquer and they can bring it to the venue for you!
Jess has noticed a shift towards fresh, local food, with many couples requesting local ingredients. And while this may be a newer trend, it has always been an important part of North Moore's philosophy on food, "We've always done it but now, clients are asking for it". They even cook everything fresh on-site, with transportable ovens and grills.
Signature cocktails are still a popular trend, that adds a personalized, fun element to the bar. Jess says her absolute favourite is the Watermelon Margareta (doesn't that just make your mouth water?!)
Another fabulous trend is the late night food station(s). Some of our favourites from North Moore include a poutine station, taco bar and build your own perogies station!
For Jess, food should always be fun and presentation should always "wow". That's why NorthMoore is constantly looking for innovative ways to serve their food. They've just added new bamboo cones to their list of options- a creative way to serve your h'orderves or, a late-night snack like poutine. They also serve food on cool, acrylic trays- sure to add another element of fun to your wedding day!
Although North Moore has some sample wedding packages, they also cater to each and every customer and plan a day around their needs.
One of our favourite things at North Moore (and one of the most popular), is their tasting meals. "People love the small plates and smaller portions, but more courses," says Jess.
Churrascaria receptions are also popular, where meat passadors go from table to table offering choice cuts of meat (with vegetarian options also available); so it's kind of like a sit down dinner with a moving marche coming to you.
All packages at North Moore include staffing, linens, china, flatware, glasses, and all small wares. Tables, chairs, tents and larger item rentals are extra, but are something that Jess can help you book, too.
It would be impossible to list every menu item that North Moore Catering could potentially create (though we drooled a little just reading through them); but, here's an idea of what some of the packages are framed around...
Bronze Wedding Reception and Dinner Package | Minimum of 50 guests, $89-$117 per person. Assorted Hors d’oeuvres (1 hour), champagne toast, salad, dinner service, one entrée, cake service, coffee and tea.
Silver Wedding Reception and Dinner Package | Minimum of 100 guests, $99-$127 per person. Assorted Hors d’oeuvres (1 hour), champagne toast, salad, dinner service, one entrée, cake service, sensational sweet station, one item from the afterglow menu (aka late night buffet), coffee and tea.
Gold Wedding Reception and Dinner Package | Minimum of 100 guests, $139-$173 per person. Butler passed hors d’oeuvres, displayed hors d’oeuvres, champagne toast, spinach salad with toasted goat cheese & candied pecans, soup course, intermezzo course, one entrée selection, cake service, after dinner inspirations, one afterglow menu item.
Platinum Wedding Tasting Reception and Dinner Package | Minimum of 100 guests, $227 per person. Butler passed hors d’oeuvres, displayed hors d’oeuvres, champagne toast, fish course, ravioli course, spinach salad with toasted goat cheese & candied pecans, soup course, intermezzo course, 1 or 2 entrée selections, cake service, after dinner inspirations, one afterglow menu item.
Plus, North Moore also offers a Churriscuria Wedding Package, Distinguished Hors d’oeuvres Displays, Manhattan Hors d'oeuvres Package, Independent Hors d’oeuvres Package, Soho Hors d'oeuvres Package, Tribeca Hors d'oeuvres Package, and Upper West Side Hors d'oeuvres Package.
Brides who are ready to spend their budgets on the reception food love the tasting menu, which Jess says varies based on couples tastes, but to give you an example: start with a fish course (crab cake with roasted red pepper aioli/seared sesame crusted tuna/yellowtail sashimi with citrus soy vinaigrette served on top a pile of buckwheat sprouts), followed by an intermezzo course of champagne or lemon sorbetto served on top of a 4” ice block. Then, Jess says they move on to a salad or soup (or both depending on the number of courses). From there, North Moore has either two or three meat courses, which can include Dijon crusted lamb lollipops, beef tenderloin with half lobster tail atop sea asparagus and topped with cognac cream sauce. For dessert, Jess says she usually serves up a dessert trio with one of North Moore’s famous hand rolled chocolate truffles, crème brûlée in a wonton spoon, and pavlova with sliced strawberries, kiwi and adorned with freshly whipped cream. In the evening, North Moore sets up an espresso/cappuccino/latte bar with different syrups, sugars and cups.
The River Room...
North Moore Catering is excited to announce that they've taken over the old 'On The Fork' location in Museum London. The River Room is an all glass restaurant and reception space that overlooks the Thames and accommodates up to eighty people. Along with the on-site receptions, they also offer ceremonies on the lawn. Both Jess and her husband Harmen are thrilled to announce this brand new location!
The restaurant is available to rent- offering an ideal setting for a private event. It has been designed with "only the best" in terms of food and decor. For example, lunch at The River Room might include hand pressed taglietelle carbonara with crispy pancetta and peas. Or, try the parmesan crusted chicken wing with River Room dipping sauce- all served with Waterford flatware. Choose a bottle of wine from their fabulous wine list and enjoy it in a beautiful Riddel wineglass.
The River Room is closed on evenings and Saturdays- reserved for private events like weddings, showers and engagement parties. Seating is available for up to 86 guests or, up to 130 people for a cocktail party. It is however, open for lunch, Monday to Friday as well as brunch on Sundays.
Walking you through a North Moore wedding
Jess says she can usually accommodate last minute bookings, but suggests at least six months to a year for proper planning, details and staffing requirements. The best way to contact her is by phone or email to set-up a meeting to sit down and chat at your place or the local coffee shop.
You go over details with Jess and she sends you a quote after the meeting. Once the quote is accepted, the couple signs a contract and pays a 25% deposit for the food. A 50% payment for rentals can also be paid at this time, or at least six months before the wedding.
When you hire North Moore Catering, you are getting a wedding planner...for free! Jess can help you with all of your other bookings through her long list of suppliers. She also personally attends every event to ensure that your day is perfect. "You name it, we can arrange for it. Nothing is too over-the-top!"
"Jess took care of everything for me," says Averil, "including, valet service, bar service and security. My guests are still raving about North Moore Catering and all they did for me." She adds that Jess made her feel as though she were North Moore's only and favourite client. "The whole experience far exceeded what I had expected. I have no hesitation in recommending Jess and North Moore to any couple. Her work is superb!"
Between booking and the wedding, there's also a tasting for the couple at Jess' home where they try three or four meals and choose one that is the most appealing (which will likely be a hard decision as they'll all be appealing!).
One week before the wedding, Jess needs final numbers, a seating chart, itinerary and 50% of the final invoice. The remaining balance is due the day before the wedding.
On the wedding day, the crew is at the site bright and early to set-up while the kitchen team is busy prepping at Jess' commercial kitchen. Once everything is transferred to the site, on-site food prep begins, and the staff is clothed and ready for the guests to arrive. And when they do, they're greeted with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
One of our favourite things about North Moore is that they truly care about the couples they work with. For example, they will always make sure to find the bride and groom and their wedding party during the cocktail hour to make sure that they have food and drinks. They know that this is often a busy time, taking photos and talking to guests, so they ensure that no one goes hungry or thirsty.
When the seated dinner begins, North Moore serves, clears, pours wine, refills water, de-crumbs place settings, smiles and graciously takes care of everything the guests require. After dinner, they clean up, serve dessert, cut and serve the cake, and set-up the late night food and coffee station or espresso bar. Once last call is done, they clean up the last of it, pack up and "high five each other for another successful event," says Jess.
After the wedding day, Jess likes to hear back from couples about what they thought of North Moore Catering, and from the referrals we heard, it's all good!
Details, details, details
• The average bride spends… $100/head inclusive of food, staffing, basic rentals.
• 13% tax and 20% gratuity on food is in addition to quoted prices.
• A 25% deposit is due when the contract is signed, 50% more is due 1 week prior to the event, and the balance is due the day before.
• For rentals, 50% is due when the contract is signed (or 6 months before), the balance is due 1 week before along with final guest count.