Looking for a delicious and gorgeous, restaurant quality meal for your wedding or special event? Then look no further. White Pepper Catering specializes in creating and executing meals that defy the typical catering expectations. We have so enjoyed getting to know this team. They put so much heart and culinary skill into their work and we are excited to share them with you.
Meet Kris Hansen, owner of White Pepper Catering.
Where are you originally from? And how long have you been in Portland?
We grew up together in Sisters, OR…after graduating high school and then living in Nashville, TN for about 6 years for separate colleges and careers (and marrying), we returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to change directions and start a family.
What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
We have three small kiddos…right now (although summer has ended) our favorite thing is taking our family with our renovated vintage Roadrunner trailer to camp; realize that’s not within Portland, but we love that so much adventure is within close range of our city.
How long have you been working as a professional wedding caterer?
Caterer…since 2013; although Wil had been in the restaurant industry for another 3 years before that.
So many small dominoes! Living a content suburban lifestyle in Nashville working in Starbucks management (Wil) and high end interior design (Kris), someone asked Wil what he wanted to do after Starbucks…this led to a lot of contemplating, which always circled back to his passions for food and people. After finishing culinary school downtown Portland a couple years later, catering felt like a natural fit for how to combine a love for food, serving people, bringing family and friends together over meals, as well as our individual strengths and career experiences. Helping cater small events for family and friends in our spare time made us realize this was something we could logistically grow on our own.
What is the best part of your job?
The variety! Days in the office, managing projects, coordinating staff – to days in the kitchen, developing menus, being creative and working with great food sourced from our favorite growers, honing kitchen techniques – to days taking us all over the beautiful Pacific Northwest (wineries, Gorge, urban downtown, gardens and forests, etc). Every event is different, and every event poses new challenges that we enjoy tackling.
What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
As a full service caterer for weddings we are the first to arrive on site and the last to leave…which often can mean very long hours for us and our staff. We are always trying to stay on top of ways to keep us and our staff well taken care of…which means finding a balance of working hard and playing/resting hard.
Do you work solo or do you have a studio and/or team?
We have a great team- account managers who work with our clients closely from inquiry through the day of the event, front of house managers that coordinate our service team, kitchen and bar departments who manage food and beverage sourcing, menu development and of course the actual execution of cooking and bartending on site.
What do you attribute to your success as a wedding caterer? What do you think makes you stand apart from others in your field?
We’d like to think that the value we place on relationships is key to making sure everyone is taken care of throughout the whole process. We have a desire to serve well…which means a bride or groom’s questions are attended to as quickly as possible, that our food purveyors see that we respect their industry and the product they grow/make, as well as making sure that other vendors that we work alongside of know that we are here to help and collaborate with them so that they can do an awesome job too. Yes, when the day is done, we simply make and serve food, but if we aren’t taking care of all the people along the way, then our job was not done well. We are committed to excellent service.
At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
We find that catering is definitely within the first 3-4 vendors that are selected first. Typically once a venue and date are selected, we are next in line, along with coordinators and sometimes photographers. Which does mean we can book out a year in advance!
Where do you draw inspiration? Are there any current trends you are excited about?
When starting White Pepper, we realized there was a need for restaurant quality food at catered events…and because of that, we tend to keep an eye on what the Portland food & bar scene is constantly coming up with. We have so much at our fingertips in Portland…amazing restaurants, creative bartenders, an extensive growing season, and of course fantastic beers and wines within our region. It’s hard not to be inspired just by looking around, eating out, and seeing what everyone else is enjoying.
What is the most important thing couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
Don’t be afraid to ask your potential caterer how their services compare to other caterers.
What is your best advice for wedding clients?
We have two very important pieces of advice that we hold very strongly to…1. Make sure you eat at your own wedding! There are so many people to greet, so many photos to take, and so much excitement, but if you’re not careful, you’ll spend the night away and realize you haven’t eaten anything. Be sure to factor some time to sit down and enjoy the meal with your friends and family that you have spent so much time planning! 2. Hire a coordinator, at minimum for the day of. When there is no coordinator, you and your future spouse, as well as the moms, dads, etc. are at risk for being the constant points of contact for questions, problems, keeping the timeline going, etc. And really, you (and your closest family) should be enjoying the night, not organizing it. A professional coordinator (a good one!) should keep your event seamlessly effortless for you and those closest to you the day of.
Thank you Kris for sharing more about you and Wil and White Pepper. Thank you for being such an incredible vendor in our wedding community. You guys work so hard, and give so much to your clients. Your dedication and excellence is seen and so appreciated.
If you are looking for an awesome caterer who will provide restaurant quality food, and excellent service, look no further. As you reach out to caterers, we have assembled a list of questions to ask them as you work to find the right one for you. You can find that list at: https://artofweddingspdx.com/tips-and-advice/questions-to-ask-caterers/. Additionally, we completely agree with Kris on the importance of hiring a coordinator. Be sure to check out our vendor guide for local coordinators who will ensure you and your family are not working you wedding day!
All photos used in this post are by Dawn Photography