Have you been to a wedding or catered event before where the food is bland, poorly seasoned, and actually put a damper on the festivities? Likely this has happened more than once. Fortunately, there are high-quality, gourmet catering companies in Chicago like Inspired Catering & Events that push catered food beyond the typical chicken, beef, pasta that you’re used to and do so with style. Recently, The Chicago Traveler was invited to a launch party for the recently rebranded company.

Company Background

Inspired Catering & Events has its roots in Phil Stefani Signature Events. In 1980, Phil Stefani and his brother opened their signature restaurant Stefani’s in Lincoln Park, along with a branch specifically geared toward catering. Decades later, the Stefani name is well known around Chicago thanks to restaurants like Tavern on Rush and Riva Crab House at Navy Pier (pretty much your best bet if you don’t want fast food).

Now Phil Stefani Signature Events has rebranded as Inspired Catering & Events. The company is still in the Stefani family with mother and daughter Karen and Gina Stefani taking charge.

Warehouse Launch Party

Generally at The Chicago Traveler I stick to visiting restaurants, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a catering company launch party, even more so as I pulled up outside the company’s brown brick warehouse. Clearly a working place of business with walls of fridges, industrial-sized mixers, and food piled high. Inspired fully utilized their space fitting in different food stands, night-club style lighting, and even a DJ.

inspired catering opening partyA front room was made up to resemble a cute wine bistro while most of the party was held in a bigger space in back. Entering in the back there was a bar, though servers walking around made sure you were never without a drink or appetizer, and wandering through the maze-like space allowed you to sample meats elegantly laid out on butcher paper, a literal wall with detachable boxes full of food, and even a station of pasta made to order.

While certainly cool and hip to look at—I’m personally a big fan of warehouse spaces—the setup showed the versatility and skill of the Inspired Catering staff.

Sampling Inspired Catering

Most times when I’m at a catered event, the food tends to look like it was just slopped together on a plate and hurried out the kitchen. Plus, it’s always the most basic foods prepared in uninspired ways. That wasn’t the case with Inspired Catering. As I walked in, I was immediately handed a crunchy pastry filled with fruit and foi gras and an apple bourbon cocktail that tasted like a fall old fashioned (yes, they can handle bar service too). Inside the party, I was pulling fried shrimp with sweet potato fries off the walls, opening a canister filled with tender short rib, and eating squash served on a mirror.

Inspired Catering proved to me it’s possible to quickly produce high-quality, gourmet food that’s prepared beautifully even when you’re at a birthday or wedding.


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