About Us

Catering for Cantabrians

At the Catering Dept, we are all about the food and all about Canterbury. From our base in Gasson Street in Christchurch, we cook up a storm to bring you delicious, cost-effective catering presented in innovative ways.

We are a bunch of foodies who thrive on the challenge of making your event buzz using fresh, local food and beverages presented with seamless, professional ease, all for a reasonable price-tag.

Our Credentials

We are part of the White Tie catering group, which is known for quality in the catering business. Our ownership structure also means we have a great network of fantastic suppliers on our side, working for you.

Ownership

Katie Duncan - Owner, Director, General Manager

Katie grew up in a big-time foodie family and has worked on and off for the Catering Dept’s parent company for more than 20 years, waitressing her first function at just 15. 

She has been the General Manager for the past five years and, with her husband Fin Sarginson, became part of the gang who bought the Catering Dept in 2013. 

Katie oversees the creative development of the company; is involved in the menu writing (and tasting), and staff management.

Michelle Walker - Owner, Director, Business Manager

Michelle walked into the offices one fateful day in 2008 for a job interview and is now one of the owners and directors of the Catering Dept. 

Along with her husband Rob Walker, Michelle was the brains behind the 2013 purchase of the company and is now responsible for the wellbeing of the business. 

Just like all the owners, Michelle can be found in the weekends helping out at functions, taste testing anything sweet and being ‘mum’ to the staff (including her own children).

Shari Carter - Owner, Director, Cake Tester

 

Shari’s the serious one (so we like to tell her) because as a partner at Deloitte, all we understand is that she does something with numbers. 

However, at the Catering Dept, Shari is chief cake tester, pot washer, trailer reverser, sous chef or anything needed to boost the team. 

Shari and her husband Brendan Blackmur came on board in the 2013 purchase after Shari had looked after the company at Deloitte for years and was one of the original ‘girlfriends’ along with Katie and Michelle.

Staff

Looking after you and your guests is what we do best.

Helen Harrowfield - Events Manager

There is nothing you can throw at Helen that will fluster her; the woman is unflappable after more than 35 years in the events business. 

Helen has managed events from dinner for two to Christmas for 1,000 and everything in between. 

She knows how to make budgets work, how to make everyone happy and how to fix a wardrobe malfunction before going down the aisle.  She is absolutely our events queen and the single nicest, warmest woman you will ever meet.

Lil Huckle - Executive Chef, Food Services Manager

Lil is part mad scientist, part chef.  She loves putting her science mind to work in food development but she’s also responsible for all three of our production kitchens and our many chefs. 

Lil is the business when it comes to quality control and loves to explore recipe development, new techniques and any flash gadget she can get her hands on.  She also tries to put passionfruit on every menu because it’s her favourite.

Stuart Morrison - Head Events Chef

Stuart Morrison (which Katie can't say without putting on a Scottish accent), hails from the land of Whisky and tartan but thankfully sticks to a chef's jacket.

Stuart has more than 20 years experience in the industry across the United Kingdom and New Zealand, including several major resort hotels in the South Island. From fine dining to weddings and corporate events, Stuart oversees our event operations in our Christchurch central city kitchen.

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The Bigger Picture

Sustainability is important to us. We use fresh local ingredients that are in season not only for their taste but because they haven't racked up air miles. We train our staff because we want our business to be around in the future and we want our planet to be around then too.

Our Timeline

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Employment

We are always looking for talented people to join our team. Check out our current vacancies if you think you might fit the bill or contact:
lisa@cateringdept.co.nz
P O Box 22 002, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Ph +64 3 365 2837

FAQs

How many staff will you supply for my guests?

We work out how many staff to send based on the style of your event.  For a seated dinner event, we use 1 staff member per 15 guests but a standing cocktail style event is based on 1 staff per 20 guests.  You can always ask for more too.

What do your staff wear?

Our staff wear black pants and black closed shoes with a white military style shirt, neck open with a brown bib style apron with gold detail.  Staff hair can be in a plait or a bun (but always tied back from their face) and jewellery is kept to a discreet minimum.  Our staff are expected to be well-groomed and tidy.

Do you do all hire and theming?

Simply put, we’ll do whatever you want us to.  We can organise your entire event including venue, hire, theming, set up, flowers, music, and liaise with all of your suppliers, or simply focus on the food and beverage service.  We can be involved as much or as little as you like.

Will you make my favourite dessert from my mother's recipe?

This is a request we get quite often.  For special occasions, people often want food that was special from their childhood.  We are more than happy to reproduce favourite items from family recipes.

What happens to the leftovers?

Any food that has been served and returned to the kitchen is discarded for obvious health reasons.  Other food that is left over is taken away by the chefs to our base kitchen and they will decide what is safe and what needs to be thrown out.  Of the food that is safe, some will be taken to the Christchurch City Mission and some will be used for our staff meals – we find wastage abhorrent.  For any clients wanting the leftover food left at their venue, a Food Liability Waiver must be signed which simply absolves The Catering Dept of any responsibility for its storage and reheating.  However, we reserve the right not to leave high risk items in line with our Food Safety Plan (such as chicken, rice, pork).

When do I have to make my confirmation payment?

Your event and chosen date is not confirmed until a payment is made. You make a confirmation payment when you are ready to commit to The Catering Dept and from there, we will lock in your event.  No details are required to be in place at this time - we can alter menus, play with details and plan as we go along, you simply need to confirm the date.

When is my progress payment due?

If you are required to make a progress payment, your Events Manager will advise you at the start of your planning when and how much is necessary.  Progress payments are due 7 days prior to your event.

When is my final payment due?

The Catering Dept has 7 day payment terms.

Can I pay with my credit card?

You most certainly can!  However there is a 1.5% administration fee added to credit card payments.

Can I supply my own alcohol and what are your license terms?

You can supply your own alcohol however a BYO charge will be applied. This covers the cost of ice but also the ongoing costs of our liquor license management.  Under New Zealand law, as soon as a caterer is on site the event is subject to liquor license legislation and is NOT deemed a private event.  That means our staff manage the service of your alcohol under our Host Responsibility Policy.  We are licensed to serve alcohol at any site in New Zealand from 8am to 1am and this is strictly enforced.

Can I supply some of my own food?

Clients often like to supply some of their own meat from a family farm or speciality goods like crayfish and whitebait.  This is all good with us!  You just need to sign a Food Liability Waiver as the Catering Dept has not had control of its supply.  All red meats and poultry must be handled by a certified abattoir and butcher and, if necessary, we may ask for a copy of certification for our Food Safety Plan requirements.

Our Partners

Sarginson Photography Emma Newman Weddings Holy Smoke Peter Timbs Canterbury Cheesemonger Black Estate Hyde Park Hire Christchurch City Mission Peter May Marquees Susannah Blatchford Photography Hancocks Hayley & Co Lovelight