Introduction: Planning a wedding can be very stressful. You do not need to add to the stress by dealing with a sneaky caterer.
Snappy Chef Catering was very unprofessional and a huge disappointment overall. Our wedding was beautiful. Not everything was “perfect,” but it was still a wonderful event and I married a wonderful man. The only sore point in our memories related to our wedding day is Snappy Chef.
We were having our wedding outside and so we looked around at some local caterers and rental companies. There were no online reviews of any local catering companies and we didn’t know anyone who had recently used a caterer. So, we had to use our best judgment based on the various companies’ websites and information that they gave us when we met with them. We finally settled on Snappy Chef. Unfortunately, we didn’t make a good decision. Hopefully this review will help someone else to avoid the same big mistake that we fell into.
Instead of a chronological review like I usually do, I’m going to divide this review into sections dealing with different aspects of Snappy Chef’s service. So, if you feel like you’re being pulled back and forth through time, that is probably why.
There are two key players in my review. HS and YC are both Snappy Chef employees. I’ve decided not to use their real names. The $$ amounts are also rounded approximations for the purpose of making this review simpler to read.
Mistakes: As we were looking for a local caterer for our wedding, we saw Snappy Chef in the phone book and also on the internet. We set up an appointment over the phone, and went to their offices, which are in the Casino at Lakemont Park. Advice: GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING. That’s good advice any time, but especially if you end up having to use Snappy Chef. During this initial meeting several things were told to us simply and matter-of-factly by HS. At this point, Snappy Chef was just one of many companies that we were looking at, and we had gone just to the meeting to get some basic information. So we took notes, but didn’t get anything in writing from Snappy Chef. Much of the information from this meeting (that we based our decisions on) turned out to be lies. Later on, when we started to get very bad feelings about Snappy Chef, it was too close to the date of the wedding to risk being able to find another caterer and rental company.
Tasting: To try Snappy Chef’s food, it costs $30 per person. Because they are not a restaurant, they need to prepare your meals specially. The $30 is supposed to be refunded if you decide to book them for your event. However, there was a wedding show that Snappy Chef held soon after our initial consultation, so we got to try some of their dishes for free. The dishes they had prepared at the show were tasty.
Add-Ons: During our very first meeting: Because of the location of our event, one of the things that we made a point of asking was, “Will you and your caterers need access to electric, special equipment, or anything else?” Answer from HS, “No, not at all. We even have our own Sterno cans, so we won’t even need electricity.” Smile, smile… During a later conversation” HS told us, “We will need a space set-up/tear-down area for our caterers to work out of. Do you have a large kitchen or something? Otherwise, we will have to work out of the back of our truck.” We said that maybe we could clear come space in the shed and they could work from there. During a later meeting HS & YC came to our site and said that the shed would be too far away, we (my husband-to-be and I) could just rent an extra tent for the caterers to use. Renting another tent would have been a big extra expense so we told them to just go ahead and work out of their truck. Suddenly this was unacceptable to Snappy Chef. We said that we would get the garage cleared out for them, and this seemed to placate them. During a later email: After I had told her that we had a space for them in the garage, YC said that we would also need to rent two large buffet tables for the caterers to use in the garage. Yet another unexpected expense. We have some large picnic tables I wrote back and asked YC if the caterers could just use those. She agreed. Although not necessarily a bait-and-switch, it was creepy that everyone at Snappy Chef “forgot to mention” so many things, and then conveniently remembered them one at a time.
Skip the middle-man for a rental company: One of the reasons that we decided on Snappy Chef was that they not only catered food but also rented items such as tents and chairs for events. A one-stop-shop for all of these items seemed convenient. Snappy Chef actually doesn’t rent the items out, they use Best Event Rental in State College. The prices for rental items were comparable to other local places. During our first in-person talk with HS she told us that there would be no delivery charge for the rental items since the rental company would be working through Snappy Chef. That was great news. Our location was a little out-of-the-way, and this would be a nice savings. In a subsequent meeting, we were told that there would be a delivery charge. After a few emails asking for an estimate, I finally got one, and it was not inexpensive. For what it’s worth, the men who delivered the items were great. They were very nice, and set the items up quickly. Best Event seems like a decent company. When the items (tents, tables and chairs) were delivered, they were delivered precisely according to Snappy Chef’s order. We looked at the order that Best Event had brought with them, and the layout was also drawn incorrectly. Snappy Chef had the tent turned the wrong direction even though HS & YC had been at the site and it is apparent that the tent wouldn’t even fit the direction that they had drawn for the rental company. The rental company guys realized that this was wrong, and set up the tent correctly. However, the dance floor and table arrangements were mixed up due to the incorrect drawing. The rental guys also corrected this for us. The items that Best Event delivered were exactly as listed on their delivery sheet. But they weren’t what we had ordered! Snappy Chef had ordered us an extra table and the wrong king of tent! (We had ordered a frame tent, but we were sent a pole tent.) The extra table was annoying and an extra cost, but sending the wrong kind of tent was inexcusable, especially since I had specifically told both HS and YC that I wanted a frame tent several times. The type of tent was something that we had considered carefully. A frame tent was more expensive, but I chose it because I did not want unsightly ropes and a center pole. Best Event was just following directions. So I called Snappy Chef immediately about the incorrect items, but no one answered. On the day of my wedding YC returned my call. Not exactly the time to trade tents…
The big day: The layout (tablecloths, buffet, etc) was very nice. The napkins were folded into little fans, and everything looked pretty. The two servers who they sent were wonderful. They were pleasant and attentive. The food was delicious and plentiful. Snappy Chef also gave us a wedding card, which was a nice touch. If the “management” (I’m not sure if that’s what you would call HS & YC) had not been so deceptive and unpleasant to work worth, we probably would have given them a nice tip.
Surprise fees: During our “negotiations” we kept waiting for a contract. One never appeared. We hadn’t even signed anything reserving our date, so we started to get worried. Taking matters into my own hands, I wrote up an itemized list of everything (meals, tents, etc.) that we had ordered in detail and emailed it to YC. I deliberately changed some of the menu items to see if Snappy Chef had even been keeping track. I got a phone call from YC saying that some of the menu items were different on my list than on Snappy Chef’s list. One continuing theme throughout my conversations with Snappy Chef, both before and after the wedding, was that they were reluctant to talk via email. They wanted to do everything over the phone. I, however, wanted to have our conversations via email so that they would be “in writing.” Perhaps that is exactly why Snappy Chef didn’t want to talk via email. So, I wrote up a “corrected” list of items and sent it back to YC. Along with the list, I asked her for a price total. She sent back the price total of $1300. It was less than I had expected, so I wrote back and said, “We forgot one person for the champagne toast. So that brings our total to $1301.25. Correct?” She replied that it was right, and they were looking forward to the wedding. Wow, cool. Even though they had been annoying, sneaky, and flaky they were giving us a deal for some reason. Some of the prices must have gone down, or some of the items that we didn’t think were included in our package must have been. Right? They wedding day came and my sister, who had been designated to hand out the envelopes (with checks inside) to the vendors, gave us back Snappy Chef’s envelope, along with another envelope from them. She said that it was the bill. Groan. They obviously had added something, or else they would have accepted the check, knowing that we knew how much we were being charged. My new husband and I decided not to look at the bill until after our honeymoon. It still bothered us though, since the company had been so difficult to deal with. So, we discussed it during the honeymoon and decided that even if it was more than what they had quoted us, we would pay it as long as it was under $2000, the amount that we had originally budgeted. After our honeymoon, we opened the bill. $2500! Almost twice the price that YC had sent me in the email. I was furious. Looking at the bill, there were the rental charges, catering charges, 6% PA sales tax and an 18% “off premise charge.” This “off premise charge” was added to everything, even the rental items. So it really would have been better for us to just deal with the rental company directly. This 18% charge had also never been mentioned to us. After that there were numerous emails and phone calls (remember, Snappy Chef apparently doesn’t like the virtual-paper trail that email leaves) between myself and YC, HS, and the owner of the company. I will spare you the painful details and try to sum them up since this review is already quite lengthy. I politely explained the situation, I asked them if they could simply waive the 18% and I would pay the rest, I forwarded emails and I tried to act very business-like and professional by keeping my anger out of the conversations. Snappy Chef implied that I never had any intention of paying any of the bill, threatened me with a collection agency and snail-mailed a “contract” stating the 18% which my husband and I had never even seen, much less signed. HS said that the quote of $1300 was for the rental items only. I forwarded her a copy of the email with YC agreeing to the $1301.25 figure (The champagne toast would have been included in Snappy Chef’s catering fees, not Best Event’s rental fees.) to no avail. HS also told me that I had looked at their website, and since the 18% charge was listed there I should consider myself informed about it. The nerve! As if I read (and memorized) every word of every website of every wedding vendor that I had looked at for the wedding.
I was/am quite sure that I was in the right. If we had gone to court, I am sure that I at least would not have had to pay the ridiculous 18% mark-up charge. In the end, though, about one month after the wedding, we mailed Snappy Chef a check for the full amount. I hated giving in, especially when I knew that they were such a creepy company, and felt that they had deliberately deceived us. However, starting a marriage with so much additional stress really was a bad thing. And just checking my email and voicemail had begun to make me shake and my blood boil, thinking that it might be Snappy Chef. So my husband and I decided to just pay it. $500 was an amount worth fighting for, in my opinion, but my husband’s thoughts were that the time and stress made it not worth fighting for.