Cuisine

Philosophy

Calihan Catering emphasizes creative gourmet cuisine, impeccable service and innovative event concepts that set the mood and spirit for memorable events. For over twenty five years our clients have come to rely on our gourmet culinary expertise for intimate dinners, personalized weddings, corporate events, social fundraisers and contractual dining.

Our Chicago based company has catered events of 2-5,000 guests in a vast array of venues. We are one of Chicago's largest private catering facilities with a renovated 20,000-square-foot building — including an 8,000 square foot state-of-the-art kitchen — on Goose Island.

The unique Calihan mindset begins with the desire to make each event completely distinct. There is no repetition of menus or creative concepts, no boilerplate menus, or pre-set, cookie-cutter options to limit your choices. Memorable, customized events are our goal.

Signature touches include the use of the highest quality seasonal ingredients, delivering exactly what was promised, working spotlessly, and leaving your venue (including your own kitchen) more pristine than it was before we arrived. Our aim is to evoke the quality of a four star restaurant, created to your specifications.

Collaborating with you, we help to simplify the exciting and sometimes overwhelming challenge of planning and hosting by meeting your expectations with imagination, innovation and a superb attention to detail. Qualified sales representatives and chefs work with you to create simple and elegant parties. An experienced and friendly waitstaff serves your guests with grace and individual attention. Our goal is that you able to enjoy your event along with your guests.

Menus

Our kitchen of internationally trained chefs, create seasonal menus with quality products. Our food is prepared fresh — never frozen — and is cooked on site at your event, ensuring the best possible flavor.

Our breads and pastries are baked in our own kitchens under the watchful eye of our award winning pastry chef. Our representatives, working with both the clients and the chefs, keep in mind the season, the nature of the products and the timeframe of the event to create menus adapted to each specific function.

Our sample menus — organized by season and number of guests, or by weddings — are available for download. They reflect our distinctive culinary style and service, benchmarks of Calihan Catering's reputation since 1986.

Our team's approach is to create menus to please any palate or to personalize the event with your favorite recipes. We also suggest alternative dishes for dazzling meals that each of your guests will enjoy. We will meet any special need, be it a religious dietary requirement, an allergy, or popular paleo style dishes.

Signature Dishes

Calihan Catering focuses on creating gourmet cuisine that is imaginative, yet still accessible. Our team works together to identify a wide variety of dishes that reflect the diversity of American culture.

Our chefs are experienced, internationally trained and constantly research cookbooks, magazines and events to bring the best and newest ideas to your party. We reinterpret familiar, classic recipes with flair and a touch of whimsy while exploring more avant-garde trends in cuisine, using them as inspiration in bringing the freshest ideas to your table.

Our menus are both comforting and engaging, allowing your guests to try new flavors and savor updates of old favorites. Presented here are three of our signature dishes that showcase familiar ingredients in up-to-date variations, as well as new dishes that will surprise and delight your guests.

Kitchen

Walk into our tasting room, bathed in natural sunlight, and through a set of glass doors to an 8,000 square foot state-of-the-art kitchen, one of the largest and best equipped in the city. This is where our culinary magic occurs.

Our cuisine is based on the freshest and highest quality products available. Our team of accomplished international culinarians embraces traditional sensibilities while exploring new techniques, flavors and presentations. All hor d'oeuvres are hand made with care. Fish and meats are smoked on the premises. Butchers fabricate our meat, poultry and seafood. Stocks, sauces, and soups are made daily.

The kitchen is designed to enhance culinary opportunities. Several thousand square feet of walk-in cooler accommodate the various products that arrive daily from around the country. Toward the rear of the kitchen is our pastry shop, where our breads — as well as desserts — are baked in the large deck oven. Our awarding winning pastry chef, Pedro Gomez, hand makes chocolates, candies and desserts in our climate controlled chocolate & sugar room.

Gourmet Vendors

One of the things that make Calihan Catering truly unique is the energy we put into our relationships with our purveyors. We are constantly looking to obtain the best ingredients possible for our clients' event. There is no substitute for the freshest ingredients direct from farmers, or the food brokers who represent them.

One of our seafood purveyors has two halibut boats in Alaska. They send us incredible fish daily. Another specialty fish house produced unbelievable domestic sturgeon caviar. They also provide pristine lake trout that comes from a snow lake in Canada. Our two meat companies supply us with a wide variety of meats and poultry such as Chicago Game and Gourmet (www.gourmet123.com).

We currently use three different importers that supply everything from chocolate to olives as well as our fresh mozzarella that we get weekly from Italy. The Great American Cheese Company (www.greatamericancheese.com) provide some of the most incredible artisan cheese you can imagine.  We also have a specialty purveyor who supplies us with all our rice and grains.

One of our local vendors, the Chef's Garden (www.chefs-garden.com) in Huron Ohio, has one of the most cutting edge farms in the world. They also operate the Culinary Vegetable Institution (www.culinaryvegetableinstitute.com), an educational and experimental farm program that really nourishes the relationship between the farm and the kitchen. The Chef's Garden grows hundreds of varieties of vegetables as well as herbs and lettuces.

We are constantly inspired by amazing produce and foodstuffs are always looking for vendors who offer quality products. If you have a product that you would like us to consider, please contact Calihan Catering at inquires@calihancatering.com.


Services

Weddings

Let us help to make your wedding a joyful experience for everyone — especially for you. On this of all days, you should be free to focus on enjoying yourself, your family and friends. Let us take care of the details.

Our chefs will customize menus to please any palate or personalize an event with favorite recipes and alternative dishes for an unforgettable meal. A tasting in our showroom kitchen will help to determine the cuisine and the fit and finish of your event in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Our flexible representatives can guide you through the process of planning and organizing the necessary services for the wedding date. Having years of experience in the field, we can help recommend almost any service you may need, including wedding cakes, wedding planners, musicians, and transportation services.

On the day of the event a fleet of trucks will be on hand to deliver any last minute requests, whether it is to accommodate unexpected attendees, or fetch the ingredients for a favorite martini. Our culinary staff will be on hand to make sure that the meal is exquisite and the wedding cake is beautifully served.

Our function directors, most of who have been with us for close to 10 years, will ensure that the reception runs smoothly. Any last minute changes — an unexpected toast, a favorite song, or another photo opportunity — will be monitored and adjusted for so that the bride and groom have only visions of their honeymoon to worry about. We will make sure that you will enjoy your special day.

Residential

Your best entertainment opportunities may be hiding in your own dining room or back yard. Be a guest at your own party. No matter if you are planning a special meal with a special someone or having thirty for dinner, Calihan Catering can relieve the anxiety that often accompanies "entertaining at home."

Our savvy representatives will come right your home to help advise you on how to best utilizes what you may already own. Don't let a small kitchen hinder your entertaining plans — your garden or laundry room will often provide us with the needed "prep" space. Our services include — but are not limited to — developing the menu, determining how will the party flow, where will the bar be and planning down to the smallest detail.

We can even help you to organize your own settings and linens and help to rent to supplement what you currently have. No detail will be overlooked through a complete team of service professionals who will make sure you are able to enjoy your guests and yourself. You will not have to even worry about the dishes or clean up as our staff will put your home back the way they found it.

Events

Events are celebrations of significant life, cultural and professional events. They come with all the hopes, expectations, joys and possible headaches imaginable. Should you find yourself the chairperson of such an event, our focused and accessible sales representatives can arrange a meeting with you or the personnel in charge of your party to help coordinate the services you may require.

Our helpful Function Director — pre-briefed about your party — will be on hand to guide you through the foodservice so that you can tend to other needs during the event. We will review the timing, dietary needs of guests, wine service and programs you have in mind. We will also review possible pitfalls and quirks you may encounter along the way and determine ways to avoid them. A menu to fit the scope of your event, and the style and theme of the party will be developed to fit your specific criteria.

Do you need special linen to create a mood? Is extra space needed to display auction items? Will there be dancing? Whatever the event, our representatives know the questions to ask to enhance the party flow. We can help to make sure that your speakers are heard, your attendees are well fed and that you are able to enjoy the party along with your guests.

Corporate Dining

A new approach to corporate catering provides a refreshing and tempting alternative to office lunches by vending machines and ordering by number. Calihan Catering has extensive experience in corporate catering services. Many companies are rethinking their employees leaving the office for lunches that are high in saturated ingredients and extended lunches that affect productivity. They are reviewing delivered and served healthy and inviting menus at the office.

With the specific needs and expectations of a company in mind, we develop programs that include customized menus, individualized pricing and staffing. From meetings to associate lunches and special events, we prepare everyday favorites such as macaroni and cheese, sandwiches and soups, to more elaborate courses — all done to the needs and expectations of each individual client through a "full service" approach to corporate dining.

We also offer daily contractual dining programs for companies that want to offer their employees convenient, yet excellent food services on their premises. By taking responsibility for our product from beginning to end, we feel that we offer a superior service to seemingly similar programs.


Venues

Residential

Calihan Catering has fulfilled many requests for events within our clients' homes. Over the past few years, these events have increased, reflecting a trend towards seeking a sense of personal hospitality and intimacy while entertaining. We understand that your home is important and we take care of each room from set-up, service and clean-up. We take great pride is making sure that your home is left as intact and clean as it was before the event (or maybe even a little cleaner!).

Sometimes the most creative events can be held right outside your backdoor. Enclosures for your outdoor space can expand your entertaining horizons. Small freestanding tents can grace a driveway, terrace or large balcony. Even a garage can be turned into a salon with the help of a florist with yards of material, carpeting twinkle lights and furniture. Whether planning a dinner for 8 or a reception for over 100 our representatives can help guide you as to how to maximize a home event.


I used Calihan Catering for a surprise 80th birthday party for my husband. I cannot say enough great things about the entire experience of working with them. John Calihan was extremely helpful in planning the event and working through practical issues of the menu, budget and the logistics. The on-site team was fantastic, the food was terrific, and my guests had a wonderful experience. The company truly lived up to its long-standing reputation for great, imaginative food and superior service.
— Heidi S.