Chef Aaron Butler: Owner of Creations Catering & Events

Creations Catering & Events | Central Florida Wedding Caterer | Central Florida Wedding Photography

He goes by Chef Aaron now, but when he began his culinary adventures, he would have been known as Seaman Butler. From high school, he went into the Navy and straight to his ship’s kitchen, where he first learned to cook, entirely from scratch. By the time he left the Navy after four years of service, he realized he wanted to make a career as a chef.

Well, either that or a judge.

Becoming a chef won out, and he worked his way toward that title with a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales. Back then, he couldn’t see himself running a catering company. In fact, after working for Arthur’s Catering in Orlando for a while, Chef Aaron told his brother that he never, ever wanted to work in catering again. It was just too much stress and too much trouble.

And then Chef Aaron opened Creations Catering & Events.

Ten years later, he’s built his Central Florida catering company into one of the most popular in the region, earning a Bride’s Choice award from The Knot and landing on the preferred vendors list at dozens of choice Orlando area wedding venues. And last Tuesday, Danny and I had the pleasure of finding out why.

We visited Chef Aaron, plus Aimee and Monica, who handle the event planning side of the company, at Creations’ home base, a storefront in quaint downtown Sanford. We laughed a lot, talked shop, and got a behind the scenes look into Chef Aaron’s kitchen (lots of steel, lots of flames, lots of tantalizing aromas). Meanwhile, I whipped out my digital recorder and slipped back into my old job of interviewer/reporter.

LAURA: Tell me a little bit about how you got into doing catering for weddings and events.

CHEF AARON: I just had a pretty strong grip on it because I started out in the field. I liked it a lot. It wasn’t redundant; it’s different every time. So that’s what I really liked about it. And making people happy at their weddings — that’s pretty much why we do this.

LAURA: What are some of the things you think couples can do to make it easier for them to plan their wedding?

CHEF AARON: Set forth a budget and really think about everything that goes into their wedding, like everything from the DJ to the caterer to the limousine to the photographer. And you’ve got to add all those things up. Cause that’s what happens a lot of times — they start with [one vendor] without thinking it through, and by the time they get to one of their other vendors, they’re down to nothing, and that’s one of the worst things you can do.
LAURA: I’m guessing that caterers need to come pretty early in the planning, because the food is such a major portion of the budget, right?

CHEF AARON: They do, but there’s not really like a rule that’s followed. . . . You always try to figure out, okay, what steps are they going in? It seems like we do [sometimes] end up last. And it is unfortunate.

LAURA: What do you tell couples they can do with their food that in and of itself will help make their wedding run smoothly?

CHEF AARON: Let me say it like this: You’ve got to please everybody. If you like spicy-spicy food, I wouldn’t say put that on your menu. What we can do is we can suggest, hey, we can make your meal the way you want it, and then make everything else crowd-pleasing. The last thing you want is Grandpa over there complaining, “I can’t eat it! It’s too spicy!” Or whatever it is — seafood, a lot of times people don’t like seafood. We might suggest putting that into the hors d’oeuvres portion and then sticking to things most people do like, like chicken and beef. It’s all about knowing your client. . . . I do ask them, “What is your family like?” and we do have a questionnaire we give them so we can find out if there are any allergies ahead of time.
LAURA: Can you explain some of the differences between what your work as a caterer is and the work chefs do in traditional restaurants?

CHEF AARON: People don’t really understand the difference between having something catered and going to a restaurant. If you go to a restaurant, they prepare the food and it comes right out to you, while catering, we start two or three days ahead and we end up finishing usually a day or two afterward. We have to prepare [the food] to a certain point, get it loaded up in the vehicles, take it there, finish it there, and then come back and break it all back down. It’s a very time-consuming process. People don’t see the behind the scenes things.

LAURA: When you have multiple weddings at the same time, the way you do in October, how does your workflow go since it takes several days to get ready for each wedding?

CHEF AARON: We spend a good solid day just planning how it’s going to happen, then everybody takes their part and makes it go smooth. We’ve never had any disasters!

No disasters, even though they frequently have their hands full, as they will this coming weekend — when Creations Catering & Events is handling three weddings, each with over 200 guests. And while it might require a lot more work than those of us who don’t spend time in a caterer’s kitchen realize, Chef Aaron whips up some absolute culinary masterpieces. He’s been whipping up his own dinners at work recently, too, and taking them home to his wife and their two-week-old daughter.

And then the best part of the afternoon: After we wrapped up photographing all the delicious looking entrees — seared ahi tuna with a sesame crust, pesto chicken with potato croquettes, Dijon pork chops, fresh sea scallops — he fed us. That’s right. He sliced and diced through each beautiful dish, divvying it up onto five plates so we could all sit down and enjoy his feast for lunch. And if I thought the food looked good . . . wow.

Once I tasted it (especially that incredible ahi tuna!) I have to admit, I got a little jealous of Aimee and Monica. Oh how nice to have a job where your co-worker is constantly creating such mouthwatering masterpieces. . . .

Want another testament to how amazing this food was? Danny and I had planned to hang out in Orlando for the rest of the afternoon so we could grab some pho noodles for an early dinner, because pho noodles are undeniably Danny’s favorite food in the whole world. But mid-lunch, while enjoying Chef Aaron’s handy work (again — that tuna!), Danny scrapped that idea. There was no way he would be leaving a single millimeter of space in his stomach.
Based on how much fun we had and what excellent food we enjoyed, we can’t wait to recommend Creations Catering & Events to couples who want to serve a delicious meal to their wedding guests. And we really can’t wait until we work a wedding together — when we’ll get to sample some more of Chef Aaron’s great recipes. (Note to said future wedding’s bride and groom: Ask for the tuna!)
I’ll just end with a huge thank you to Chef Aaron, Aimee, and Monica! Check them out:

Creations Catering & Events
Headquarters: 112 West Second Street, Sanford, FL 32771
Telephone: (407) 328-4242
Also check out their website, blog, and find them on Facebook.

~ Laura

In The News, Private Events, Weddings

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