Vendor Spotlight: Carlton Johnson with Exquisite Taste Catering and Events
Meet Carlton Johnson, the Owner-Operator with Exquisite Taste Catering and Events. For Carlton, his job is his passion, and he takes pride in doing whatever it takes to make his clients’ events absolutely perfect. It’s who he is and what he does!
Tell us a little about your company
Exquisite Taste Catering and Events, established December 2016 by Carlton Johnson, is a full-service catering and event planning company focused on customer satisfaction and quality food products. Our base operational headquarters and our commercial kitchen is located in Historic Petersburg, VA. Exquisite Taste Catering and events, a.k.a. 9 West Old St., is a restored architectural gem that brings back the elegance and southern charm the region is known for by providing exceptional event services situated within the quaint old town Petersburg corridor. 9 West is the ideal setting for Weddings and Receptions, Rehearsal dinners, Reunions, Holiday parties, Corporate Luncheon and Meetings, Socials, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Engagement parties, Showers, and intimate dinners etc.
For seated dinners, the venue can accommodate up to 300 guests and 600 guests theater style. Included in room rental are Chivari Chairs, tables, and linens.
We know that when you choose Exquisite Taste Catering and Events, you have entrusted us with a special occasion in your life and the lives of your guests.
How did you get started in this business?
7 years ago I began my career in the catering and event planning industry with I.K. Catering in Mechanicsville, VA. I fell in love with the profession and took off running. Eager to learn and perfect my craft, I moved up the ranks within the company which resulted in me wanting to start my own company based on my own ideas. After being mentored by Brian Thompson, CPCE, I invested time into what I wanted my company to stand for and be known for within the professional industry.
What’s your favorite wedding story?
June of 2015, I was the event manager on duty for a wedding at Fairview Farms. After working with the bride and her parents for over 9 months, I was asked to dance with the bride at her wedding. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. All I can remember thinking was, “they love me and want to dance with me at her wedding!” I proudly went up and danced with the bride until the groom stepped in and asked if he could have this dance. I thought he was referring to dancing with his beautiful bride, he was asking to dance with me also. LOL! It was an amazing, rewarding feeling that I will forever cherish!
Why do you like working with weddings?
I enjoy working weddings because it is the most important day of the client’s life. To know that I had a hand in making their dreams come true is nothing short of AMAZING and REWARDING. Being privileged to offer my professional advice and expertise knowing that they will cherish this day for the rest of their life, it doesn’t get much better than that! My favorite part of working with weddings is the look of satisfaction on the bride, groom, and parents face at the end of the event knowing that they were satisfied with my professionalism and execution of their event.
What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a couple and how did you resolve it?
The most difficult situation I faced with a couple was the unexpected guest count. The couple confirmed and paid for 150 guests 10 days prior to the wedding. Unfortunately, that was not accurate. The couple moved into their new home 2 months prior to the wedding date and the groom forgot to forward his address. As a result of that mistake, the guest count ended up being 195. I am the caterer. I was only expecting 150 people. The couple was embarrassed and very upset because they thought they would run out of food. Not on my watch! I immediately got in my car and rushed off to headquarters which was an hour away. I called my chefs on my way and informed them of the situation at hand. Luckily, their reception menu was Italian which was GREAT! We were able to get more sauce and pasta made for their pasta bar and I grabbed extra place settings so that everyone was able to eat. Out of the kindness of my heart, I stopped by Walmart on my way back to the wedding venue and picked up assorted cupcakes so they would have enough for everyone. The couple was beyond appreciative as the mothers of both the bride and groom could not stop crying.
It was difficult and I could have very well let them figure it out. I tell all of my clients, “it is their event but once I am hired, it becomes a reflection of my company therefore, it will be as perfect as possible.” I take my career very seriously as I love what I do. I remember the father of the bride coming to me after the wedding was concluded asking how did I pull it off, at that moment I came up with my slogan, “It’s WHO I am, It’s WHAT I do!”
From a vendor’s perspective, what is the one best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?
My best advice to engaged couples is not to stress about trying to please all of your guests. No one is capable of doing that. Keep what is important first, their happiness.
How far in advance should couples book your services?
I advise all of my clients to book sooner rather than later. For weddings, it is my recommendation to book my services at least 9 months out to give them time to make payments and not have a huge chunk of money come out at one time.
What inspires you the most / where do you find inspiration?
My biggest inspiration comes from my clients. I really listen to my clients when they are shooting out ideas and I try my best to make it a reality.
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
The rare time that I am away from work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs. I enjoy cooking dinner and maintaining a clean home.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I am actually a very shy person in front of large groups of people.
You can learn more about Carlton and the rest of his team at Exquisite Taste Catering and Events on their website.
Feature Photo Credit: Jessica Maida