Jason and I are part of a small group of couples from our church that regularly meet together. Every year we have a potluck Christmas party. This year, we decided to cater instead of cook!
I LOVE Chipotle and polled our group to be sure everyone shared my sentiment. With their agreement, I went to the Chipotle website to look at catering options.
There are three catering options available in my geographical location.
1. Build Your Own
2. Burritos By the Box (6-19 burritos)
3. Burritos By the Box (20+ burritos)
I chose the Build Your Own Option. Within this option there are three options, Single, Double, or Triple. The following is quoted from my local store at the Chipotle website. Prices may vary in other locations.
$8.50 Create your own tacos, bowls, and salads. Start by choosing between crispy corn or soft flour tortillas and picking ONE of our proteins (chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa, sofritas, or guacamole). Then, pick TWO bases (white rice, brown rice, salad lettuce, black beans, or pinto beans), TWO toppings (fajita veggies, cheese, or sour cream), and TWO salsas (fresh tomato, tomatillo-green chili, tomatillo red-chili, or roasted chili-corn).
$10.50 Create your own tacos, bowls, and salads. Like the Single, you’ll get to pick TWO bases, TWO salsas, and your choice of tortilla. Then, select TWO proteins (chicken, carnitas, steak, barbacoa, sofritas, or guacamole) and choose THREE toppings (taco lettuce, fajita veggies, cheese, or sour cream). The Double also comes with chips and your choice of guacamole or queso.
$12.50 Create your own tacos, bowls, and salads. Pick THREE proteins (chicken, carnitas, steak, barbacoa, sofritas, or guacamole), and get all the toppings (fajita veggies, cheese, or sour cream) and bases (white rice, brown rice, salad lettuce, black beans, or pinto beans). The Triple also comes with chips, guacamole, queso, salad vinaigrette, crispy corn and soft flour tortillas, and all four salsas.”
I ordered the Triple Option for 10 people. For $125 (pre-tax), my order consisted of:
1 Cilantro – Lime White Rice
1 Cilantro – Lime Brown Rice
1 Black Beans
1 Pinto Beans
1 Romaine Salad Lettuce
1 Fajita Veggies
2 Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Sour Cream
2 Fresh Tomato Salsa
1 Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa
1 Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa
1 Crispy Corn Shells
1 Soft Flour Tortillas
Here is where I went wrong.
In writing, that looks like a massive amount of food, right? It costs around $7 for a generously portioned burrito bowl for lunch when I eat in at the Chipotle restaurant. I anticipated that for twice the price per person, that the portions would be generous.
I wrongly assumed that by ordering the triple, the quantities of food would be increased per person as opposed to the single or the double, so that there would be enough food for people to easily pick their favorites and there would be plenty to go around. In reality, when we picked up the food, I checked the amounts of food that I had been given. I looked at my husband in horror and said, “This is not going to be enough food!”
We went back into the store and I asked about the portion sizes for the triple order. I was told that each person gets 4 ounces of meat. So, I got 40 ounces of meat (they actually weigh it!), but the 40 ounces of meat was divided between chicken, steak and carnitas. So, essentially I got 3.3 servings of chicken, 3.3 servings of steak and 3.3 servings of carnitas. The steak and chicken were in the large containers, but it is important to note that these containers were not full. The meat just covered the bottom of the containers. I got a full small container of black beans and a full small container of pinto beans. It appeared that I got around 5 servings of white rice and 5 servings of brown rice. Each of the large rice containers were full. Essentially, we got extra options, but not extra food aside from the chips and dips for $4 extra per person that I paid for the triple versus the single ordering option. I was disappointed with this reality.
I don’t ever want to run out of food when I am responsible for feeding people, so I ordered 5 more servings of chicken, steak, black beans, pinto beans, white rice and brown rice. This added an extra $50 to the price I had already paid.
How did the serving sizes play out?
In reality, I discovered that by the time the ten adults got their food, the original meat amounts may have come close to being adequate. The problem was, hardly anyone ate carnitas. So, the original amounts of chicken and steak would have not been enough.
I placed the containers of the extra 5 servings of meat on top of the containers holding the smaller 3.3 servings that we had originally purchased when we were serving. The 5 servings of chicken were gone in addition to opening and taking some of the original 3.3 servings container. There was some steak left in the 5 serving container and the original container was not opened.
We had two large containers of brown rice and two large containers of white rice after ordering extra of each. The original 5 servings of brown rice was not enough. You can see above that there is about a half of one large container left. The original 5 servings of white rice was just right. We had the additional full large container of white rice remaining.
Our original order of black and pinto beans came in a full small container each. I added those small containers to the additional beans we ordered, which were served in the larger containers. The combination of the two orders filled the large containers. You can see that the pinto beans were hardly touched, but the combination of the two orders of black beans was almost gone.
One small container of sour cream was not enough. We ran out of sour cream.
I was glad that I ordered 2 of the cheese because 1 would have not been enough. The large cheese containers were not filled to capacity. That was just the container size. I didn’t measure the amount we received.
There were plenty of fajitas veggies in the small container.
There was just a little fresh tomato salsa remaining, having ordered 2 of those. The 2 portions were combined in a large container, but the container was not filled to capacity.
Hardly anyone ate the green chili salsa. There was a little corn salsa left over.
A few people ate some small taco sized soft shells (extras not pictured). I am not sure anyone ate the hard shells. Most people ate burrito bowls.
There were some chips remaining, a few spoonfuls of guacamole and about a 1/3 of the queso left. Hardly anyone ate the “salad.” It was essentially just a bowl of lettuce. I don’t think anyone even touched the salad dressing. Because I ordered extra food, there was plenty of food in the long run, but the amount of food from the original order would have left some people without many options. And, I would’ve been embarrassed at running out.
What did Chipotle do well?
The order was ready for pick up at the scheduled time. The food containers are good quality for take out. There were a plethora of bowls napkins and forks. Seriously, there were so many, we may have only used half of them. There were tongs or a serving spoons provided for each serving container. Chipotle had the hot food separated from the cold food. They also had a cardboard box to help carry the food to the car.
What would I do differently in ordering?
Honestly, in the future, for a group this size, I will likely just have them write down their individual order for me and place a to go order for the specific requests. Then I would order chips, queso and guacamole. It would save a lot of money and we wouldn’t run out of someone’s favorite.
If I were to order from the triple tier again for a group of ten, this is what my order would look like based on our experience.
2 – chicken, 1 – steak, 2 – brown rice, 2 – black beans, 1 – pinto beans, 2- cheese, 2- sour cream, 1 – guacamole, 1 – queso, 3 – fresh tomato salsa, 1 – chili corn salsa, and 2 soft shells. This will also come with a bag of chips.
So what am I really telling you?
I don’t think I would choose to cater like this again with Chipotle. My experience is that the in store portions are a much much better value than what I received through the catering package.
Even though, I didn’t love the catering value, you know I will be back for lunch!