Recipe for Success
Eatible Delights aims to turn any catered event into an experience that clients and their guests will want to remember
by Bill Donahue

Earlier this year, David K. Simms’ Philadelphia-based catering company, Eatible Delights, catered a company picnic that was, in a word, unforgettable. Over the course of five days, Simms and his team served approximately 3,500 people at Estee Lauder’s corporate offices in Bristol and Trevose. The event was “truly an orchestration” six months in the making, and Simms says it turned out beautifully.

As the winter holidays—and prime catering season—draw nearer, families and business owners will begin pondering how to make their upcoming get-togethers special. Based on his success with the Estee Lauder picnic and hundreds of other successful events before it, Simms believes his company possesses the skill, experience and “outside-the-box thinking” needed to make any event one worth remembering.

“It may be every caterer’s dream, but our goal and objective is to provide clients with an experience they can take away and reflect upon for years to come,” he says. “That means the food will be good, the linens will be clean and there will be a certain something you might not expect. In some cases that might mean fresh flowers and centerpieces on the table or an extra item on the menu that they didn’t know would be there, or maybe it’s a unique presentation they haven’t seen before.”

In late August, Eatible Delights catered a wedding reception at the African American Museum in the city’s historic district—an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, a sit-down plated dinner and dessert—for two newlyweds and 120 of their guests. Simms said it went very well because of the pre-event preparation: delivering the china, flatware and silverware the day before, as well as arriving three hours prior to the reception to set up and prepare the hors d’oeuvres. But, as with every Eatible Delights client, Simms and his team also provided a bit more.

“We found the venue, we found the photographer, we found the DJ, we provided the food, we provided the pastry chef,” he says of the August wedding. “That’s normal. We don’t have our own formal banquet hall, so we continue to work on becoming the preferred caterer of several different venues. We have to work hard so we remain competitive against other, larger caterers.”

Besides the African American Museum, Eatible Delights often caters events at notable nearby venues such as the National Museum of American Jewish History and the National Liberty Museum, as well as the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station and the Venetian Social Club in Chestnut Hill. It also caters events in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., and all throughout the Philadelphia suburbs.

Although service and presentation are hallmarks of Eatible Delights, it truly stands apart with its food. Simms, a self-taught chef who gained experienced in Philadelphia-area restaurants, takes the lead in preparing client menus. His specialties include grilled salmon, Dijon chicken salad and brisket of beef, plus signature sides such as sweet potato whip with grand marnier sauce and heirloom tomato salad.

“Whenever I meet with a client, it’s always an interview process—an education process,” he says. “Sometimes people don’t know what to expect from a caterer, whether it’s what they should expect to spend or what they should put on the menu. We let them know exactly what they’re going to get; it’s like packing up a restaurant, creating an experience and bringing that experience right to you.

“Sometimes people have an idea what they want in terms of the menu, but I prefer to create menus for clients,” he continues. “It goes back to the education process. I had one client who wanted three types of chicken on the menu, but that makes you look like you have no imagination and you never want it to look to the guest that you’re an incompetent caterer. As culinary experts, it’s our job to create a menu that is going to impress your guests.”

As far as Simms is concerned, the relationship between the caterer and client must be built on trust, value and mutual respect—and the relationship, he believes, needs to be nurtured in order to be sustained. With any new client, members of his office staff learn the intimate details for the event and work with clients to firm up all details so there are no surprises on the day of the event. But the relationship doesn’t end once a client’s event has ended.

“If you did business with me last year, you will get a Christmas card from me with a coupon for a certain percentage off for an upcoming event,” he says. “I thoroughly believe a relationship has to be one of reciprocity, so if you are ordering from me four to five times a year and I can’t send you a complimentary lunch tray as a thank you, then that’s not a good relationship.”

Eatible Delights has gained significant exposure as of late. Simms was recently featured on CBS Talk Philly. He was interviewed by co-hosts Pat Ciarrocchi and Ukee Washington and for a segment about “grilling outside the box” for Labor Day, wowing viewers with recipes for grilled salmon with orange-pineapple demi-glace, grilled vegetables and seafood salad.

In the near future, food lovers will have a chance to taste Simms’ cooking in person. Eatible Delights will participate in two October culinary events—namely, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s PHeaSt at the Navy Yard and the Whiskey and Fine Spirits Festival at Lincoln Financial Field. Also, for the eighth consecutive year, Eatible Delights will support this year’s American Red Cross Red Ball, which will be held in March.

Public appearances aside, it’s business as usual for Simms: making sure each event is an experience that his clients and their guests will want to remember for a long time.

“People have already started thinking about their Christmas parties,” he says. “Now is the time to start calling and making arrangements. If it’s a bigger event you have in the works, you want to call someone like me a year in advance because it’s not just about bringing food; it’s about making people say, ‘Now that was a great event.’”

Eatible Delights Catering
215-236-3900 |

Photograph by Alison Dunlap