D.C. Gigs: Catering to Washington's Powerful


We move now from local food to fancy food and the behind-the-scenes folks who keep Washington's party scene running smoothly. Paul Varga, of Occasions Caters, has worked more of the city's weddings, fundraisers and assorted shindigs than he can count. And over the past 15 years he's had some pretty unique opportunities you could only find working in the District. In this month's editions of "D.C. Gigs," producer Marc Adams caught up with Varga as he supervised preparations for a catered wedding and reception at the Melon Auditorium in Northwest D.C.


My name is Paul Varga and I am the assistant general manager for Occasions Caters. I started off in this business about 15 years ago as a waiter and worked my way up to captain and then what we call lead captain, a person who has multiple captains underneath. I was running events up to about 6,500 guests. What kind of glasses are those?


Red wine.


Red wine, great. It's going to be a long day, a big process and it's quite enjoyable though. I mean, at the end of the day you close the door on a building and that event is done and it went well and the client was happy. I mean, so yes, that project's completed. I did a great job. The other day I supervised a 16 year-old girl's Sweet 16 party and then later on today, I'll be supervising a wedding for about 150 people. I've also -- I've run events where we've had the president as a guest and a couple of thousand other guests as well.


Those are events in particular we really are thinking about every move we make. You know, you don't want to drop a piece of asparagus on the president's lap, you know. You don't want to clang a glass too loudly or something like that when they're having a very serious discussion. When we have high-profile people such as the president at one of our events I kind of get goosebumps when I think about it.


There's a lot of planning, there's a lot of intensity. For me it's quite a unique experience. I've been right next to the president or a president in the past, you know, where he's told me a little joke about the food I was serving him and I got a completely different perspective of that president, like, wow he's a pretty funny guy, seems nice and, you know, I see him on television every day but I've actually seen him in person and had some interaction.


William, how's it going? The game plan ready to go?


Everything good, 80 percent set up. We need tomorrow (unintelligible) .


We have guests in about three hours.


Guests in three, all right. well, we're looking good.


The job is -- of being event supervisor is incredibly stressful and someone has to be able manage one's stress. One also has to be very adaptable to change. One of the key components of any cater event is that things will change. You know that that will happen so you go in with your game plan, you have everything laid out as, like, this is how I want things to happen and then you're prepared for the fact that something will change. It could be large or small and you will handle it. You will think on your feet very quickly and make sure that everything still flows seamlessly.


That was Paul Varga of Occasions Caters, talking with producer Marc Adams. To see photos of Varga getting ready for that wedding at the Melon Auditorium, go to our website, And if you have a distinctively D.C. gig you think we should feature, we want to hear about it. Our email address is You also can post a note on our Facebook page or if tweeting is more your thing, Tweet us. You can find us at wamumetro.
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