You know who my new favorite caterer is? Mission BBQ. We just worked with them again last weekend, and no, they haven’t asked me to write this. In fact, I haven’t even met the owners. I hear they’re nice guys. It’s not that their food was great—though it was—And it’s not that they did anything unusually helpful for us during the wedding either. Let me explain.

The Mission BBQ team working the wedding over the weekend didn’t see the other vendors working that night as just some extra plates to fill—we were fans to win over. While virtually every caterer will fill a plate for their vendor colleagues eventually, Mission BBQ saw that a plate of food wasn’t what the vendors needed. We weren’t guests at this wedding with the luxury of getting to sit down and engage with the meal. Rather, we needed something portable. Something we could pick up whenever the moment happened to be right. Something that would still be there waiting for us if we wandered off. Something that the food industry is already well acquainted with… To-go boxes.

You see, though the wedding was tons of fun, it was so hot out and the events of the day were so fast paced, I didn’t get to sit down for a bite to eat at all—as is often the case. I’d worked with Mission BBQ’s staff all day, but we hadn’t made any remarkable connections and they were poised to drift into distant mild ambiguity along with most catering companies we work with. But before we left for the day, one of their friendly staff members handed us three boxes of food to eat on the way home, one for each photographer and our assistant. I waited until getting home and then propped my feet up, and took a first bite. It was magical. Suddenly the whole experience of working with them was tied to something surprisingly meaningful: my need to eat, and a consideration for the practicality of that need.

As a photographer, I want the vendors I work with to see and share the images I create. So after we’ve delivered photos to the couple, I share the images with the vendors we worked with as well. They get to share them, and promote their product and we get a wider audience. And this is exactly what Mission BBQ did that left me so very impressed. They gave broad consideration to what we would need in order to appreciate their work, and having been given that consideration, I did appreciate their work. It was delicious, even reheated.

Between no significant mishaps, a very thoughtful staff, and food I can actually vouch for first hand (thanks to a small but significant change to their process), I’ll recommend Mission BBQ catering any day.

So to my friends in the many catering businesses with which we’ve had passing contact, and have since lost touch with, think about what Mission BBQ did there. I’m not sure they do that at every wedding, but I am sure that most of you do not. But you should. We always exchange business cards with you, and you inevitably see our work, but we often never taste your food. At least not really taste it. We taste it while running from one side of the room to another and in the fleeting moments between the bouquet toss and when your staff mistakenly busses the half-eaten plate. We don’t get to taste it in a way that we can say “damn, we gotta tell people about this”.

But maybe we could, if you put it in a box.