Vendor Spotlight - SBR Events Group

We’re sure you’ve had the famous Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, but have you ever heard of SBR Events Group? We sat down with Lauren Winkler, catering and events consultant, and Duce Raymond, director of culinary, for a one-on-one interview. Scroll through to learn more about SBR Group!

Tell us about Sweet Baby Ray’s Events Group:
“We are a collection of two catering companies, Sweet Baby Ray’s Catering and True Cuisine Catering, and a sauce company called Duce’s Wild, all under one name, SBR Events Group. These companies work together to bring our clients’ culinary needs, and vision, to life.”

How did you transition from being a BBQ company into catering?
Duce’s dad is the chef that created the Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. Duce’s Uncle, Dave Raymond, ran the sauce business for 20 years with his business partner, Mike Obrien. “They started with $2,000 and a dream. In 20 years they their small sauce company to a 30 million dollar brand. About 17 years ago, we sold Sweet Baby Ray’s to Ken’s Foods and, since that time Sweet Baby Ray’s has grown from a 30 million dollar brand to a 600 million dollar brand. Statistically speaking, Sweet Baby Ray’s is the best-selling barbecue sauce in retail history and they sell more than the next 7 sauces combined!

Although we sold the sauce business over a decade ago, we obtained the rights to use the Sweet Baby Rays name for restaurants and catering. In 2005, we opened a little BBQ Restaurant here in Wood Dale, where we focus on serving great smoked meats simply prepared and pair them with our awesome sauces. Catering was a natural progression for us as we began selling our food in bulk quantities. The local community began asking us to cater their home parties and picnics and it was then that we discovered a need for supplying food on a larger scale. In 2010, we bought True Cuisine Catering, a well-known local boutique catering company that allowed us to cater not only great barbecue, but also cater to a more high-end demographic of customers.

As we continued to grow into more of a full service catering company, accommodating our clients with more than just food, we developed SBR Events Group to encompass all of our brands; Sweet Baby Ray’s catering, True Cuisine, and Duce’s Wild BBQ Sauces.”

What is the difference between Sweet Baby Ray’s catering and True Cuisine?
“Sweet Baby Ray’s Catering is well-known for its barbecue offerings. We pride ourselves on being the type of caterer that offers a fun and interactive experience for our clients and their guests. We provide catering for all types of events including picnics, pig roasts, cocktail parties, corporate events, wedding receptions and even BBQ-themed weddings!

Our second catering company, True Cuisine, started as a custom, high-end cuisine catering company based out of Wheaton. True Cuisine allowed us to enhance our menu offerings ten-fold, allowing us to have an increased variety of cuisine choices for our clients. The True Cuisne menu offerings range from South American, Korean, to Italian and Latin. This brand lends itself to more elevated and elegant types of events, such as corporate cocktail receptions, weddings, showers, intimate dinner parties, bar or bat mitzvahs, or, any type of event that is thrown our way!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Sweet Baby Ray’s and True Cuisine?
“One of the great advantages of offering two catering brands is that we have the ability to mix and match our different cuisines. All of the food and equipment comes out of our Wood Dale facility and we utilize the same event staff for both brands. In addition, our clients work with a dedicated sales consultant, well-versed to toggle between both brand offerings, and it is the same culinary and operations team that support the event evolution.

As a custom caterer, we have the ability to create unique menu pairings based on what our clients are looking for. If a client is envisioning a Mediterranean theme, for example, our talented culinary team will propose a variety menu options that would best suit their request, with a heavy emphasis on Greek, Italian, and Spanish influenced fare. We have even incorporated our clients’ family recipes into the mix on a few occasions!

We pride ourselves on offering our clients and guests the freshest food possible, minimizing our inventory of frozen product, and therefore, providing every person at every event a true-“scratch-made”-cuisine experience!

What is your most popular dish?
“Our signature Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue fondue station is one of our most popular sellers! This unique station allows guests to sample small portions of our various smoked meats and pair them with one of five sauces from our Duce’s Wild and Sweet Baby Rays selections. It’s a pick and dip station and a real crowd pleaser. All of our food stations not only give guests an interactive experience, but are also are worth sharing on social media!

How often does your menu change?
“We always ensure we are watching trends to see what people are interested in as well as what is in season, so our menu is always changing! We offer seasonal menus and monthly specials that coincide with recognized holidays. In addition, if we find that menu items aren’t popular sellers, we will remove them from our repertoire or perhaps enhance them in order to make them more enticing.

Can you tell us more about your mobile trailer?
We own a large competition mobile food trailer and it is available to rent for events! We have had fun using the trailer for ribbon cutting events and have even brought in to a few wedding receptions, serving out great food for a late night snack!

The food trailer operates differently than a standard food truck in that we ask that the clients pay for the food and service upfront, ordering a set quantity of food, as opposed to guests paying as they order, eliminating the money exchange on-site. The trailer itself is not properly equipped for cooking food within its confines, and, therefore, the traler serves as more of a décor piece, giving guests a memorable experience and adding a great vibe to any event!”

How do you deal with all the different food allergies?
“For us, it’s not just dealing with it, it’s expected. A person’s overall decision on whether they want to eat healthier or if they are personally impacted by food allergies and must restrict or limit their intake of certain food, has caused us to create several alternative options that are designed to accommodate every type of allergy. We keep a close eye on food production and menu creation when it comes to dietary restrictions, and react to every clients’ requests.

Some of our products are already allergy-friendly, including most of our sauces, which are vegan! For our vegetarian and vegan guests, we love to recommend our pulled BBQ Jack Fruit. We take whole Jack Fruit and smoke it. After several hours, we shread the jack fruit and  blend it with Portobello mushroom and onions. After missing in an ample amount of our famous Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, and piling it onto a soft mini bun, it takes on the appearance and texture of a pulled pork sandwich! In addition, gluten and dairy allergies have also been common in the events that we cater.

What is your favorite part about catering weddings?
“My favorite part of catering weddings is the variety. We are always cooking different food, at a different venue, for different people. There is always a new challenge, new people to meet and see. It doesn’t get old because we never do the same event twice. No one ever picks the same menu. It is always different!” -Duce Raymond

“For me, it’s everything completed in the end and seeing those smiles on everyone’s faces. But, I also love building a relationship with the client. Building that relationship is my favorite because we get to work together and create something together. For us, it’s not just serving the food and leaving. We do a lot of planning, recommendations, pairing linen colors and more. That’s the best part!” -Lauren Winkler

Any closing thoughts:
“We are a growing company and we are really anxious to be more a part of the Chicago catering culture. We are here to serve and be the best we can!”

For more information about SBR Events Group click here!