Catering to Victoria’s Voracious Developers & the Tech Community

As our tourist season winds down and the restaurants revert to the locals-only trade, Victoria’s rich catering industry is coming out of the woodwork to supply businesses with fresh, local, and inventive sustenance. With technology comprising the city’s biggest single source of private industry revenue (to the tune of $1.95 billion annually), it’s programmers and product managers who represent the biggest market for catering throughout the year. I sat down with a few of Victoria’s foodiest developers to learn why local offices are so hooked on fancy takeout, what makes for the best office eating, and where you should try next.

A local software development and innovation lab, Semadic has created new local marketplace website Diggit and runs GoBid.ca, a locally based charity auction site. For the Semadic team, in-office catering is an opportunity to work with new potential clients and partners and help support the local economy. “We’ve never ordered from a big corporation,” says Aurora, one of Semadic’s lead developers. “Our website is local Victoria, all of our products are, so it’s neat because our marketing team goes out and orders stuff for our parties from people we want to have a business relationship with.”   At Semadic, good catering is also a chance to ensure that hard-working developers, with their laser-like focus on programming, don’t let their nutritional needs fall by the wayside. Aurora mentioned former Google chef Charlie Ayers and how important he was to the early success of the mammoth search engine. “Developers like to eat without having to think about it too much. We had a launch and all I ate for an entire week was Noodle Box, which was not a nutritionally sound choice for me. It slows you down, right? You need good nutrition to be able to think and be awake and work.”

When you walk into an office and see a high-end deli platter, it says something about the business — an important thing to keep in mind when trying to attract coders from employee-hungry Silicon Valley. “I think the presence of good food indicates that the management team that runs the company has a set of values that’s greater than simply just the profit and the revenue,” says developer Rebeca Duhn-Krahn of custom software developers Semaphore Solutions Inc. “Part of our mandate is to have fun, it’s part of our mission statement, so having good food is funner.”   Semaphore was born from the closure of a small Kodak outpost in town. The rapport in the 20-person office was so strong that most of the employees still work together, and for Rebeca’s co-worker Sean Kahil, the lure of a strong office culture was enough for him to take a pay cut to join the firm in 2013. “The goal is to do something better than just good enough,” said Sean and, according to him, seeing good food around the office shows that “people are willing to put their money where their mouth is and make that happen.”

With few catering companies owning storefronts or sit-down restaurants, it can be hard to imagine just how many options are available for your next client meeting, product launch, or fancy cocktail party. I asked Aurora, Rebeca and Sean to list a few of their top recommendations and let us know why they’re so great — and I’ve included a few of EAT’s favourites as well. From this day forward, let no developer pine for the taste of a great lunch.

Semadic’s Picks

Choux Choux Charcuterie, 830 Fort St. “For our Christmas party we had a nice appetizer thing from Choux Choux, they were a big favourite for us. They didn’t necessarily cater for us but we sent a guy up and he said, okay, I’m having a party, what can you get me? And that was fantastic. I was a huge fan. Just the variety, mostly meats, we had cheeses, assemble-your-own kind of stuff. It was simple but very very tasty, and they were basically just willing to accommodate us, which was nice.”

Schur to Please Wedding & Specialty Cakes – (778) 679-6277 “We had a launch party and she did personalized cupcakes and cake pops for us with our logo, and the marketing team also used her for some of the promotional stuff they did. She was basically making these beautiful little things with our designs, so that customization was really nice. Just good tasting sweets, not overdone, lots of flavour, and none of that plasticky fake sugar garnish, so she was a huge one.”

White Apron Services – (250) 216-2704 “We had this night market mixer and I only got to taste a little bit of because it was for the people coming to it, but they came into our office, set up this whole spread, they had these beautiful appetizers. The serving was very nice and the presentation was very beautiful. They had these wonton spoons that they’d put this little saucy appetizer in, and then they had the chef in and he was able to talk and speak to different people and give out the samples of the food. So that was really cool that they actually came in and did that for us.”

Semaphore’s Scores

Solstice Café, 529 Pandora Avenue “I really liked the way that he brought in the ingredients and made the food as people were eating it, so it was always fresh. It was sort of custom — we’re in custom software, so this was custom catering, and very much an ‘agile’ process, which very much is tailoring the catering to what’s actually happening, the people who are eating it right then. In this town you’ve got a lot of people who do catering and you have a lot of good options, but that sort of level of custom specialization indicates that they’re differentiating themselves.” –Sean

International Women’s Catering Co-op – (250) 385-7974 “The thing I look for is to try to avoid what I call wedding catering, which appeals to even the blandest palate. I expect our guests to just kinda step up. If you can’t handle interesting food then don’t come to our party! So my favourite caterer in town is actually the international women’s catering co-op. They have a little stand at Moss Street Market and you can get them to do catering too. The thing I like about them is I feel like the people who do it put their hearts into the cooking because they’re trying to represent their culture and their nation. There’s food from Iraq, from South America — Venezuela I believe, and from India, so it’s like these women are trying to show the best of their culinary tradition. The best thing is the buraq, you can get them at Moss Street on the weekends, they’re so good. It has mint, and feta, and peas, and it’s like a little spring roll almost but it’s from Iraq.” -Rebeca Little

Piggy Catering – thelittlepiggy@gmail.com “They want everything to taste really good, every dish. Not sort of just to be like some of them are okay, I feel like every single thing you get from them is interesting. They actually suggest to you what you should have, how many you should have, and they’re always right. It’s always so tasty and there’s always something for every palate. Cristobel is the owner, I used to read her food blog and she had a storefront on Fort Street for a while. It’s clear that she cares about food but she’s very quick with getting invoices and they’re always very clear with communications, they’re very reliable and I always know what I’m getting.” -Rebeca

More Catering Recommendations

Truffles — order online or call 250-544-0200 Culinarius — (250) 507-4421 email   Thrifty Foods catering — order online or call 250-483-1666 The Whole Beast — (250) 590-PORK email *lead photo courtesy Wikimedia commons of do&co catering (not a local caterer).

Written By:

Vancouver-born photographer, writer and designer Sol Kauffman has had his hands dirty in restaurant kitchens for years, washing dishes and slinging pizzas. In 2008 he moved to Victoria to pursue a BFA in Creative Writing at UVic ...

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