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Welcome to the First Catered by Design Blog!

For over two decades, Catered by Design has been more than just a catering company – it’s been a family affair. Our story starts not in a boardroom, but over the kitchen stove next to Sam’s grandma, where a passion for feeding people well was passed down through generations.
This blog is an extension of that family table – a place to gather, share stories and most importantly, share a love of good food. Here you will get a taste of our culinary creations, discover the inspiration behind our menus and meet the passionate people who make it all happen.
Whether you are planning a dream wedding or an intimate gathering, we believe every event deserves to be special. So, pull up a chair, grab a virtual plate, and get ready to be a part of the Catered by Design family!
Collage of catering pictures from events, behind the scenes, and food.

The Esposito-Gray Legacy: Where It All Began

Our roots lie in the warm kitchens of the Esposito-Gray family, where a young Sam Gray discovered his culinary calling and his entrepreneurial spirit which lead the way to his own catering venture. From being at his grandmother’s side, to his stints as Executive Chef in renowned restaurants, Sam honed his craft. In 2001, he felt it was time for a new chapter in his career, and thus, Catered by Design was born. Big dreams fueled those early days, and that ambition has propelled the growth of Catered by Design ever since.
Chef Sam Gray with family

Behind the Delicious: The Catered By Design Story

For over two decades, Catered by Design has been synonymous with delicious food and vibrant events across Chicagoland. But our story doesn’t begin with a catering company – it starts with a love of feeding people well and a passion passed down through generations. Let’s take a journey from cozy family kitchens to the bustling heart of one of Chicago’s premier catering companies where we understand that each event is a cherished moment in your family’s own ongoing story.


Owners and staff in front of La Pasta-Ria Ristorante

Building a Team, Exceeding Expectations

The goal was to build a successful company that would grow over time but one that would always maintain its focus on expertly crafted food, excellent customer service and incomparable presentation. This philosophy has attracted not only loyal clients but also a dedicated and tenured team, some with Sam from his beginnings. Our Operations Manager, Tami, can attest to that! It’s that focus that has shaped us.
Our chefs draw inspiration from global flavors and local ingredients, crafting menus with new flavors that clients didn’t even know they wanted… until they tasted them! But, as our Catering Sales Specialist, Rachel, reminds us, “delicious food isn’t enough.” Memorable events are also made through attentive service. Each Catered by Design client is treated to the kind of responsive, personalized planning that makes their own celebration unforgettable.
Catered by Design team during a meeting with TV in the background

A Family Affair: Catering to Life’s Moments

Sam has had the unique privilege of catering some of life’s biggest milestones for his own family. He has witnessed the joy on his daughter’s face at her wedding, knowing that the exceptional food and service helped create those cherished memories. Even closer to home, Matt Gray, Catering Sales Specialist & Vice President, married Lyndsay Gray, who is now our Beverage Manager. Their wedding, catered by the team Sam had assembled, was a beautiful example of our ability to bring a family vision to life. These experiences solidify our commitment to making every event, big or small, truly special.

From Corporate Gatherings to Social Celebrations: We Cater It All

Whether you are planning a corporate retreat, a milestone anniversary party or an unforgettable wedding, Catered by Design is your one-stop shop for an exceptional catering experience. We specialize in:
  • Wedding Catering: Our experienced team will help design a menu that reflects your unique style and wows your guests, all while ensuring your special day runs smoothly.
  • Corporate Catering: From breakfast meetings to elegant galas, we create menus that energize and impress, showcasing the professionalism of your company.
  • Social Events: We believe social gatherings are the heart of life’s celebrations. From birthday bashes to graduation parties, we offer creative food options and attentive service to make your event unforgettable.
  • Drop-Off Catering: Enjoy delicious, hassle-free meals delivered straight to your office or home. Perfect for busy weekday meetings, home gatherings or when you simply want a culinary treat!
These delicious images are just a taste of what’s possible! Explore our full range of menus, from elegant entrees to playful desserts, and let us bring your culinary vision to life.

Presentation That Wows

Sam’s creativity doesn’t stop at the kitchen door. “Unparalleled presentation” isn’t just a slogan – it is evident in our signature equipment that makes food both a feast for the eyes and the palate. From elegant displays to playful stations, we elevate events into a multi-sensory and immersive experience.
Vintage setup of a catered event with a buffet setup Floating Buffet at a Gala

Each piece of equipment is custom designed by our owner, Sam Gray. Click on the images below to see the full descriptions.

Dessert Tower

Hanging Tree Display

Transparent Wall

The Heart of Catered by Design

When speaking with Matt Gray, he emphasized that it was our reputation – that hard-earned trust in our ability to deliver the exceptional – that launched our most rapid growth. He, like so many of our team members, literally grew up in the culinary realm further embodying the family-like spirit that makes Catered by Design unique.
Our reviews and ratings speak for themselves. We are always proud to showcase the work that we do through testimonials of our clients.

Growth with a Focus on Excellence

Executive Chef Carlos Orozco has witnessed, firsthand, the expansion driven by those rave reviews. His culinary team hasn’t just grown, it’s excelled. This is thanks to on-going training and a commitment to raising the bar on quality with each event we cater. We have built a streamlined operation without sacrificing the personal touch. That’s why our staff stays with us – they feel a sense of pride in a job well done.
Photo of our catering team with Sam at Catered by Design along brick wall

A Sustainable Future

As Catered by Design celebrates its history, we are also keenly focused on the future. By strengthening partnerships and exploring innovative practices, we aim to leave a positive legacy both on the plate and on the planet.
View more on our Sustainability page.
We have drastically reduced the use of plastic in our delivery packaging. This new packaging, which is biodegradable, has improved in presentation and helped with our sustainability initiatives. More to come in future blogs around our environmentally conscious efforts.
Corporate Catering in Plastic Container Corporate Catering in Palm Leaf Container
We are excited to showcase our new rating with Green Restaurant Association as a 3-Star Green Caterer. We received our first certification in 2021 and have continued to find new ways to a cleaner future.
Catered By Design’s mission is to bring your events to life with sumptuous food and refreshing beverages presented in spectacular fashion. This also includes being a good steward of the environment. Our goal is to continually improve our sustainability practices by working closely with our vendors and partners to minimize the impact on the environment.
Boxed salad for drop-off corporate catering in sustainable packaging.
Corporate Catering Lunch Meeting
Corporate Catering Dessert on Sustainable Packaging

Our Invitation to You

Whether you’re a lifelong client or just discovering us, consider this your invitation into the Catered by Design family. We’re not just about delicious food, we’re about creating moments that become memories. Ready to taste the difference?
We look forward to bringing you more exciting insights about Catered by Design and what we do best – bringing your events to life.
Catered by Design team doing a champagne toast
Thank you for being a part of our first blog post! We believe it is important to celebrate our history. As a bonus, please discover the article below which was a pivotal point in Sam’s career as Executive Chef at Fulton Market, in the article below. From those early days to today, Catered By Design continues to be committed to bringing exceptional food and experiences to the table.
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