Located in the heart of Chantilly’s business district is , one of the Washington, DC metropolitan area’s premier catering businesses. While its name alone might not separate it from the hundreds of other catering companies in the region, Wildflour has distinguished itself through consistent dedication to the local community.
Wildflour’s mission is to demonstrate “a passion for good food with commitment to the community,” and the company works hard to ensure that these ideals are turned into actions.
Integrated into Wildflour’s business operation is an employment and training program geared toward helping people with disabilities enter the workforce. Under the care of seasoned chefs, bakers and other supervisors, employees who are physically or mentally impaired are taught a variety of culinary skills ranging from shopping for ingredients and assisting with deliveries to slicing techniques and platter presentation.
Just over half of Wildflour’s employees have a disability, and they engage in a minimum of six months of extensive training before becoming full-time kitchen and bakery staff members.
“It’s our mission to employ and empower people with disabilities to achieve independence and integration,” said General Manager and Head Chef Alberto Sangiorgio. “We invest time in each of them so they can be successful later on in life.”
Wildflour is able to assist its employees with disabilities in finding other jobs after they’ve worked there for a few years, but due to the welcoming and stimulating environment Sangiorgio has created for them, most have no desire to look elsewhere. “They don’t want to leave,” Sangiorgio said.
Wildflour Caterers was established in 1994 as a small baking company in nearby Fairfax City, and it has provided work opportunities for members of the community with disabilities since its inception. Now a highly-regarded full service catering company, Wildflour makes its permanent home on Southgate Place in Chantilly.
“[Wildflour] is very strong in the community,” Sangiorgio said. “We compete with the big wheels of catering and we are very successful.”
With an active client base that includes the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Kaiser Foundation, the Special Olympics and the United States Air Force, Wildflour caters for a variety of companies, organizations and occasions.
For Sangiorgio, running a thriving catering business is as much about the customer service as it is about the food. “We get involved with our customers,” he said. “We get feedback afterword [after the catering service has been provided] and listen to their opinions.”
The testimonials page on the Wildflour Caterers website is evidence of the company’s respected, dependable service. A representative from the National Credit Union Administration in Alexandria wrote, “We [have been] your customer for over 10 years, but you always perform better on each party. We love your food [and] service.”
A Special Olympics representative commented, “...the food was exceptional and your staff wonderful. We are very pleased to work with your company.”
Another key ingredient to Wildflour’s success is the breadth of its menu; there are over 200 items on its appetizer menu alone. With few exceptions, Wildflour Caterers can prepare any type of food, Sangiorgio says.
In addition to preparing breakfasts, lunches and dinners for customers, Wildflour Caterers specializes in cakes and pastries, cocktail parties, funeral catering and picnic and barbecue catering. The company also makes custom-designed wedding cakes and can provide full wedding reception catering, complete with experienced waiters and bartenders. Wildflour will gladly prepare vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals for clients with dietary restrictions.
Serving clients throughout the DC Metro area and as far south as Richmond, Wildflour is more than just a catering business; it also has an on-site bakery and deli that will be expanded by 2,000 square feet next month. The bakery is open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and features a 38-well salad bar, a selection of over 25 sandwiches, and free wifi.
Sangiorgio and his team of chefs also post seasonal Recipes of the Month on the Wildflour website. “We always try to make recipes that people will use, that aren’t too expensive and that everyone can have access to,” he said.
Further engaging with the local community, Wildflour offers a variety of afternoon and evening baking and cooking classes. The classes, capped at 30 participants, require advanced registration, but are free and open to the public.
Now in his 14th year of employment at Wildflour Caterers, Sangiorgio plans to expand the company’s commitment to service by catering more business events throughout the greater Washington, DC area.