Ils ont tout fait faire chez le traiteur.
eel zaw too fay fair shayl tray-TUHR. Click below to hear this.*
They had it all done by the caterer.
We are back to Céline and her ill-conceived wedding, in Les Stances à Sophie by Christiane Rochefort. I’m still reading, and still turning down page corners!
Poor Céline has no family, but Philippe’s family is rich, and the wedding must be done up right. So they call in le traiteur, the caterer, which may have been a fairly extravagant move for the book’s era (1963).
The verb traiter has all sorts of meanings, from treat (as a doctor does), to treat (as a writer does), to treat (as the party boor does). By around 1648, it had come to mean to do business with, and sometime later it somehow became associated specifically with the food industry.
So le traiteur probably has less to do with the fact that this person is treating the food (that is, preparing it) than the fact that you are doing business with le traiteur.
Take special note of the fact that le traiteur is not a traitor, no matter how badly he may overcharge you. If there is a traitor in our midst, as there usually is in political thrillers, that person is called un traître.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: