An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

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The Caterer’s Job- It’s About More than Just the Food

Posted by on Jan 29, 2010, 4:55 pm in Pet Peeves and Rants, Reflections on the Catering Life, Small Pleasures Catering, Tips on Hiring a Caterer | 3 comments

The Caterer’s Job- It’s About More than Just the Food

The caterer’s job is to fulfill their clients’ desires-giving my clients what they want.

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A Perfect Menu for an Outdoor Summer Wedding

Posted by on May 20, 2009, 6:00 pm in Food and Drink, Menus, Pet Peeves and Rants, Seasonal Celebrations, Special Events | 0 comments

A room temperature menu of sun-kissed foods is perfect for a wedding in the heat of summer.

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Need to Trim Your Event Budget? Planners Weigh in on What’s Worth Keeping and What’s Not

Posted by on May 11, 2009, 2:44 pm in Pet Peeves and Rants, Reflections on the Catering Life, Small Pleasures Catering, Special Events | 0 comments

Yesterday I catered a Mother's Day dinner for a new client who had never hired a caterer before. She walked into the kitchen as we finished up serving dinner and had started in on the clean up. " Wow- you even do the dishes" she said, "this is great". Of course, we left her kitchen completely clean, as we had found it. She commented that she had always handled all the cooking, cleaning, setting up, etc, of her past parties herself, but that she was always so tired she couldn't really enjoy the party. "That's exactly the reason to hire a caterer," I responded. The truth is that no one person can handle all the aspects of a successful event by themselves. A good service team is crucial to the success of a party. Biz Bash Magazine, a publication catering to the event planning industry, recently surveyed event planners across the country on the subject of where to spend and where to save in today's budgets. It's no surprise to me that over and over again, professional party staff landed in the "worth keeping" category. I find it frustrating that service staff is so often one of the first areas where clients look, when trying to cut costs. It's a recurring theme of mine, that catering is more than just great food. Here are some of the comments of top event planners across the country that landed in the "worth spending on" column: "Working with a fine caterer that has exceptional service is always a must, but absolutely in this environment. You can always work to pare down a menu, perhaps serve something simple yet elegant, rather than fussy… Having a great catering staff that allows your guests to have a wonderful and carefree time is always worth the money."- Kara Minogue, President, Kara Minogue and Company, New York "It's a mistake to cut service or staff. People don't remember if the steak was outstanding at an event. They remember if it was cold, or took a half hour to get a drink."- Kristy Pozulp, Events and Communications Manager, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Chicago "Your staff is a reflection of your company and provides one on one contact with your clients… When times are tough, well trained service staff is one of the best assets you have."- Hillary Harris, Director of Special Events, Warner Brothers, Los Angeles "Second only to food, drinks are one of the most important elements of a great event… and having capable bartenders is extremely important to the flow of the event. Guests don't like to wait around with an empty glass." -Lauren Farruggio, Events and Meetings Coordinator, The Boston Consulting Group, New York Bon Appetit! Gisele...

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No Caprese Salad in Winter!- Part 2

Posted by on Mar 8, 2009, 10:13 am in Food and Drink, Pet Peeves and Rants, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

Last time I mentioned Judith Jones, legendary publisher and pioneer in the area of cookbook publishing, and author of The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food , in my rant about Caprese salad.  So here’s what she has to do with my opinion on serving Caprese salad in winter. Jones was involved, in the 1980’s, in developing a cookbook by Ed Giobbi, an artist, and an avid gardener and home cook. Alice Waters, the groundbreaking and seminal chef in the development of “California cuisine”, wrote for the book’s cover  “what is so distinctive about the cooking in this book is that there is flavor and richness here that is the product not of manipulation, but of a profound respect for what comes from the earth and a true connection to nature and the cycle of the seasons.” Jones adds her own perspective writing  “I certainly learned, as I made one inspired dish after another, how, when the seasons dictate what goes together, flavors and colors and textures play off each other and create a natural harmony that is always naturally delicious.” She even mentions basil in an example, stating that basil leaves… turn tough and slightly bitter if they have to endure too much chill. So I’m sticking with my story- no Caprese salad in...

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No Caprese Salad in Winter!- Part 1

Posted by on Mar 6, 2009, 9:53 pm in Food and Drink, Pet Peeves and Rants, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

A few weekends back I was in the line at Trader Joe’s, and struck up a conversation with a fellow shopper. The line strung all the way back into the aisles (it was Super Bowl weekend), so he asked me if I could check to see if there was any basil where I was standing. There wasn’t. "It’s not really basil season", I said. He then went on to tell me he was out searching for ingredients for Caprese salad. He had been to a couple of grocery already looking for ripe tomatoes. “Use the cherry tomatoes” I suggested. Trader Joe’s has a great mixed medley pack of cherry tomatoes grown in Mexico, which are fairly good year round. “My wife doesn’t like cherry tomatoes” he responded. “ I found some Roma tomatoes at Pavillion’s that are pretty ripe.” “I don’t even make Caprese salad in winter, and I’m a caterer. I lost a job once because I refused to do it.” … bemused look from him. Now I’ve seen caterers serve Caprese salad with hard pink tomatoes out of season, but what’s the point?  Perfectly ripe tomatoes (and seasonal basil) are the whole point of Caprese salad, right? Of course, I felt I was right (ahem!), but I’ve recently finished reading Judith Jones’ The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food , and now feel completely vindicated. Judith Jones is a legend in the world of publishing who helped shape modern cookbook publishing. If you have a cookbook by Julia Child, James Beard, Edna Lewis, Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich or any of several others, Judith Jones was responsible for getting it to your shelf. if you are a “foodie” at all, you will want to read this book. So what does she have to with Caprese salad? Come back next time for the...

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Brunch for a Wedding Reception? Part 1

Posted by on Feb 15, 2009, 12:58 pm in Entertaining Trends, Food and Drink, Party Planning Tips, Pet Peeves and Rants, Reflections on the Catering Life, Seasonal Celebrations, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

Brunch is a great idea for a wedding reception now in times where everyone is watching their bottom line.

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“Cheap” Weddings

Posted by on Jan 28, 2009, 9:51 am in Pet Peeves and Rants, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

I keep running across articles and blog posts talking about cheap weddings, and frankly, it is just beginning to irk me. Listen, I know we’re in a tough economy right now, but do you really want to celebrate the start of your life together ”cheaply”. I don't think it's a helpful way to think about your wedding. Here’s an alternate dictionary definition of “cheap” : “inexpensive because of inferior quality.” So, how about an alternative way of thinking about your wedding-spending money wisely is good, trimming bloated costs is good. Simple, small- yes, they can be beautiful, but please, no “cheap” weddings. Ciao, Gisele...

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Thinking About Different Kinds of Wedding Receptions- and Incidentally, Saving Money

Posted by on Jan 24, 2009, 2:37 pm in Celebrations, Pet Peeves and Rants, Reflections on the Catering Life | 0 comments

I've just read a blog post where the author ("capper") questions the logic of some wedding expenditures. Capper quotes couples stating their "need" for butterflies and doves released at their weddings, and asks pointedly, " do these people have a grasp on what life and marriage is all about?" He goes on to talk of costly "full blown" weddings he's heard of resulting in marriages that lasted for very short periods of time, and how little he and his wife spent on their wedding. I must agree that the only wedding I've ever attended where doves were released lasted a very short while. And while I would never recommend the plastic flowers capper and his wife displayed at their wedding for any occasion, I am on somewhat of a mission lately to encourage, shall we say, more creative types of wedding receptions. I devote a section in my E-book ( Help! I Need a Caterer) to discussing wedding receptions other than the now standard (and most costly) Saturday night banquet with cocktail and hors d'oeuvre reception beforehand. What happened to the brunch, lunch, picnic, tea party and other type of receptions I so remember enjoying as a youngster? They still seem much more interesting to me than the dull sit down hotel dinners I get invited to. And as someone who has spent a good bit of her time on this planet not only attending those wedding receptions, but working in both hotels, and now at catering receptions for clients of my own, I find the "out of the hotel banquet box" party far more interesting. So over the next few posts, I'll be sharing some different type of wedding celebrations with you. BTW, you can read  cappers entry at: Scroll down to "Wedding Bells and...

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Put Some Thought into Creating a Truly Personal and Memorable Wedding Reception

Posted by on Dec 7, 2008, 7:40 pm in Celebrations, Food and Drink, Pet Peeves and Rants, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

In my last post I wrote about how planning a wedding reception that's something other than the big Saturday night sit down dinner can often save money. Besides saving money, putting some creative thought into planning a celebration you and your guests will truly love, will undoubtedly result in a much more personalized day. First, I have to stop right here and say that I am somewhat biased against the aforementioned “default” reception. I've never quite enjoyed being seated at a table (sometimes with people I don't know) and stuck there throughout the night waiting for a banquet server who's rushing through the evening to get my plate in front of me. Or asking the people at table with me to please pass the salad dressing or butter which happens to be sitting on the opposite side of the table. I really don't enjoy the plate I’m served being yet another uninspired “rubber chicken” or dried out salmon meal with either an under cooked or over cooked “vegetable melange" (read whatever cheap vegetables the kitchen has on hand). To my mind, any time we entertain valued guests, we are giving a gift to our loved ones. When the party is a wedding reception, we are also creating a wonderful, once in a lifetime celebration, one about which we want ourselves and our guests to have great memories. Thought should be put into the details of the party. What kind of food would I and my guests really love?  How can I create something fun and memorable for them? What would they enjoy doing for these few hours we're together celebrating? Hint-it's certainly not being stuck in a chair in a crowded nondescript hotel or banquet hall room. I like to wander around the room, visit with lots of other guests, and eat really great food. I catered a backyard wedding last June where the young couple chose to have a station with pizzas, topped with several various yummy items, and cooked to order, added to their buffet of several salads, grilled lemon chicken, asparagus and peppers, with farmer's market fingerling potatoes. Instead of a wedding cake they had a brownie and ice cream sundae bar, with 4 different types of brownies, and lots of different sauces and toppings for the ice cream. I really got a kick out of watching the groom as he enjoyed sampling and comparing each type of brownie with the various sauces and toppings. I’ve catered weddings in the past, where the couples chose to have Western food, as well as incorporate stations with foods from their ethnic backgrounds, like Korean, Chinese and Japanese. We decorated the station at one with big brightly colored fans purchased in Chinatown. I remember, as a young woman attending a great afternoon picnic wedding in the park, where the guests were entertained, while sitting at picnic tables and on blankets on the grass, with great musical and street theater performances, reflecting the artistic tastes of the bride. And another, as a somewhat older woman, at a winery in Sonoma County with sweeping views, where the guests were offered a selection of great box lunches, to enjoy as we sampled the wines, and decadent chocolate truffle tortes (which I gave as a gift to the couple) for dessert. I’ve remembered...

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Are You Requesting a Catering Proposal for Your Summer Wedding in December?

Posted by on Dec 1, 2008, 9:16 am in Celebrations, Pet Peeves and Rants, Seasonal Celebrations, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

Planning a summer or fall wedding? Your caterer will not be able to give you the attention you truly deserve during the holiday season.

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