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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Individual Quickbreads Part 1 – the Morning Glory Muffin and Coconut Creme Honey

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016, 4:30 pm in Food and Drink, Recipes-Sweet, Reflections on the Catering Life | 1 comment

Any loaf cake or muffin batter can became a quick bread -one of my favorites is Morning Glory Muffin.

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BlogTalkRadio Share -Wedding Wednesdays

Posted by on May 5, 2010, 6:16 pm in Celebrations, Reflections on the Catering Life, Tips on Hiring a Caterer | 0 comments

I had a great time today chatting with the lovely Kim Moss of Black Bag Productions in Washington D.C. We chatted about tips on hiring a caterer, and thinking outside of the box to create an economical and  personalized wedding celebration. Please give a listen. Just click on the link below. Wedding Wednesdays Ciao, Gisele...

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The Advantages of a “Boutique Caterer”-Part 2

Posted by on Apr 27, 2010, 3:31 pm in Reflections on the Catering Life, Small Pleasures Catering, Tips on Hiring a Caterer | 0 comments

The Advantages of a “Boutique Caterer”-Part 2

Okay, here are my further thoughts on the advantages of hiring a "boutique caterer" (I hope you've taken the time to read Part 1 on the advantages of hiring a boutique caterer)-oh, and btw, in case I didn't say it before, let me admit to you right up front that I'm biased. I strongly believe that unless you're having a party for say, a 1,000 or so of your closest friends (I have to insert a little aside here-a catering friend of mine, who does sometimes cater for a 1,000 or so, once told me that she thought it was pretty easy for a caterer used to doing parties for 100 to scale up to parties for a 1,000. Hmmmm, I wonder if that's easier than the other way around ?), there are definite benefits to hiring a smaller caterer, and getting more attention from your caterer (the owner of the company, not just someone in their office) is one of them, especially if you are having a smaller party. I once had a client who was planning a wedding for 40 guests, tell me that she called one of the big name caterers in town before she called me. "Frankly" she said "I felt like they weren't even that interested in talking with me." Often larger caterers will preoccupy themselves with the overall operational aspects of the business, but tend to delegate the management of individual events (again, especially smaller events), while the owner of a smaller company will most likely actually show up and work at your event. I make it a point to attend just about all of my events- in 14 years, I've missed only a handful. The larger “household name” catering companies may have several events at the same time, and since they can't be several places at once, yours may not rate them personally being there. And I know I talked about the staffing advantages with a small caterer last time, but here's another little secret. If a large catering company has several events at the same time, they may have to supplement their regulars with brand new staff, or even temp agency workers. Now it's very possible that the staff will be excellent, but you may very well lose the benefit that comes with people who have worked many parties together and understand each other's shorthand. Here I am below with a young party guest! Bon Appetit! And please visit my other blog, pain perdu. Gisele...

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The Advantages of a “Boutique Caterer”-Part 1

Posted by on Apr 22, 2010, 12:19 pm in Reflections on the Catering Life, Small Pleasures Catering, Tips on Hiring a Caterer | 1 comment

The Advantages of a “Boutique Caterer”-Part 1

I was chatting this morning with someone about the food business, in general, and the catering industry specifically, and when she asked more about my company, I used the term boutique caterer to describe Small Pleasures Catering. “You mean like a boutique hotel” she asked. Exactly! Wikipedia describes boutique hotel as a term used “to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain/branded hotels and motels by providing personalized (and highly attentive, I might add) accommodation and services…” I went on to give her what I thought were a couple of the advantages to hiring a boutique caterer, and related this story to her. I once-in the early days of my company, lost a job (an office party for 250 guests), because the prospective client was concerned about my being able to handle that large a number. The office manager, who had recommended me for the job, had been a guest at an intimate wedding shower I had catered, and really fought for me. In the end, she said, they decided to go with a company that catered parties for 1,000’s. Talk about overkill! A truly successful event depends largely on the quality of the team, and even though I was new to running a catering business, I knew this dirty little secret. Bigger companies often have less experienced staff people working their parties. Here are some of the reasons why. Catering staff are freelancers, they work with a variety of caterers around town. So, at best, you will get the same quality staff with a smaller caterer as with a larger one. More likely, you will get less experienced people. People starting out working in the catering world will often start with the big companies, but eventually get burned out, and move on to smaller companies. They will often get paid more at smaller companies (yes- another dirty little secret- even though the larger companies will charge at least as much and maybe more for their staff, they usually pay most of the staff less). Additionally, the servers, bartenders and chefs, prefer working in a more personalized environment. In my company for example, I have had a core group of party staff that has been with me for years. I know everybody’s name (larger caterers often don’t even know the names of people working their parties). In fact, I know them very well. I know their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and their "energy", if you will, so I can staff them accordingly. They also know each other very well, and we all have a sort of short hand when it comes to working together. And because they have been loyal to me, I like to believe they are happier working with me (and I work to keep them happy), and have more of a stake in the success of my company. Tune in next time to hear another advantage! And please visit my other blog www.smallpleasurescateringblog.com/painperdu  ...

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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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Catering to All the Special Moments in Life

Posted by on Jan 19, 2010, 10:27 am in Celebrations, Reflections on the Catering Life | 0 comments

I received this touching e-mail last week which I want to share with you now. "I'm writing today, as you've done such a wonderful job catering for our family during both happy and difficult times in the past, and sadly I fear we are facing a sad upcoming occasion.    My dear mother, who has been gravely ill for several weeks, today entered palliative hospice care. My sister and I cannot imagine anyone but you and your company feeding our friends and family at such time as we will remember and celebrate her life.  Understandably we do not have a timetable, it may be days, or longer… but in advance wanted to know if you would be able to help us when the time comes? With thanks as always." She wrote again 3 days later  to say that her mother had passed away peacefully with her family by her side. I first catered a event for Lyla when she and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. A couple of years after that it was her husband's 75th birthday, and finally three years ago, her husband's memorial service. Her daughter was right on, I have had the honor to be there at both "happy and difficult times" in their lives. I talked to Lyla's daughter a couple of times during the week. She shared thoughts and memories, and even struggles of her family. I was honored she felt so free to speak openly with me. As business owners we hear over and over again, it's about the value you offer to others. While, as a caterer, I always place a very high value on the quality of food I serve, and how it's displayed, my mission  is really to create memorable celebrations for all the special moments in my clients lives. And very often, the mission goes way beyond the food we provide. Lyla's memorial was indeed, a celebration, and I have grown with her  family as they move through their milestone moments. I feel privileged to  have done...

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Buffet vs. Sit Down Dinner- Which Way to Go if You’re on a Budget?

Posted by on May 23, 2009, 6:49 pm in Food and Drink, Reflections on the Catering Life, Shameless Self Promotion- Sharing Successes, Small Pleasures Catering, Special Events | 0 comments

Every once in a while I browse the Web on the topic of wedding catering to see what people are saying out there. Today I came across a site which reminded me of how many misconceptions there are being tossed around. Here's an old bromide I ran across this morning on a site offering advice on trimming the cost of a wedding reception: "…consider going with a buffet instead of a traditional sit-down dinner. While every catering price list is different, buffet dinners are traditionally cheaper than plated dinners." The common wisdom is that buffet events require less service staff- which admittedly can be expensive- so therefore are less expensive. I've always been suspicious of this bit of "common wisdom", so while I was writing Help I Need a Caterer, I decided to run the question by a couple other caterers and event planners.  My suspicions were confirmed, as they agreed with me.  While there is a need for more service staff with a formal sit down dinner, a caterer is able to control food portions in a way that is impossible on a buffet. We've all seen guests whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs, and pile their plates with food that ends up getting tossed. While the quantity of each dish needs to be increased on a buffet, I also feel  the number of selections need to be increased. For example, clients usually want two main course selections, i.e.like chicken and fish or beef on a buffet, as well as a two or three vegetable selections. As a caterer, I don't know which item will appeal to guests more, so I have to make sure there is enough of each. The fact of the matter is, most people will want to taste both. But here's the real kicker that a colleague pointed out to me. Since guests will undoubtedly return to the buffet more than once, there's a need to rent additional plates and flatware etc., and rentals really do add up. When I'm a guest, I personally favor buffets- I'm more of a casual gal, I like choices, and I like to move around. But which is more economical? I think it's a toss up. The important thing is deciding what's  your style, and most important to you. Tune in over the next few days as I look at more of those "common wisdom" assumptions. Bon Appetit, Gisele P.S. If you're planning a wedding, but have question about how to go about putting together your reception,watch for the relaunch of my E-book Help! I Need a Caterer. It 's full of practical tips on planning and  hiring a caterer who'll help you create the perfect wedding reception- or any other special party. BTW, the E-book was recently featured in the L.A. Bride section of Valley Magazine....

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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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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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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: http://cognidissidence.blogspot.com/ Scroll down to "Wedding Bells and...

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