Catering with a Culture of Kindness

Written by: Special Agent, Juli Frankel 

Our 5-Star Los Angeles catering reviews almost always mention
our outstanding service.  It is something we are super proud of and we thought we’d give you a peek under-the-hood and show you how we create
the culture that makes it happen!

Here ye, Here ye!
Welcome to the 4th Annual Buck’s County Corporation Company Meeting!

Okay, we’ve been in business for 33-years but, we started doing company meetings seriously four years ago.  We had an epiphany that with all the loading at odd hours, the cooking, the jobs all over Los Angeles and an ever evolving staff…we needed to re-connect.  The only way to do it of course…

Over yummy food and drink!

This year’s meeting took place in a cool little house in the back of
The Alcove Restaurant on Hillhurst.
(It was OUR meeting and we weren’t going to cook!!)

All our staff and core employees are invited to come and share ideas, a really fun menu and open bar.  The $20 bill?  Well, it IS a company meeting (remember!?) so Jennie makes sure everyone is paid to be there.

Everyone gets introduced.  Promises are made like –
“Yikes! You are getting cut! We will NEVER put the knives in the sink again!”
and accolades exchanged –
“You made that!!! Everyone loved it!” and “That was your idea?  Cool!”

We applaud each other A LOT!

And then Jennie gets started…

She covers operational details that have come up from linens to loading.  She covers safety issues that she’s kept track of in her book…like those KNIVES!

And then she gets to the heart of the matter…
How proud she is of this staff that we are always mindful that Jennie Cook’s Catering is, at heart, a “Hospitality Forward Company!”

That the respect we have for each other and the care we take in what we do always spill over into how we treat our clients.  We exist to bring the great food and hospitality!  So, until next year…we should hold that good thought and be inspired to keep “Spreading the Love!”

And now we should practice what we preach…

Let’s Eat!

(It is after all…a Meeting!)

A Delicious Wedding Weekend

LNW  aka “Lindsay & Natalie’s Wedding

Part THREE:  Deliciousness

If you’re following along, You know about the fleas, the fires and the chairs flying away on the highway. Little things in the big picture, and not surprising for mercury retrograde.

Damn planets.

As a clan we’re a pro-active, positive bunch, and it’s hard to take us down.

I however, on this wedding weekend, was preparing for a full on melt down. I was worried about the food for the next day, the capability of the ovens. I was worried about staff. I was worried about my chefs who were in transit from Los Angeles. I was worried about the fish. None of it seemed plausible anymore.

This story is from my point of view, as the caterer, doing her first destination wedding and also, mother of the betrothed.

There was a lot of cooking to do.

We had the rehearsal dinner for one hundred and forty guests, and then the wedding, for one hundred and eighty guests the next day. I knew we would do a great job, I trust in my team, but my anxiety was at an eleven on Friday.

It turned  out, there was nothing to worry about. We did the same menu we did for Erin and Rikki’s wedding – fajitas with corn sensation, The Benton Way zucchini slaw, black beans, Mexican rice, root beer floats, and these gorgeous  rustic blackberry tarts that chef Cate whipped up, with blackberries courtesy of the Hog Farm, picked that morning among the rattlesnakes.

No joke.

Lania, the couple’s sister in law, grilled all the steaks for the fajitas ending in a righteous fire in the barbecue. She’s a fire worker and remained calm, but there was direction to get away from the house and far away from the contained blaze.  All ended well, the fajitas were delicious.

My gal Cate was slaying in the kitchen, and as I was ramping up into my own little trainwreck, she kept telling me it was all perfect.

Around 3:30, she sent me up the to get ready for the supper and the rehearsal. Guests at 5, rehearsal at 4. I gotta get a move on. This is really happening!

I was hyperventilating a bit, as we were coming down the hill from our swank accommodations at the Barsotti’s and  I could tell I was on Johnny’s last nerve. Good for him (and me) though, he remained calm and quiet.

When we got back to the white house for the festivities, the first people I saw were my BFF’s Gwen & Jen. Gwen was super excited because she just went swimming in Veronica Lake (the pond for Camp Winnarainbow)… in her underwear. My first good laugh of the day.

And just like that, all my anxiety and stress and spinning out of control, melted away. Everything was alright.

This is us on wedding day, my two little anchors.

It was wonderful seeing all of Lindsay’s friends from the past three decades. I got a little verklempt. I have such fond memories of feeding all of them. They’re part of her fabric and  they were all there with so much love and support, the entire Hog Farm was vibrating.

It was a wonderful evening. We never got the stringer lights up over the party area, but that made no never mind.
We hung out in the dark. There was also plenty to do inside, too. Tying the napkins,
table assignments, menu displays… still busy.

The next day, Cate absorbed all my anxiety. It was all about the fish. We were all nervous now.

So the chefs did a few fish trials; they were rustic and beautiful! My spirit was back on track.

The one thing Lindsay wanted was whole fish. Branzino, to be specific.  She was specific about the entire menu. Check out her notes.

It was designed around Irene’s growing calendar, which she knows well, because
she worked on the farm last summer.

Lindsay also loves little jars as much as I love little jars, so I did the first course in little jars.  Fig jam, zucchini butter, hummus, harissa, chimmi-churri, all served with Midwife & the Baker’s bread, Manchego, olives and pickles, Humbolt Fog, chevre and medjool dates.

The cocktail hour was upon arrival, with tray passed appetizers.

Followed by the ceremony, then guests got a cocktail and found their seats.

Delicious starters were already on the table, ready to share.

Did I mention that the chefs went to the wrong location? Oh yes, they did. For some reason they had it in their heads that the wedding was happening at their glampsite seven miles away, and not up the hill a half mile. As I’m coming down the hill in my wedding finest, I get a call from Chef Ellie, “Jennie, where is the wedding?  We’re here at Mendocino Magic and I don’t see it”. Yeah.  Come back Ellie.

That put some serious pressure on cocktail hour.

Especially since they had all the ice in the van, too. for the booze.

Not really according to plan, but my daughter’s getting married. It’ll all work out, right?

Of course. It did.

Back to the menu. For the second course we served the sliced tomatoes with balsamic pearls, basil and fresh mozzarella,  watermelon with mint and feta, beets with oranges and pistachios. Roasted potato salad.

Beautiful. Delicious. Fresh. Grown on the farm.

After the first two courses, guests got up, went to the bar, visited other guests. I was just beginning to feel like the pace was lagging and headed back to the kitchen. I was blocked by my dear friend Carlyn, who said “we’re giving them a minute to digest, we just served a lot of food.” Oh. everything is under control.

The pace was actually perfect. Different than my typical wedding. I loved it.

Soon enough, guests were back at their seats and the third course was served.

Roasted branzino, achiote roasted carrots, conchigle pasta in a creamy pea sauce.

Guests were encouraged to use some of the sauces from the first course with the third course.

I had some chicken in the back, my mom doesn’t eat fish, and I knew there’d be others, but no one identified. I served a big plate of chicken to my mom’s table and my brothers finished it off. It wasn’t for nothing.

My eighty-nine year old mom was everywhere on wedding day. Playing with Ella and the florals, Chatting up the hog farmers, hanging in the white house.

I can’t say enough about the wedding cake.

I love cake.

Especially, strawberry shortcake made by Tara, Lania’s mom. She used those tiny wild strawberries that taste like heaven. The filling was whipped cream and berries, and then a cream cheese icing on the outside.

It was a delicious beast. I’m still craving it.

My girlfriend Shelley made the cake topper out of paper!  It’s a work of art!

That’s Lindsay on the left.

Around 11 PM, we busted out the bacon wrapped hot dogs. I’m not sure what time they had them at the barn, the fire was slow going. I packed up two for me and my Johnny and we ate them in silence in the Barsotti’s kitchen around 1:30 AM.

On Sunday, we were back to the white house for breakfast… lucky for us,  one of the hog farmers, H.M. had it all under control.  I was thrilled to walk in and see enough potatoes and baked goods for two hundred people.

Time to EAT! When I’m at an event, I tend to not eat. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Not to worry, I make up for it immediately following. And on this day, it was H.M.’s fine breakfast.

That’s her on the far left, next to Irene, MOB, at rehearsal dinner. Next to Irene is Sharon with her ears on, and Irene’s Sister Colleen from Ireland. Three hog farmers and a sister.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up, many thanks to Colleen for reminding me to get my clean up crew lined up. I did a family text and let everyone know their help was expected, and they showed up with gloves on. Lots of Veronica Lake breaks, and a taco lunch led way to a leftover dinner I whipped together for any stragglers and the hog farmers.

They loved my figgy bread pudding.


Next up… the ceremony.