I love my job, especially because of events like last night that combine my favorite ingredients of life: amazing food and beverage, great company …and the pièce de résistance: great humor and fun between everyone. As a mom who juggles two event businesses and all that life slings at her, you could literally hear the wheels of my car peeling out when the babysitter showed up and I high-tailed it to Catering Connection’s culinary studios last night. In an industry where our entire focus is taking care of others, it is especially meaningful when someone takes care of us. And Catering Connection, one of Santa Barbara’s leading full-service caterers who just celebrated their 20th Business Anniversary last year offered to do just that. As a thank you to those with whom they work, they decided to do more than just drop off a plate of cookies (not that there’s anything wrong with that- I will never turn down a cookie). They decided to give their event supply partners an evening out- an experience – if you will.
We were greeted with delicious adult bevvies, platters of fabulous, aromatic exotic and domestic cheeses, breads and crackers and trays of passed appetizers were flowing. The only rule was that we were to come dressed down and prepared to relax. The Catering Connection Tasting Room was adorned with gorgeousness from Ventura Rental Party Center, and fresh florals were everywhere. After some social time, we adjourned to the kitchen where Chef Mark greeted us and we all embarked on a guest- interactive cooking experience. Each guest was handed a little packet of menu/recipe cards, showcasing the recipes we would be cooking (Oysters Rockefeller, Braised Beef Short Ribs and Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake), including a blank card for making notes. We were encouraged to bring our beverage of choice into the kitchen to enjoy while we cooked. Cooking participation was voluntary and we all enjoyed the choice of being able to just watch Chef Mark or learn or jump in and cook when we felt like it.
The highlight of my evening was learning how to shuck Oysters! Let me tell you, it is not easy. But the right tools, the right guidance (Catering Connection’s Event Manager Philippe Berger , also a cook, guided us with the one secret that worked: “push and wiggle!”) yielded squeals of excitement and accomplishment from everyone who jumped at the opportunity and was a success opening the oysters.
It was an evening of hanging out with an intimate group of fellow event professionals and just being ourselves. But more than that, it was a decadent way to be shown appreciation. As if the event itself wasn’t enough, Catering Connection lovingly prepared take-home gifts of darling red cooking pots loaded with goodies including a baguette, bottle of wine, potholder, gourmet cheese, a giant jar of the braised short rib creation and more (did I mention I got up at 2am for a midnight snack and heated a baguette slice and dunked it in the juicy goodness of the braised short ribs?) .
Catering Connection‘s legendary standard of commitment to service, to quality food and event experiences is evident in all they do. No wonder they have been so successful and no doubt will continue to build a legendary reputation for many years to come. I am always proud to work with them and have them on my Full Service Caterer list.