Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Delectibly edible baseballs and gloves

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Jules Catering celebrates Red Sox Opening Day at Fenway

As always when exploring Jules Catering’s kitchen, we felt a powerful pull toward the bakery, where, on the eve of the Red Sox 2014 home opener, something really special was going on: Shortbread cookies baked and shaped and decorated as baseball balls and gloves were being artfully arranged and packaged by Jules’ Assistant Pastry Chef, Wilmar Aristizabal.¬†

Raise your glove if you love Red Sox Home Opener shortbread cookies from Jules!

Raise your glove if you love Red Sox Opening Day shortbread cookies from Jules!

Cookies were everywhere, so we asked the obvious: How many?

“One-thousand-five-hundred.” Wilmar didn’t bat an eye.

Jules' resident "Cookie Monster" Wilmar Aristizabal offers a few of the 1,500 cookies he baked for the Red Sox home opener

Wilmar sent us home with a sampling of the 1,500 cookies he baked for Opening Day at Fenway

A simple recipe, a massive achievement

“It’s very basic,” Wilmar continued. “For the dough, just three ingredients.”¬†

Classic Scottish shortbread cookies as prepared by Jules features only high-quality sweet butter, powdered sugar, and flour

Top-quality unsalted butter + powdered sugar + flour = classic Scottish shortbread cookies from Jules

“Ginger or citrus or even savory flavorings, like cheddar, are called for in some shortbread recipes, but for Opening Day, we go the traditional route.”

Fresh, creamery butter is essential

Premium creamery butter is essential

“Something else we do is use confectioners’ sugar in the dough, rather than the granulated sugar featured in some recipes” Wilmar explained. “We do this because we believe the powdered sugar yields a more delicate and crumbly texture. Then, before we bake, we sprinkle granulated sugar on top.”

Wilmar blends the flour and powdered sugar before mixing both into the softened butter

Wilmar blends the flour and powdered sugar before mixing both into the softened butter

“Of course, simple as the recipe is, ‘stitching’ the seams on 1,500 balls and gloves¬†does¬†take time.”

We could only imagine.

These baseball gloves are NOT tough as leather

These baseball gloves are NOT tough as leather

 

Beneath the stitches is delectable crumbly shortbread coated with egg-white and powdered-sugar icing

Beneath the stitches crumbly shortbread is coated with egg-white and powdered-sugar icing

What quantities are involved in a recipe for so many cookies?

Large¬†quantities!” Wilmar reached for a calculator. “In total,¬†this 1,500-cookie batch required more than 56 lbs of butter, 71 lbs of flour, and 15 lbs of powdered sugar. But because I prepare only 200 cookies at a time, it’s manageable. I don’t break my back.”¬†

So if 269 Cookie Monsters were to occupy each of the 269 seats atop Fenway’s “Green Monster,” you could feed–?

“From this batch of shortbread, we could offer about 5-1/2 cookies apiece!”

Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” is poised for Opening Day

Why “short” and why “bread”?

A jazz musician we knew used the term “short bread” to characterize low-paying gigs, but we wondered about the culinary meaning of the word. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the short in shortbread refers to “butter or other fat used in baking‚Ķ ‘shorten’ in the sense of ‘make crumbly’‚Ķor ‘easily crumbled.’”¬†And the bread¬†in the name¬†was used by early Scottish bakers who fought to classify shortbread biscuits (ie, cookies) as a “bread,” in order to avoid paying a government tax placed on biscuits.

A Scottish creation that dates back to the 12th century and popular ever since throughout the United Kingdom, shortbread is said to have been refined and popularized by Mary Queen of Scots, who, at age 44, was beheaded for treason for allegedly plotting the execution of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

We wonder whether Mary Queen of Scots, found guilty of plotting the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I, dined on shortbread for her last meal

We wonder whether Mary Queen of Scots dined on shortbread for her last meal

Queen Mary’s favorite shortbread was cut into triangular “Petticoat Tails,” so named because the triangle wedges cut from the circle of dough were the same shape as the pieces of fabric used to make an Elizabethan petticoat, and the name for a pattern back then was ‘tally.’ Queen Mary’s preferred ‘petticote tallis‘ was flavored with¬†caraway¬†seeds.

Other fascinating facts about shortbread:

  • Because shortbread ingredients were expensive, this treat was often reserved for special occasions, notably¬†Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year‚Äôs Eve.
  • The Scottish custom of eating shortbread on New Year‚Äôs Eve arose out of an ancient pagan ritual.
  • In Shetland, a decorated shortbread was traditionally broken over a bride‚Äôs head before she entered her new home.
  • In the UK, January 6 is National Shortbread Day.
  • Southerners in the US traditionally used brown sugar when preparing the dough; in Kentucky, shortbread cut into squares or wedges and topped with strawberries and cream is known as “Derby Cake.”
Using Jules' classic shortbread recipe we shaped and cut Mary-Queen-of-Scots-style "Petticoat Tails"

Using Jules’ classic shortbread recipe we shaped and cut Mary-Queen-of-Scots-style “Petticoat Tails”

Shortbread cookies are not just for Red Sox Opening Day

Jules’ Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, popped down into the kitchen to give us a little backstory on “the themed cookies Jules prepares for summer ice-cream socials, winter holiday events, and any number of other ‘show-appreciation-for-the-guests’ -type occasions Jules caters throughout the year.”¬†

Jenny Willig, standing with a package the Jules sales team assembled as part of the bid process for today’s Opening Day event, says, “Pitching and ‘catching’ Jules’ food and service is a win-win for all involved.”

Jules’ Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Serves 8)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)

1. Whisk the flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

2.¬†Using your hands, press the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead until it is smooth. Press the round of dough on top of a piece of parchment paper and, with a rolling pin, roll out until about ¬Ĺ-inch thick. Define a circle by cutting around the circumference of a pie or dinner plate.

3. Transfer the parchment paper with rolled-out circle of dough to a baking sheet. Crimp the edges, then poke the dough all over with a fork and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Score the circle of dough into 16 wedges. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes. (Overnight also works.)

4. Adjust an oven rack to the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake the shortbread until pale golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and, while the shortbread is still warm, use a sharp knife to cut through the scored marks and separate the wedge-shaped Petticoat Tails. Let cool and serve.

We love the way these cookies crumble

We love the way these cookies crumble (again, quality butter and powdered sugar are key)

World champ cookies, a championship team

Whether they win or lose, Jules loves the Red Sox. 

Grateful fans gather in the shadows of the Green Monster, November 2, 2013

Grateful fans gather in the shadows of the Green Monster, November 2, 2013

 

"Did I hear 'World Champion Cookies'?!"

“Did someone say ‘World Champ Cookies’?!” (Boston’s ace was all ears)

The best Sox are the Red Sox

Three days ago at the White House, Barack Obama (a Chicagoan and a White Sox fan), wished David Ortiz and other members of the Red Sox good luck this season. “May the best Sox win,” he smiled.

Big Papi snaps a 'selfie' with the President, who invited the Red Sox to the White House April 1

Big Papi tweets a ‘selfie’ with the President, April 1

“Shortnin’ Bread”–Music to munch by

Finally, because there’s very little we enjoy more than sampling shortbread while tapping our toes to great music, here’s Mississippi John Hurt playing and singing “Shortnin’ Bread.”

Interestingly, the shortnin’ bread lauded in this song may actually have¬†been¬†bread–ie, a quick bread made with shortening–rather than the shortbread cookies featured in this post. But that’s a topic for another time!

Image Credits:
Green Monster Fenway Park, Bernard Gagnon: Wikimedia Commons
Mary Stuart Queen of Scots, Francois Clouet: Wikimedia Commons
Big Papi Tweets Selfie with the President: David Ortiz, Twitter
All other photos: Liz Muir 

 

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Jules welcomes Bobby and Brooke

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Not long into our conversation with Jules Catering’s newly hired Event Managers, Brooke de Moraes¬†and Bobby Spano, we experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance: Did the numbers add up? Could these fresh faces really and truly have (in sum) clocked 30 years in the catering industry?

In total, Event Managers Brooke de Moraes and Bobby Spano offer 30 years of catering experience!

“I‚Äôve always been in catering–or at least since I was 16,”¬†Bobby offered.

I started at 14!” Brooke laughed.

Hmm… We did the math… Jules Catering’s new hires really are¬†old hands–with decades of experience between them.

So you found your path into catering very early, we prompted. Now, fill us in on how and why and where you began.

Brooke: “Primarily I’m someone who likes to help plan”

Raised on Martha

“I grew up in¬†Longmeadow, a cute little town south of Springfield, where my mom threw a lot of dinner parties. Every month she eagerly awaited the next issue of “Martha Magazine” (that is, Martha Stewart Living), with the result that many of those tasty and reliable recipes landed on our table. My mother tried¬†everything. She was always cooking new things, and I enjoyed it. (Maybe I enjoy eating a little too much!) ¬†I think this is how it all started for me.”

What then?

“Throughout high school and college I worked for an off-premise catering company near Springfield. At 14 I was a server. Later, I learned to bartend. And some of the time–even as early as age 17–I was actually running the show, managing weddings and tackling some other quite complex events. It was fun, and I learned a lot.”

Brooke de Moraes

“Before joining Jules this winter,¬†I worked as a Catering Operations Manager at a Boston-area caterer.”

“A stand-out event for me there was a half-million-dollar wedding. I treasure this memory, not so much because my clients had tremendous resources and because the wedding turned out to be perfect (it really did!), but because¬†I became so fond of this family. They were so down to earth, so grateful for the help I was able to provide as we moved through the planning process and then the wedding itself–I’ll just never forget it.”

“As is the case with all of my catering experiences, I value the relationships. Even when there are no events on the horizon, people tend to stay in touch!”

Now that you’re with Jules, what’s on your calendar?

“Well, this afternoon I’m meeting with a bride and groom and a representative from the Charles Riverboat Company,¬†for a tasting. We’re planning a June 1 wedding out on Boston Harbor. (How romantic is that?!) I’ve been married for nearly four years, and my low-key, backyard wedding was just what I wanted it to be. But if I had to do it all over again, I might opt for a nautical setting.”

“I don’t want to give the impression I do only weddings (that’s more Bobby’s bailiwick), because I’m very busy with a number of other projects, including staffed events for corporate clients.”

“And I’m thrilled to have joined the Jules team. I have a lot of experience planning and managing events, but one of the really nice things I’m beginning to appreciate about this new situation is that I’m able to turn to longtime event sales managers–people like Lynn and Jenny and Paula, for example–and brainstorm with them about how to remedy issues. This is great, because successfully planning and managing a catered event has a lot to do with recognizing a¬†wide variety of challenges–and then being able to “invisibly” deal with them. By “invisibly” I mean: create the reality for clients that their event represents no challenge at all!”

Is there anything else you would especially like Jules clients to know about you?
 
“Maybe that while my job title is ‘Event Sales¬†Manager,’ I don’t think of myself as a sales¬†person. Primarily I’m someone who likes to help plan.”
 

 

Bobby: “I guide the bride”

Bobby Spano

What about you, Bobby? Where did you begin?

“My first job was dishwasher, then server, then bartender, then manager. I worked my way up, which is of course great training for anyone in catering, because it exposes you to everything. On top of that, my mom was a catering director for a hotel on the South Shore when I was growing up–and she’s still in the industry today. She sells bands for weddings…music.”

Sounds like your mother was influential.

“Ours was a¬†big party house–it still is–particularly in the summer when we all gather around the pool. My father’s family is Italian, my mother’s is Greek–so while she serves grape leaves and all sorts of delicious things, my dad cooks on the grill.”

Other influences?

“I love to dine out. This is also true for Brooke, I know, because it’s important for us to keep tabs on what‚Äôs going on, observe new trends, and then bring the best elements of what we experience back to our clients. “Every weekend I watch the Phantom Gourmet,¬†and I was¬†obsessed with Downton Abbey. TV like this is fun, but it’s also educational. I learned a lot about service and place settings–the way silverware is properly set–from watching Matthew and Lady Mary’s ‘Masterpiece‘ wedding!”

You’ve been here for not quite two months. What were you up to before you joined Jules?

“I went to law school, while simultaneously working at Wildflour Caterers, in Milton. At Wildflour my initial, exclusive focus was weddings and other social events. Later, I expanded into corporate catering. Still later, when I got out of law school and didn‚Äôt immediately find a job as an attorney, Wildflour promoted me to Catering Director and offered me a raise. So I stayed on for another year, and I was comfortable. But when my former (and once again current) colleague Kim Gericke alerted me to an opening here at Jules, I followed up. And here I am today.”¬†

Now that you’re with Jules, will you turn your attention to any particular types of events?

“I’ll be involved with a little bit of everything, but because I love to plan weddings–and because I have particular expertise in this area–weddings will be my special focus. Large, small, traditional, cutting-edge–I stand at the ready to help plan and manage them all.”

“A trend I’m noticing among my friends who are getting married is toward the back-yard celebration, rather than the fancy hotel wedding. These smaller events are fun for me, because when I’m planning a wedding in someone’s home, I’m working with more of a blank canvas. The process can be especially creative.”

“An unforgettable wedding I planned and managed when I worked at Wildflour involved a hurricane! Due to the absolutely crazy weather, we had to change the time of the wedding twice in 48 hours. ‘No, no, no…don‚Äôt come at 4…come at 5!’ There was an outdoor tent, gale-force winds, windswept rain, and¬†mud–and when the bride came to me feeling a little stressed out I simply told her, ‘You gotta have fun. You gotta enjoy yourself because everyone here is either family or friends and we have collaborated on an amazing wedding.’ And she did–she had a great time.¬†Everyone did. Later, at WeddingWire, the bride posted a very positive review, noting not only how wonderful the wedding was, but thanking me for being so friendly and accessible and respectful of the budget, throughout the process. Feedback like that always makes me feel good.”

What else would you particularly like Jules clients to know about you?

“Maybe that because of my law-school background I’m very detail oriented, while also being easy to work with…easygoing. My job is to guide the bride, and so these are qualities that serve me well as I help plan weddings.”

“Once–for just a moment–I thought I’d let down the bride. Her wedding was at the¬†EpiCenter, in South Boston, and when she stepped inside and started to cry, my heart sank. Then, to my great relief, she sniffled and smiled: ‘It‚Äôs better than I’d ever imagined it would be!’”

“It’s moments like these that make me love my job. Planning a wedding is a lot about trust, about building relationships, so when the wedding is over and we all move on it can feel a little bittersweet.”

 

Photo Credits:
Portraits of Brooke and Bobby: Liz Muir
Magazine Cover: Martha Stewart Living
Lisianthus Stems: Liz Muir
Wedding March: Boston Public Library, Wikimedia Commons
Garden Sign: Liz Muir 

 

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The ‘anatomy’ of Jules-catered parties

Monday, January 14th, 2013

How does Jules cater parties? With the help of Jules’ Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, we began to¬†count the many ways.

A food station before party-time; notes in bowls are one way the kitchen and 'front of the house' communicate

“I’m glad you asked about this,” said Jen, “because my sense is that¬†some¬†of our clients so strongly associate us with one particular type¬†of event that they may not fully appreciate Jules’ wide-ranging capabilities.”

We can guess at some of the distinctions, we offered. How would you break things down?

Party variables

“When partnering with individual clients and working through the event-planning process, we factor in¬†a number of basic elements, including:

  • Drop-Off Versus Staffed Event
  • Venue Location
  • Logistics of Event (plated, buffet, alcohol served?)
  • Food Display/Presentation

Jules also offers simple or elaborate flowers, table decor, and other decorations

What about menu options? we wondered.

“Culinary preferences and menus¬†are of course¬†the heart and soul of Jules Catering, but this is such a vast topic, let’s focus on food another day.”

Over the course of 2012 we captured in photos at least some of Jules’ wide-ranging capabilities–

“Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Drop-off

Every day, the five vans in Jules’ fleet are loaded up and sent on their way to drop off food in and around Boston. On a typical weekday, Jules makes about 45¬†drop-off deliveries.¬†

Jules Catering drivers triple-check lists before loading, driving, and dropping off

Jules drops off hot and cold food to corporate and academic institutions, as well as to private homes.

Staffed Events

“Drop-off is a big part of Jules’ business,” Jenny continued, “but some parties require–and some budgets allow–on-site chefs and and/or bartenders and/or waitstaff.¬†Whatever¬†the budget and customer preferences, Jules’ expert sales team works hand in hand with clients to ensure successful events, and–when a staffed party makes sense–Jules has at the ready a full-service team.”

Jules Party Chefs Takes Charge in Private Homes

Jules' party chef Alex preps appetizers in a client's home kitchen

Party staffer Gus rolls up his sleeves for party prep in private home

Jules Party Chefs Prepare Food On-Site in Corporate Kitchens

Some Jules-catered events call for on-site party chefs

 Jules Waitstaff Set Up Wine Bar in Private Home

Ready for bubbles? Greg and John are ready to pour!

Jules Offers Full-Service Bars and Expert Bartenders

This wedding party featured a full-service bar; Anita is ready to mix and pour, Daniela is ready to serve

 

Venue

“What are the desired atmospherics? This is one key¬†variable we take into account when selecting a venue or adapting to a given space,” Jenny continued. “Of course the good news is: Jules can create a party atmosphere in any location.”

Large Off-Site Venue
(Cocktail Party)

Jules staff prepare for a large off-site party that featured food stations, bar, and cafe tables

Private Home
(Cocktail Party)

Jules caters parties--large and small--in private homes

 Corporate Venue
(Holiday Cocktails, Dinner, and Candy Station)

Candy station set-up for an on-site corporate holiday event

Corporate Venue
(Small-Scale Holiday Brunch)

John, a regular on Jules' waitstaff team, awaits arrival of families for corporate holiday brunch

 Tent
(Wedding Catered at  Private Home)

Members of the Jules team strategize next steps in wedding-party set-up

 

Food display and presentation 

“Jules loves a party,” Jenny continued, “and we pride ourselves on the quality and ever-changing variety of our passed hors d’oeuvres, our buffet offerings, and our plated meals.”

Passed hors d’oeuvres

Hors d’Oeuvres (Almost) Ready to be Passed and Served

An on-site party-chef arranges Coconut Chicken with Pineapple Salsa on a Nambé (leaf-shaped) platter

Hors d’Oeuvres Can Be Prepared and Passed in Private Homes

Jules prepares to pass hors d'oeuvres

Waitstaff Pass Hors D’Oeuvres in Large Venue¬†

Large cocktail party fundraiser featured passed hors d'oeuvres

Food stations

Many parties Jules caters feature help-yourself food stations. Parties like these may or may not also feature passed hors d’oeuvres.

Food Station in Private Home
(Adjacent Buffet Table Is Reflected in Mirror)

This party in a private home included a buffet (reflected in mirror) and food stations

A simple, but elegant, cocktail party display

Stationary Food Displays in Large Reception Area

There's an art to setting up stationary food displays

Jules Catering dessert station--before setup

Jules Catering dessert station--after setup

Buffets

“Of course a variation on the food station is the full-fledged buffet table,” Jenny explained. “Even buffets designed for large groups¬†can be minimally staffed.”

Buffet Setups in Private Homes

An especially splendid Jules-catered cocktail party buffet

An extra-special Sunday brunch buffet

Buffet Setup for On-Site Staff Holiday Party

This holiday buffet for 90 guests was capably managed by just two staff members

Holiday Office-Party Buffet in Private Home

Some of Jules' clients opt to host 'office parties' in private homes

 

Jules really IS a “full-service” caterer

So, we challenged Jenny. What if we were to say we were ready to party and wanted to brainstorm our options?

I would say, ‘Give Jules a call!’ “

Jules-catered events run the gamut from dinner for two at home to off-site events for 2,000

Jules Catering Order Sheet for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and dinner

Jules can also help arrange for music

 

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

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The turkey, “though a little vain and silly…

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

“…is a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards…with a red Coat on.” So wrote Benjamin Franklin, tongue at least partly in cheek, in a 1784 letter to his daughter, noting that “this respectable Bird” and “true original Native of America”¬†would have been superior to the bald eagle as the fledgling republic’s national emblem.

Ben Franklin and Tom Turkey

Ben and Tom

 

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving

Encountering this delicious quotation prompted us to do some gobbler Googling. In particular, we wondered how wild turkeys we’ve seen around town (the handsome fellow, above right, was photographed in Brookline!) compare to domestic turkeys, in particular, the free-range turkeys reared by Misty Knoll Farms¬†of New Haven, VT, purveyed by Kinnealey Quality Meats¬†in nearby Brockton, and prepared and served by Jules.

Wild turkeys

Louise Miller likes wild turkey meat

Louise Miller: "I like anything wild."

Before tapping into search engines, we called our friend Louise Miller, who was born on a small farm in Shaver’s Creek, PA, and married 60-plus years to a hunter of small and large game.

“Some people don’t like wild turkey, because it’s all dark meat and they say it tastes gamey, but I¬†much prefer wild to a supermarket bird. Jack, my husband, liked hunting turkey. He’d just park himself near a tree, where he thought they would be…where he’d seen signs of scratching…and he’d set there and call them. Gobblers will come to find the hen, but they’re sneaky. They can come up right behind you and you never know it. It’s harder–and takes more patience–to get a wild turkey than it does a deer.”

A key distinction between wild and store-bought birds stems from the fact that most commercially raised turkeys are selectively bred to grow faster and develop more breast meat than wild turkeys. Which leads to the question: Where do¬†free-range¬†birds fit in? They’re not wild. They’re not cooped up. Are naturally raised free-range turkeys something ‘in between’?

Why range free?

Up until the 20th century, green feed and sunshine (for the vitamin D) were fundamental to poultry rearing, because these ‘ingredients’ were required to raise healthy birds. But with the discovery of vitamins A and D, in the 1920s, the number of free-range poultry farms began to decline. While some large commercial breeding flocks were reared on pasture into the 1950s, advances in nutritional science led to increased confinement. ¬†Gathering up flocks and putting them all in one place allowed poultry to be raised on a commercial scale.

Monet Wild Turkeys

Foraging turkeys painted by Claude Monet

Of course while confinement yields efficiencies, it also presents problems. Today, the vast majority of the 260 million commercially raised turkeys in the US spend their lives in enclosed, artificially lit and ventilated sheds that house thousands of birds. Overcrowding–often extreme–causes stress hormones to rise, which increases aggression and accounts for a variety of other health problems. And, when disease occurs, it can easily spread.

In contrast, the advantages of a free-range approach are many. According to Compassion for World Farming:

  • Turkeys allowed to exercise and behave naturally have stronger, healthier legs
  • Access to fresh air and daylight means better eye and respiratory health
  • Health problems ¬†associated with a fast growth rate are minimized¬†because free-range farms often raise slower-growing breeds

Free-range turkeys from Misty Knoll Farms

Misty Knoll Farms turkeys in the straw

The free-range turkeys we know and love are those from family-owned and -operated Misty Knoll Farms, in New Haven, VT.¬†When old enough to withstand Vermont‚Äôs cool nights, they are sheltered in open barns and have free access to natural pasture, sunlight, and fresh water.¬†Because the turkeys range free on the farm’s meadows, and¬†because they are fed wholesome grain that is free of antibiotics and animal by-products, their lives–compared to factory-farmed turkeys–are natural and relatively stress-free.

This time of year, as another cold Vermont winter approaches, Misty Knoll turkeys–like any bird in the wild–plumpen up. Allowed to grow naturally to size, they are robust and meatier, and–when roasted–they will be juicy from wholesome feed, rather than from the injected oils and additives applied to factory-farmed birds. ¬†And, because they’re graded and processed on-site and by hand, only the finest birds are offered for sale. While it takes a little longer to rear birds in a free-range environment, Misty Knoll Farms feels good about being able to offer such healthy and nutritious turkeys. And Jules Catering’s Executive Chef Albert Rosada agrees.

Roasted free-range, organic turkeys from Jules

“The turkey breasts we’re roasting today are 22- to 24-pounds–the biggest breasts you can get,” explained Jules Catering’s Executive Chef, Albert Rosado. “Misty Knoll Farms turkeys are wonderful because they’re not full of fat or muscle–and they’re tender. The quality of the meat is grade A”

We asked Albert why he sports a meat thermometer in his pocket. “I need to keep checking. We want to roast white-meat turkey to 160 degrees,” he explained.

Albert halves organic free range turkey breast

Executive Chef Albert Rosado halves a succulent 24-pound turkey breast.

Halved organic free-range turkey breast

"We give our turkeys a lot o' love," Albert says.

Seconds after Albert finishes slicing, he passes breast meat along to Line Cook Jeff Ginyard, who ladles hot gravy. Moments later the turkey is sealed and wrapped, locked up in an insulated cart, and wheeled out the door!

Jeff ladles turkey gravy Jules Catering

When it's time for the holidays Jeff, Albert, and free-range turkeys are a winning team.

 Mmmm, that turkey looks so moist and smells so great. What else is on the menu? we inquired.

“Oh, we’ve got lots of great menu items,” replied Line-Chef Jeff, as he handed me the order sheet. “Today, for example, some of our corporate clients will be enjoying this little preview of a Thanksgiving feast.”

PRE-THANKSGIVING LUNCH MENU
Roast Turkey with Herbed Bread Stuffing
Butternut Squash Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce (Vegetarian Entrée)
Cranberry Chutney
Mashed Potatoes with Sweet Potato Swirls
Field Greens with Apple and Cheddar
Roasted Fall Vegetables
Dinner Rolls
Warm Apple-and-Pear Crisp with Whipped Cream

 

Photo Credits:
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin circa 1785 by Joseph Duplessis: National Portrait Gallery, Public Domain
Male Wild Turkey, Brookline, MA: Sasha Kopf, Wikimedia Commons
Louise Miller Talks Turkey: Liz Muir
The Turkeys by Claude Monet: WikiPaintings, Public Domain
Misty Knoll Farms Turkeys: Rob Litch
Turkey Prep at Jules Catering (3 photos): Liz Muir 

 

Farm and Chef Partnership

Misty Knoll Farms is an active member of the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN), a state-wide organization dedicated to building innovative partnerships among Vermont farmers, chefs, and consumers to strengthen Vermont’s agriculture.  


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‘Particular party planner’ Mimi Deignan

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Mimi makes many lists...

“Where’s Mimi?”

This was more or less our mantra when we popped in to observe all that’s involved in setting up a Country Wedding for 200 guests on a balmy autumn afternoon.

We found ourselves repeatedly asking this question, not because Mimi wasn’t where she was “supposed” to be…

Not at all!

It was because Mimi was very nearly everywhere very nearly all at once.

A background steeped in hospitality

“This apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” Mimi laughed, when we asked where and when her career as a professional party planner began. “I was born into a world where food and entertaining were more than usually central to family life.”

Mimi checks lists more than twice!

“My grandfather Loughran had his own butcher shop in Quincy Market–the old Quincy Market, which was all about food. And my father ran a wholesale food business that operated throughout New England.”

“But the biggest influence on my career was my mother, a homemaker who not only entertained with great panache in our Boston home, but who did the very same thing for many others. Tea parties, fashion-show luncheons, tea dances–you name it–all on behalf of good causes. My mother happily volunteered for this nonprofit work–she was never paid for her efforts–and yet her work was of professional-calibre and everything she did, she did with flourish and flair.¬†No wonder my mother inspired me!” Mimi exhaled. “She inspires me, to this day.”

Party-planning particulars

“It all begins with listening, site visits, layouts, the proper amounting of food for the chefs, handout sheets for staff…. There’s no way to succeed in this line of work if you don’t stay on top of even the smallest detail, which is why I named my business, ‘Particular Party Planners.’ I owned and operated my Belmont-based company for 21 years.”

“When I sold Particular Party Planners and moved back to Boston, I must confess to not being easily impressed by the offerings of many caterers. But when I saw and sampled Jules Catering’s food–and when I recognized the talents of Owner-Chef Anita Baglaneas–how extraordinarily delicious her food tastes and how artistically she presents it–I wanted to part of this creative enterprise. From Day One Anita and I hit it off, and I’ve been with Jules for 14 years.”

A  country wedding

“Another talented individual with whom I’m always pleased to collaborate is Lo McShay of¬†LoLo Event Designs,” Mimi continued.¬†”While Jules¬†has all the resources and expertise to independently plan every type of event, we’re also happy¬†to team up with creative partners, like Lo.”

Lo McShay of LoLo Event Designs and Mimi Deignan of Jules Catering collaborate on some events

“Given Lo’s background in advertising and her vision for how a ‘New England harvest wedding’ should play out, it was fun for me–and for all of us at Jules–to ensure that the food and service we provide for this occasion complements Lo’s vision in every detail.”

“And, believe it or not, my B.A. in Fine Arts has also served me well,” Mimi continued, “because¬†visual¬†elements are fundamental to the success of¬†every¬†event.”

Burlap, wood, wildflowers, and mason jars instantly transmit the "country wedding" theme

“Look around” Mimi continued, “and you’ll see ‘country wedding’ everywhere–not just in the meadow-like setting for the ceremony, and the wooden benches, and the cotton-covered hay bales–but in the family-style dinner tables accented with burlap and wildflowers and mason jars–and in the menu, as well.

“To give you a glimpse, here’s the menu for just one of Jules’ two dinner buffets offered at this wedding.”

DINNER BUFFET
Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Reduction
Capon Roulade with Wild Mushroom Stuffing, Served with an Herb Gravy
A Mélange of Local Autumn Vegetables
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Mixed New England Greens, Julienned Concord Apples, Gorgonzola Cheese Served with Gougères and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Baskets of Assorted Artisanal Rolls and Breads

“Oh, and stay tuned for the cowbell!” Mimi laughed. “Before long I will be luring guests from the cocktail tent to the wedding ceremony by gently ringing this country-style bell.”

Mimi assembles an A+ Team

“Food, presentation, and staffing are of paramount importance when planning and managing a party–and¬†when it comes to staffing any kind of special event, one person I always feel lucky to be able to partner with is¬†Jules Catering’s Staffing and Events Manager, Sergio Ribeiro.”

Mimi and her best right-hand man, Sergio Ribeiro

“Because both Sergio and I agree that appropriate staffing is fundamental to the success of any party, I’m proud to say that we’ve enlisted an A-plus team of 19 waitstaff and bartenders for this wedding today.”

“These are my pals!” Mimi smiled, as she prompted waitstaff in the cocktail tent to strike a pose by the fruit and cheese display, which was a creation of Party Chef Hubeimar Restrepo. “Hubeimar is the master-artist behind this display,” Mimi explained, “but others on the team also pitched in.”¬†

Daniela, Hubeimar, Hannia, Jonathan, and Caio gather 'round sumptuously arranged fruit and cheese

“Did you notice the wooden barrels supporting the bar and buffet tables and the overturned milk crates supporting the fruit and cheese display?” Mimi asked. “I agree with Lo that these details wonderfully reinforce the country-wedding theme.”

Mimi caught us eyeing the artisanal cheese offerings. “Aren’t they gorgeous? All five varieties–Camembert, Gouda, Cheddar, Blue, and Ch√®vre–were made right here in New England, and were specially selected by Jules’ longtime Food and Beverage Manager (and one-time chef of Boston’s Bay Tower Restaurant), Paul Malcuit.”

New England country cheeses: Mountain Blue, Roquefort-Crusted Chèvre, Cave-Aged Cheddar

Party prep was also in full-swing outside the cocktail tent: 

Jules’ expert administrative support person and seasoned waitstaffer,¬†Stephanie Vargas,¬†checked her watch before preparing mason-jar water glasses for dinner. “We time things so that by the time guests are seated each glass will contain a refreshing balance of water and ice.”

Stephanie prepares to fill mason-jar water glasses with ice

“And you must snap a portrait¬†our talented quartet of bartenders,” Mimi enthused as she encouraged them to take a little break and join us outdoors. “Not only is each a talented mixologist with expertise in fine wine, but no matter how frenetic the pace of a party, I can count on them to consistently provide gracious and attentive service, along with perfectly prepared drinks.”

Four of Jules Catering's go-to-bartenders are Ben, Mark, Susan, and Anita

“Of course the same holds true of our waitstaff. On top of being hospitable and attentive to our guests, they know the menus and the particulars of each menu item. And when, on a moment’s notice, I call upon one or the other to switch gears, each is a skilled multi-tasker, ready to jump in and tackle whatever must be done to ensure smooth party flow.”

Always ready to serve are Jules' wait-staff regulars John, Stephanie, Frank, Daniela, and Robyn

¬†”Teamwork is the name of the game, when it comes to staffing any kind of event,” Mimi concluded. “I couldn’t be more proud of my A-plus team.”¬†

Remember those mason jars Stephanie iced? Here, in the dinner tent, Daniela and Frank distribute them

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

 

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