Robin literally grew up in the business. She is the Managing Partner and Executive Chef of Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning, a 40-year industry leader based in Connecticut. Robin is one of the fierce women entrepreneurs who is changing the face and heart of the catering and event planning world. The company has been wowing clients for years and Robin has a clear vision for where the company—and industry—are going.
We caught up with her to chat about the magic ingredients behind the Selden brand and what keeps the family-run business thriving.
You will see Robin all over Catersource 2019, as Day 1 emcee at Art of Catering Food, presenting with her sibling, Jeffrey, at Catersource, and judging the Beyond the Plate competition, to name a few. She’ll be inspiring you, but here’s a little taste of her story.
Your company has been around for a while. What is the key to your longevity and growth?
PASSION!! Every single person from my mother Marcia to our dishwashers and porters have a passion for this business, and they care and take ownership of our company. This is not something that can be taught and, in my opinion, contributes 100 percent to our success!
What major changes are you seeing in the catering/events world?
Technology, Technology, Technology!
How has that technology changed your business and your life?
It has streamlined so many of our procedures and has helped to make us work more efficiently. At the same time, smart phones have made it way more difficult for me at least to disconnect from work when I need to take a break or have a day off. So, while they are awesome to have, I often want to lose mine sometimes…LOL!”
The catering + events show of the year is back! James Beard Award winners, TED style keynotes, influencers galore, and food for days. See all that’s in store here!
You work with family. What are some of the pros and cons?
We are very lucky to all really like each other and have the same ideals, morals, work ethic, and passion for this crazy business! While my mom over sees everything, Jeffrey (my brother) and I manage and work in different areas. So, while we see each other daily and collaborate on our events, we ultimately do our own thing that helps to contribute to our success and to creating amazing memories for our clients which at the end of the day is one of the reasons why we love doing this so much!
The biggest con, for me, is the lack of filter that we have (as family members) with each other. It’s hard to separate the mother/daughter/son and sibling roles vs. leadership roles in the company and often we say things to each other that we would definitely not say to an employee or boss. Those blurred lines are tough!
Chef Robin Selden
You’re a business leader, a mother, and a volunteer. How do you manage and balance that all?
I am all about giving back. I sit on three non-profit boards and two advisory boards. Being involved in our community just makes me feel good and while I’m incredibly busy with my fulltime job I just seem to make the time for things like this that are really important to me!
With regards to my family, I made a conscious effort this year to be more ‘present.’ My kids are juniors in high school and we are starting the whole college process, so they need me now more than ever!
Have you seen the role of women in the catering/events/culinary industry change over time? How?
YES, definitely!! We are here and being recognized more as a force in the culinary world which makes me so happy!! There is something to be said about the innate nurturing quality that a woman brings to a business particularly if she is a creative foodie! If I don't say so myself!
What are some of your favorite foods?
I love the clean, fresh flavors of Tuscan and Mediterranean cuisines but will never turn down a great Latin or Asian meal either! I despise green peppers, fishy fish, and very gamey proteins.
How do you inspire others?
I’m a creative perfectionist that is madly in love and insanely passionate about everything I do! I give 110 percent and have a very strong work ethic. I’ve been told by my employees that my energy is infectious and it makes them want to be and do better at what they do.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the business?
Don’t do it for the money as its way too much work and time and sweat and tears! Do it because you love it and the success will come!
Want to hear from other women in the industry? Attend this Catersource Session!