First and foremost, catering is a service, and you need to be flexible to last a long time in this industry. It is so important to be able to provide a range of menus and styles in order to always meet the needs and expectations of your clients. Menus from around the world are something that’s being asked for more and more in the wedding and events industry. I travel a lot—both for fun and for work. It’s a luxury I have, but also a necessity for my clients. I’ve visited everywhere from Paris to Cambodia, and it’s given me such a taste for traditions and cultures around the world.
Replicating the experience back home
When I travel, I’m always thinking about ways to bring the different foods and details back with me. The only way to truly be able to replicate the experience is to completely immerse yourself in the culture of where you’re visiting. I love seeing all of the décor, spending time with local chefs, and understanding the colors and smells from all of the authentic recipes. When I leave, I always bring back different spices and recipe books from local chefs so I can be both creative and authentic when I create my menus. When it comes to events, it’s all in the details. A perfectly executed theme really focuses on those cultural details like delivery, presentation, and plating.
Finally, being able to create authentic menus from around the world is a great sales technique when I’m going after new clients. If a couple is looking for a Moroccan themed wedding, I can honestly say that I’m able to recreate that experience. I’ve been there, I’ve spent time with Moroccan chefs, and I have the ingredients and recipes to bring their theme to life.
In early 2015, I was in Madrid, Spain, and was blogging and using Instagram to post all of the different foods I tried and places I visited. While I was there, I got an email from our director of sales, Michelle, saying that one of our new clients had always dreamed of having a Spanish tapas-style menu. Since I was there, I was able to create the menu while I was immersed in the culture. I knew what I was talking about in that moment and could write an amazing menu while I traveled. When I returned, we executed the best event, which included a paella station, fried potatoes and artichokes, Spanish-style bruschetta, and a burrata station. It was all exactly what my client wanted—a modernized delivery of an authentic Spanish menu.
The importance of travel cannot be overlooked when your career is all about creating food and experiences. Being able to create authentic menus from around the world is so valuable, and opens you up to a range of new opportunities, whether Disney needs a caterer for their newest Kung Fu Panda movie, or a couple wants to have the perfect Thai themed wedding.
Chef Matthew Antoun is the CEO and founder of Modern Art Catering, Los Angeles, CA. He has had the privilege of managing events for 1000+ guests at some of the largest and exclusive venues in the Los Angeles area, including Disney, University of Southern California, and Skyspace. Antoun’s celebrity clientele include A list actors and musicians, and his work has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and the LA Times.
Photo: © Hugo Martinez
5 spice roasted tenderloin with a persimmon-habanero sauce and pickled red onions
Photo: © 2015 Dana Pepper Bouton
Ahi tartar in wonton cups with Asian guacamole and pomegranate seeds
Photo: © Hugo Martinez
Ahi tartar with fried shallots, fried capers, avocado mousse and sous vide quail egg
Short rib stuffed baby sweet peppers served with a romesco sauce
Rhubarb with a Greek yogurt ice cream, lime ice shavings, and creme brulee
Get Fresh, January 2016