Guest Blog by: Alexandra Archuleta
Owner, and Caterer at Foodies Catering
Colorado Springs, CO
When asked to write a guest blog for the beautiful creative Lauren, I was elated! Having the opportunity to write about my love of food, which also happens to be my job makes my day. So I was asked, “what do you do?“ Well... EVERYTHING!!
I am a caterer. Which is defined in the dictionary as supplying what is required or desired. In reality it is being a professional grocery shopper, chef, party planner, menu creator, budgeter, marketer, therapist, nerve calmer, business woman, miracle worker and friend. I have to add a lot of different ingredients every day to make my catering recipe a success!
Pictured here is Alexandra, and her beautiful daughter Giana
My first ingredient though is always love! Some people show love through gifts, words, or affection. I show love through food. Food is my love language and it is a language that everyone speaks and understands. Whether you are a client I cooked for everyday this week, or a new one giving a small business a shot I get to feed you something that I put my all into that leaves you with a smile and a full tummy. As corny as it sounds, that is my special touch! People will ask me for recipes and I tell them (most the time) but they say they taste something else. I tell them love, and they walk away with a smile thinking that their caterer is a little nuts - But it’s the truth, and with misty eyes I say it with truth and conviction! Thank goodness my clients are used to this and find it, somehow, endearing!
On to cooking. For my daily routine, I cook lunches for various businesses. I am usually done by 1 pm every day, but my day is far from done. The fact that I am a small business, with no advertising budget, I rely on word of mouth, thumbtack, and Facebook to promote for Foodies Catering. I also try to find businesses that cater in food and find a way to bring them a sample, drop off a menu, and cross my fingers that they will take a leap of faith on an unfamiliar business - this is probably the most difficult part. It is much more familiar to call a local sandwich shop or deli then to have your event catered by a company you do not know, in hopes that the food will turn out great. The majority of the time when I drop off menus to companies they end up right in the trash before my foot is even out the door, so coming up with creative ways to get clients to notice you is a big part of my day to day adventure. I have had the same handful of clients for 3 years now, and they all know to basically communicate through texting and email… yes extremely unprofessional, for new clients especially, but convenient for my clients that know that all they have to do is shoot me an email and their food will arrive no problem. I have to say that the sound of the phone ringing gives me extreme anxiety! I much more enjoy hearing the sizzle of chicken meatballs in my new sauté pan, topping it with gorgeous roma tomatoes, avocado, garlic, some extra virgin oilve oil, and drizzling some fresh garlic aioli on top to devour. Not the best decision to decide to cook something that makes me feel good, and eat it while my phone is ringing, but that is something I will someday fix. Hearing my loving sister’s voice in my head say “you’re the talent! You need someone else to answer your phone!" Makes my chicken meatballs taste all the more delicious!
I start my days at the local grocery store, which is my second home. I know every employee, and have actually become friends with so many of them! They always brighten my day, and they have seen me at every state a person can be in. I’ll go in at 2am in my pajamas, that I wish I could say was a cute Victoria Secret jumpsuit, but in actuality is usually yoga pants a t-shirt and snow boots. Then later, when I forgot to get extra napkins, I run in in my chef coat and am in and out 2 minutes! I am at this store on average 2-3 times per day, so much, that I help people find things and have even been offered a job there! The grocery store helps to inspire me. Seeing a beautiful display of fresh asparagus reminds me that there is goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes right around the corner, and if I had some toasted pine nuts and garlic that would be amazing with my stuffed portabellas I am making the next day. Or when I walk in and see the huge display of melons (yay summertime is near!) it leads me to snatch up a beautiful green watermelon and combine it with blue cheese and prosciutto to have for lunch later. Every day is different, and every day is delicious!
"Amazing food and talent! The dishes are fun to look at and eat with a really cool culinary twist to each dish."
Green Eggs & Ham for Dr. Seuss Week at her daughter Giana's school
My cooking journey has only just begun though. It has been 3 years of getting paid to do what I love, and getting to genuinely love and adore my clients. As part of my growth I even decided to change my business name from Emenaye Catering to Foodies Catering recently. I did this because feel like the days of not realizing a 30 pound pan of au gratin potatoes is going to take hours to cook, the days of not packing enough plates and silverware, and the days of having five year olds eat literally 50 deviled eggs so I have to find a way to direct them towards the cupcakes in order to have some left for the people that paid me..are behind me. Now I know to cook the potatoes hours before I need them, and to keep plates, napkins and sterno cans in my car at all times. I know to ask how many kids will be at the wedding, so I can make special green eggs and ham deviled eggs for them so they have something fun to eat. People ask me how I started cooking, and starting a catering business. Often times I walk in and new clients look at me like who is this young kid that’s bringing us food for our event? More professional clothes would probably help their confidence when I am setting up, but showing up with a business outfit on that has marinara sauce is about as unimpressive as jeans and a t shirt. Now I try to at least make sure I have on yoga pants, top my t-shirt with a chef coat, and put on a nice lip-gloss. ;)
I feel like cooking found me, to which I am forever grateful. I just started doing it one day, subconciously, when I used to go to art shows and didn’t understand why there was staff dressed as penguins, serving food that you could buy at the grocery store - like half frozen shrimp, and ritz crackers topped with a cream cheese ball. - I remembered being in grade school and making endless amounts of cornbread because that was all I knew how to bake, and experimenting with condiments in the fridge to make thousand island dressing...which made me feel like I just discovered some beautiful secret that I would sit and eat with a spoon, and/or put onto a salad. I remember mixing kool aid with sugar and cinnamon and making my family taste it with loving horrified looks on their faces.
I found a letter I wrote to my dad during my parents’ divorce. It was step by step instructions on how to make pasta from start to finish. Boiling and salting the water, adding fresh garlic and basil, not overcooking it, and letting it cool so it didn't burn his mouth. This lead me to my new epiphany: food didn’t find me…I finally found food. It just took me my whole 29 years to come around and recognize something that has been growing inside of me since the first time my mom gave me the jobs of peeling garlic, and grating parmesan cheese (for which I am forever grateful, because I get to think of her everytime I do those things).
For somebody that used to have a zillion friends, to someone whose day revolves around my family, soccer games, and trying to get over the fear of my phone food gives me that connection to people that I believe helps every soul thrive. Food transcends language, judgement and walls. Food is my love language and everyday, whether I am making chicken alfredo lasagna with sausage and peppers, or beer battered fish tacos with chicken flautas and cilantro pineapple I am doing my little part to share that love. I am a creator of imaginative food..a sharer of recipes and love…I am a caterer.