Tanner & Ella

Around mid-August of last year, I received an email from a young woman named Ella.

“I stumbled on your Skinny Girls and Mayo site and saw that you recently catered a fundraiser at The 1909 in Topanga,” she said. “It just so happens we are getting married at The 1909 next May, and I would love to talk to you.”

A heart-shaped tri tip for Tanner & Ella

A heart-shaped tri tip for Tanner & Ella

She and her fiancé, Tanner, were having no luck finding a caterer they liked — they wanted something sophisticated and “foodie,” yet casual and relaxed. But all the leads they were getting in their price range were disappointing buffets. More

Raising Fun and Funds

Last year around this time, I was asked to cook at the silent auction fundraiser for my kids’ elementary school. The event, a 1970s-themed soiree at a local venue, the 1909, was a huge success and the food — including pizzas and huge paleolithic ribeye steaks emerging from a wood-fired oven — was the star.

So when it came around time for the 2015 fundraiser — with an 80s theme — I was again asked. Again, I accepted.

Don Schneider as Hef, plating cod and cous cous

Don Schneider as Hef, plating cod and cous cous

The party would take place this year at Froggy’s, a local restaurant that had been shuttered and put up for sale — which I briefly considered buying before regaining my common sense — and then, upon failing to find a buyer, reopened. More

Feeding the Unwashed Masses

I am not a caterer.

Caterers have large refrigerators and big stainless steel warming trays and things like that. I’m a chef. I have knives. And I like to see the looks on people’s faces when they taste something good that I have made. It’s hard to do that when you’ve laid out a buffet for 200 people.

The menu

The menu

So, I approached the silent auction I was cooking for as if it was just a big dinner I was doing for 200 of my friends. (Which is essentially what it was anyway.) More

Doing the Topanga Hustle

They first approached me about cooking for the elementary school’s silent auction a couple years back. This year, they meant it. And being that it was for the good of the kids, I agreed!

Glass candle baubles dangle from the oaks at 1909

Glass candle baubles dangle from the oaks at 1909

I don’t often do large events — when I cook for others, it’s usually private dinners — and the logistics would be a challenge. The event, 200 or so people gathered to eat, drink, bid on things they really didn’t need, would have a 1970s “Topanga Hustle” theme. More