Savour This Moment “Artist Interview”
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…all images by Kappen Photography
How did you get started in doing wedding catering?
Marlene: I come from a family of educators so I think for me the obvious choice was to become a chef and start a catering company. Truth be told, I couldn’t have ever imagined that this is what I would end up doing, but here I am and I have never been happier. It started with a dream of pursuing a job in food not knowing where to begin. After a great deal of research I came to the conclusion that I needed to go to culinary school. While in culinary school I slowly began to narrow down what I ultimately wanted to do with my diploma and arrived at wanting to start a catering company. It just so happened that around that very time my brother had just graduated college so I asked him if he would be interested in entering into the business with me and he said yes. Over the next couple of months we worked on our business plan, brainstormed on what our niche would be to set us apart from all the other caterers out there. Which is when we found inspiration in our roots, our grandmother and the farm, and determined that farm to table would be the best fit for us. And that is how we became Savour This Moment.
Michael: The plan to begin our catering business happened quite unexpectedly. Depending on whom we are speaking to, we deliver the narrative that Marlene began culinary school, and halfway through her education she approached Michael about the idea of running a business together, specifically a catering business. Now Michael was studying history at CSUN, and in his last semester, so as soon as he completed school, the formal process of organizing the business was underway, and the rest is history. We love to throw in the anecdote of how our parents are educators, so for their kids to have entered one of the riskiest fields there exists, is quite a departure, and this is usually met by smiles or laughter.
Do you consider what you do as an art form?
Marlene: I do consider being a chef to be an art form. Maybe not for all people, but for me it is. My food is a direct reflection of me. It is easy enough to put roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed carrots on a plate. However, that is not what a chef does. As a chef you create a menu that taking seemingly diverse ingredients, textures and seasonings and combine them together to create one harmonious menu that tantalizes the taste buds with a presentation to hypnotize the senses and that is in my opinion art.
Michael: Absolutely. Now catering as a business does not need to incoproate aesthetics, as is evidenced by how some companies choose to present themselves, which is acceptable if their clients find it acceptable. We deliver a quality product, and the presentation has to match the flavor, plain and simple. You don’t serve a grilled cheese on fine China, nor should you do the opposite and serve precisely and professionally. prepared food on paper plates with accompanying plastic cups.
Who or what continues to inspires you?
Marlene: My work inspires me. Every day I wake feeling excited to learn and grow as a company and as a chef.
Michael: My biggest inspirations are Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Both of these men built tremendously successful companies after having failed so many times prior. They possessed the all too important quality of persistence, and one must have it to accomplish anything in life, in any field. To know of what they did, and how much they struggled to achieve their accomplishments, provides encouragement to me that it is not at all impossible to build something from nothing, especially with the correct frame of mind which Marlene and Michael possess.
What makes your business unique?
Marlene: I think a couple things set us apart for other companies. People love our food and style but what really sets us apart is our quality service, the fact that we are brother and sister and that we work with local, seasonal produce. Clients think it’s really cool that we are a brother and sister duo that are so passionate about farm to table food and they appreciate how hands on we are as a company to cater to their individual needs.
Michael: We are a farm-to-table catering company that delivers handcrafted menus, while delighting in the activity of fusing culinary traditions from around the globe, together. Yes there exist a handful of companies that are farm-to-table (though the majority are still heavily mainstream), and some companies have a component of diverting from their set menus to customize menus for their clients, and the fusion of different culinary traditions exists as is evidenced by companies like Kogi Food Truck, but to find the combination of all three elements is extremely rare, if not non-existent from what we have seen, and it is this that we wish to bring to client. A product and a service that has the incorporation of local produce, that go into menus that have a personal touch, which results with something that is familiar enough for comfortability, yet different enough to capture their attention and leave their palates wanting more.
How would you describe your ideal couple?
Marlene: Our ideal couple is one that is happy, looking forward to getting married and is as enthused about working with us as we are with them.
Michael: Ideally we want a couple that is engaged, not just to each other, but to the process of deciding a menu for their wedding. What we mean by this is that we want the couple to be active in deciding with us what will be the menu for their special day. They don’t have to know exactly what they want, but we do want them to give us clues so that we can put together a menu as unforgettable as anything else on their wedding day. This also means ideally they open to ideas and happy to see us explore the possibilities for menu items and how these items will be served. The ideal couple is galvanized by the energy we bring to what we do, and essentially join with us as a team to finalize something uniquely special.
What’s your personal business philosophy?
Michael: Our personal business philosophy is that as it is important to have a set of values and practices that anchor the core of the business, you have to constantly be evolving and adherent to trends that emerge because tradition alone will leave you in the dust. Not just that, but new ideas are often important because they potentially build upon old ones that had defects. It is the maintainence of a happy medium between tradition and the emergence innovations that drive success in our opinion.
Marlene: Delicious Farm Fresh Food, Quality Service and Happy Clients.
Favorite part of a wedding?
Marlene: My favorite part of the wedding is the silence that falls over the room when people are eating and the dancing, of course!
Michael: The end. Just kidding. My favorite part of the wedding is the moment I arrive at the wedding. Things are absolutely chaotic as various vendors concerned with getting their program in order, and the feeling of being part of this team of almost players on a stage is absolutely electrifying. I love the feeling of being part of this enormous undertaking that so many people will derive a lot of satisfaction from; it feels good.
Why do you… do what you do?
Marlene: I love to cook and it is a great form of creative expression, but the real reason I do what I do is because of the freedom. I was tired of working for other people and working so diligently to help them achieve their dreams. In this business I am the architect. I planted the seeds, watered them regularly and now they are beginning to sprout. It’s a very exciting process. We started this business from scratch. Every element is a component that we ourselves implemented through hard work and dedication. It is a lot of work but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Michael: I do what I do for the freedom. There are many other joys I derive from what I do, but being self-employed, you own boss, means that you can decide much of your own fate, as long as you don’t step outside the boundaries of the law. A close second is the joy we bring to the couples whom we serve. The positive affect both elements of this business bring to me reinforce everyday why I do. As stated before, there are several other reasons why I do this, but the two main reasons stated above drive me.
What question do you always ask the Bride & Groom?
Marlene: How did you meet? Tell me your story.
Michael: Why do you…do what do you do? No, we ask them of course how they met. It is cliché, but we are storytellers, as you can tell from our lengthy responses. We connect with people on emotional level by detailing things from the point of origin. So to, we like to hear a good story, and it is always beautiful to hear just how the couple met, fell in love, and made the decision that they were meant to be together for eternity.
Off The Wall, FUN… Questions
First music album you ever bought?
Marlene: Brittney Spears, Baby One More Time.
Michael: Americana by The Offspring.
Favorite movie or documentary?
Marlene: Movie… My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Michael: Favorite movie has to be Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy. It is an classic lawyer movie that closely parallels the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920’s; great dialogue!
Song that makes you want to dance like nobody’s watching?
Marlene: Push It — Salt and Pepper
Michael: Well if head banging counts, “Am I Evil” by Diamond Head.
How do you normally begin your day?
Marlene: Write emails, twitter, facebook and drink my morning chai latte.
Michael: Drinking coffee like most normal people is one of, if not the first activity I engage in, usually.
What do you enjoy doing on your day off?
Marlene: Spending time with friends and family indulging in laughter, food and great conversation.
Do you collect anything?
Marlene: I collect the Edible magazines from different cities around the country.
Michael: Not yet, but being an avid historian, and with relics being very costly at times, I plan to amass a museum of artifacts some day, I am just limited from being able to do so at the moment, but blueprints are being drafted as we speak.
Tell us about your first job?
Marlene: I was 16 and I got a job as a hostess at a restaurant called Islands. It was my first taste of working in the restaurant industry.
Michael: Like most people I began by working at a restaurant. I had some of my best experiences as this job. I also learned a lot about money, budgeting, and interpersonal relationships.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Marlene: My greatest accomplishment has been starting this business with my brother Michael.
Michael: Easily having started a business is far superior to anything I have ever done or attempted.
How do you sign off on emails?
Michael: Best/Cheers/Warm Regards and then my name. It depends who I am speaking to, and kind of personality I perceive them to have.
If you moved to a foreign country, which one & why?
Marlene: I would move to Italy. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence and it was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I absolutely fell in love with the city and I promised myself that one day I would have a small apartment there.
Michael: Ireland. I’ve met Irish people on my travels and we seem to have a lot in common, but I am generalizing. Regardless they speak English, so on a practical level this makes the choice that much easier.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Marlene: If I were any animal I would be a chameleon. I have multiple facets to my personality as most people do, but I find that I am able to be thrown into most situations and immediately adapt to my surroundings.
Michael: A ferret
If you were in a band, what instrument would you play?
Marlene: If I were in a band I would want to be the singer. Vocals are an instrument, right? I am a terrible singer but I love to do it. Karaoke is one of my favorite pastimes. Otherwise, I think I would be a drummer.
Ok, tell us your Nickname(s)?
Marlene: I have a lot of nicknames but the most common derive from my first name marlene, including: mar, mara, marmar, marsbars, and marzipan.
Michael: Hulk, it’s a long story; not really but it is pretty silly.
Tell us one thing few people know about you?
Marlene: I am a first degree black belt.
Michael: I am a very good writer.
Wedding trend that your loving right now?
Marlene: I like that we are seeing a move towards a fusion between rustic and glamour. Keyword: Great Gatsby. I think we will see a lot more of this in the upcoming year…hopefully!
Michael: The movement toward rustic styled weddings of course (very self-serving)
Wedding trend that will hopefully be out next year?
Marlene: I have no idea how to answer this question
Michael: Perhaps weddings with themes tied into them.
Read the book or watch the movie?
Marlene: Read the Book
Michael: Read the book always. I am not super imaginative, but I am extremely detail oriented and thrive off of it.
Stranded on a desert island… list three things you’d bring with you?
Marlene: My knife (I can live off of baby coconuts…I love them) 2. A good book 3. My ipod
Michael: Reading material, my portable butane burner since I was never in the Boy Scouts, and my all-in-one knife, scissors, etc tool.
Tell us your favorite song or band (new or old)… right now?
Marlene: Favorite artist right now Ingrid Michaelson. Favorite Band No Doubt.
Michael: Led Zeppelin forever
Marlene: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” –Steve Jobs
Michael: Anything by Walt Disney or Henry Ford, two of my biggest idols.
What chore do you absolutely HATE doing?
Marlene: Dishes…but regardless of how little I seem to enjoy them, I seem to be always doing them. I guess I choose the wrong industry.
Michael: Cleaning the bathroom of course.
What sound do you love?
Marlene: I love the sound of laughter. It instantly puts a smile on my face.
Michael: The idling of a 1970 Chevelle or like vehicle, with as big a gas guzzling engine as it can handle.
If and when it happens… what do you want people to remember you bye?
Marlene: I would want my friends and family to remember me the loving caring person that they know and I would want the rest of the world to recognize me for my work with food and in the community.
Michael: My ability to write and the manner in which I do it.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Marlene: I am completely fulfilled doing exactly what I am doing right now. However, if this doesn’t pan out I would venture to say a superhero.
Michael: I can’t grow up any more, save emotionally I guess.
What would you title the autobiography of your life?
Marlene: Passion and Determination
Michael: “Making it Happen”
What was the last Movie, TV show or Book that made you cry?
Marlene: Grey’s Anatomy
Michael: Gran Torino
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Marlene: This is it!
Michael: Choose between being stranded in a random place in a foreign country, or risk hitch hiking, I chose to hitch hike.
Whats the greatest gife you’ve ever given or received?
Marlene: A book signed by a chef from a dear friend.
Michael: Life of course, sorry it is cliché, but it is true.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Michael: Not caring so much about outcomes and being more concerned with just enjoying the literal present. That is no longer possible, but I don’t mind it.
What’s in the top 5 of your bucket list?
Marlene: 1. Either start a non-profit or be a major donor to a special organization near and dear to my heart 2. Be able to thank my family properly for all the love and support they have shown us 3. Pay back my college and culinary loans 4. Travel all around the world 5. Own a vineyard/restaurant
Michael: 1. Visit every continent/at least 10 countries on each one. 2. Learn to play an instrument, and really, very well. 3. Become published on a national or global scale. 4. Patent something ( I am already in the works of doing the preliminary stuff for this). 5. Learn at least 2 more languages (that’d make me trilingual).
Tell us something you learned last week?
Marlene: I learned the difference between field and forest mushrooms at the farmers market.
Michael: You have a lot of power to influence things in close proximity to you, but there are a lot of external you cannot control and shouldn’t waste your time attempting to/spend your money wisely.
At What age did you really become an adult?
Where do you see yourself (or business) in the near future?
Marlene: I see myself continuing to grow and cultivate my business by continuing to pursue new relationships and opportunities. Hopefully, you will also be able to find us at the Farmer’s Market selling some of our specialty sauces.
Michael: Ridiculously Successful
Anything else you want to say that we didn’t ask?
Marlene: I feel truly blessed to do what I love to do each and every day.
Michael: It is fun to divulge about myself because it gives me a chance to not just think about how I view myself, but how I wish to present myself before others, and it is just interesting to think about I suppose.Website