Savour This Moment “Artist Interview”

1 …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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Michael: Work­ing.

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.

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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?

Mar­lene: Best

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.

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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.

Michael: Bass.

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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.

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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

Favorite quote?

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.

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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?

Mar­lene: Free­dom

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.

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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?

Mar­lene: 19

Michael: 22

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Dear Mar and Mike,

    I read all ques­tions and answers loved it so much I read it again.…. also, I’ve sent it to some of my friends. I’m just so proud of you. I’m learn­ing from you.

    keep on being you… because you is some­thing very special!!

  2. Burch Foster

    Kids:

    A very good effort. Well done!

    Han­dle the inevitable speed bumps that will arise as well as you have han­dled past upsets and you will be fine.

    Aunt Nancy and I will be root­ing for you all the way.

    Love,

    Uncle Burch

  3. Barbi Tempkin

    You two are fab­u­lous! We wish you noth­ing but suc­cess! It is so refresh­ing to see peo­ple love what they do! We so enjoyed the deli­cious sal­ads you made for the hol­i­day last week. We look for­ward to try­ing some of your sauces!

  4. It’s refresh­ing to see sib­lings using their innate bond to col­lab­o­rate and cre­ate some­thing spe­cial like this unique cater­ing com­pany. Its trans­par­ent through your thought­ful answers and sweet pic­tures that you are pas­sion­ate, gen­uine pro­fes­sion­als who will make it far in the indus­try and in life.

  5. Omri Ben Shalom

    I really enjoyed read­ing all you have to say. your way of think­ing must bring joy to the peo­ple you feed and work with. wish you suc­cess and send you love — pur­ple dudes

  6. Cheryl Hubert

    Your cre­ativ­ity, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and pas­sion shines thru! I have no doubt that your bussi­ness will be a success!

  7. You guys rock! I loved read­ing this! You’re both such fun, warm-spirited peo­ple and I know you’ll con­tinue to be suc­cess­ful because your pas­sion for what you do is so gen­uine. I bet­ter get to see your lovely faces again soon!!

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