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Monday, December 28, 2009


Christmas Eve was a work day for us this year.  We fed the numerous and hungry Nelson Irrigation staff.  Later that day we were fortunate enough to have my family fly in to celebrate the holidays.  So we made a special dinner.  A new york strip roast fresh out of our ancient home oven.  A few side plates of roasted mushrooms and blue cheese, sauteed butternut squash, garlic mashed potatoes, and brussell sprouts and the feast was on. 

And for extra measure one too many bottles of wine for good cheer.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

8 Ounces of Love

The whole point of this blog was to showcase the efforts of Graze Catering (and to do so without spending dollars... thank you blessed internet and blogspot).  10,000 hits later (a good thousand of which need be attributed to my family, and another thousand to my diddling with the blog) that goal seems to have been accomplished.  Sadly the last couple of months this blog has become a restaurant starting - sandwich obsessed forum, which does nothing to inform folks our main purpose in this cooking business world is to cater. 

Now that we have that all clear.  Here is a shot of the special prime rib sandwich we served the last few days.  Wow, 6 oz of prime rib, caramelized onions, blue cheese, provolone, mayo, and la brea ciabatta.  Which was made possible because we served 350 Key Technology employees a prime rib dinner.  Our over ordering makes a Graze lunch spot patron a lucky recipient.  In the last month we have put on 23 events, and had the lunch place open six days a week.  It's been busy here.

And more Graze 'a place to eat news'... we added three new sandwiches this week. 
  • A panini of roasted butternut squash slices, roasted garlic, fried sage, mozzarella, and provolone (which has the option of adding proscuitto).  Upon taste testing one of the cooks said "wow, I don't like butternut squash and that is awesome." 
  • Another cold vegetarian, tons of avocado seasoned with lemon and salt, cucumber slices, sprouts, tomatoes, mama lils peppers, and provolone.
  • The Latronka.  A huge 8 ounce pastrami bomb.  All the same fixings as the original 'just big' pastrami.  House made sauerkraut, russian dressing, and swiss cheese.  Plus we add some mild deli peppers. 
As 2009 winds down and we finish off the holiday season this blog will happily return to its roots and showcase our catering talents.  We look forward to chatting with our 2010 wedding clients and prospective clients in January and February.  Till then Merry Christmas!!!


Monday, November 30, 2009


This is what I had for lunch today.  5 South Colville. 10am to 3pm.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dinner at Graze

Barrel Tasting Weekend Saturday Night December 5th, Graze (look at all those capitals) will host its first dinner... ever.  For three years we have been schlepping our stuff to wineries, houses, and fields.  This time we are home.

Join us for dinner.  We can seat around 24.  Arrive at 6:15, share a glass of bubbly and a few appetizers, dinner to start in a timely fashion thereafter.  Menu goes something like this: bi-colored soup, white and purple salad, something that went baaaaa, and dessert from the Colville Street Patisserie. (menu accomodations made if possible.)

Price: $50 a person, beer and wine not included, wines promise to be yummy and attractively priced.  All guests seated family style, bring good cheer and conviviality, if you bring wine corkage is $10 and sharing will be... expected?... required?... who wouldn't want to share with so many new friends? 

Email for reservations and our long list of requirements at

Friday, November 6, 2009

Here we go

Ok, practice week is over.  Guess its the real deal Monday.  Three days of practice in our new space has done wonders.  We may not be the quickest kids on the block yet, but we'll get there. 

A few notes on the menu.  The pastrami is very good... so good I can't even really work out how we can make it much better... and that kind of bothers me (this pastrami thing has become an obsession, anything that takes twenty-some days to cure gets under your skin).  The meatballs make me happy, as they did to the couple of new yorkers who stopped in the other day.  I want to eat the chimichurri sauce for the flank steak on nearly everything.  And thank goodness Becca made a beautiful little roasted pear salad at home a few weeks back... its my favorite adding grilled chicken; a lovely light lunch.  If there is a better condiment to place on a sandwich than Mama Lils Peppers I would like to eat it.  And the silly paninis we served at the farmer's market the last couple of years are still mighty tasty. 

All in all I think it is a place I would like to eat at (hope you feel the same)... now if I could only find some time to sit down and do that I will be a very happy man. 


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Open... kind of

We opened Monday for delivery.  Did three orders.  The most panicked and frightened three orders you could possibly see put together.  I do weddings for 250, wine dinners for 50, appetizers for hundreds... three orders freaked me/us out.  Tuesday was calmer and did 18 or so.  Wednesday we moved all our stuff from the catering kitchen to the storefront so everything has a home at least, and a sense of calm set in. 

This morning we will walk in and it should resemble 'a normal, what everyday should look like', day.  We may even let a person or two walk in and order.  Monday is the official open day.  Woo hoo.


Saturday, October 31, 2009


We failed our final inspection.  Eleven failures.  But not to worry.  All will be tidied up by Monday, and a re-final will be attempted (and passed) Tuesday.  Same goes for the health department inspection Tuesday.  So Wednesday we will have all the rules, regulations, hoop jumping, T-crossing, i dotting, fee paying - silliness completed. (Until some unbeknowst to us public entity demands forms, fees, and more hoop jumping... opening a business is the fastest way to joining the Libertarian Party.)  Unless you count the beer/wine license which is still working its way through dark and murky government channels.

First all employee meeting today, which consisted of ten minutes of form filling out, five minutes of rambling and confusing "leadership talk", and two hours of intensive cleaning.  Monday we start delivery service for businesses (permit to cook in our storefront still in limbo, the cooking will be done at our catering kitchen).

This really is happening... Becca walked through the sandwich shop kitchen today and said "Frances, look around, here is your college tuition".  I wonder if its jc or university grade?

With all the crazi-ness of getting the storefront ready the catering keeps on ticking.  A luncheon for the Blue Mountain Action Council, dinner for Stores Online, and the pic above dinner at Waters Winery.

For Waters Winery we did five courses: a roasted pear and greens salad, sauteed scallops and apples and quatre epices spices, cauliflower soup and duxelle cream, and the main of beef tenderloin with red wine reduction sauce, brussels, yukons sauteed in clarified butter and brussel sprouts, patisserie dessert... quite yummy.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your Mile is My Inch

Lots of people still have lots to do.  But its getting closer.  Deliveries start Monday November the 2nd. 

It may not look like it, but we are really close... at least that is what I keep telling myself.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009


Logo on the door. 

Floor color to primer color


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dun Dun Dun DUUUNNN... the menu

Here is the menu, so far, pricing is semi-accurate, as is the ingredient list.  Of course a lot will change as the official week of full blown test cooking arrives.  Monday November 2nd we begin delivery service only.  So if you want a sandwich you are going to have to call one in.  Here is the number 509-522-9991.

hot ones
meatball, hoagie roll, roast garlic marinara, whole milk mozzarella, garlic 6.95
pastrami, house cured sauerkraut, russian dressing, swiss cheese 7.95
porchetta pork loin, aioli, lettuce * 6.95

panini ones
turkey, bacon, provolone 6.35
italian meats, sun dried tomato spread, whole milk mozzarella 6.35
portabella mushroom, roasted red peppers, basil, provolone 6.35

cold ones
italian hoagie, mortadella, sopprasetta, salami, coppa, 7.95
mama lils peppers, shredded lettuce, provolone, oil and vinegar
rotisserie turkey, avocado, green leaf lettuce, provolone 6.95
flank steak medium, chimichurri, mama lils peppers 7.95
roast beef, blue cheese, caramelized onions green leaf lettuce 6.95
grilled chicken, basil mayonnaise, tomato, green leaf lettuce 6.95
veggie, hummus, cucumber, feta, kalamata olives, red peppers, sprouts 6.95
garden delight, seasonal vegetables, changes often

salad ones
caesar, chopped romaine, croutons, parmesan, (add grilled chicken) 5.95 / 7.75
green leaf, roasted pears, blue cheese, candied nuts, vinaigrette 5.95 / 7.75
(add rotisserie turkey or sautéed chicken)
spinach, provolone, toasted almonds, sun dried tomatoes, 5.95
roasted onions, balsamic dressing
mixed green, carrots, cucumber, red peppers (choice of dressing) 4.95

hot liquid ones
two soups made daily, always one vegetarian (6 oz, 10 oz) 3.50 / 5.00

sugar ones
double chocolate brownies 1.25
chocolate chip cookie, coconut cookie, pecan chocolate tartlets 1.10


Monday, October 19, 2009

Progress... still progress

The drywall is done, hvac goes in a couple of days, finish plumbing next week, concrete patching in a day or so, big equipment comes next week, and we interviewed for employees yesterday.  So many nice folks, I wish we had more positions to fill, its going to be hard to select our opening crew.

This weekend we did a few smaller events: a 40th birthday party at Mannina Cellars, a drop off dinner for some Whitman folk, box lunches for a bunch of geologists on a wine terrior field trip, and a wine dinner at Dunham Cellars for a group from Seattle.  Here is a photo of the soup at Dunham, pureed cauliflower (actually quite light, chicken stock and half and half, no cream) with a mushroom duxelle cream, truffle salt, and cauliflower croutons.  Pretty yummy.

Sandwich shop menu is coming along nicely.  Three paninis, two hot sandwiches, seven cold sandwiches, three salads, and two soups (rotating daily).  Soups aren't quite this elaborate, soups for the storefront fall more in the cauliflower, beer, cheese category of soup making.  Sample menus to businesses that call in deliveries go out this week.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Progress, Inch by Inch

Slowly but surely we are getting there.  If you walk by the storefront it still looks a long ways off, but its not really.  This week the ac unit is installed, drywall gets done, and concrete patching finished.  Rough plumbing is done, electrical is almost entirely complete, and we got it painted Sunday.

We even are getting ready to hire folks.  All the chairs and tables have been purchased.  Big equipment shows up end of October... and well, you know... then I guess its time to open the doors. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wedding Season is Officially Over

The wedding rehearsals and receptions are all finished up for 2009.  Yeah! Another successful year of feeding newlyweds and their loved ones great food on their first day of holy matrimony. 

Since we last checked in we gave sustenance to Sasha and her loved one, Janel and her baseball loving Brent, aviation inspired Jerry and Janet, NY NY living Sheri and Erick, Kristina and her beau, and Seattle-ites Cindy and Seth.  All totalled 22 receptions and rehearsal dinners from May 31st to October 3rd.

Other recent catering fun has included a Macy's appetizer party for happy shoppers, feeding Democrats (this company will gladly feed Republicans as well), feeding Masons (will also feed Odd Fellows, Eagles, Shriners, and all other special clubs), snacks for Kerloo Cellars coming out party, Sheep to Shawl at the Kirkman House, a cooking class for Whitman Sorority girls, and another lovely dinner at Reininger.

Palmares: A few recent customer comments.
"I didn’t get a chance to see you before you left, but wanted you to know how much we enjoyed the lamb lunch. It was heavenly! Thanks for hitting another one out of the ballpark!" - Kirsten

"John,  The dinner was fabulous. And, let me tell you, this group isn't always easy to please. Everyone was still raving about it today. You NAILED the tenderloin. It was perfectly cooked. The vegetables were fresh and amazing and the dessert was totally yummy!  Thank you for making Kurt's birthday wonderful!  If you ever need a testimony for a client, let me know."
- Jennifer

"John I meant to email you last Friday - our lunch was AMAZING! Everyone gave you 'high 5's' - thanks so much. It tasted great - just my kind of food - fresh, wholesome! Your presentation was nice too." - Laurien

"That was the best lamb we have ever had!" - Mary Jane Fehrenbacher (She grows the lamb, I cooked it for Sheep to Shawl, her lamb is really spectacular, it is what I bring to any wine dinner we do lamb for, truly special stuff)

"I heard that Jen’s party was delightful as I knew it would be. I just wanted to say thank you again so much for making it a special evening for the girls. They loved the “lesson” and I understand that the food was outstanding as well." - Sara

Even got quoted in the paper from the Sheep to Shawl luncheon:
The owner and operator of Graze Catering was serving braised and grilled lamb with a Harissa sauce.  “I love it. I absolutely love it. It is probably one of my favorite meats to work with. And it’s a great local product,” Lastoskie said, noting Fehrenbacher’s lamb goes great with local syrahs.

Now that the Summer is over, and the slower days and cooler weather have returned, it is time to finally get down to business and get this storefront rolling. 

First step: buy lots and lots of stuff.... and then go back for more.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!! ...Really I Am Not Making This Up

We signed the lease today for a downtown location.  5 South Colville will be our eatery, 213 South 9th will remain our catering kitchen.  We are gonna call it Graze.  What else could we possibly name it? 

Our tagline for Graze Catering is "a beautiful catered event" (English majors seem to have a problem with the grammar of that phrase, me not so much).  Our tagline for Graze is going to be "a place to eat".  Because really all we want is our little 750 square foot shop to turn out nice, honest, and wholesome food at very affordable prices.  A lunch place by design, so sandwiches, salads, soups, and lots of deliveries.
Three years ago to this day, September 1st, I signed the lease to the catering kitchen, a solitary cook running a one man show.  And now here we are today on September 1st, signing a second lease.  It is truly amazing how far this little catering business has come in three years.  Here are two photos of the catering kitchen, after (!!!) I had gone to the restaurant supply to get ready to cook.  The place looks barren in comparison with today. (now we have trouble finding where to put things!)
Three years ago I had an idea of what Graze Catering would be, and I was scared and frightened beyond belief.  Today we (the wife, the employees, and me) have an idea of what Graze "a place to eat" will be, and we are also scared and frightened beyond belief.  (Do you have any idea how much money one can lose in the restaurant business?)  But its a good and energetic scare... and we are looking forward to serving you soon.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Signing Day Cometh

We are gonna sign.  We are gonna sign.  We are gonna sign.  Tomorrow!!!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Palmares is a cycling term meaning a list of great accomplishments. Our version of palmares.

"John, Thank you for catering our event on Saturday. The food that you provided was fantastic and our guests really enjoyed it. You and Pete did a great job putting the menu together. The cook that was on site also did a great job." - Zuzana (Bellevue Athletic Club Tour, lunch at Reininger and appetizers at Dunham)

"Dear John,
We are so appreciative of the wonderful lunch you prepared for our wedding at Grant House. The entire menu was fabulous, with such wonderful attention to detail. From the fresh vegetables (those heirloom tomatoes--oh, heaven) to the delicious dolma to the outstanding flank steak skewers (I think several people wept at the experience of eating them) everything was perfection. Our guests loved their meal and your ears must've been burning from all the compliments. You made our special day all the more special. Thank you for everything. I really look forward to eating your food as soon as I can. We will certainly recommend you to anyone looking for the best." --- all best, Marie and Rick (Wedding luncheon for 50)

"Hi John: Thank you so much for all you did for our wedding. It really was a perfect day for both of us, and we received rave reviews about the food, so many thanks to you and your crew on that end." -- Carrie and Dean (Wedding at Mill Creek Garden for 120)

"This morning our folks were still talking about last night's dinner. The food and your staff were wonderful!" --- Amanda, Washington State Dental Association (Basel Cellars Buffet for 60)

"We all thoroughly enjoyed it. One couple in our group is relatively new to me. I didn't know he doesn't like beets and she dislikes lamb. He ate every single beet and loved it and she still hasn't stopped talking about the lamb. She usually eats half of what is on her plate for weight loss, but licked it clean. Two converts!" --- Zari (Dinner for 12, five courses, at Reininger)
New Favorite Things:
  • I am always running into clients who would make really really really great catering coordinators. Amanda from the Washington State Dental Association would be perfect. When she tried to book us for their yearly gala event, which they hope to hold at Basel Cellars... in 2012, I knew she would be perfect for the job.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Time flies... when you are busy.

My father reminded me the other day I haven't posted anything on the blog in a while. When he named the date, June 22nd I realized two things. 1) My parents pay more attention than I think, and 2) that was a long long time ago.

So here is what Graze Catering has been up to the last month and a half.

Shanna got hitched at a private residence and we did a family style dinner under a big old tent and a pretty blue sky for a bunch of people. And Caitly and her beau tied the knot and partied down at Mill Creek Garden.

The Columbia County Grain Growers ate a bunch of prime rib at their annual meeting, and the Farm Credit folks let us grill up some tasty meat at Mannina Cellars for their special guests.

Prescott High School held their annual all class reunion and Reininger hosted some folks for a good old fashioned hootenanny. Rachel's daughter had a reheasal dinner on the Fourth of July, and the folks at Con Agra had us back to do a posole feed for their entire work crew. Then we went back to Reininger for a WSU event, and then back again for a really fun and yummy intimate dinner.

What Now Productions let us cook lunch and dinner for an entire month for a movie shoot, Leah got married at Mill Creek Garden, Kristi got married at the future site of Reynvaan Family Vineyard, Sykes had us do a company bbq for 800 employees, Washington Dental Association ate like kings at Basel Cellars, Carrie and Dean tied the knot at Mill Creek Garden, Nikki bound herself in matrimony and threw a big old party at Assumption Parish Hall, Tracy's daughter tied the knot and we cooked it up at Three Rivers Winery, Shakespeare UnCorked let us host their pre-opening night dinner, and Rick and Marie hitched up and had us do a really pleasant luncheon.

Somewhere in there the family went camping in Hood River, the wife and children went to Portland, the wife and I escaped without children to Joseph OR for one glorious and peaceful night, my softball team reached the championship game before losing in heartbreaking fashion, and I missed the 2009 Walla Walla Wiffleball Tournament due to a very special wedding (even though I vowed to cater and win the thing last year, I re-vow for 2010).

And just this last week a space came up for lease downtown... there may be a few more hours in the day.


Monday, June 22, 2009


Palmares is a cycling term which means a list of great accomplishments. Our version of palmares. A thank you from our Greek Wedding.

"Hi John,
I just wanted to tell you how impressed and utterly amazed I was by your quick and perfect set-up, great servers, and most of all, your fantastic food! I knew you guys were good but WOW.... we were blown away and so were all of our guests. I had at least 10 people independently comment on how fantastic the food was and how pleasant the whole wedding was... which would not have been possible without you and your crew. It was such a pleasure to work with you...

So, please pass along to your servers and staff how pleased we were by the top-notch, friendly, efficient service and to you: what an amazing meal. We LOVE good food and eat out frequently at delicious restaurants and your food was some of the best I've had.

Thank you again for being so easy to work with and helping make our wedding night and party memorable and highly enjoyable.

All the best,
Carolyn (& Pete)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Carolyn's Greek Fest and Leann's Tex-Mex Throwdown

Two more down. Fourteen more to go (we picked up another wedding this week).

Here is how a typical conversation with a bride and groom transpires. I ask what they like food wise, what the feel of the reception will be like, and if any themes are possible to build around. Carolyn let it slip that her future husband has a crazy long and confusing Greek name, something like Korfilaiatisisas (but not really, I never once tried to pronounce it, people mangle my seemingly simple Lastoskie daily). So I proposed a greek buffet and they loved the idea. Leann told me she loved mashed potatoes, and heard we made really good ones, but then she mentioned many family guests were from the Southwest, so we tossed the mashers idea out the window and went with a simple Tex-Mex theme.

The Greek Bazaar was in the Dunham Cellars Hangar Room (they are still undecided if wedding receptions will be held there often, but it is a great spot, beg and plead to let them be your host). Here is a shot of the reception room.

Mill Creek Garden played host for the Tex Mex Reception, awesome hosts as always. We didn't bring the camera to the reception, hopefully some will be emailed our way.

New Favorites Things
  • Greek Mothers. Pete's mom approached me towards the end of the evening and offered beautiful words regarding our food and service. I thanked her profusely and asked if the buffet was Greek enough (as this was our first crack at a Greek themed... anything). "It was soooo Greek!" she exclaimed. "Oh my goodness, my husband even told me this is better and more Greek than his cooking!" Kinder words could not have be offered.
  • The Grill at Dunham. We grilled/roasted 20 whole chickens that had been marinating in oregano, lemon, pepper, and salt for 24 hours. That machine is incredible, it sounds like a jet engine when the burners are on. I can't wait to use it again.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Andrea and Michaela's Weddings (Not to each other)

Two down, Fifteen to go.

We kicked off the wedding season in grand style Saturday. Andrea and Marc celebrated their union at Hence Cellars with 175 guests and a huge appetizer buffet. Michaela and Taylor filled Areus for a 130 person family style meal blowout.

Taylor and Michaela's Menu
- passed appetizers during cocktail hour
- whole leaf ceasar salad, poached salmon, poached shrimp, seared scallops, garlicky croutons
- red wine glazed grilled beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce, rosemary grilled chicken with herbed vinaigrette, israeli cous cous and spring vegetables
- blanched asparagus, roasted walla walla spring onions, sauteed morels

Andrea and Marc's Menu
- too many appetizers to list... here are the highlights
- deviled whole egg, caper, shallot, dijon, mayo mixture
- french styled pulled pork
- paninis, turkey and bacon, portabella mushroom and roasted red pepper
- shrimp and scallop skewers with lemon butter

New (not so) Favorite Things:
  • My son was born 5 1/2 years ago. After a short nicu stay and a healthy period of growth the head lady and I threw a party in his honor. I was a teacher at the time, but did the food for the 70 or so guests out of our little kitchen. It was a Spring theme, asparagus, grilled oysters, a picnic ham, and one of my favorite things ever, deviled eggs (a version ever so similar to Chef Rick Mahan's at Waterboy in Sacramento). To be tricky, I perfectly hard boiled 150 eggs, had my 80 year old grandmother peel most of them (she always wants a job, to this day she reminds me of her slow egg torture) (which left us with 100 perfectly intact eggs), sliced off a bit from the bottom, sliced off a cap from the top, scooped out the yolk (which left us 80 intact eggs), made the deviled mixture, piped the mix into the standing eggs (which left us with 70 intact eggs), and put the original top back on. The end result is a standing hard boiled egg, unblemished, filled unbeknowst to the guest with pure delight. I was thrilled with the result, but downcast due to the amazing amount of time and effort it required. I vowed never to do them again for more than say... ten people. But I am stupid, and forgetful, and temporarily lost my mind when discussing the menu with Andrea and her mother (Anne from Amore Flowers). And so I agreed, no proposed, to do my special eggs for 175 people. And the day before the reception I spent 5 and 1/2 hours working on eggs... only eggs. So again I proclaim (and will probably forget) to never again do my special eggs for more than 10 people.


Monday, June 1, 2009


It has been a busy May here at Graze Catering. So busy we keep forgetting the camera. Here are two very nice thank you's from two very nice clients.

From Shari and Otto's 25th anniversary dinner at Longshadows. A four course family style meal. Arugula and Beet Salad, Sweet Onion Soup and Caramelized Onion Custard, Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Red Onion Jam, Fehrenbacher Farm Leg of Lamb with Crispy Polenta Cakes and Creamed Spinach, Dessert from The Patisserie.

"John: We can't thank you enough for what was truly the highlight of our anniversary weekend. Our dinner at Longshadows was absolutely amazing, from the appetizers through dessert. I could live on that beet salad! The tables were beautiful and your crew did a great job. Right down to the full moon and beautiful view, the evening was perfect. If you ever need recommendations, please use our name. We think we had one friend taking pictures that night. We will check with him and forward you anything we have."

Thanks again.Shari and Otto Klein

From the Kirkman House luncheon. A plated composed salad, Butter Lettuce Leaf with a Roast Chicken Waldorf Salad, Patisserie Mini Croissant, Blanched Asparagus with Romanesco Sauce, and a Perfect Hard Boiled Egg.

"Hi John, Thank you so much for all of your hard work; I cannot say enough about the perfect meal and service for the Kirkman House’s inaugural luncheon! The mix of foods, the portions, the presentation….it was all wonderful. I look forward to working with you in the future."

Regards, Kirsten R. Schober Executive DirectorKirkman House Museum


Friday, May 22, 2009


From our 'party in the snowstorm'. (see our post in December.)

"My name is Kristy Guldhammer. You probably don’t remember me, but you catered some very delicious food for my dad’s 90th birthday in December 2008. Every time I think back to that event, I think of the wonderful food and how much I appreciated how you guys braved that snowy winter night to make our party such a success. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the effort you had to make so that it could happen for us. I had many comments about the high quality of the food, and I have made four or five referrals to Graze Catering as a result of that event. People just loved your food."

And from the Steelheaders crab and shrimp feed.

"We went to the Tri State Steelheaders Crab feed on May 14th that Graze catered. I wanted you to know that all of the salads, bread and beans that you provided were wonderful! I just loved the spinach salad and the asparagus salad. Those were fantastic. Good job and very well done! Thank You"….Jan Torland

And from my wife.

"Oh, honey! You are so great. But why do you cook nice food for other people and make the children and I eat leftovers."... Becca

I guess you can't please them all.


Friday, May 15, 2009


Palmares is a cycling term which means a list of great accomplishments. Our version of palmares.

A note from Libby, who coordinated the Desales senior class dinner at the Wine Country Golf Club.

"Dear John and Crew,
Thank you so much for the awesome catering job you did for our senior class dinner last Sunday! People are still raving about the food! .... Thanks again! (and send any recipes you share my way.)" - Libby

And another one. A note from Forgeron regarding their brunch.

"Everything was Awesome!"


Thursday, May 7, 2009

I started this blog to market my catering services. It worked, and was fun. The group Tourism Walla Walla even had me join as a guest blogger for their website. And then something strange happened this Spring. I got too busy, and every time I thought "I better add this to the blog", I didn't, because I was just too busy. Between my part time teaching at the culinary school, a pretty full catering schedule, watching our two children, and trying to have an occasional conversation with my wife and our friends left little time for the blog. New potential clients call or email and I keep referring them to the out of date blog, which is embarrassing.

It has gotten so bad I keep forgetting to take the camera to events. Anyway, here is a quick run down of what we have been up to since March.

Lots of luncheons, sandwich platters, and box lunches.

A great trip to Portland and Hood River with my parents, grandmother, brother, sister, wife, and children.

Went to the ACF Conference in Seattle to watch my friend Jeremy's culinary team compete and win a gold medal.

Did the Whitman Alumni 40th reunion dinner at Basel Cellars

Threw a big ole party for our one year old daughter at our house, complete with a jumpy house and pig in a box.

Spring Release Weekend we did six events in two days, brunch at Forgeron, box lunches to Basel Cellars, dinner at Dunham, appetizer reception at Corliss, lunch at Dunham, and dinner for graduating seniors and their parents at the new wine country golf club. After doing appetizers for 300 at Corliss we then whipped up a big batch of paella for the last 35 guests. Here are a couple pictures of the empty room after the event and the paella.

A shot of the tent at the new Wine Country Golf Club.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gourmet Getaways

I was a lucky host chef for the Tourism Walla Walla event Gourmet Getaways. Eight visitors to our fair city (town, hamlet) stayed two nights at a bed and breakfast of their choice and were participants in a cooking class of Spanish tapas and paella. Basel Cellars provided the yummy wine of which I was happy to sample as well.

Gourmet Getaways ran from mid February to late March in various restaurants. Other host institutions included Brasserie 4, Whitehouse Crawford, WWCC Jay Entrekin, and Someone's in the Kitchen, among others. My class was held in the enology center's kitchen since my commercial kitchen is not the best place in the world to host wine tasting and to sit down and have a meal.
The guests were super fun. A couple of ladies from Puget Sound (one of whom makes a giant seafood paella once a year from her frozen crab stock), and three siblings who grew up in Walla Walla and now live elsewhere in Washington, only to have their mother suck them back with Christmas gifts that require them to return home. And the siblings brought their significant others as well. Eight guests and me. A most relaxed and pleasant bunch. We had a great time.

Chilled mussels in their shell with cucumber mignonette
Arancini, cheese stuffed saffron risotto balls and sun dried tomato dip
Sherry and garlic chicken wings
Paella, chicken, spanich chorizo, mussels, clams, shrimp


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Showcase (raw and uncensored)

Last week we did the Showcase Dinner. I still am a bit confused as to what Showcase is all about. I 'think' it is the coming out party for the WW Fair Court and a skit of some kind. I was more concerned with feeding 260 some guests than trying to figure out what was happening out front. Despite my cluelessness as to the proceedings, a good time seemed to be had by all.

Homestead Catering did this party for the last umpteen years, so the adjustment to our food may have come as a bit of a shock to regular Showcase attendees. Not a jarring shock, more like a quizical "I haven't seen that before" kind of a shock. Needless to say it was the largest full meal/service event we have taken on, and we presented ourselves quite well.

Herbed prime rib, horseradish cream, and au jus
Rosemary chicken and garlic cream
Twice baked stuffed yukon gold potatoes
Orzo pasta salad, sun dried tomato dressing, red peppers, golden garlic, whole leaf parsley, toasted almonds
Whole leaf caesar salad
Blanched asparagus and lemon extra virgin olive oil
La Brea ciabatta and baguettes

Here are the comments from Cory the lady chairperson of the whole event (raw and uncensored). Being our first time with this group I asked her for comments both positive and negative.

"Positive side: Overall the meat was a hit....we have received "that was a great meal" from several and they wanted the name of the caterer....and did not hear one comment on no salad plate...that was good....

"On the negative side--a couple of things: the Caesar salad presentation (they like it cut up) , the cold rice salad and cold asparagus --"some" expected it to be hot.... I repeat..."some".... I loved the rice salad!!! Towards the end of ran out of potatoes (hard to monitor when people over plate)..... "some" ...repeat "SOME"....said the whole meal was not warm.
All & all .... of the 265 attending....approximately 240 completely enjoyed the whole meal.....and raved about it. Like my staff...and myself...we loved it...refreshing and great flavor. Look forward to working with you and your staff again..... Cory"
I wish we would have done two things differently 1) chop the caesar, I love whole leaf caesar salad, but from this point forward they are going to be cut up unless a client specifies otherwise 2) we made just over 300 stuffed potatoes (but they were smaller in size), and when they came out of the oven I thought "uh oh, those look too good" and sure enough we ran out right at the end. We need at least one and a half per person because they really are too good.


Monday, March 2, 2009


A prospective client asked for a couple of references yesterday. This prospective party is really similar to a dinner we did last Fall. So I sent the e-mail address, and in hunting down the address I came across the thank you letter from the Fall dinner. I didn't post it at the time because... well, its a bit... umm, effusive in its praise. But re-reading it made me smile recalling the dinner we did, and why not post an over the top thank you? Not everything in life need be measured and calculated.

Dear John,
OMG! You did a FABULOUS job! Everyone ranted and raved for the rest of the week-end about the food...and the details/essence of every dish....."the tomatoes! the vinegrette! folks that typically aren't fans of polenta LOVED yours! the lamb was perfect...and the food was hot! the ratatouille! the appies!" John, things flowed so nicely for our casual group. I got to really enjoy myself as a host. Bottom took care of me and my guests beautifully! And dear Morgan, so helpful.
I found you via Google and your blog. The images and copy of your blog just spoke to me. I am so grateful for your professionalism, talent and gentle demeanor. I can hardly wait to recommend you to someone from my world here on Bainbridge Is/Seattle area.
Your work is so about "making memories" in peoples lives. What a mantra to guide you through your life. We live in such a wild world these days...what will tomorrow bring? No matter what, our dear friends and my dear husband received a gift of friendship, love and celebration...and you played a big part. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart!

With great fondness,
Debbie and birthday boy, Mike

See a bit over the top, but we gladly take it.


(see, even I can get a bit carried away sometimes)

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Palmares is a cycling term meaning a list of great accomplishments. Our version of palmares.

A note from Cheryl in Dayton regarding the buffet dinner we did last month. We have been to Dayton twice now in our two and a half years of business. Hopefully we will return many times over.

"Thanks so much, John. It was just wonderful. People raved about the food. I was trying to find my checkbook when Traci said you would bill me. Feel free to do that by email. I called Traci this morning to thank her. Would you please thank Nick for me and let him know there is a gratuity coming. I’ll send it along with my payment.Many thanks again, and several people have already inquired about your catering service, so I bet you’ll get some more business from others down the road."



Friday, February 20, 2009

Summer Vacation

I was a junior high/high school science teacher in my previous life/career. When the family and I headed North from California I got the crazy idea to cook for a living (more like enacted, I had the ‘got’ part a long time prior). I liked teaching and was pretty darn good at it, but the siren call of the sauté pan was too much to resist.

I loved summer vacation, as do all teachers. There was a saying that the bad teachers really liked to laugh at “what are the three best reasons to teach?… June, July, and August” In the catering world we are just ending “June, July, and August” and the real work begins again. Oddly enough, during this ‘Summer Vacation’ my previous life has resurrected itself; I am teaching two classes for the culinary program at the junior college. It is a kick in the pants to teach what I love (my wife says the thrill has more to do with talking to/at a captive audience than the teaching part).

Here are my students for the quarter. Six individuals I get to mold and influence (hopefully for the good!). They have made tremendous progress in only six weeks. This week in a five hour class they produced:

  • 5 gallons of veal stock
  • 3 gallons of roast chicken stock
  • Two versions of French tomato soup
  • French onion soup
  • Asian vegetable soup
  • Two different chicken and tortilla soups
  • Three versions of béarnaise sauce
  • Four versions of avgolemono (Greek lemon sauce similar to hollandaise)
  • And three cut fingers.

Pretty impressive! Cheers.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's that time of year again. Time to start working again (albeit very casually until the weddings hit). We did two small things this week, a hospital luncheon and a drop off dinner for the school district, and have a couple of mid-sized buffets next week. Below is the note from our new friends at the Walla Walla School District.


I want to thank you and GRAZE for a delicious meal last night. Everything was perfect - presentation, taste, clean up. We will certainly use GRAZE again for future events. - Betsy, WW Public Schools"
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The wife and five year old boy are in Portland this weekend visiting friends and family. It got me thinking about our Fall trip to Portland and the beautiful farmer's market dinners we cooked up at K&L's house. I can hardly wait till May for the Walla Walla Farmer's Market to start back up.

A saute of heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh cayenne peppers, garlic, and basil. That weekend was my first experience with a padron pepper, a small mild green Spanish pepper. We got an order at Lovely Hula Hands, quick fried with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and a few cherry tomatoes. I was smitten... we all were. Found the grower at the farmers market but they were all sold out (they did have fresh coco beans though, and that my friends was a very good thing, which made a great accompaniement to the fish, this rambling has got to stop)

An about to be roasted wild mushroom and potato gratin, no cream, chicken stock, butter, herbs, covered for the first roasting and uncovered for a bit of caramelizing. Yummy.