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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  There is nothing to do but eat, and relax, and spend a few moments reflecting on all the good things we have in our short time on this planet, hopefully with loved ones and friends surrounding us... and every food item on the dining table has the distinct smell and taste of butter... which very well could shorten our already short existence. 

Why do these turkeys have no legs?  Read further down.

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving a couple of times before the special day, and once more after, and a number of days at the sandwich shop as well.  Three Thanksgiving parties totalling 405 guests and a bunch of special turkey sandwiches later we were tired of giving thanks and smelling like butter. 

This sandwich is the King of Thanksgiving Leftovers.  It has mayo, turkey, stuffing (our stuffing is the bomb), gravy (ditto for gravy), and cranberry on the side.  It is toasted, and tastes like the entire thanksgiving meal in every bite.  It is ridiculous.  This sandwich with a small cup of the mashed potato and corn chowder will satisfy every carbohydrate dream and craving you have ever had.

Dear Americans and Food Magazine Cover Photographers,

Stop cooking your turkeys as one big bird.  Yes they are pretty for the magazine covers, and it looks great on the table, but please... cut the thing up already.  It fits better in your oven and its easier to tell when its done, those legs need longer to cook than those breasts, that's why we cut off the legs and take out the backbone, come on now... who eats the backbone?  Which means we get to make a nice roasted turkey stock while the rest of you whole bird cookers (suckers) use canned chicken broth.  And stop this brining business already.  Brining is messy, and a pain in the butt, really now, who has food grade five gallon buckets handy with fridge space galore?  And stop this basting business.  There is no reason to baste the bird every hour, it is pointless.

Here is how you cook a Thanksgiving turkey fellow Americans.  Follow these simple six steps and you will have happier Thanksgivings forevermore... and a much more satifying life.
1.  Cut out the back bone.  Cut off the legs.
2.  Make an herb paste with fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and canola oil in a food processor.
3.  Using Morton's Kosher Salt (dear morton's we love your salt, we will be happy to be sponsored for all of our dedication and hard work spreading your good name) rub some salt under the breast skin and under the skin of the legs, really get in there, then sprinkle with pepper, then rub your herb paste under the skin.  Then sprinkle the outside with salt, pepper, and rub more herbs.
(how much salt?  Well for chicken we use 3/4 teaspoon per pound of chicken, but if you do that much salt for a turkey it will burn the flesh of the turkey, so about 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound)
4.  Put the turkey in your fridge for 48 hours. 
5.  Cook it, we like 300 with a convection fan.  Pull the breast from the oven when the it registers 158 degrees.  Let it rest.  Let the legs keep cooking.  They are nearly impossible to overcook.  Pull them five minutes before you want to eat.
6.  Celebrate your success by mailing $100 to 213 South 9th Ave, Walla Walla WA 99362


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Graze Catering Five Year Anniversary Party

We held a five year anniversary party a couple of months ago.  It was a lot of fun.  Friends, farmers, suppliers, clients, neighbors, and employees all came and enjoyed.

Ali Walker, photographer, who is great and does many of the same weddings we do came as a guest.  And she took these photos.  They really capture the ethic of the party... which shouldn't be much of a surprise, she captures the feel of every wedding she shoots so perfectly.

Cheers! Ali!  Thanks so much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday Mornings

Normal people go to breakfast Sunday Morning. 
Normal people sleep in Sunday Morning. 
Normal people go to church Sunday Morning. 
Normal people go for runs Sunday Morning.
Normal people love Sunday Morning.

Sunday Morning we ate leftovers from our Mexican inspired wedding buffet, in between washing dishes and preparing for 250 more guests... green chicken mole, whole pinto beans, and mexican rice, and Carmen's 'out of this world mindblowing' red salsa. (and we served carnitas, and posole, and homemade tortillas, oh it was yummy)

We love Sunday Morning too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


My good friend Jeremy used to crack up at this question "um... is the fish fresh?"  What answer do you possibly think the waiter/supermarket fish guy/cook is going to say? "Actually sir, the fish I am about to sell you is five days old (from when we got it) and is starting to turn just a bit, but I have no doubt you will be pleased with its quality."

If every supermarket, sandwich shop, caterer, pizza chain, fast food franchise in the country claims its food is "fresh" and "of the highest quality" who in this great nation is serving the "mediumly aged to old" and "low quality" food?

Fresh is a continuum.  Everyone can call their food Fresh, but who's is Fresher?

At one catering business the mashed potatoes are fresh out of the can.  At another they are freshly made from dehydrated potato flakes.  And another peels the little yukon gold suckers with indentations and blemishes and the cooks occasionally peel their own skin and get their fingers cramped from all the tedious work to make "fresh" mashed potatoes.  Is it all fresh?  Yes.  Is it all honest?  That is the better question, and very much a personal one.

At one fast food place the beef has "non meat fillers".  At another sandwich shop the roast beef out of a vacuum sealed bag, the same they serve at every other sandwich shop in town.  At ours, it is medium rare to medium flank steak cooked every couple of days.  It is all fresh.  Ours is more honest.  (okay, okay... it tastes better too, you dragged it out of me.)

We aren't playing 'holier than thou' (okay, maybe a little).  We put out honest food.  We buy as much as we can from our local farmers and from the farmer's market.  We try to stay as seasonal as possible.  We always want to look ourselves in the mirror and feel like we put out solid, honest, wholesome food and trade it for your hard earned dollars.  It's what we try to do everyday. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Palmares is a cycling term that means a list of great accomplishments.  Here is our version of palmares. 

We received this letter from Glenn and Angie, a Seattle couple who came to Walla Walla for a winery wedding in September.  Glenn and Angie are part of something we see more and more of these days, folks who have very little or no connection to Walla Walla who choose to get married here because, well... Walla Walla is an awesome destination wedding location.  Neither are wine geeks or afficianados, they came to WW because of the experience WW provides. 

They had a smaller reception at Basel Cellars, fifty or so guests.  The weather was great, the grounds perfect, as always, and the food once again made our guests and ourselves happy.  Here is the letter we received the other day... Angie loves exclamation points!!!

Thank you so much for everything!  The food was beyond wonderful and all the guests raved about it!  We couldn't have asked for a better experience and your staff was fabulous!
If you want us to write a recommendation for you to any potential clients let us know!
Thank you!!
Glenn and Angie"


Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Anatomy of a Party

September 1st Graze Catering turned Five Years Old.  September was too busy to have a party, so we had one October the 2nd.  We didn't feel like we were cheating, there was only one job recorded in the month of September 2006.  

We invited a bunch of friends, and clients, and suppliers, and neighbors, and event space operators, and rental store owners, and landlords, and all the other people associated with the business. 

Then we bought the animals.  A whole pig and a whole goat.  We got the pig from Blue Valley Meats, and the goat from the Youth Market Auction at the county fair.

Then we seasoned the pig and goat.  The pig we inserted garlic cloves into and salted the meat for three days.  The goat we gave an herb and garlic rub, and salted it for two days.


Then we went to the farmers market, like we do every week for our weddings and events, and filled the back of the expedition.

Pig goes in the cajun microwave.  Goat goes in the oven.

Light the fire.  Wait.

Open the box, flip the pig.  Wait.

Carve and serve.

135 guests.  Great company, good beer and wine.  Here is to five more years.


Friday, October 14, 2011

This Is How We Do It...

Montell Jordan wrote the classic R&B tune "This Is How We Do It" in 1995.  I still want to dance when I hear that song. 

This is how we do it deep in our creative minds at the sandwich shop.   

We ran this special the last few days.  It was super yummy.  Shaved prime rib, sauteed peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh oregano.  We charged $8.95.  Which makes me wonder how Subway/Quiznos/everyotherprefabslicedmeatplace can look themselves in the eye and charge $8.95 (or whatever it is they charge) for a "steak" sandwich. 

Ours is good.  Ours is real.  We make your tastebuds dance.  Just like Montell.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It has been busy here.  The wedding season is wrapping itself up nicely.  Only a few more to go.  Here are a couple of comments from recent events.

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

All I can say is fabulous meal and outstanding servers! You run a very good catering service - many out of town guests all complimented the food. We had the "fill in the blank" rep. for Washington State and he was very interested in some potential events this next year. ..... Many thanks...

PS: One of our younger guests made sure to let me know that your son is in his class at school and that he loves your


Hi Graze,

Thank you! Our dinner was great, service was awesome. We had a little mishap with DJ's arrival so the wedding got started late and your servers were wonderful. I don't know what else to say, other than how perfect the dinner and service was. I just wish I could've spent more time eating that great meal...but that's how weddings go. Lots of talking to the bride and groom I got so many compliments on the food and service. I appreciate your thoughts too throughout the planning. You are mailing us an invoice right? Thanks again!

Stacey & Adam
Dear Graze

Thank you....I believe my cousin Linda Williams took care of the bill at the catering event today......BTW, everybody was very impressed with the Italian lasagna dinner....I heard raving compliments all afternoon....And you have to remember, we are a family of Italians on both sides of our families, and the meal was absolutely impeccable in every way!.....Thanks again



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

accepting applications now... u could own this!!!

Tuesday, The MELT grilled cheese sandwich shop opened in San Francisco.  The dude who invented the FLIP video camera gadget teamed up with a venture capital firm and hired San Francisco Chef Guy, Michael Mina (a super accomplished dude) as a consultant to start The MELT.  From what I gather they make custom grilled cheese sandwiches and soups. 

a place to eat

They are going to open 15 to 25 this year, and the goal is to have 500 storefronts within five years.  Franchise start up costs per shop are expected to be $500k to one million American Dollars.  You read that right. (a very similar cost for major franchises like Del Taco, Dairy Queen, Arby's, and that is a just under the heavyweights like Taco Bell and Jack in the Box, or so my limited research has uncovered.)

This got us thinking.  Why can't we be a franchise?  I mean really, why not?  Outside of the lack of funding, corporate infrastructure, advertising dollars, bulk purchasing power, media fawning, being located in a town of only 30,000 people, and a four hour drive from a major metropolitan area... WHY NOT?  (Have you seen then scene from Monty Python's "The Life of Brian"?... What have the Romans Done for us?!?!?!?)

So 'Graze - a place to eat' is offering for a limited time only franchises starting at a very cool and discounted $200,000 American Dollars.  Accepting offers starting... now.  (ok ok, $150,000... if you ask nicely we might settle at $125,000)


Monday, July 25, 2011

Kinley and Drew's Wedding at the Winn Homestead

We do a lot of Whitman Weddings.  Graduates leave our fair town (voted friendliest in the United States by Rand McNally) and come back to get hitched with all their college friends; re-uniting for a big party.  It was our first time at the Winn Homestead in Weston, a huge red barn, with two levels, set in wheat and pea fields.  Here is the note Kinley sent us:

Dear Graze,
Thanks so much for everything. The reviews from attendees were seriously unreal - people couldn't stop talking about the food. Multiple people have mentioned to me that it was the best food they've ever had at a wedding, and a couple wonder if you'd travel to do weddings in Seattle :)

Thank you so much for your flexibility, easygoing nature, and excellent culinary creativity - we had such a great time.

Check should have arrived today, tomorrow at the latest. Let me know if you don't see it for some reason.

Also, any chance I could squeeze the recipes for that cous cous salad and the bread/tomato salad out of you? I have a list of about 20 people that have asked me for the recipe...

Excellent work, and thank you. If you ever need another reference, please feel free to use me.

Well I think that deserves a hearty Cheers!  Our daughter thinks so too.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Blink and May turns into July.  Blink again and your kids are in middle school.  How does time go so quickly.  How did we just do 14 weddings from the last week in May to today?  And how did we fit in all the other parties large and small?  I really have no idea, its all kind of a blur. 

What is not a blur is that our food and service have continued improved with every event.  And we are proud to announce that our pig box has been perfected.  A slow roast herb stuffed pork shoulder takes us a good 6 hours, and then the coals on top we use to grill vegetables.  Here are Walla Walla Sweets grilling on top of the pig box for the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival backyard donors party.

Our house made meatballs in roasted garlic marinara and braciole, crispy polenta cakes, whole leaf caesar salad and parmesan, wilted swiss chard from stones throw farm, blanched asparagus, and dessert from the patisserie rounded out this meal all the way back in early June for some out of town guests at L'ecole Winery.

My new favorite thing is grilled lemons.  We marinate rosemary lemon and garlic chicken for a day before grilling.  After the chicken is grilled, we then grill off the lemon rounds over low heat.  They caramelize so beautifully, and when they are just a few moments before burnt is when they are perfect, and they make a fantastic garnish.  For these smoked paprika and garlic shrimp skewers, we roasted the lemons and then finely chopped the caramelized zest and put a smidge on each skewer.  The stuff is addicting.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


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

We did dinner for a group of guests organized by Whitman College.  Waters Winery was the venue, outdoors on the lawn, two extra long tables, seating 62 guests in all.  Above is a shot of a new appetizer we made up, cantelope lollipops, dipped in finely minced mint and prosciutto bits (think bacon bits but made out of prosciutto... yummy).  Dinner was served family style, a pretty local salad from Welcome Table Farm; then halibut on a bed of english peas, favas, and baby carrots; then grilled Upper Dry Creek Ranch leg of lamb and salsa verde, on a bed of wilted beet greens and arugula with roasted new potatoes and grilled early summer vegetables; finished with petit fours from the Patisserie.

I wanted to tell you how amazing the dinner was on Thursday. You and your staff did an incredible job. Everyone attending my conference (mostly from the east coast) was so impressed with Walla Walla in general, and they just loved the venue at Waters, the wine, and your food. And, you may have left before this, but we had the most incredible moonrise at the end of the dinner (I'll send you a picture). Just icing on top of the cake. I wish you had been there to accept everyone's thanks, but Tracy and Brian came out and let us applaud them. (Dinner was done and I had a softball playoff game to get to!!! commitments, commitments.)

Thank you so much!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Christmas in May

The biz is almost five years old.  When we moved in the kitchen had one big prep table, a hobart mixer, a walk in cooler, a walk in freezer, a double stack oven set, and a range stove, and some shelving.  A $1,500 investment in some pots and pans and sheet pans and spatulas and tongs and another $850 at Ross for some platters and fancy spoons and we were in the cooking business... with no one to cook for.

The ovens were big and powerful, but highly erratic.  Burning edges and corners, and leaving the entire bottom rack raw no matter how long something was in there.  But we learned its quirks well, and found we had to open the doors and stir often, or pick just five pieces of bacon at a time from a sheet pan, and to rotate pans from top to bottom and spin them frequently. 

These pieces of restaurant refuse served a solid 42,000 catered guests and cooked the ingredients for at least another 38,000 sandwich shop customers.  We hated the ovens, but were always grateful for their service... only once did they break down for a big event, but good restaurant friends let us use their ovens... and that is a story for another time.

Well the bottom oven died the other day, leaving us with one very old and inefficient oven and one very old and expensive oven to fix.  So we bit the bullet and bought these bad boys from Blodgett Corp in Burlington Vermont.  With a little help from eight strapping young Whitman Baseball Players they were installed in no time.

I am no tech geek, or gear geek, or car afficionado, or anything approaching a stuff guy... but don't they look beautiful?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Palmares is a cycling term that means a list of great accomplishments.  Here is our version of palmares.

We donate one private dinner for eight guests for the ywca fundraiser auction.  (We also donate countless gift certificates to other groups, and dedicate sales to the Ronald McDonald House from our sandwich shop.)  The last two years the dinner has been at Longshadows, in their Chihuly Room. 

I can't think of enough adjectives to describe the wonderful dinner we had tonight: suberb, excellent, outstanding, delicious, exquisite, the list goes on. We were awed by each course. It was truly a fabulous meal and we had a superb time wining, dining and visiting with our friends. As a guest treated to your excellent (I'm already repeating myself) culinary cuisine, I thank you.  Again, kudos to you for a memorable evening and thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to give of yourself and your incredible talents.  -  Michelle


Monday, May 23, 2011

busy busy

I finally figured out how to link my phone to the computer, yes I know how dumb that sounds.  But the picture shortage is no longer a problem.  Here are some shots from the past few weeks.

As a general rule... we don't make desserts (except for brownies, cobblers, bread pudding, and cookies).  But we donated dessert for an auction, and Lori (Brian our cook's wife) loves to make cupcakes.  So she made these Spring/Easter inspired fondant covered cupcakes.  They were awesome.

Who says there is no good seafood in Walla Walla?  These Penn Cove Mussels were harvested on the 18th and served on the 20th.  We blanched them, topped them with some garlicky bread crumbs, broiled them and served them with a saffron aioli. 

A phad thai noodle inspired salad.  Too many ingredients to list. 

We call these "shrimp scallop lollipops".  Seared on a flat top and then brushed with lemon garlic butter before going to the guests.  They never ever last more than a few moments.

Sliders made with Lostine Cattle Company ground beef.  Super clean tasting.  Caramelized onions, fresh thyme, goat cheese, mayo.  We served 800 on Saturday at Leonetti (from 10am to 2:45pm... that is like 170 and hour?) and another 200 on Sunday.

A fruit platter for a nurses appetizer reception.  Tangerine syrup is the dipping sauce. 

Blanched asparagus with tarragon mayo and Tim's Chips, and a Japanese noodle salad (its the cousin to the phad thai noodle salad).

And this is what the sandwich shop looked like all week... the graduating Whitties getting their last fill of Graze - a place to eat.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

boom boom

Since we last checked in... dinner for a church, dinner at Dunham Cellars, lunch for a Republican Congress member and supporters, lunch for Earth Day Volunteers, lunch for Veterans Administration Volunteers, dinner at Dunham Cellars (again), dinner at Dunham Cellars (and again), appetizers for Whitman Alumni at Dunham Cellars (again... again), wine lunch at Reynvaan Vineyards, dinner at Dunham Cellars (and seriously again), apps Friday Night for spring release weekend at Mannina Cellars, L' Ecole Winery, Reininger Winery, and a two day event at Leonetti for over 1,000 guests.

Its been busy here.  Wedding season kicks off this week with our first wedding of the season, May 14th at Areus.... and then it gets busier.  (Lord help us.)

Pictures to come once my phone decides to start communicating with the computer again.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

terra blanca weekend

Three years ago we had the pleasure to cook for Dawn and John's wedding reception in Benton City.  It was the first time we had been outside of the Walla Walla-Dayton-Milton Freewater 'metropolitan' area.  Last year, Terra Blanca contacted us (the winery Dawn works for), and we did a wine dinner and a cooking class for their Chef Seminar Series.  This year we came back for an appetizer party in February and then the big Spring Release Weekend.

Here is what the schedule looked like at Terra Blanca Winery:
Thursday - Brian did a Chef Seminar class.
Friday - I did a tv spot for KVEW Tri-Cities Morning Show (woke up at 3am to get ready and there on time!!!)
Friday Night - Myself and a cook friend did appetizers for 75-100 guests
Saturday - something like 1200 tasters descend on the winery, and we sold small plates to go with their wine.
Saturday Night - we created a buffet for all the winery staff and their guests.
Sunday Morning - left in a fog after packing the vehicle for two hours.

It was a busy and long weekend.  Add to it, Brian and Tracy did an appetizer drop off Friday, a buffet dinner for 85 guests Friday, and Saturday served a lovely family style meal at Dunham Cellars for 33 ladies celebrating their "many many years in business" party... and the sandwich shop kept humming along quite nicely.

Here are a few shots.

In the wood fired oven we crisped up some polenta cakes, caramelized some roasted red peppers, and roasted portabella mushrooms with olive oil... here is the finished dish with balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil, and shaved parmesan.  Is there anything more soul satisfying than cooking with cast iron.

A really terrible photo of our meatballs, with roasted garlic marinara, grilled walla walla bread company baguettes, smeared with roasted garlic... big enough to eat with a fork, but more fun to eat with skewers.

Shrimp, spanish chorizo, and corn fritters with saffron aioli.  Addictively yummy.


Monday, April 11, 2011

the feast at reininger winery... and downtown

It was Cayuse Weekend, Feast of Walla Walla Weekend, and Breakfast Week.  For some strange reason we delivered breakfast Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  (We aren't as fun and cheery rolling into the catering kitchen at 5:00 am.)

Last Fall Release we did a small plates dinner paired with Reininger Winery library vintages and current releases.  It was fun, the guests had a great time, and we were invited back.  Saturday we did five courses paired with their Viogneer, Chardonnay, Desiderata, Anomoly, and Semillon.  I gave one server the job of reminding me to snap a photo before the first plates went out.  The shots were a bit rushed on the phone camera...

Here is the chilled pea soup, bright and vibrant green, topped with some creme fraiche soft like just whipped cream, we served fresh cracked pepper with it for guests to self moderate the pepper levels.  [It was so good we served the last bits at the sandwich shop the next day, the first customer of the day bought one small soup, then bought two large ones to take home.  Paired with the Voignier.]

What says Spring more than grilled asparagus and garlic rubbed bread, and egg salad (farmer alice's eggs, capers, shallots, tarragon, softened with a good deal of olive oil and a touch of water) so soft it falls partly into the sauce category, with a few prosciutto bits?  I can't think of anything more Springy.  Paired with the Chardonnay.  Simple, rustic, just how we like to eat.

Our version of chicken ballentine (or is it a gallentine?), three pounded thin chicken breasts laid out on cheesecloth to form a sheet of chicken, stuffed with a forcemeat of chicken thigh meat, sweated onions, thyme, parsley, minced tenderloin and cream, rolled into a compact cylinder and then poached to just barely done in a chicken stock.  Sliced and set in a rich and reinforced roast chicken stock we call a brodo, blanched carrots, sugar snap peas, and peas.  Paired with the Desiderata.

Grilled rosemary and garlic Fehrenbacher Farm rack of lamb, on top of the almost best beans in the world, calypso beans from Welcome Table Farm, roasted sweet onion, extra virgin olive oil.  Paired with the 2004 Anomaly. (so yummy)

For dessert... which we don't make... we made.  Brian our outstanding cook, made a a bread puddding, creme anglaise, roasted pear wedges, candied tangerine peel, and tangerine syrup, which looked lovely, and tasted fantastic.    

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

television the drug of the nation

I found Hulu a few weeks back.  Sad how far behind the times the wife and I are.  We haven't had television for something like five years.  Netflix was our entertainment choice for quite a while until we found Hulu.  First we devoured Kitchen Nightmares (which really is a crash course in how to run a restaurant properly, good food and attention to food,customers, and employees, work hard, try, care, try some more, work harder, keep working, work some more, and if you are good and lucky... things may just go your way.  (Gordon Ramsey is a god, he is one of my personal heros, that silly show has taught us so much), then we tackled as many Chopped episodes available, and finally we are stuck waiting for new episodes of America's Next Great Restaurant.  (For which my answer to their question is... Hello... successful and reproduceable fast casual restaurant business model patiently waiting for you right here in Walla Walla.)) 

This was our last week of relative calm for the catering business. Starting this weekend, the next 15 weeks are busy. Like crazy busy. But we are ready and willing. So we spent the little downtime we had wisely, Brian went on vacation, Tracy and I went to meetings, and I messed around in the home kitchen with the kids.

Braciole test cook version number one for Entwine Dinner.
Mirepoix, garlic, pancetta for red wine marinara to braise the braciole.

The extra red wine that could not be allowed to go to waste.

 A homestyle roast chicken headed to our ancient oven.

Two big parties coming up we are super excited to be responsible for.  The Entwine Grand Dinner and Auction which will be a four course plated dinner for 300 to 400 guests.  And the opening gala dinner for the preview of the new Shakespeare Theatre being retrofitted in the old power building, it will be family style multi course for 200+ guests.  Those along with lots of dinners, weddings, luncheons, and appetizer events. 

We look forward to serving you soon.  Cheers.