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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Silence of the Lambs Wedding

If I could cook lamb and goat all summer I would be a happy man. 

We did a wedding for a family from Milton Freewater yesterday.  The groom is from Armenian roots.  The bride is from farming Milton Freewater Oregon roots.  So we blended the two a bit. 

We roasted two Fehrenbacher Farm whole lambs and 25 whole chickens.  Grilled a ton of local vegetables.  Made a nice salad from the family apple orchard.  It was yummy.  And the lamb was spectacular, tender, clean and flavorful, we served it with some harissa.  Here it is before we seasoned it for the oven.  Dinner for 180 guests.

Reininger had us back for the Hootenanny.  A fun day of entertainment and local rustic food. 

The family snuck away to a wood fired oven pizza party at Walla Walla Vintners (thank you Meghan and Judah).  My very first real cook job was at a wood fired pizza/nice rustic Italian restaurant in Sacramento, CA.  Paragary's.  I can toss a mean pizza.  Here is a stuffed crust monster. 

The Summer is humming along nicely.  Every bit of produce is ripe and perfect these days... and we will get a chance to go home and cook some for our families if we ever get some time off from work.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wedding in Seattle?

It's been a busy stretch lately... from May thru the middle of July.  Here are a few photos from the last couple of weeks.  Only 10 or so more weddings to go.

I love Seattle.  I love Portland.  But if I was going to get married again to my lovely wife of 12 years, and we lived in Seattle... we would be coming to Walla Walla to get married.  It is perfect for a "not so far away destination wedding in a cool chill town".  (and we cook goodish food too)

Keith and Leah's Wedding at Areus, situated right next to the rolling wheat fields.  Here they are getting photos about 100 feet from the dining tables.

"Food was amazing, multiple people came up and mentioned that it was the best wedding food they had ever had."
- Keith

"John, everything was perfect! We had a blast. Everyone said it was our best reunion ever! The food was excellent. I had at least 50 people compliment it. Everyone was very impressed . Your staff was wonderful. Very efficient and professional in every way. I can't thank you enough for everything."
- Kathy

The view from the tent at Wine Valley Golf Club.  A difficult and beautiful links style course just down the road from Longshadows Winery.

Dinner the next night the family and I had some left over fresh peas from a catering, harvested by our farmer friends.  Butter, parmesan, kosher salt, fresh pepper, tiny bit of garlic... oh man.  They bring them to us shelled and ready to use.  These will be on every menu next year early summer.  Thank you Laura!!!

The opening salad course for our family style dinner at Figgins Family Vineyard site up Mill Creek.  Everything on the plate was harvested the day before.  Served with green goddess dressing. 

This was for the Whitman Tennis and Wine Camp.  A really cool weekend of tennis, wine, food, tennis, wine, food, tennis, wine, food, tennis.  The favorite dinner of the camp a little bird told me.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The last couple of months or so we have been busy little bees.  Large community events, winery events, and now we are knee deep in weddings.  May and June are the busiest time of the year.  For which we are thankful.  Here are some photos to give you a sense of what we have been up to.  Cheers.

Brian and I cooking a whole pig, and whole chickens for the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival board members party. 

Grilled Walla Walla Sweets.  Brilliant with romesco sauce.

An appetizer for Shannon's Wedding at Three Rivers Winery.  Skewered sea scallop, pancetta, and caramelized apple.  Delicious.

Copper River Sockeye searing on our brand new flat top grill.  Then slow roasted at low heat and served with aioli and lemon.

I love vegetarians.  This stuffed portabella mushroom dish is at the top of my list to serve and eat.  Perfectly sauteed zuchinni, red pepper, red onion, roast whole garlic cloves, basil, cubed mozz, headed to the oven till just warmed through. 

Hmmm... Whole roasted brined chickens carved for service or individual frozen chicken breasts?  Hmmm....

This is what a bowl of quinoa salad looks like for 200 guests.

Prime Rib.  Day three.  In four hours it will be consumed. 

Those little red bits, piquillo peppers from Spain.  The prosciutto is from Parma, Italy.  The asparagus is from Walla Walla, Washington.  Three of the finer things in life assembled here every Spring.

 This is what we do on our Sundays. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Palmares is a cycling term which means a list of great accomplishments.  Here is our palmares, a letter from Shannon's wedding reception at Three Rivers Winery for 215 guests.  We served grilled top sirloin roasts and copper river salmon, grilled ww sweets and asparagus, and beautiful salad greens from our friends at Welcome Table Farm.  It was a beautiful day, a great venue, and a fun time.
Hi Graze,

This whole wedding process. I have been thoroughly impressed by you and Graze---my millions of emails and questions were always answered completely and quickly. We have received many many compliments about the food. I only wished I could have had seconds---the meal was absolutely perfect.

I'd love to know how to write a review for you, as would my mom. She's a total foodie and thought our wedding food was some of the best she's had, as did many of our guests. Take care and thank you again for an absolutely amazing job that was above and beyond our expectations...

We will definitely be back to Walla Walla and hope to meet you sometime.  Thank you for helping make our wedding day all that we hoped for.

Take care,

Shannon Leacj


Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Release Walla Walla

Two Days, over 2,000 guests, seven wineries... yes we are tired. 

I went to Longshadows for an evening release event Friday Night.  Beef tenderloin mini sandwiches, warm potato salad, piquillo pepper wrapped walla walla asparagus, french green lentil salad, red wine beef ragu and grilled bread, endive boats with goat cheese mousse, and shrimp and arrabiatta crostinis.  The food was pretty dang good.

Here is a shot of the marinated beef tenderloin.  When the french winemaker dude compliments the beef, the green lentils, and the truffled creme fraiche... you know things went fairly well.

Brian spent three days at Leonetti grilling Lostine Beef, serving grilled asparagus, and frying corn and spanish chorizo fritters with saffron aioli.  Friday night was a special release party, and we made tartare with the Lostine top sirloin cut.  Wow.  It's not fair that a generic cut like top sirloin can be that tender.  Capers, italian parsley, lemon, anchovy, truffle salt, egg yolk, made up the tartare, served with arugula on a lavosh cracker.  

Becca headed off to Reininger where we served up carnitas and hominy in a red chile sauce, mexican basmati rice, grilled veggies, asparagus with smoked paprika and cojita, a green salad. 

Pepperbidge we sent all the salads to go with a bbq themed party.  Tortellini pasta, coleslaw, our roasted pear salad, and fruit salad.

Tracy ran off to events at Five Star Cellars and Robinson Ranch Winery, where we did a italian braised brisket, with our meatballs, italian sausage links all coated in a pancetta mirepoix red wine sauce, baked parmesan polenta and other sides rounded out the meal.

L Ecole served our cream cheese spreads, crostinis and lavosh crackers.  And then Saturday served some nicer small plate apps for 30 lucky private tasters.

And the weather was like this all weekend.  This is a shot from Basel Cellars, where we did Samantha's wedding the weekend before.  Just another reason to visit, get married, spend some down time in Walla Walla.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's Just a Tiny Difference

Other caterers...

Graze Catering...

One of the many reasons you should get married in Walla Walla.  The valley from the windmill farm near Seven Hills Vineyard.

Cheers (we do things right, we make honest food, we like to cook for you)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tempus Cellars

Joe and Molly opened a tasting room for their brand new tasting room, Tempus Cellars (located near the airport).  Now my guess is they named it "tempus" because it has Latin meaning referring to time.  Which leads me further to guess for the consumer this implies "it takes time to make great wine" kind of a thing.

So when Joe asked about food for a tasting room opening, it seemed more than fitting to slow roast a whole pig in our brand new upgraded pig box.  Because, well, a pig takes a long time to cook. 

Here are some photos.  It was pretty dog gone spanking good. 

The pig box, after a few hours, pig inside resting peacefully.  The grills swing open to allow adding coals.

Asparagus grilling for the buffet table.  No it's not local yet.  But the pig is, we got it from our friends at Blue Valley Meats.

The finished pig, being messily butchered.  The cracklings were fantastic.

The ever so simple buffet, grilled veggies, coleslaw, bread and butter, and pig... lots and lots of pig... which got all eaten up.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Longshadows and the Oregon Wine Brotherhood

Last week we went to Longshadow Winery and did a buffet dinner for a group of wine tourists... the Oregon Wine Brotherhood.  Which sounds like a fairly serious group... we were expecting archaic ritual, wine/blood oaths, codes of silence, omerta.  And nothing of the sort happened.  They were a rather fun bunch of folks, lots of wine, good food, and hearty cheer made the evening super pleasant.

Paul Gregutt wine writer gave a talk on the terrior of Walla Walla wines and the wines of Longshadows and Forgeron.  Giles and his wife Marie led tastings for their respective wineries, Longshadows and Forgeron.  And we served the food.  Which is the part we do best.

They had some appetizers in the barrel room, and did some tasting.  See the mushrooms.  Those are our Spanish marinated mushrooms.  They are so yummy.  I could eat them all day long.

Here is a new york strip loin roast.  This picture kind of stinks.  The roast was cooked to the most perfect medium/medium rare.  Tender beyond belief.  And the deep rich brown sauce is bordelaise... a red wine and veal stock reduction.  So good with the big red wines.

Roast cauliflowers, sweet peppers, carrots, and parsnips.  Simple and good.  We also served whole filets of slow roasted salmon and aioli, yukon gold mashed potatoes, a simple green salad, and sauteed asparagus garlic and peppers. 

All in all, it was a pretty nice evening.  The next night we cooked for the same group at Dunham Cellars.  That was pretty tasty too.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Coming to a Wedding or Winery Near You

This hulking and barbaric piece of metal is our newly updated pig box.  The fine metal workers at the Walla Walla Farmer's Coop gave our old pig box an update.  

They added:
- an insulated wall
- grills that swing away from the coal bed
- grills that raise over a foot high for slow slow roasting
- a door in the oven
- a rack for the pig to rest on inside
- a thermometer port
- handles that slide out to lift off the coal bed
- and caster wheels (to be added soon)

Imagine this menu for about 150 guests, cooked entirely on site, over and under mesquite charcoal.

- whole pig slow roasted
- grilled summer vegetables
- whole butterflied slow roasted chicken

Add a nice salad, a potato or rice dish of some kind, some more beautiful produce from the valley... and, well, that sounds pretty yummy.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

L Ecole

We have been out to L Ecole Winery a couple of times this last month.  Once for an industry night.  And the other for a tasting of wines produced from the Seven Hills wine area.  (The tastings are crazy.  Like dozens of wines, from different blocks, made by different winemakers, in different styles.  I didn't partake of the tasting.  It looked super intense.) 

I wish this picture did this dish a bit more justice.  Seared shrimp, on a bed of whole white beans in arrabiatta sauce, on top of a bed of white bean puree, with some roasted sweet peppers, all intended to be scooped up with some wafer thin crostinis.  Super yummy.  As the host of the event said "this tastes like Provence!".  Best compliment ever.

Blue cheese slider burgers on a WW Bread Company hoagie roll... mid assembly. 

And then I came home and thought a quick litte saute of parsnips, onion, red peppers, and asparagus sounded like a good idea.  It was.  Do you like to make little piles of your prepped veggies?  I do.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WaterDrop WorkShop

WaterDrop WorkShop made this sign for us.  It is double sided.  It is pretty radical. 

They have another one all made up for the downtown location.  We now have to figure out how to get it installed properly. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fast Food



Monday, February 27, 2012

GRAZE - a drive thru (Breakfast)


The drive thru opens at 7:00 Monday through Friday.  We serve Walla Walla Roastery drip coffee, with a couple of different creamers for your choosing.  And we serve four different breakfast paninis.  That is it.  Until we think up other stuff to serve.

The eggs are omelette style.  No fried, or poached, or scrambled eggs, omelettes are your only option.  The cheese is Tillamook Medium Cheddar.  My favorite generic cheddar, my kids favorite generic cheddar, there is no better generic cheddar.  The mayo is Best Foods, we love you Best Foods.  The bread is La Brea Bakery italian rounds, brushed with pure olive oil and toasted, just like we do at the sandwich shop. 

Here are the four breakfast paninis in all their glory (with their codes):

PBAC - egg, omelette, cheddar, mayo, Daily's Bacon.
(how much do we want to make our own bacon.  A lot.  How practical is it?  Not very.  How much do we go through?  Enough to make it NOT PRACTICAL.  Sigh... maybe someday.)

PHAM - egg, omelette, cheddar, mayo, house cured tasso ham.
(tasso ham is a southern styled smoked ham made from pork shoulder.  It is quick cured, then dredged in spices, and hot smoked.  It is firey.  And super yummy.)

PSG - egg, omelette, cheddar, mayo, house made sage garlic fennel country sausage.
(we grind pork shoulder with fried sage, raw garlic, fennel, and other good things... it is decidedly not your everyday sausage patty.)

PEGG - egg white, omelette, cheddar, spinach, roast peppers (no mayo)
(you want a yummy breakfast without the calories, this one if for you.)

Each breakfast panini is $4.25.  Add coffee and its a flat $5.00 (plus sales tax). 


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Magic Oven


Back in January the wife and I flew to Tacoma with a styrofoam ice chest full of pastrami, flank steak, meatballs, pulled pork, sauces, and cheese.  We stuffed our backpacks full of hoagies, italian rounds, and torta bread.  Yes, we had a few strange looks from fellow passengers.  And a very interesting time getting the russian dressing through the TSA checkpoint.  

At the Bargreen Ellingson test kitchen we played around with an Amana AXP22 convection oven (thanks Chef Bob for the hospitality).  We called it the Magic Oven.  Our pastrami sandwich which takes 6 minutes at the sandwich shop in our regular convection oven... takes 40 seconds in the Magic Oven.  The meatball takes 50 seconds.  The torta 40 seconds.  It is unreal, like science fiction, we used it, we bought one, and we still can't really comprehend it.  The sandwiches come out identical to our convection oven version.  And it makes our soon to be open drive thru sandwich shop at 213 South 9th Street possible.  GRAZE - 'a drive thru' should be open around March 1st. (509) 540-1261.

Kudos to the super engineering geniuses who invented it.  These ovens are changing the way quick service food is served... you can fry frozen french fries in them without any oil, and they taste like they came out of a fryer.  Name a food that is baked, roasted, or deep fried and this Magic Oven cooks it at least five times faster.

Almost exclusively these Magic Ovens (made by Amana and TurboChef) are used on processed food, by big corporate quick service places.  They are, to put it mildly, expensive.  We are using this technology with our honest and wholesome food.  That sounds like a good, and quite frankly, rather radical idea to me.

[The week after going to Tacoma to test cook, we went to the Seattle Wedding Show, and stayed at some rather generic, clean, large hotel chain.  When we got to the hotel the kids were starving and needed a quick bite.  So we ordered a couple of things in the bar area.  I swung back to look at their kitchen (I am always looking at kitchens).  The kitchen was pretty much a Magic Oven, a small stove, and a cooler.  That was it.  And they served breakfast, lunch, dinner, and appetizers out of the space.  Was the food good, no, it was generic and boring.  But the range of the menu was large, and the kitchen was sparse.  Just one Magic Oven and a bunch of processed food.  Sometimes progress doesn't feel so progressive.]


Friday, February 24, 2012


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

Hi John,

I wanted to pass along the many wonderful comments I heard from parents and students alike last night about the delicious food that you served at the AVID Recognition Night. It was a real treat for these students and their families to have an upscale dinner (and presentation) for this special night - because so few of these folks have had an elegant catered experience like this. It was also a good mental boost for teachers and students (amidst the winter doldrums) to remind us to finish the school year strong!

A big thank you for making it a memorable experience for our AVID students and their families.  -  Sue

And from the wine tasting at L' Ecole Winery...

Thank you so much John!  The food was excellent and I had nothing but compliments.  - Rachel

And from the 90th birthday party host...

Thanks John.  The party was a success, and the food was great!  - Doug


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Walla Walla Poker Tour


My dad likes to gamble.  He plays poker.  He plays it well.  He wins more than he loses... his little black book records the give and take. 

I like to gamble.  I play poker adequately.  I win as much as I lose for the most part... and don't tally my wins and losses.

My wife does not like to gamble.  She would rather buy shoes and add them to her footwear empire.

This catering business gamble started a number of years ago, and after losing a bunch of hands, we started to win some, and then we laid a bigger wager on a sandwich shop, and we won a few more hands... the accountant has a little book recording the give and take.  And next week we get to place a nice big bet on another sandwich shop. 

It will be located in our catering kitchen.  It will be a drive thru only.  Breakfast and lunch.  The same menu as the downtown dine-in location, called GRAZE - 'a place to eat'.  We are calling the drive thru GRAZE - 'a drive thru'.  We couldn't think of anything better.  It should open around March 1st.

In the food biz, every day is like a poker hand... you place your blind bet, pay for food, employees, and the space... and wait for the customers/cards to arrive.  More winners than losers and you can stay in the game. 

We hope to play for a long time.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Graze Anatomy

We ran an ad in the Whitman Pioneer asking the super witty Whitties to come up with an ad.  The overwhelming response of one advertisement idea got us this one.  Way to go Mad Men.

Our logo is not our logo, and it really is supposed to read "GRAZE ANATOMY of a sandwich"... like the tv show, get it.  ha ha ha

I got myself a bachelor of science in Exercise Science, with an emphasis on exercise physiology, which means I learned things like how your body changes short term and long term to exercise.  To sum up four years of education... as a general rule, most all the time, all the things having to do with your body get better when you exercise.  (So this advert is some super funny stuff from my anatomy learning days.)

And this picture has nothing to do with anything except it is somewhat pretty.  We donated a mini brownie and mini cookie bar tower for a Campfire USA fundraiser at the Charles Smith Winery.  It tasted good.