Thursday, January 15, 1998
Tea-smoked lobster medallions garnished with fermented black beans and almond pesto. Rack of lamb marinated in pomegranate juice with Middle Eastern herbs and spices over almond and currant cous cous. These are just a couple of the dishes that Michael''s Catering will whip up for two, or 2,000 guests.
"The smallest party we''ve done was at Monastery Beach for a couple celebrating a birthday. We sent a chef, a waiter, and a violinist along with some palm trees and a beautifully laid table. And the largest party," Terry Teplitzky, owner of Michael''s Catering recalls, "probably for a corporate client. Hors d''oeuvres for 1,500."
If one was to scan his rsum, the work history speaks for itself. But it''s in the telling that the real story emerges. When Teplitzky momentarily digresses from relating the high points of his career to extoll his admiration for a properly flipped egg-over-easy, one realizes that this is a guy that had "Chef" written all over him from the get-go.
"I''m always impressed when I go out to any of the number of places on the Peninsula where it''s crowded, people are lined up for breakfast and the plate is beautiful and your eggs are perfect," he remarks. "I grew up in a hotel restaurant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I started working in the kitchen at 8 years old washing dishes and when I first started cooking, it was breakfast. You can go through a lot of eggs before you learn how to get it right."
Teplitzky''s early training was all-inclusive. "My grandfather taught me the Kosher process of butchering and we used our own stamped sides of beef in the hotel," he recalls. After working his way through each station in the kitchen, he moved to the front of the house by age 17.
Teplitzky later decided to go for a culinary degree. "I''d heard about the Culinary Institute of America, so I went through the program, followed by a 3-year apprenticeship at Maison Blanche, a classical French restaurant right next to the White House." After working his way up to the executive chef position, he met Cristina, a Monterey native and the woman he would later marry.
"We ended up moving to San Francisco first, where I worked at Washington Square Bar and Grill. That was a neat job. We did an interesting mix of some of the old-time Italian cuisine along with new and different stuff all the time. And it drew a good crowd of people, one of Herb Caen''s favorite places."
After starting a family, Teplitzky came south and worked around the Peninsula, eventually taking on the chef''s position at The Sardine Factory "a really positive experience," which he enjoyed for almost three years. When Tracy Gentry of Michael''s Catering called, Teplitzky decided it might be fun to do something different and accepted her offer to take over managing the kitchen. A few years later, it seemed a natural progression for Teplitzky to step in as an owner.
"It will be a year in February since buying the business. We didn''t change the name because the place has had a good, strong reputation since it was opened originally by Michael Clark. And I guess you could say that it''s similar to the restaurant business in that we offer California Cuisine and use local ingredients, but we can also get items from around the world," Teplitzky explains. "We''re not the kind of company that deals in set menus. We like to do something that''s personalized for each client." cw