Thursday, May 7, 1998
Ever since they were tall enough to reach the kitchen counter, the Love sisters have loved being in the kitchen. Coming up with enticing menus, designing beautiful plate presentations, and creating tablescapes and dcor to celebrate all kinds of events comes as natural as breathing to Phyllis and Linda, owners of Love's Catering.
"That''s just the way that we were raised," says Linda. "Our mother was a wonderful cook, and came from generations of wonderful cooks. She believed in getting the candelabras out, the nice linens and china and the real silverware. She loved to create liveliness and ambiance! Every Sunday, we''d set a beautiful table and cut flowers out of the yard, just for us. And holidays, we''d invite everybody! Cook enough to last a week and decorate the whole house, inside and out! She let us know that there is nothing that we could not do. And whatever we decided to do, to do it well. But Phyllis is the mastermind of this business--we need to make her talk!"
While both sisters are fully engaged in operating what has grown from a part-time hobby into a full-on business, Phyllis specializes in making the kitchen magic. "I love to come up with different things all the time, from hors d''oeuvres to desserts," she effuses. "It all happened when we started cooking for our church. We have a congregation of about 150 people at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and then when everybody started bringing somebody, our dinners grew to about 300.
"Then, when some of our young people started to get married," she continues, "we started getting asked to do the wedding receptions. One came along, and then another and another. We just volunteered in the beginning, just to help out and really make things nice for people that maybe didn''t have much that they could spend. Then word started getting around, and we started getting requests to do all kinds of things. Beach parties, bar mitzvahs, quincea¤os, anniversaries. That''s been since 1990 since we developed it as a business, and we''ve gotten repeat customers every year--the City of Salinas, the Steinbeck Foundation, art exhibits, the air show--anywhere from four people to 500."
With such a diverse clientele, Love''s Catering has developed a far-reaching culinary repertoire. "We just did a party at Hartnell College the other day, for Cultural Awareness Day; we love all kinds of ethnic foods. We''ve done everything from the most elegant appetizers--grapes rolled in softened Gorgonzola and crushed pecans, little crab puffs, cheese and fruit platters--to entres like chicken New Englander: a boneless breast of chicken with apple and raisin stuffing, served in a savory sauce. Or a prime rib or steamship round, with all the trimmings. Or for something more casual, maybe fajitas, or barbecued tri-tip, or ribs."
"For accommodating large groups of people, we like to set up stations to keep the party free-flowing," Linda adds. "A carving station, pasta station, a dessert bar. Or, if the client prefers, we''ll do table service, with both of us serving. We enjoy handling everything--all the decorating, down to the very last detail. They''ll give us an idea, and then let us come up with the rest. And for every party that we do, we always do a little something extra. Something special to always makes the people come back."
Phyllis and Linda Love have come a long way since cooking their first church suppers (though that''s still a favorite activity, too). "It takes a lot of work to make a party a success," they agree. "But, we''re both workers," says Linda. "And smilers, too!"
They can also boast that out of all those wedding receptions,"So far, all our couples have stayed together!" cw