When we met Brittany and Vaido, the husband and wife team behind elevated catering and events company, Truffleberry Market, we couldn’t wait to chat with them about what’s the latest and greatest in the ever evolving world of high end events.  We met up with the couple at their kitchen and office to hear what it’s really like working side-by-side with your spouse, and to collect some entertaining tips everyone can use…

What mistake do you see people make most often when entertaining?

Hands down, doing too much cooking at the last minute. So much more of the prep can be done in advance than most people realize. It can be crazy stressful and overwhelming to have a house full of guests while trying to get everyone drinks, serving appetizers, marinating a raw chicken to be roasted- {all while attempting to somewhat enjoy the party yourself!} The menu can essentially be cooked to about 80% ahead of time, leaving everything pretty much 10-15 minutes away from being finished. For example- menu items like roasted fingerling potatoes or Brussels sprouts can be pre-roasted, but not totally finished, so all you have left is the final 10-15 minutes or so to go. This will also ensure that everything comes out hot at the same time, which is another stressor for hosts! If it’s all about 15 minutes away, it is pretty easy to gauge what time everything will be ready!

 

 

Part of your mantra is “elevate presentation”. How does one go about doing this? Why is it so important?

I think one of the most selfless and generous things anyone can do is to host people. Realllllllly host them. So- I believe part of that means not being afraid to get tons of platters and dishes and all sorts of glassware dirty. Use it all! When we host, we pull everything out and set it all up. Not only is it visually gorgeous, but it also implies that I demand everyone enjoy whatever they want/need throughout the night! We will have red wine glasses, white wine glasses, champagne flutes, martini glasses and rocks glasses set out on trays for every party. Tons of china, flatware, platters, decanters, serving pieces, glassware… I love glasses. I think our wedding registry was 90% glassware.

A huge element of presentation that is often missing in entertaining at home is height. Don’t be afraid to look around your house to see what you can use to add dimension and height to your beverage set up or buffet. The other day I even flipped square baskets we have in a closet upside down and set trays of glassware out on them. You can use cake plates, wine boxes, stacks of coffee table books, candle holders- if you have it, go for it! Height is major for aesthetic. There is nothing more ‘meh than everything being flat. (but we don’t judge! So if you have us over for dinner, which no one ever wants to, we will think everything is absolutely amazing…promise). You will never meet 2 people more grateful just to be cooked for!

 

 

What’s the most out of this world event you’ve had the pleasure of being part of?

Last year, a client of ours hired us for an event out in Napa for his wife’s surprise birthday party. That was absolutely the most exciting event we have ever done. Not only were we flattered beyond belief, but we were also so insanely honored to be there cooking for them on such a special occasion. It was also slightly terrifying (an element in our work we have come to know well and love)- so many new challenges went along with not having the comforts of home- we were without our entire team, no trucks, loading doors, commercial equipment, professional kitchen, dirty towel cleaning service, 3 compartment dish sink, trusted vendors for food and even rentals. There were so many variables, but it was honestly the most thrilling experience for us. I’m surprised we weren’t taken into custody at the airport- bags packed full of plastic wrap, every knife you can imagine, rolls of masking tape and even a small fryer. Totally sketchy for security.

Our wonderful client really wanted his wife’s favorites to be reflected in our menu, so he left menu design and style totally in our hands. We have cooked for them a lot, so we had a good grasp for what they would love. Typically, we have a menu in place for a long time before an event. But this time- Vaido and I wrote the menu while walking through the farmer’s market in Napa. That might have been my favorite morning of my life. Sipping on a chai latte and walking around the farmer’s market while writing our menu from start to finish right there. Pinch me!

We prepped out that party just like the good ol’ days- side by side in a home kitchen, which is how we spent the first 2 years of our business. It took us 4 entire 20 hour days, but the result was stunning. We decided to serve the dinner in what we called “California Tapas” style, where each of the 12 courses were plated on small plates and served to guests around the candle lit pool. They wanted it to be chic, but still maintain a very fun, cocktail party/mingle friendly feel, so we knew they wouldn’t love a seated dinner. This way, they could enjoy a gorgeously plated menu while being free to roam around the poolside. The sunset over the valley was breathtaking and as we executed the evening from the outdoor pool “kitchen”- we both agreed it was our favorite professional experience so far.

 

 

Not only do you see a lot of weddings, but the two of you had one of your own! What’s your best advice for couples in the thick of wedding planning?

Don’t stress! Seriously. Please don’t. It will most likely be a choice you make, but it is so important. Different things are stressful for different people, so I think it’s monumentally important to explore what you personally interpret as stressful and just simply do your best to avoid that. It is different for everyone. Some people find the concept of a destination wedding to be really stressful, because you are totally removed from everything. I personally found that part to be the thing that was least stressful, which is why we picked Cabo. I COULDN’T taste the cake, or meet the florist, or go check out the band. I know I would have obsessed about the details (just like I do for work) and I really didn’t want to be so wrapped up.

The best advice I could give anyone is to hire great vendors and then trust them fully. They want you to have the perfect wedding just as much if not more than you do! I hired a wonderful wedding planner down in Cabo (best idea ever) who I just trusted completely. Then, you just gotta go with it. If the whole point of the stress would be to create a day to enjoy, then it really is necessary to just enjoy no matter what unfolds. You’re getting married! And that is pretty damn exciting.

Give us the real scoop on what it’s like to run a business with your husband/wife! How do you keep a work/life balance?

Here is the thing. You have to realize that there is no such thing as work/life balance if you run a business with your husband/wife. There is no balance at all actually. It is just pure crazy and wonderful and awesome and wild. I can definitely say it isn’t for everyone, but we couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I never want anyone to think this all just naturally happens blissfully while we skip along in our his and hers chef coats, whistling a merry tune while sprinkling truffles all over everything. It is hard ass work. For most couples, it might be harder to figure out how to work together. For us, it’s more of a challenge to be the married couple. I think because we met at work and have always worked together, that part has always been there naturally. But, just like the success of our business, the success of our marriage takes hard work, honesty and dedication. Sometimes we have to deliberately turn off the “Truffleberry Brittany and Vaido” and make the effort to do normal couple things like take a bike ride together or stroll through town holding hands. Can’t always be talking about food cost and sales goals.

We have a system (and respect it!) for when one of us has to check out. If one of us is all amped up and going on and on about something stressful while the other might be attempting to unwind, we have our own system of very respectfully saying “enough.” (the rest of that sentence would be “enough…If I hear you talk about this for one more second I am actually going to implode and burst into a million little pieces that would trickle back to the ground as tiny particles of anxiety”

It is wonderful. We both always have the best interests of our business and our marriage totally top of mind. We are a good team! I love him and I really really like him too.

 

 

What do chefs really eat for dinner when they go home at night?

Ha! People always ask us how we don’t weight 900 lbs and I ask them if they really think we sit around eating lobster risotto all day. At home, we are all about fresh, healthy and pretty low maintenance. Unless we are entertaining- then it’s anything and everything goes!

Seared Salmon (we marinate ours in equal parts maple syrup and soy sauce for several hours), roasted broccoli with lots of olive oil and lentils that have some lemon zest grated over the top would pretty much be my heaven. We pick up sushi a about once per week, but other than that we cook! Lots of fish and fresh veggies. Lamb burgers with parsnip fries is one of my specialties. Sometimes, if we are crazy busy with no time to grocery shop- we will make smoothies because it’s easy. What we do is so physically and mentally demanding- we have found the better we take care of ourselves, the more energy we have to rock it out for our clients.

You’re planning your dream dinner party. Where is it? Who’s invited (dead or alive)? What are you serving? Can you describe the vibe?

One long dining table set in between rows of grape vines out in wine country. Bistro lights strung up above. A guitarist playing things like Besame Mucho, anything gypsy kings, Ray LaMontagne and even maybe a Coldplay cover in there somewhere. Who is there? All of our friends and family. The people we owe everything to. The people who, for some insane reason, still like us even though we have shown them the worst of ourselves in order to have the strength to show everyone else the best.

For sure my grandparents, my moms parents, who I never really knew. My grandmother passed away 2 weeks before I was born, my grandpa a couple years after that. They were farmers, grew or raised everything they ever cooked. I would love to talk to them about all of that.

We would serve dinner family style- platters of everything coming out to the table. Salty Italian cheeses with prosciutto and fig jam. Kumamoto oysters. Mussels in a white wine sauce with Sourdough mops. I can’t even explain what that is, but just picture crispy yet somehow perfectly soggy pieces of fried sourdough bread soaking up all the garlicky white wine deliciousness. Charred octopus would make an appearance. Truffled Risotto. Crusty grilled bread with drippy fresh buratta on top, drizzled with a peppery extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy salt. Seared salmon however Chef Keller (Oh, did I mention he is cooking for us this night?) would like to prepare it. Tons of roasted veggies. Seared scallops. Vaido wants aged ribeye. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since this is my dream, I would also like fish tacos to happen. For dessert? Wood fired pizzas with arugula tossed in lemon juice and olive oil on top. Kidding. No really though, I do have a salt tooth. My husband would probably want anything Chocolate. Like, even an actual brick of dark chocolate you have to cut into with a knife. Or cherry pie. He buys whole entire pies from Whole Foods and eats them as though they were single serving…

Champagne, prosecco and cava would all be served (get it?)

 

 

We’ve seen signature cocktails, cupcakes, candy bars… what are the new trends you’re seeing in the event world?

Recreating past experiences. We have so many people who ask us to recreate one or many past experiences- a favorite restaurant or an elevated version of a family favorite recipe. Brides and grooms will tell us where they got engaged or had their first date or even a menu item that their college was known for and we bring it to life in our Truffleberry way. Clients have asked us to recreate a special restaurant right in their own home- down to the chairs and menus passed out when guests are seated.

Experiential Cuisine: Guests love to interact with their food and we like to “Think outside the platter”- probably one of the phrases we use most while designing our food presentations. Our team concepts unique ways of serving food, passed or stationary, that will be an experiential element of your event for guests to enjoy. The best feeling is when everyone takes out their cameras/phones to snap photos before they have even tasted anything. We want people talking and buzzing- not just about how great the food tasted, but also how beautiful it looked and how creatively it was presented.

 

 

Tell us about the Truffleberry brand. What’s the overall vision? What sets your team apart?

Our original goal was to create the kind of experience you would expect from an incredible restaurant, but in an offsite, catered format. Simple as that! We wanted to bring something to catering that created buzz; perhaps a different way of thinking about what catering is or can be. We strive to offer something new to clients looking for totally impressive and personalized custom events. We love involving their visions and ideas and then turning that into an entire dining experience.

We have realized that our specialty is that we don’t have one. Although we constantly create such different menus and events, they all have their Truffleberry-ness to them. High quality, labor intensive, and made with a lot of passion.

Just last week, our production schedule looked like this: corporate fundraiser hosted by Nigel Barker, Launch party for Chicago event planner Christine Janda, Molecular gastronomy plated sit down dinner in a client’s home, Rock n Roll themed 6th birthday party lunch, farm to table engagement soiree, Asian inspired farewell party for clients moving to Hong Kong, summery baby shower brunch. We were kind of laughing at how all over the place the occasions and menus were, but the execution of all of them truly represented our Truffleberry brand. That is kind of our vision now- for our work to be always changing and constantly reflecting the visions of our clients, yet for people to still look at it and say “That must be a Truffleberry party.”

Our biggest strength is translating a vision that our client has- perhaps one that isn’t even realized- into a beautiful, full service event. From the food to the styling to the professional service- our goal is to help translate and bring that vision to life. Our specialty truly is that we don’t have one and enjoy being versatile, but there is always an underlying quality that is present no matter the type of event or occasion. We are capable of creating events that range in style- whimsical, formal, chic, casual, rustic, modern, playful, upscale. Always top notch and impressive.

On site Execution- We create our menus and then we figure out how to execute in a non-professional kitchen setting. Rather than knowing what menus are easy to execute in a catering setting, we work backwards to make the vision happen. We refuse to be limited by the offsite nature of our events. Nothing will be smoldering in a hot box for hours- it will be made by our chefs- within minutes of service to guests.

Quality- We know that anything is only as good as the sum of its parts. From the olive oil, to the salt- you can taste the difference. Everything we use in our kitchen is a thoughtfully curated ingredient that will enhance our food.

From Scratch- We are a “from scratch” kitchen- that means, we roast our own bones to make stocks from scratch. We roll our own pasta dough to make sheets for braised short rib lasagna. We make our own mini taco shells. Infuse our own oils. Bake our own focaccia. You can taste it!

[Photos By Hallie Duesenberg]

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One Response to Entertaining Essentials with Truffleberry Market

  1. Sydney says:

    Love them! They did an amazing job helping make my wedding amazing!

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