Cocktail Parties – the New Dinner Party

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Many are breaking away from the traditional when planning parties and weddings.  One popular way to turn a formal event into a more social affair is to host an hors d’oeuvre mixer.

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Think about setting up some stationary hors d’oeuvres like a bruchetta bar or Mediterranean display. Then you can add a variety of elegant and fun passed hors d’oeuvres. Guests love being offered food by friendly staff and sampling bite sized appetizers. This style party allows guests to mingle with each other more. The focus is on the good company. Drinks paired with flavorful fare keep the party light and dynamic.

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Two Chefs artistically display passed hors d’oeuvres on decorative serving platters garnished with fresh flowers. Try renting a few cocktail (high top) tables with floor length linens. This adds extra space for guests to rest a drink and is an inexpensive way to really transform your space for entertaining. Add a candle or flower centerpiece and your guests will feel like they are in a swanky lounge.

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Cocktail parties are versatile as well. Bridal showers are definitely more engaging when held in the evening. Guests play fun games while sipping sangria, and leave with their own wine glass as a favor. At least that is what one mother of the bride and the bridal party did for a shower we catered in June.

“We were so HAPPY with the shower and everyone loved the food. I have a lot of friends with kids getting married and they all will be calling for sure.” ~Linda Shelley

Weddings, birthdays, holiday parties, or retirement parties all work with this format. In the Fall of 2013 Two Chefs catered several 40th Birthday home parties as well as a cocktail party wedding with a s’mores bar dessert buffet. The bride and groom even led their guests in taking a few swings at their wedding cake piñata filled with candy.

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The idea is not to be afraid to take a chance making your party your own. If you need assistance planning or culminating your ideas, just ask for help. Event Coordinators Alison, Jamie, and Tara love planning events and can use their expertise to your advantage. The chefs and owners work with the event planners to custom write menus to suit each client’s needs and vision. Parties should be fun for hosts as well as the guests.

Put Two Chefs on the job and all you need to do is slip on your party attire, fill up a glass, and welcome your guests as they file in. Sound Good? No, sounds brilliant!

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Serving Up Farm Fresh Food in Style

All Photos Courtesy of Kelly Meyers Photography www.kellymeyersphoto.com
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“Our Customers eat farm-to-table every day, but sometimes it is nice to have a fine dining experience that reflects the values you express when shopping at a local farmstand. We Love working with Two Chefs are Better than One because they understand we want the local, fresh vegetables to be the center of the meal.” ~Farmer Elizabeth Almeida of Fat Moon Farms

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Two Chefs has joined forces with Fat Moon Farms to deliver delicious and locally grown food to the community. Two Chefs Mission: To Support local farms and farmers. Farm-to-table is a trend that is generating excitement. Two Chefs want to learn more about local farming and take part in a movement that supports local business and promotes healthy living. In an effort to learn more about the process and woman behind the garden, we had a conversation with Farmer and Business Owner Elizabeth Almeida.

Two Chefs: When did you begin farming?

Elizabeth: I grew up on a farm in Western Ohio, so you could say I’ve been farming my whole life. We launched Fat Moon in 2011 and since then have been learning about small-scale organic farming, which is very different than the large beef farm I knew as a child.

TC: What is your mission as a business owner and farmer?

Elizabeth: My mission as a business owner and farmer is to create a business that is good for the community in all ways. The product we are offering-healthy food and the opportunity to learn healthier lifestyles- benefits individuals in the community. We hope to be a good civic citizen by providing jobs, paying fair wages, participating in philanthropic endeavors, and doing our part to care for our piece of earth.

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TC: What crops do you grow at Fat Moon?

Elizabeth: Our 2013 crop plan is 137 lines long. We have 17 varieties of potatoes, 5 varieties of onions, 10 varieties of lettuce, 6 varieties of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, sweet corn, herbs, cut flowers, and more.

TC: Is your business seasonal?

Elizabeth: Our goal is to provide year round vegetables to the community. We held our final farmstand of 2012 on December 20th. We were open once a month in January, February and March to sell greens from our high tunnel (unheated greenhouse). We resumed our weekly farmstand in April.

TC: What types of events have you been organizing?

Elizabeth: We host delicious farm-to-table dinners in collaboration with Two Chefs are Better Than One. We also host private farm-to-table events for families, yoga and meditation retreats, and we’re still growing.

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TC: Describe your experience working with Two Chefs Catering.

Elizabeth: We were referred to Two Chefs by another caterer who didn’t have the capacity to work with us. We were told that Two Chefs was professional and served delicious food and we’ve found this recommendation to be true. The enthusiasm of the chefs and staff makes the meals fun to plan and host. There is a synergy between the farmer, chefs, and dinners that is reflected in the flavor and beauty of the meals served. Each month the chefs give us a list of vegetables needed for the menu and there are always a few surprises when they come to pick up our vegetables. The planning and preparing come full circle with customers who are enthusiastic and grateful for the experience.

TC: How important are local Farmers?

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Elizabeth: I see local farmers as a vital part of a sustainable, local economy. Our current food system is immensely vulnerable to disruptions in the transportation system. While many people dismiss the local food movement by saying it isn’t practical to grown enough food locally, we will be healthier and use less fossil fuels to get that food to our tables. Besides, local food just tastes better. When you buy greens at the grocery store you might notice that they go bad in just a few days whereas greens from your local farm can last up to two weeks if stored properly in the fridge. This is evidence that when you eat local, you are getting the maximum freshness, flavor, and nutrition from your food. In addition, you know you are supporting and strengthening your local economy.

TC: Where did the name FAT MOON come from?

Elizabeth: We wanted to have ‘moon’ in our title of the business because it is so beautiful over the field at the farm and it is an iconic part of agriculture. Our son was two at the time and he would look at the full moon and call it the “Fat moon”. We like it because it makes people smile and let’s folks know that while local food is a serious business, we have a lot of fun doing it.
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“The menus suggested by the team at Two Chefs have been delicious and well received by our customers. In addition to the food, our customers love the novelty of the venue. Meals are served either in our historic apple shed or outside with a view of the farm. Both are unique and memorable.” ~Elizabeth Almeida

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Visit Fat Moon Farm on facebook at http://facebook.com/thefatmoon or on their website at http://www.thefatmoon.com/

A conversation with ALSAC Event Planner

An Honest Review from ALSAC/St. Jude Event Planner, Angela Halverson.

Angela was so kind to speak with me from Chicago this month for a phone interview. Ms. Halverson has worked for ALSAC [www.stjude.org/careersalsac] for the past five years, planning large scale galas. Despite her experience, nothing could really prepare her for the complexities of the Fitness for a Cure Event in Lowell Massachusetts.

“There were a lot of moving pieces at this event compared to what I am used to,” Angela said. “The level of expertise and evolvement with this event was amazing. I came in not knowing anyone or anything.”

The Fitness for a Cure was founded by Sherri Sarrouf of SLS Fitness [http://slsfitness.com/] fourteen years ago. It is a two part fundraiser for St. Jude featuring a day-time kids event, followed by a night time gala.

According to Angela, having two events in one day is unique in nature in of itself, then throw day raffles, night raffles, live and silent auctions, performances, 75 committee members, and 100 performance team members into the mix. It is downright complicated.

“Working with Alison [Two Chefs Event Planner and office Manager] was my largest source of information for me. Her level of help is indescribable. Two Chefs went above and beyond what I am used to with caters. Alison knew the committees’ needs and she knew the venue better than their own employees,” Angela joked.

With such a large committee and event, so many personalities and opinions came into play. However, Angela bragged that “Alison could make decisions based on her knowledge of all these angles.”

It is not regular procedure for committee members to deal directly with vendors in Angela’s experience and in her eyes, “Alison was so patient”. It was just another reason Angela was impressed with Two Chefs’ service.

Angela first tried Two Chefs food at a tasting. For large fundraisers, weddings, or any event serving more than 100 guests, Two Chefs offers a complimentary tasting. It is a great opportunity for clients to meet the staff and taste the items they selected for their menu. Angela said that most tastings she’s been to are about an hour. They are nothing special, just businesslike and succinct. This was not so when Angela met with committee members as the Two Chefs staff wined and dined them.

“It was such a pleasant experience and meal. We relaxed while tasting and discussing the menu with Chefs Steve, Glenn, and Walter. The chefs and Alison were there to guide us along. The tasting matched what we saw at the event, which made sense to me. But is certainly not what I am used to,” Angela admitted.

“I highly recommend Two Chefs. The food was outstanding and well executed. There were hundreds of meals to go at the same time and the food was hot and the salad fresh.”

“I felt like I was in such good hands and like nothing would slip through the cracks, even with such a big event. I wish Two Chefs were in the Chicago area so I could work with them more!” – Angela Halverson, ALSAC/ ST. Jude

When we hear such high praise from our clients, it makes the months of planning all worthwhile. We thank Angela for her time and kind words. We also wish her the best as her newest project enters the world this summer.

Welcome Spring, Sliders, Salads, & Slaw

We offer chicken, turkey, portabella, pulled pork, lobster salad, and beef sliders…to name a few.

Customer Favorite: Cranberry Gorgonzola salad with spiced pecans and orange ginger dressing

Customer Favorite: Cranberry Gorgonzola salad with spiced pecans and orange ginger dressing

It is April and spring has sprung. We are deep into planning events for weddings, graduations, and retirement parties. We LOVE warm weather just like you and planning summer outings is a breeze. Our slider bar is getting more popular by the month.

Brides and Grooms are serving up pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce and slaw at their receptions, much to the delight of their guests.
Bat mitzvah? You betcha! Cheeseburger sliders please with a side of homemade macaroni and cheese.
What about a family reunion? Wouldn’t those aunts and uncles love to taste a cool lobster salad slider with a side of cous cous salad?

Salads brighten up your table.  They are light in warm weather and compliment any entrée.

Salads brighten up your table. They are light in warm weather and compliment any entrée.

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“I didn’t know Two Chefs does drop offs!”

We hear this all the time. Yes you can order food to be picked up or dropped off for your parties. We don’t have to serve it and we cater for small, medium, and large functions. We can grill your burgers for your guests or drop off grilled chicken for you to serve when you’re ready.

We are all about customizing our events to fit your needs as a client. These needs change for each event. Enjoy the warm spring and summer months while they last. Enjoy them with good company and great food!

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Planning with Purpose

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Our staff likes to work hard & have fun! Tara (front center) Jamie (left), Joe (back center), and Elise (right) finish strong after a long corporate event for PUMA.

Two Chefs is really comprised of Three Owners-five full time chefs-three event planners-plus prep cooks & an amazing wait staff.  Then of course we bring in others as needed on our larger event.  I, Tara, am one of the event planners and support staff.  I am learning more and more how to cook for my own family and guests and have really been enjoying it.  But I am no expert.  I do know that I love food.  When planning an event with a client, it is easy for me to help create a menu. 

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What is the secret to planning a good party? I guess for some, planning comes naturally. I think in most cases it develops over time and with experience. After having three kids and working at a sales job doing home parties, I feel that I have a good handle on how to plan for an event. Two Chefs took my skills to the next level. But no matter if you plan for 15 people or 150 people, the concept is the same.

What is the party’s purpose?

A party can have a lot going on while still remaining true to its main goal. If it is a cocktail party bridal shower, then the focus needs to be on: the bride-to-be, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and can then offer some other options like games or favors. This style party should take place in the evening, with suggested attire, and will involve mixing and socializing rather than the traditional sitting format with all the attention on the bride opening gifs.

Food quantity and quality is key!

Food is usually the focus of every party and menus can be built around the party’s intent. Is it a BBQ, a luncheon, brunch, or dinner? Will you go light or heavy with your servings? Do you want a themed party or do you have guests with allergies? It can seem overwhelming when you look at all the options, but there is no need to stress. Once you call us in the office, we can talk you down from the ledge. We plan events every day. We ask you the right questions to learn what is important to you. Based on experience, we can set you on the right path.

I never want to run out of food at a party, my mom taught me this. Two Chefs never does. Our chefs know based on your quest count, how much food will be needed. In fact, usually our clients have enough food for the next day too. Our food speaks for itself really. Just read our reviews and testimonials. You can find them online or through our website. (95% of our business comes from word of mouth)

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Setting the Mood.

If you are running around as guests arrive, lighting candles, barking orders, hopping on one foot as you slip on your heels…well that sets a mood right away. It tells your guests that you are totally stressed out and frazzled. Your guests will feel tense and like they need to help you. Be prepared and if you need extra help, ask someone. Two Chefs helps with all the details you need us to. We will light the candles and finish warming your artichoke dip. You can gracefully answer your door and smile at your guests as they enter. Offer to take their coat and direct them to the wine. A relaxed host will put guests at ease, insuring that everyone has a good time. Just because YOU are the one throwing the party, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too!

For more help, feel free to talk with us over the phone…978.970.0212.

Fitness for Cure…Celebrating St. Jude’s Research Hospital

http://fitnessforacure.com/

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Sherri Laffey Sarrouf spoke to Two Chefs about her drive to raise money for the children who need it most.  Sherri is the owner of SLS Fitness and has been a trainer for nearly 20 years.  Her holistic and individualized approach gives SLS clients a new perspective on health & fitness.

Fitness is Sherri’s main passion but it isn’t her only one.  Sherri’s focus on family, philanthropy, and exercise make a perfect trifecta of health.
Fitness for a Cure will hold its 14th annual Fundraising Event on March 16th, 2013. Fitness for a Cure is Sherri’s brainchild and she hopes to pass the torch one day to keep the legacy going.
Fitness For a Cure started small its first year with a team of four children and 10 trainers. One hundred people attended the event and Sherri almost had to buy all the tickets herself.
“It was hard back then because people hadn’t heard of St. Jude’s really,” Sarrouf said while seated behind her front desk.
Sherri felt compelled to give back to the world after delivering a healthy baby in 1999. During her high risk pregnancy, Sherri made a promise to herself. Upon seeing her healthy daughter, she took action. St. Jude’s was her charity of choice. Sherri wanted to work for children and was happy with 87% of every dollar raised going directly to the research hospital.

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Fitness For a Cure takes place at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. During the day, kids can join parents for a fun filled day of face painting, food, performances, and more. Locks of Love will be there to collect donations from anyone willing to part with their long tresses. Once evening arrives, the room is converted into a night time gala for adults to be wined and dined. March 16th will mark Two Chefs’ 4th year providing the plated meal for the event.

“Two Chefs goes the extra mile! They love their customers and their product. They remind me of us [SLS Fitness]. Two chefs feels like family now,” Sherri stated.

The gala includes a silent and live auction with a plethora of amazing items donated from businesses all around the Merrimack Valley Region. The most touching moments of the evening definitely derive from the guest speakers, both adults and children, and the performances. The Fitness Team is comprised of all age groups and these volunteers come from many different cities to practice every Sunday beginning in October. For months the team trains with Sherri, who is the head choreographer and who is also glad to receive help from her growing children.

“My kids have always given, it is part of who they are. How do you teach your kids to become philanthropic? By showing them,” Sherri said.

Sherri’s own children, along with the Fitness Team, get to see first hand where all their hard work goes. Every other year the team travels to Memphis Tennessee to visit the St. Jude Research Hospital. The team tours the hospital and visits with the children.
“The hospital is a happy place. Kids just want to be kids,” Sherri beamed. “It is a very emotional trip but so rewarding.”
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Now-a-days Sherri has a lot of help with a committee of 80 members and an ever growing team of performers. The day and night time shows pull in about 650 guests each. This is how Sherri “pays it forward” and how she teaches kids to “use their healthy bodies to do something for someone who can’t”.

For tickets, to a make donation, or to volunteer, Please Visit: fitnessforacure.com

Two Chefs Takes 1st Place at “An Evening of Sweet Indulgence”

580556_10151418948209551_1259443680_n[1]We know, we know…we are all on diets too. But we still67908_10151413872854551_2125911633_n[2] LOVE dessert! 

Our beautiful chocolate ginger mousse cradled in a sugar lace cookie mold, topped with homemade cream, garnished with mint leaves and fresh raspberries, drizzled with chocolate, and powered with confectioners sugar is truly a sweet indulgence.  I guess that is why we won first place for the Merrimack Valley Region.  Two Chefs is known better for entrees and tasty hors d’oeuvres, but we can throw down a darn good dessert when duty calls.

Lately the buzz in our kitchen is “Healthy Choices”.  We are around food all day.  Food is what we know, love, and do.  In the past year however, our three owners have dropped over 20 pounds each.  This weight loss directly correlates to changing eating habits.  Giving up carbs seems the be the biggest change with our kitchen crew, along with cutting out the unhealthy snacking. 

All of us, even in the office have ramped up our vegetable intake-whether through juicing, in salads, or at meal times.  If you are going to change your relationship with food, it certainly helps to be a good cook.  Glenn’s macadamia crusted salmon, sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, and a mixed green salad tossed with just a touch of orange ginger vinaigrette would make anyone convert. 

But we don’t all have to be a Steve, Glenn, Walter, Katie or Shawn (our head chefs) to eat better.  Cooks.com and allrecipes.com are two websites I often turn to when I want to find a low-calorie meal for the family.  It is more about choosing baked over fried.  A vegetable over a starch.  Fresh over processed.  Planning ahead can make this less of a burden as well.  Eating healthy on the fly can be challenging.  However, if you shop the perimeters of your grocery store, avoiding all the processed food aisles, your house will already be primed for change.

If you eat smart six days a week, you have earned your day of rest.  Or as I like to call it, your day of cheat.  So be good and your chocolate mousse will feel like a glorious reward, rather than a guilty pleasure.