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The Winner of our Delectable Date Contest!

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Dec 13, 2012

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We’d like to thank everyone who posted a story about how they met their significant other on our Facebook page for the chance to win Pepper’s Delectable Date Contest. We loved receiving and reading your stories!

We are happy to announce that the randomly selected winner of our contest is Eva Kolezi-Shqina, who lives with her husband of 18 years in Worcester, MA. Eva and her husband will be the recipients of a finely prepared and hand-delivered meal from Pepper’s Catering in honor of our company’s 25th Anniversary in business.

Although selected at random, we were enthralled by Eva’s story—it had all the workings of a great romance—love at first sight, separation and a serendipitous meeting! We think she tells it best. You can read her Facebook post entry below.

Congratulations to Eva and her husband for winning a well-deserved Delectable Date from the Pepper’s team, and for 18 years going strong!

“I met my husband when I was only 14 years old. He came to our house to pick up my brother to go to a soccer game. I saw him and I froze. My grandma asked me, "Sweetie, what's wrong?" And I told her, "Nana, he is the one whom I'm going to marry!" She started laughing and told me that I was very young and I would meet plenty of people on my journey. Years passed and I emigrated in Greece with my family. After a year there, I saw him again...He had also emigrated in Greece, in the city and the neighborhood where I was living. We never separated after that. We have been married for 18 years, have three wonderful children and building our life here, in Worcester, MA.”

For more information on our Delectable Date contest, and to read the other great entries, visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pepperscatering.

Oyster Alchemy with local oysters from sustainable farms

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Nov 08, 2012

oysteringSo here we are at the beginning of November, which means I will soon be spending a few days on the shore of the Cape, gathering my favorite mollusks to enjoy with family and friends. Nothing beats gathering and eating local foods. Oysters, along with sweet corn and littleneck clams, are a few of the top ten items on my list of favorite local fare.

I’m often asked if it’s true that you should only eat oysters in months that end in the letter R. This is simply not true, a rule of thumb dating back to before refrigeration was commonplace.  However there is one caveat in my eyes. Warm summer oysters can be of inferior quality, as they may be watery, with a much milder flavor. With global shipping now more accessible, oysters can be enjoyed year round from sources such as Europe and Canada, but generally we’re able to find great oysters from somewhere on the east coast all year long.

How do you enjoy oysters?

For me, the possibilities are endless.

Roasted? Sure! Roast them over a hot fire, topped with seaweed for a roasted and steamed combo that always works well.

Raw? Absolutely! Add some lemon, cocktail sauce or a mignonette sauce, and I’m in.

Fried? One of my favorites! If I don’t use them in a Po’ Boy Sandwich, then topped with a Thai Chili Sauce works for me. When I’m doing a slaw for my Po’boy, I vary from the creamy version with celery seed to a Fennel Slaw with rice vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette, adding just a smidge of Dijon to help bind the dressing.

Cape Cod has a plethora of oyster farms, and farmers are being awarded oyster grants every year, so keep an eye out for local oysters from your favorite seafood sources. I have seen Roche Brothers market in Westborough carry Duxbury oysters as well as Onset Bay oysters which were both very succulent.

If you’re interested in learning more about oysters, Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster is a lively, historic read that captures the heady days of early New York City and the impact of its oyster trade and the global economy.

Enjoy some oysters while you read about oysters with this recipe:

Raw Oysters with Apple Cider Mignonette Sauce

2               each      Shallots                                peeled and fine minced (set into a glass or ceramic bowl)

½             each      Granny Smith Apple       peeled, cored & finely diced

½`           cup         apple cider                         

½             cup         apple cider vinegar

2              teas.      Black Pepper, fresh ground

Blend all ingredients and let them come together for about 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Serve over your raw oysters.

However I prepare my oysters, I always have to throw a few down with simply nothing added. It’s wonderful how little nuances of brine or cucumber show up in the taste, depending on the location of the oyster farm and how the currents are running.

Win a Delectable Date—Enter our Facebook Sweepstakes!

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Nov 01, 2012

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Twenty-five years ago, Susan Lawrence fulfilled a lifelong dream of opening her own food business, and on Nov. 8, 1987, Pepper’s Fine Foods was born. Four short months after opening the doors, seasoned chef John Lawrence entered, seeking a new food service opportunity. Something magical began to unfold, but the magic wasn’t just in the kitchen. Susan and John fell in love over food, married in the midst of it, and have built their lives and a successful catering business around it.

 To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pepper's Fine Catering in Northborough, owners John and Susan Lawrence are holding a social media sweepstakes on the Pepper’s Fine Catering Facebook page.

 Share the story of how you met your significant other or spouse on our Facebook page from November 1st until December 1st to be automatically entered in our Delectable Dates Sweepstakes.

 The winner, selected at random, receives a romantic dinner for two provided and delivered by Pepper’s Fine Catering. We will help you create a night to remember with our inspired and innovative dishes—prepared by Pepper’s lauded-chef and using only the finest local and regional ingredients.  

 So, head over to our Facebook page and share your story.

How did you meet your significant other or spouse? Let us know by posting your story on the Pepper’s Facebook wall. Include a photo if you wish and tell us how long you’ve been together.

We look forward to reading your stories!

A Delicious Night of Food!

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Mon, Oct 01, 2012

On Thursday, September 27th, Chef John and the Pepper's team delivered a delicious and beautifully presented four course meal to patrons at the Clarke Culinary Center in Milford as part of the event, "An Exploration of Local Heirloom Tomatoes & Corn with Chef John Lawrence."

Dish highlights included a tomato sampler plate, chilled Cape Cod lobster salad with tomato tarragon vinaigrette and a sweet corn fritters served with seared local salmon. 

The event, prepared on the high-end, industry quality appliances at the Clarke showroom, allowed Chef John to showcase the unique attributes that make up Pepper's Catering--an emphasis on local foods, exquisite presentation and innovative food pairings in an intimate setting with guests. 

Throughout the course of the evening Chef John spoke about the importance of utilizing local ingredients and working with local farmers, as well as the extra steps one can take to make their food truly stand out. 

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“An Exploration of Heirloom Tomatoes & Corn” at Clarke Culinary in Milford

Posted by John Lawrence on Mon, Sep 24, 2012

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 What: An Exploration of Local Heirloom Tomatoes & Corn with Chef John Lawrence

 When:  Thursday, September 27th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

 Where: Clark Culinary Center, 393 Fortune Boulevard, Milford, MA 01757

 Price: $85.00

In case you missed the August 15th event at the Mass Horticultural Society, there will be an opportunity to experience another, tomato-focused tasting event at Clarke Culinary in Milford on Thursday, September 27th.

This educational tasting event will feature a discussion lead by Chef Danny and Chef John about tomato varieties and ways in which you can incorporate fresh, local heirloom tomatoes into cuisine in exciting and unique ways. This menu, prepared on the exquisite high-end kitchen appliances sold in-house at Clarke, will expand upon the heirloom tomato menu served last month at Mass Hort. In addition to a tomato sampler plate, participants will be served a crisp nasturtium fritter with a poblano mint salsa, accompanying fresh grilled striped bass-direct from the waters off of Cape Cod. The bass with be napped with a local sweet corn crema and sweet corn ice cream for dessert. Yum!

To register for this event, click here

Halloween Party Planning Tips

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Sep 20, 2012

jack olanternTemperatures are dropping, and the leaves will soon be changing from green in brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. Halloween will be here before you know it. Halloween is a much loved holiday, by young and old alike. For the kids, it’s the one day every year when it’s okay to dress up like a superhero and make off with pillowcases full of candy, while for adults the end of October signals Halloween party season.

Make your Halloween party a hit by following these simple tips:

Plan ahead - Pick a date early and send out those invites! Parties just don’t happen, especially when they involve time-consuming costumes. You want to give your guests plenty of notice so they can prepare. The more time you allow for them to come up with costumes, the better those costumes will be, and your party will be more memorable.

Decorate! - When you walk into a Halloween party you should know it immediately. Halloween has got one of the most recognizable color schemes and décor—orange and black, dark and creepy. Your guests will likely be going the extra mile to be imaginative with their costumes, so should you with decoration. Go above and beyond the simple orange and black streamers and paper goods. One quick and extremely effective mood changer is a one night replacement of your regular light bulbs with red or green bulbs to give the party rooms an eerie glow. Put out creepy crawlies and Jack O’lanterns. Cob webs, fog machines, strobe lights and scary music are also great additions. It’s not just a party on Halloween, it’s a Halloween themed party! Your imagination is the only limit!

Make it fun - Halloween is a day to let your inner child free! Silly, cheesy games and art projects that would often be scoffed at on other days can be a lot of fun to play on Halloween. Plan some events throughout the night to keep things light and interesting. Crafts and games are always a good idea to keep people laughing and mingling all night.

No matter what the theme may be, Halloween or otherwise, theme parties work well because they wow guests and take them out of their usual ho-hum. Themes are a great way to get people to open up, and generate conversation between guests who may otherwise have little in common.

Halloween is the ultimate theme party, because it’s sort of a “pick your own theme” theme party. By planning ahead, making your place look the part, and mapping out a fun game plan for the night, you can make your Halloween party one to remember.

And if spooky foods are in the fortune tellers cards, dont hesitate to call Pepper's for a terrifyingly fun and delicious night!

 

Photo credit: wwarby@flickr

Tomatoes, The Super Fruit

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Aug 16, 2012


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 Tomatoes are well known in the culinary world for their wide range of uses; they are both sweet and acidic, they can be eaten cooked or uncooked, whole or broken down in sauces. The ways to use tomatoes are limited only to the imagination of the individual preparing the dish.

Tomatoes are great for your health as well. They contain large amounts of lycopene, a powerful naturally occurring anti-oxidant that helps our bodies fight off certain types of cancer formations, as well as other types of health complications and diseases. Our bodies do not naturally produce lycopene, so it is important to have some in your diet. Other fruits and vegetables contain lycopene, but not in the concentration that is found in the tomato.

Heirloom tomatoes (also called heritage tomatoes) are quickly becoming one of the more popular varieties out there. Heirloom tomatoes are in effect the “purebred” of the tomato world, meaning they are not hybrids of other tomato plants. You will find them in all different colors and sizes, some with stripes of different colors running throughout. This odd coloration is because heirloom tomatoes lack a genetic mutation that gives them that uniform red color. This mutation that makes tomatoes all red also happens to mute the natural sweet flavors of the fruit, therefore heirlooms are sweeter and more flavorful than their uniformed cousins.

Recently, Pepper’s Chefs Danny Morgan and John Lawrence held a cooking demonstration for the Mass Horticultural Society as part of their “Garden to Table” program series. This event featured fresh, local heirloom tomatoes and it demonstrated the wide variety of uses for this wonder fruit. Creative and unique dishes such as tomato mousse with a basil reduction and balsamic vinaigrette were featured. This just goes to show you that in the right hands and with a little bit of imagination, tomatoes can be made into virtually anything. Keep an eye on our blog for more info on upcoming demonstrations.

Photo credit: Mrsdkrebs

Pepper’s to offer “An Exploration of Heirloom Tomatoes” at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

Posted by John Lawrence on Wed, Aug 08, 2012

On August 15th, Chefs Danny Morgan and John Lawrence will pack up their pots and pans and hit the road to give a cooking demonstration at Elm Bank, home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Mass Hort), as part of their “Garden to Table” program series.

The Garden to Table program was developed to offer the public an opportunity to join together in the beautiful setting of the Mass Hort gardens at Elm Bank to learn about growing, cooking, and preserving healthy food. About 40 percent of the produce grown in the garden at Mass Hort will go directly to the Wellesley Food Pantry, the Natick Food Pantry, and A Place to Turn, food pantries that service families and individuals living in MetroWest.

This educational tasting event will feature a discussion lead by Chef Danny and Chef John about tomato varieties and ways in which you can incorporate fresh, local heirloom tomatoes into cuisine in exciting and unique ways. 

The menu will feature fresh, local produce with a focus on heirloom tomatoes and mouth-watering corn, including: tomato mousse with basil reduction and balsamic vinaigrette, a tomato sampler plate, chilled Cape Cod lobster salad with tomato-tarragon vinaigrette, and sweet corn ice cream with gingersnap tulles.

  • To Register: Call 617-933-4943 or order online here
  • Cost: $65 for Mass. Hort. members, $75 for non-members
  • Where: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Elm Bank, 900 Washington Street (Rt.16), Wellesley, MA 02482
  • When: Wednesday August 15, 2012 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

 

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Meet Pepper’s Chef, Danny Morgan

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Aug 02, 2012

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Chef Danny Morgan is a relative newcomer to the Pepper’s family, having just started with the company in March of this year, but in no way is he a newcomer to the culinary world. Danny’s love for cooking was inherited a very young age from his grandfather. He fondly recalls watching him cook, using a variety of ingredients that at first seemed odd-- until it all came together into a delicious dish.

“My grandfather used to make a duck dish,” remembers Danny. “And he cooked it with orange juice and coffee grounds—which at first thought doesn’t seem too appetizing, but it made for great duck.”

He learned to cook on his own fairly quickly; giving his parents a grocery list each week of the ingredients he needed for meals he wanted to try. One year he even tackled cooking Thanksgiving dinner for his whole family.

His love of cooking brought him to Johnson Wales Culinary School, and from there, an extensive culinary career that would make any chef proud.

Chef Danny has cooked in many of the finest restaurants in the area. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Crown Plaza, the Boston Sheraton, and the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, just to name a few.  

Chef Danny has worked under world renowned Chef Wolfgang Puck, and cooked for celebrities and presidents. But over time he began to feel restricted by working in a restaurant. When he heard that Pepper’s had an opening for a chef, Chef Danny had a feeling that it would be a great fit. Besides having a proven track-record and being in business for 25 years, Pepper's is a place where he could put his skills to work in a creative way. He is not just cranking out orders, but being a part of the whole event process, where his input is respected.

Chef Danny enjoys to cooking things that are a bit outside of the box. His style is that of Fusion. He enjoys mixing different styles and flavors that are not often thought of as complimentary. It’s the perfect match for Pepper’s, which prides itself on creating unusual and unique menu items to wow guests time and time again.  

What makes a gourmet catering company stand out?

Posted by John Lawrence on Thu, Jun 28, 2012

What Makes a Catering Company Stand Out?

There are so many caterers out there and they are all looking for your business. How do you sift through them all and choose the right catering service to make your event a success? What factors make a catering experience unforgettable? What sets them apart from the crowd? Anyone can put food on a table, but it takes a certain touch to make that food pop. What are the factors that make a gourmet catering company one step above the rest?

event cateringPizzuti Photography

Passion for food and service is something that will always shine through. If a chef loves what he or she is doing, it can be seen in the final product on the plate. Cooking is often a labor of love, and if that love is not there, a dish can fall flat. Look for new and interesting dishes on the catering menu, a sure sign of fun, fresh, original food. Our chefs love creating new innovative dishes and putting twists on the classics. 

event catering food stationJoe Dolan Photography

Creativity/Originality whether in the food or the decoration. Doing something a little different can make your event go from boring to extraordinary. A themed party is a fun way to do this, and a great caterer will be willing to work with you, matching the menu to whatever theme it is you had in mind. This takes some measure of creativity and thinking outside the box, which are some qualities of a great catering service.    

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Personality. Every catering service has a personality that comes through to the guest. As the connection between the caterer and the customer, the staff should be friendly, gracious and  well informed on the menu and event. Staff should know every item on the menu frontwards and backwards, and be able to answer any questions a guest may have - especially when it comes to allergies. This shows that every member of the staff is paying attention to the customer, and that your event is not just “another event” to them. A knowledgeable staff member with a positive attitude can often easily smooth out any hiccups encountered during an event.

Of all these factors, nothing is more important than attention to detail. A good caterer will take the time to make the setup look absolutely amazing. It is said that people “eat with their eyes” first, so the food needs to be visually appealing. Colors and textures are extremely important, both in the food and the décor.  Bright, fresh colorful displays will always draw the eye and wow the guest. It is surprising how a simple garnish can change the entire look of a plate, and make it truly eye-popping with little more than a flower or a sprig of rosemary. Attention to detail is an all-encompassing factor, because often if a caterer has a keen eye for detail, all the rest of the factors tend to fall into place.

At Pepper’s, we pay attention to the details. Making that extra effort for the customer yields results that are easy to see.  Passion, personality and creativity are all factors that put a gourmet catering company at the top of the list—and those are attributes that Pepper’s prides themselves on. 

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