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Mad Men has returned! Host the Perfect Swinging '60s Party to Celebrate

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Tue, Mar 27, 2012

By Liz O.

mad men partyI recently read an article that proclaimed cocktail parties are making a comeback.  We suspect the AMC hit TV series, Mad Men may have something to do with that!

“Mad Men” is a term coined in the '60s for men who worked in the advertising industry on Madison Avenue in New York. Watching the show, one is instantly transported back to the time when typewriters were high-tech, television was in black and white, and the go-to cocktail party delicacies were stuffed celery and deviled eggs. We’ve come a long way since then, but it’s fun to look back--especially in the form of a party.

Want to host a Mad Men party? AMC’s website features a How to Throw a Mad Men Party section, a resource that can be a great starting place.

The team at Pepper’s wanted to throw in our 2 cents as well. Below are our party tips for hosting the perfect swingin’ 1960s party.

First, be sure to dress the part, and include on your invitation that partygoers do the same. Tea length dresses and fedoras are a must. You can go the Betty route and wear something with crinoline (the frothy netting under 1960s evening dresses) to make a statement. Or take the Joan approach to fashion and wear a form-fitting dress that hits mid-calf.

When it comes to the meal, hiring cocktail party caterers like the team at Pepper’s will ensure your bar is fully stocked—not  just with the right alcohol, but appropriate glassware for martini and Manhattan drinkers. Since Cocktail parties are typically shorter in length (2 or 3 hours) stick to simple, small bites and possibly an active chef station or two (stations which guests can float between to grab goodies. For further inspiration, check out our suggested cocktail party menu.

Be sure to keep a few bowls of mixed nuts around, so your guests can do a little snacking in between doing the twist. A party soundtrack goes a long way towards setting the scene.  Artists such as Chubby Checker, The Beatles, Temptations and the Four Tops will provide the era appropriate tunes you’ll need to get your guests on their feet and transport them back to the 1960’s.

Combine these tips with a terrific guest list and you’re sure to swing in '60s style!

Photo credit: Zandwacht

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day the Pepper's way with a themed party!

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Fri, Mar 16, 2012

AHA Heart Ball 2009 (46)The plants and flowers are coming out of hibernation and so should you! What better way to celebrate spring than with a fun, St. Patrick's Day themed party. Below are some party planning ideas to spark your creativity, so gather your friends and go “green” on March 17!


Who said you only need to serve corned beef and cabbage? Think beyond traditional foods and incorporate the color green into your menu.

As party caterers, we're used to working with a variety of foods in a whole range of colors. Below are some of our green picks that fit the bill for both scrumptiousness and color!

  • Spring Pea Soup Shooters
  • Smoked Salmon-Wrapped Asparagus Tips with Preserved Lemon and Dill Crème Fraiche
  • Edamame Puree in Cucumber Cups with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Drizzle of  Thai-Garlic Chili
  • Spinach and Feta Phyllo Triangles


What’s more green than a lush, full lawn?

Use pieces of sod (available at garden or home stores) for table runners, centerpieces or even cut into place mats.


Make a playlist with old favorites such as “Danny Boy” by Bing Crosby mixed with contemporary artists whose music has an Irish flair, likes the “Dropkick Murphys."

Put together a holiday trivia game. Include questions about Irish culture, geography, celebrities, movies, sports, songs and the history of St. Patrick’s Day. Divide guests into teams and have a spirited competition.


In addition to Irish beer and ales, how about an Irish whiskey bar with several varieties to taste and compare? Have comment cards/pens available for ratings.

For non-imbibers, steep fresh mint into brewed ice tea or lemonade. Or, include a hot tea station with decorative tea cups.  

Special event planning should be fun and reflect your sense of style. With a little effort and some creative thinking, you can put together a memorable and delicious party.

“Irish” you all a wonderful St. Patty’s Day!    

Planning a Surprise Party

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Thu, Mar 01, 2012

By Liz O. 

surprise resized 600As party caterers, we’ve had the privilege of taking part in a lot of surprise birthday parties. And as witness to a fair share of them, we can honestly tell you that there’s nothing more fun than seeing the face on a guest (or guests) of honor when the celebration is unmasked. That’s why we’re big advocates of surprise parties. If there’s a reason to celebrate, there’s a surprise to be pulled off! We’ve compiled tips and tricks to help you get started planning your next surprise bash.

  1. Great parties start with great guest lists, so be sure to invite the guest of honor’s close friends.  Include mention on your invitation that you are throwing a Surprise Party. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often am overlooked detail that can foil the plot. List a personal email account or your cell phone number as your RSVP, to ensure the secret stays in the bag.

  2. Be sure your cohort (the one getting the guest of honor to the location) is reliable, responsible, and can handle timing glitches with ease.

  3. Keep it simple. Experience has told us that the more pieces and detours you incorporate into your plan, the higher the chances are of something going awry.

  4. Incorporate the guest of honor’s normal routines into your efforts. For example, if your spouse plays poker the third Friday of every month at his friend John’s house, ask John if he would consider being the host (provided you plan the party and bring everything!) That way, the stage is set, and nothing seems out of the ordinary.

  5. If your guest list is large, consider serving terrific, fork friendly bites on small plates, what we refer to as the tray passed & stationary hors d’oeuvres with a chef-active food station. It’s a great way to go, so as not to be concerned with seating arrangements. A Winter/Fall favorite around here is our Braised Guinness Stout Short Rib of Beef. If you’re looking for more catering ideas, check out our menu ideas page on our website.

Lastly-- Keep organized throughout the party planning process and plan as far in advance as possible. The more time you have to plan, the more time you have to keep ahead of any glitches that may come your way.

Have fun! 

photo credit: merfam

You Just Can’t Beat a Good Beet!

Posted by John Lawrence on Tue, Feb 21, 2012

beets resized 600Our passion for cooking is driven and inspired by many influences, not the least of which are the seasonal changes and growing plethora of locally available vegetables and cheeses. Beets are one such vegetable currently in season.  

We were recently awarded the wonderful opportunity to cater an elegant gala event for a prestigious Boston-based organization for which we prepared our fresh roasted beet salad with local Chevre cheese from Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling. The finished product was as satisfying to the palate as it looked on the plate.

It seemed to be a beet themed night, as we also prepared roasted red and golden beets for their invited guests. This dish we presented stacked Napoleon style, drizzled with blood orange vinaigrette and served with toasted pistachio dust and a micro sprout salad.

Today, we offer a simpler version of that recipe for you to try with your friends and family. This version, while slightly pared down and easier for a novice cook to manage, still incorporates the tastes, textures and visual appeal as the original and we assure you will elicit rave reviews.

I can personally attest to the popularity of this particular salad, as I had prepared a platter for a ski patrol pot luck dinner (not your likely beet lovers) and they couldn’t believe that they not only loved the salad, but that they loved something with beets in it.

Beet & Radicchio Salad, Goat Cheese & Pistachio

Yield 6-8 portions

2 lbs.                         Beets. Peeled, cut into ¾”pieces

½ cup                        EVOO

2.5 tblsp                     Red wine vinegar

½ teas.                      Kosher salt

To Taste                     Fresh ground Black Pepper         

1 ea                           Garlic clove, lrg. ( smashed)

2  tblsp                       Tarragon, fresh chopped

1 head                        Radicchio, chopped 1’ pieces

½ cup                         Parsley, chopped coarse

4oz.                            Fresh Goat Cheese

2/3 cup                       Pistachios, Toasted & coarse chopped

This is easy.

Marry the beets, ½ of the olive oil & kosher salt in a bowl and toss until beets are coated and roast in a 375 degree oven until done. Could be 20-30 minutes. Let cool when done.

Dressing:  Add garlic, herbs & vinegar to the bowl you used for the beets and slowly whisk in the remaining EVOO and adjust seasoning of salt & pepper. You might add a pinch or two of sugar if you’d like to take some of the end off of the vinegar.

Marry all of you prepped ingredients with the dressing, give it a toss and plate up and enjoy, with perhaps a chilled glass of Sancerre.  This salad is quite attractive when presented in a Bibb Lettuce cup as a base.

Photo Credit: Wright Reading

Throw a Mardi Gras Party for Your Friends!

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Tue, Feb 14, 2012

By Liz O.

mardi gras resized 600Holiday Parties are in our past and winter has settled in. All the more reason to break up the cold, gray days with a Mardi Gras celebration for you and your friends! Call up your Krewe, dial up the fun, and laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) because Pepper’s is going to take you through the steps of throwing a spectacular Mardi Gras-themed party with these helpful special event tips:

1)      Use traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green on your invitations. Encourage party-goers to wear the colors, and even ramp it up a bit by offering beads hats and masks for your guests upon arrival. Use these same colors when decorating your home—the more dazzle the better.

2)      Bring the French Quarter to your home by offering Cajun and/or Creole Cuisine. The difference between the two is highly debated, but is delicious no matter which way you spice it. Think Gumbos, Seafood dishes, Jambalaya, Rice and Beans and Sausage accompaniments. If you want to really bring The Big Easy a bit closer to home, go for Muffulettas (a sandwich-type food) and King Cakes (a sweet pastry baked in a ring with royal icing). We recommend consulting the online resources on Southern Living to assist in concocting the perfect southern-flavored menu.

3)      Go like special event catering pros and offer a signature cocktail. This will help simplify your menu and ease the amount of items at your bar. For a southern twist, consider offering Hurricanes, Bourbon Spiked Lemonade or Mojitos—any of these will bring to mind images of southern porches and big floppy hats.

4)      Be sure to have great music playing. Consider the southern styling’s of big brass bands, or go softer and throw in some notes of jazz. Music is an important cultural piece for an event such as this, selecting the perfect musical accompaniment will go a long way in creating your party’s theme.

Don’t forget to plan your evening so you aren’t spending the whole time in the kitchen heating things up! Most people plan terrific parties, but don’t spend time with their guests because of disorganized planning.  Developing a good plan goes hand-in-hand with developing a great menu—after all, parties should be enjoyed by the host/hostess as well as the guests!

Will you be throwing a Mardi Gras party this February? Share your party photos with us on our Facebook page! We’d love to see them!

Photo credit: DoctorWho

Score a Touch-Down with Your Super Bowl Party!

Posted by The Pagetender Team on Tue, Jan 31, 2012

By Michele L.

describe the imageThe Super Bowl is the game of the year—the one time when eating in front of the TV is encouraged and you may be able to coax your sports-detesting child into joining you on the couch to take in the game.

Whether you’re a sports fan, a commercials fan, or just a fan of food—Super Bowl parties have a little bit of something for everyone. So why not include everyone in your Super Bowl celebration?

Don your Brady jersey, invite your family and friends, and make a play for Sunday, February 5th –we’re going to show you how to score a touchdown with your Super Bowl party!

#1: Keep it Simple

The game and the guests will be high energy—don’t add more complications into the mix, keep it simple!

  • Use paper goods instead of china or glassware
  • Stick to beer, wine and soda as opposed to stocking a full bar.
  • Don’t feel as though you have to deck the house out with paper footballs and blue and gray streamers, food and festive atmosphere will go a long way in creating your party mood and the less is done, the more you get to enjoy the game too!

#2: Get Creative

If you want to decorate the home, there are easy do-it-yourself projects that can pep up your house for the game and get the kids involved in a fun craft. When it comes to decorations, a little creativity goes a long way!

  • Make a football field table cloth for the food table by taking a green table cloth and adding in numbers and lines to create the field using white felt or paint. A decorative party touch-done!
  • Send out homemade Super Bowl invitations shaped in the various symbols of the sport—flags, footballs, jerseys, ticket stubs—the possibilities are endless!
  • Hang felt flags on the wall and make jerseys out of construction paper numbered with the jersey numbers of your favorite players. To add to the décor, hang a home-made score board on the wall so everyone can keep track of the game.
  • Use interesting serving trays/bowls/platters. Try serving chips out of a (prop) helmet or serve hors d’oeuvres and desserts from a pelt of fake grass.
  • Make centerpieces for the table out of helmets filled with either fresh flowers or finger foods like chips and nuts. White PVC piping makes a great field goal post and mini-footballs or football shaped candles also make great table accents, too!

#3: Tailgate at Home

Do you have a small house or apartment? Don’t let it stop you from playing host. Consider tailgating right at home! Tailgate in your driveway to pump up the festive mood—and where the comfort of the indoors is just a few steps away. Have everyone bring lawn chairs and blankets and bring it all outdoors for the big game. If your lawn is big enough, you can re-enact the action with an impromptu game of your own!

#4: Food/Drink

When selecting your beer or wine, get creative! Pick selections from the competing teams’ home cities/states—offering a selection of beers from Sam Adams and Brooklyn Brewery, for instance.

Think about food the same way--seafood to represent New England and pizza to symbolize New York. If guests ask what they can bring, have a list ready to assign them dishes to prevent doubles or ending up with a bunch of chips and dip.

#5 Catering

Special event catering is also a great option for your Super Bowl party. At Pepper’s, our special events catering expertise makes us a valuable resource for fantastic ideas relating to both food and décor.

Caterers have the advantage of being able to whip up innovative and party-specific food options that will make your party a winner whether the Pats take home the trophy or not!

Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday and GO PATS!

(…or Giants for those of you rooting for New York!)

photo credit: clevercupcakes

Pepper's Meet the Chefs Series: Keith Desy

Posted by Peppers Team on Wed, May 11, 2011

Chef Keith DesyChef Desy joined Pepper’s Catering in 2007 and has been a professional chef for more than 10 years.  He is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and a vital member of the Pepper’s culinary team, providing a level of culinary expertise, professionalism and work ethic that is surpassed by few. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
I worked for a meat company during my college years and quickly discovered the many opportunities the food industry offered.  I’ve always had a passion for food so the decision to switch was an easy one.  It took me a while to see the path, but my grandmother knew I would be a chef the first time I helped her in the kitchen.

Where and when did your career in food begin?
I started my culinary career as a banquet cook in 1998.

What influences your cooking style?
Seasonal and local ingredients are my biggest influences.  Right now I’m focused on Asian influences.

What was most spectacular meal you’ve ever had?
I was fortunate to enjoy Omakase (an 8-course tasting menu) at Morimoto in Philadelphia.  The flavors of each dish were extremely clean and subtle but very complex. The service was flawless and left you wanting for nothing.  The whole experience allowed me to enjoy the essence of Chef Morimoto’s cuisine.

Do you have a favorite culinary destination?
I like restaurants with variety so I’m always on the lookout for some place new.  Not Your Average Joe’s has been a long-time favorite.  Its casual atmosphere, diverse menu and consistent quality keep me coming back for more.

What is your best cooking tip for the home enthusiast?
Keep it simple and let the food speak for itself.  Recipes are a guideline (unless you’re baking) so I always add an extra ingredient or two to make the recipe my own.

What is your beverage of choice?
Beer, though I’ve been enjoying a variety of wines lately.

If you didn’t become a chef, what would you be?
Psychology was my major before changing career paths.  I would probably go back to that field in some capacity.

What are your favorite culinary weapons in the kitchen?
My most powerful tool is my mind.  It’s responsible for my creativity, food knowledge, attention to detail and organization skills, all of which are extremely important fundamentals of a chef.

What is the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Bizarre foods are not my thing, but I enjoy discovering unusual combinations like banana in bacon or curried blueberries and pineapple in egg salad.  The most unusual meal presented to me was squid ink pasta with lobster and a Srirachi cream sauce garnished with bonito flakes.  The bonito flakes were “pulsating” making the dish look alive!  A common reaction but weird nonetheless – and yes, I ate every bite!

Central Massachusetts Chefs Compete to be Worcester’s Best Chef

Posted by Peppers Team on Tue, Mar 01, 2011

Wild Boar Gnocchi, Beef Short Ribs with Grits and Red Eye Gravy, and Ravioli di Zucca were some of the delectable dishes from this year’s annual Worcester’s Best Chef competition.  Nearly 30 restaurants were represented at the January 23rd event held at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, where guests were treated to some delicious signature dishes from Central Massachusetts top chefs.

The Judge’s Pick was awarded to Chef Wilson Wang of Baba Sushi for his presentation of Sushi 4-ways accompanied by a Quail Egg, Caviar and Oyster Shot.  Runners-up included Rice Paper Salmon with Lobster Shu Mai by Jared Calderone of Feng Asian Bistro & Hibachi  and Cider-braised Pork Wings on Corn Polenta and Apple Slaw by Tim Quinn of Old Sturbridge Village’s Oliver Wright Tavern.  But it was Chef Quinn who captured the Worcester’s Best Chef title as all of the judge’s picks battled head-to-head in a final 20-minute Mystery Basket competition.  Chef Mark Hawley of the Flying Rhino Café & Watering Hole captured the People’s Choice Award.

Kudos to Pepper’s own Chef Paul Wilson for participating as a Worcester’s Best Chef judge, Event Managers Martha Olney and Heidi Bouchard for their expertise and logistical planning and the rest of the Pepper’s staff that helped make this year’s event a memorable one!

room view top3 quinn 2
photos courtesy of ERB Photography

Clarke Culinary Center Showcases Chef John’s Delights

Posted by Peppers Team on Thu, Feb 10, 2011

chef john at clark culinaryChef John Lawrence loves the Clarke Kitchen showroom in Milford, MA for its incredible appliances and gorgeous facility. He is also very grateful to them for hosting the Clarke Culinary Center Chef Series, which offers the public the opportunity to enjoy memorable culinary experiences in their two beautiful showrooms.

Chef John hosted a wonderful shellfish presentation right before the holidays and delighted guests with incredible dishes that included Cocoa Scallops with Vanilla-Scented Parsnip Puree and Bouillabaisse Seafood Sausage. Guests were able to sit back, sip wine and watch and learn as Chef John walked them through each dish as he prepared it. Then the best part – guests savored every dish as part of the evening.

If you missed December’s event, don’t miss the “Top That” event on February 17 that will feature both Chef John and Pepper’s Executive chef Paul Wilson! Chef John will prepare three innovative seasonal vegetarian dishes and then Pepper’s Executive Chef Paul Wilson will "Top That" with three seafood or meat items that top or complement the vegetarian dishes. This fun, engaging demonstration will utilize New England-raised, grown, or caught items and promises to be a very enjoyable event. Sign up today!

Bouillabaisse Seafood Sausage

by Pepper’s Fine Foods Catering Yields (8) 4-oz servings

Ingredients for Bouillabaisse Seafood Sausage

  • ½ pound sole fillets
  • ½ pound dry sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces lobster meat, diced
  • 3 ounces dry sea scallops, diced
  • 3 ounces shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a chilled food processer bowl, puree the sole fillets and ½ pound of scallops. Add heavy cream and egg white and blend thoroughly. Empty seafood mixture into a large mixing bowl and fold in remaining ingredients.
  2. Roll out a 12-inch sheet of plastic wrap. Place seafood mixture into a pastry bag (no tip needed) and beginning piping a straight line onto the plastic wrap, starting 3 inches from the top of the plastic sheet and 1 and half inches from each side. The piped mixture should be about 1 and half inches wide and 1 inch high.
  3. Take the bottom edge of the plastic wrap and fold it over the piped mixture. Run your fingers along the top edge of the roll (where the plastic meets the mixture) to create a seal and remove any trapped air. Carefully roll the piped mixture toward the top of the plastic sheet. When finished, pinch each end of the roll where the mixture ends and begin to twist the ends until the roll starts to tighten; once the roll feels firm, tie off each end with string.
  4. In a 3-inch sauté pan, bring water to a simmer (do not boil). Place the seafood roll in the water and poach for 12-15 minutes, rotating the roll every 2-3 minutes. Remove and place into an ice bath for a minimum of 30 minutes. When cooled completely, remove plastic wrap.


In a sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, slice sausage and sauté until golden brown on each side.

Serve Bouillabaisse Seafood Sausage as an hors d’oeuvre on top of crostini or bruschetta with your favorite seafood sauce or alongside filet mignon for tasty surf n’ turf entrée. It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to your favorite pasta dish!

Peppers Catering for Hopkinton Community Endowment

Posted by Peppers Team on Tue, Feb 08, 2011

Another Successful Fundraiser for the Town of Hopkinton!

The Hopkinton Community Endowment held its second annual Party in the Kitchen fundraising event at the Clarke’s Ultimate Kitchen Resource Center on January 22nd.   It was an evening filled with friendly faces, music and camaraderie, but we'd like to think it was the catering that made this event such a success for Hopkinton! 

Peppers Catering treated guests to a menu that was inspired by the wonderful cultural cuisine that can be found in New York City.  Butternut Squash Tortellaci represented Little Italy and Crispy Lechong Pork & Soba Noodles created some familiar flavors from Chinatown.   Fulton’s Seafood Market made the succulent Lobster, Shrimp and Scallop Duchess Pie the perfect choice, and a trip to New York wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Coney Island, where delicious Mini Kobe Beef Burgers with Red Onion Balsamic Jam and Cocktail Franks were abound!

About 300 guests attended in support of the Endowment’s mission to raise $1 million dollars by the end of 2015.   The Hopkinton Community Endowment was created as a tool for the community to help preserve the unique character of the town of Hopkinton, and as a means to empower residents to make the best choices for the town with fewer fiscal constraints, generating income for projects that the town might not be able to afford otherwise. 

Hopkinton Endowment Fundraiser Butternut Squash Tortellaci Chef Paul Wilson Mini Kobe Beef Burgers  
photos courtesy of ERB Photography