If you don’t know Julia Chandler, I’m honored to introduce you to one of the kindest people I know. Julia is a fabulous person and an amazing chef. Since launching Julia’s Take Away Gourmet and Catering a year ago she has been busy stirring, mixing, tasting and creating cuisine that is always so lovely. Her tag line is “Enjoy the best of food and life” and it is perfect for her.
Julia is known for all of her amazing food. There are so many favorites, in our home her soups, barbecue, and flavored butter are at the top of our list. You might say, flavored butter??? FLAVORED BUTTER! My favorite is the herbed butter. In fact, I was able to take some home after taking these pictures. I’m now thinking of things to cook this week so that I can put butter on potatoes, bread, croissants, etc.! Sounds silly I know but if you’ve never have had her cuisine you just can’t get it. Everything, even down to the butter is Amazing.
Without further ado here is my conversation with Julia Chandler.
Front of Julia’s Kitchen
Dashing Through WS (D): Do you remember your first time you cooked for a large crowd?
Julia Chandler (JC):Do I ever! Years ago before I stopped working to have a family, I had my catering business out of a kitchen in Greensboro, NC. I ran the catering and events for a historic home where they had weddings and lots of business meetings and events. I think it was my second day there, and my first time running my own kitchen, that I had a large business meeting of 100 guests to impress. I was shaking in my chef jacket! I am happy to say it went fabulously well, I had fun and the group really enjoyed everything, and continued to be customers while I was there. It was a great way to start off with a bang, but the first time cooking for 100 was something you don’t forget!
D: Tell me about the importance of good ingredients, you talk a lot about home grown veggies, farmers market and such in your blog.
JC:Pretty simple, you need good ingredients for good food. Even if your veggies aren’t locally sourced, their quality is so important. I really enjoy our local farmers markets and try to support them as much as I can, but when I am buying large quantities I try to pick the best looking, freshest products available.
D: What are some important things to remember when you are creating a menu for a dinner party
JC:I always tell people when entertaining you need to make it easy on yourself. Guests don’t want to have their hostess stressed and in the kitchen the whole time, so taking time to plan a dinner party that will be easy to pull off is so important. Choose things that are easy to prepare in advance. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be good, in fact when you are able to enjoy it and have fun too, the fun level automatically increases for everyone.
D: If you had to give one tip to a novice cook, what would it be?
JC:In one word, relax! Cooking to me is art, it should be creative and fun and approached this way, not something to fret or worry over. If it makes you feel that way, hire someone!
D: What is the most creative menu you have ever created for a catering job?
JC:Wow, this is a harder question. I love planning menu’s and try to keep the host and event in mind when working on things, giving them the most creative menu they can afford for their budget. While I use the same items often, I create each menu for a client and don’t have generic ones to send out. I love getting creative with Southern but gourmet flavors to fit the occasion. Recently I did individual Banana Puddings for a dessert and petite Vidalia Onion & Pimiento Cheese tartlets for a starter for a Southern Farm party and they were a lot of fun! Most creative menu though was many years ago. I had a client for Furniture Market that threw a big kick off party with a Texas theme. We had wagon wheels, tumbleweeds, cacti, horse shoes and all kinds of fun decorations. The menu was wild, literally, with a rattlesnake appetizer (yes, rattlesnake meat) and fried alligator bites. That was pre-recession and cut backs, now that kind of entertaining is not as common!
Homemade coutons Julia was making for her catering job while I was there.
Thank you so much for your time Julia! Julia has catered baby showers for me, I’ve attended many parties she has catered, and I’ve done the dinner pick up numerous times, I’ve never had a bad meal. If you haven’t done her dinner pickup, had a boxed lunch or been to a catered party by Julia, click through to her website and see all that she has to offer.