The Taste: Julie St. Marie Discusses the Business of Catering
Dec 13, 2016 02:54PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
240-882-2369 // juliestmarie.com
By Rita Calvert // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
If you Google Julie St. Marie, up come offerings for insurance and lots of selections for brides, but St. Marie wants it to be known she excels in the loaded stuff—small pastries and specialty cakes and that her company is a full-fledged event planner from soup to nuts. She considers herself a problem solver and that’s a great thing in the food world!
Please tell us how you got started with your catering business.I owned an insurance agency with my father and was approaching 25 years in the business, when I began rethinking how I was spending my “work” time. I needed something that challenged my creative side. I thought that I wanted to move to North Carolina and open a bakery. I didn’t have any formal training, so I decided to take advantage of the Baking & Pastry Arts program through HCAT at Anne Arundel Community College. After completing the program, I approached the owner of the Cakery in Bowie, who I knew through the local Chamber of Commerce. I actually begged him to hire me at $7 per hour so I could really learn about working in a bakery. At first he didn’t want to hire me, because I didn’t have any experience. I was in my 40s and told him that I would most likely be more reliable then his (much) younger employees. Work started at 3 a.m., I finished at noon, and then went to my insurance agency and worked through the afternoon. I was so happy when I got a raise to $9 per hour. While it was a great experience, I realized that owning a bakery was not really the path I wanted to follow. During this time, a friend had asked if I could cater a party at her house; the dream was off and running after that. Eventually I sold my insurance agency and began looking for commercial space to build out a kitchen. We now cater private parties, events, and weddings, and a large part of our business is corporate catering.
I read about a “flex” space in the front of your catering kitchen. How do you make use of that area?We are located in a more industrial space so we have carved out an attractive area that we use for private dinners, tastings and parties. We’ve prepared several “farm-to-table” dinners that allow for a more one-on-one experience with the chef and the food.
We have also developed “Interactive Menus,” guests are invited back to the kitchen to watch chef and staff prepare the meal that they will be eating. It is a nice option for those who don’t want to go to a loud restaurant. It’s a private space with attentive private service. Some of our corporate clients have used the space for meetings that they want to hold off-site from their office and not in a busy restaurant.
What are some of the most outrageous or memorable specialty cakes you have made?The most memorable would probably be the first wedding cake that I made after culinary school. I’ve always followed the “go big or go home” theory, so it was a five-tiered extravaganza, which was challenging to transport, and provided way too much cake! But, who doesn’t love leftover cake?
I’ve seen you while catering for Annapolis Green at their Green Drinks events. Do you have a “green” slant?I have learned a lot from our friends at Annapolis Green and we do our best to recycle and use products that have either been produced from recycled materials or can be recycled. We provide over 200 salads a week for Anne Arundel Medical Center and it was important to me that we find a container that was environmentally friendly. I found a supplier on the West Coast and recently began using individual salad containers made from recycled water bottles!
Honey Rosemary Chicken
This is a stress-less chicken dish. These simple, flavorful chicken breasts are one of our most popular lunch entrees.
- (2) 8 ounce air-line chicken breasts
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Mix olive oil and honey together; set aside.
- Mix remaining ingredients together and season the chicken with them.
- Marinate seasoned chicken for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator with the oil and honey mixture (Add more oil as needed).
- Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place chicken on the pan and cover with excess marinade.
- Place chicken in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes. Increase heat to 350F and bake an additional 15–20 minutes until golden brown.