The A-List: Amanda Smith Caterers (Part 2)

By danielle

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Earlier this month, we blogged about Amanda Smith Caterers and the picnic baskets that she was making for the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Park series.  Then we got to taste the food! Can I just cut right to it and say that I am still dreaming of the mouth-watering herb crusted filet mignon. It’s one thing to make a good sizzling steak…its another thing to prepare a delicious piece of meat for a picnic. In addition to our perfectly seasoned and tender filet, our basket included green beans with caesar vinaigrette; grilled corn, tomato and basil salad and garlic rosemary roasted potatoes with individually wrapped peach and strawberry crumble and devils food cake with chocolate glaze for dessert. I give her an A for taste and presentation.  She thought of everything – from cups made of corn to a tea light candle!  We snapped some photos and asked Amanda to tell us a bit more about herself, her inspirations and her approach to catering…

We love your commitment to fresh ingredients and how you combine the flavors of New York with the spirit of Mexico.  Can you tell us more about your inspirations and how your background helped shape your cooking style?

I grew up in Mexico where fresh fruit and vegetables are so abundant. Plus, there is a multitude of spices, chilies and flavors.  So I guess you say that was my start. As a young girl, I had the opportunity to come to New York and was exposed to cuisines from all over the world, which was naturally a plus.  Finally, and most importantly I think, I started traveling when I was a teenager. That was really what opened my senses, my intrigue to food and the many ways to prepare it.

When and how did the “good food in a basket” idea originate? What do you find to be the most rewarding/challenging part of this area of expertise?

The idea of doing the picnics in the park came to me one day when I was running around the reservoir.  I had just returned from France where I spent much of my time visiting London – where parks are huge and there are many outdoor events – and I realized that nobody had ever offered picnics for the free concerts in the parks.  So I pursued that idea.  That was in 2001.

Congratulations on being selected as the caterer of the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks series. Can you tell us about this experience?

Being selected to make the picnic baskets for the New York Philharmonic was an enormous coup as I have been preparing these for years and always wanted to be more directly involved.  Last year was our first year working with them. We prepared baskets for their patrons in the VIP section.  Because of that experience they decided to take the next step.  We donate a percentage of our earnings to the Philharmonic.

Is there an event you catered that stands out from the rest? What made it so memorable?

There are many events that we cater that are eventful. Every year we do the launch party for American Illustration and American Photography who each bring out a book – the venue is the same but no two parties are alike… neither in decor, food or beverages.  We have done some magical weddings in the Hamptons, exclusive luncheons in some of New York’s decorative buildings and homes, and fun parties for kids.

What is your favorite meal to cook at home?

I am actually a pretty dull cook (at home).  When I was in France I learned to eat meat and fish of exceptional quality cooked plain and seasonal vegetables with hardly anything on them… and that is what I do when I cook for my daughter and me.  But I guess this also included us having fondue in winter, vichysoisse in summer and other what might seem sophisticated dishes all year round.

Take a bite..The proof is in the pudding and this one is delicious!

A closer look...

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