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Catering Caterers revel in producing a moveable ‘feast’

Why just cater when you can feast on this?” goes the motto of one of San Diego’s newest catering companies.

Feast on This, Inc. opened in June 2000 and business has been walking through its doors ever since. In its first year the company grossed over $68,000 in catering sales and for 2001 is predicting to generate more than $250,000 in revenues. According to president and executive chef Matthew Baker, the company’s clientele has increased by 60 percent since its inception, serving such local companies as Qualcomm, Manchester Resorts and recently signed a contract with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

The full-service catering business also does private home dining, which has become one of its more popular services.

“One of the things Matthew and I love is meeting people, going into their homes. It’s more intimate and very, very hands-on, you’re physically (there) putting the food together,” said Sean Mazerolle, vice president of sales and operations and chef.

The two met nine years ago at the DoubleTree Resort in Rancho Penasquitos, when Mazerolle hired Baker as a chef.

Baker, who was born deaf, was working at the Sheraton Harbor Island as a vegetable prep and couldn’t pass up the chance to move ahead.

“Sean was executive chef there and gave me (an) opportunity to work. Many chefs find it difficult dealing with deaf people and never really give us opportunities to show our talents,” Baker said.

The two went on to work together as chefs at the San Jose Hilton & Towers for several years, then returned to San Diego to find something more challenging in the restaurant industry.


– Striking Out On Their Own

Baker said it was his and Mazerolle’s combined 34 years of experience in the food industry that persuaded them to start their own business.

“After months of researching, we decided to go into catering as it is more fun and more diverse,” Baker said.

“We selected the phrase, ‘Feast on This,’ because it is a fun and slightly brash way to focus on the word feast,” he said.

Feast is what customers do.

The catering company offers customers an elaborate variety of menus that include Jamaican Beach Bash-themed picnics with coconut beer prawns to hors d’oeuvres such as grilled zucchini canape with feta cheese and roasted red bell pepper.

The Web site even offers recipes of some of the more frequently requested items on the menus.

“We’re still a new business and that’s one of the advantages we have over other companies that have been in business for years. It gives us a little bit of an edge,” Mazerolle said.

Baker said Feast on This is the only deaf-owned catering business in San Diego. He knows of two others in Los Angeles.

While Mazerolle handles all the phone calls, sales and purchasing business, Baker does the accounting, marketing and uses a computer for his main source of communication.

“It is a perfect blend,” Baker said.

The four full-time staff members, two of whom are deaf, are trained in American Sign Language to meet Baker’s needs. When people come into the offices, he relies on pen and paper or an interpreter to communicate.


– Aim for The Best

As word continues to spread concerning the new company, Feast on This is finding ways to compete with some of the larger local catering companies, such as San Diego Catering Concepts and A Catered Affair.

Both Baker and Mazerolle are looking to expand their employee base to add to the diversity of its hearing and deaf staff members, while continuing to offer quality food, equipment and service.

“We want to offer the better, if not the best catering service in San Diego,” Mazerolle said.

For now, Mazerolle said he’s glad to be preparing delicious meals in the kitchen.

“I left the kitchen once and I’ll never do it again,” he said.

Mazerolle was recalling the time he worked as an executive of food and beverage for a company several years ago.

After a few years in that position he realized that his true fondness was for cooking.

“I couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen,” he said.

Baker agrees that his true passion is also lies in the kitchen.

“(I) always find it fascinating to be (a) part of cooking because it’s like creative art in food. Plus it is more fun than having a desk job,” he said.

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