There’s nothing like the sound of women in the kitchen.
Their laughter and voice inflections are almost lyrical. Their animations and antics are enlivening.
And no matter what race, creed or color, when women gather around food, it’s always a magical experience bathed in warmth and richness.
The end of the summer is near, and the last big summer holiday is approaching. My friend, and Los Angeles based caterer Daria Le Sassier of Le Sassier Catering, gathered a few sister friends together for a little pre-Labor Day celebration.
Daria has been a caterer in this town for over 30 years. She has a vast client list that ranges from individuals, social organizations, politicians and the entertainment industry.
She is one of the most sought after caterers in Los Angeles largely because of the authentic New Orleans style influences in her menu offerings. Her “food to tablescape” approach always elevates ordinary dining experiences to casual elegance. Paella, jambalaya, ribs, red beans and rice, catfish and crab cakes are among her most requested items. And she has a flare for transforming basic “comfort food” into coveted cuisine.
Early lessons learned
“Growing up in New Orleans, everything was about the food,” reflected Daria. “Sunday was our food day with family, cousins, and close friends. Everybody would get together with their kids, and we all cooked together.”
Those early experiences showed Daria the important role food plays in deepening and strengthen family ties. When she became a parent, she said those lessons learned were more defining than she ever imagined.
“My son loved to eat. When we sat down to have a meal together, I had his attention,” said Daria. “So it was easy to have a conversation with him and he was always open to listening. While it was just a conversation, we worked though a lot over a meal. Food is important. It absolutely matters.”
After years of experience as a caterer, her artistry and mastery of all aspects of her profession have been at the center of her success. And let’s not forget about the food. It’s certainly her calling card and what sets her apart from so many.
Daria dishes about food
In this age of epicurious intrigue, food adulation and culinary stardom, Daria remains true to her passion for cooking “good food” and remains unfettered by the latest gastronomic movement.
“I think people are getting away from the simplicity of making good food and mixing too many foods together,” said Daria in reference to some of the wild and whimsical mash-ups she’s seen of late. “They are over doing the combinations in an attempt to make the dish sound exotic and look intriguing. I like food to look good and taste good. But everything doesn’t go together.”
Our pre-Labor Day feast
When planning our pre-Labor Day menu, Daria focused on the favorites – all which were fit for a girls day dinner. Baked beans, baby back ribs, boneless chicken breasts and wings, corn salsa, Texas caviar, grilled catfish, potato salad and peach mint sweet tea. It was a menu that left us wide eyed and speechless.
We dished, slipped and watched as she prepared these Labor Day delights. She even enlisted our help in chopping, stirring and helping out.
Planning is the key to success
The execution of our pre-Labor Day feast was flawless. Daria shares a few basic tips for making your special event or holiday bash a success:
- Plan your shop time. Shop for your ingredients at least three days prior to your event. The selection is better, there aren’t as many people in the store and it’s less stressful.
- Prep ahead. Cut vegetables and meats and store them in the refrigerator. This way you aren’t doing everything on the day of your event, tiring yourself out.
- Season everything at least two days before your event. The longer it sits in the refrigerator seasoned, the better it is going to taste.
- Ask for help. Have a family member or friend come over and help cut, dice and help with your prep.
- Use catering services. Some menu items you many not want to cook like ribs, appetizers or desserts. But plan ahead because holidays are peak seasons for caterers.
- Pace yourself on the big day. Get an early start, get your grill going and ease into cooking now that most of the prep work has been done. Remember the secret to great ribs is to cook them on low heat and slowly.
- Set up a buffet or serving table. This allows guests to serve themselves. Just keep it replenished and freshened up.
How to grill vegetables
In this video, Daria shares how you can create a grilled vegetable platter that has the “wow factor” in taste and presentation.
With the wealth of great family recipes that have become the cornerstone of her business, Daria says they may find their way in a cookbook someday. But for now she’s focused on her business and perhaps expanding her brand into the realm of event consulting.
But in the meantime, Daria shares a quick and easy baked bean recipe. The food hack is to use canned beans. The method is to cook the beans in a cast iron skillet slowly in the oven, stirring them frequently, and adding more barbecue sauce, butter and yes pancake syrup to keep them moist and saucy if they begin to dry out. Daria says, “The more love, time and care you put into your food preparation, the better it is going to taste.”
You can follow Daria on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LeSassier-Catering-Events-242470832545353/. Now – get cooking!
Chef Daria’s Easy Baked Beans
48 ounce can of Bush Vegetarian Baked Beans
½ cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons mustard
½ cup pancake syrup
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup diced brown onion
3 tablespoons of melted butter
In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together and pour into a cast iron skillet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour until the beans become thicken. Stir them several times during the hour. If beans start to become dry, add more barbecue sauce, syrup or butte, to your taste.