Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

Chef Tips for a Perfect Holiday Celebration

With a little planning, this might be your best holiday yet!

Tip #1: For a successful celebration “Keep it Simple.”
Here is a formula that works for appetizers: 2-2-2. I recommend six items: two store bought, two semi-homemade and two homemade. That lets you take time to focus on your signature items while keeping the other prep easy. Next you want to make sure you have something for everyone in the mix. These days that can be challenging. So many people are gluten-free, vegan or aren’t eating dairy, so make sure you have that information when crafting the menu. In a perfect world, offer vegetarian, seafood and meat options so it feels like a meal. People want the tapas experience, so the basic crudité, meat and cheese board doesn’t cut it anymore. If possible add one surprise item from the oven served mid party that can easily be added to the table or enlist a friend to pass around, so fun……

Tip #2: Focus on the Platters, Flowers and Decorations to add the “Wow” factor!
Select nice napkins, small paper plates and plastic cups rather than creating extra work that comes with lots of dishes. They are perfectly fine for these holiday gatherings. You can then use your energy to put together festive platters, seasonal floral arrangements and decorations to create a lovely setting. 


Tip #3: A Simple Self-Serve Bar
Provide a selection of beverages that includes sparkling water, craft beer, red and white wine and maybe a signature cocktail like an Aperol Spritz.

Tip #4: Bites per Person
People always ask me this and it’s the larger groups that can be challenging. The rule of thumb is 4-6 bites if a meal is being served and 10-12 bites without a meal for 2 hours. Having gourmet nuts, chips and olives and maybe a dip like pimento cheese with crackers staged in several areas will also help to fill people up!

Tip #5: Desert
This is the time of year when people splurge! Either make your favorite holiday desert or this is where fruit and cheese really work well. A beautiful platter of warm brie drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pomegranates surrounded by dried and fresh fruit and artisan chocolates. It’s just enough to finish off the evening!

Tip #6: Cooks Tip:
No need to feel overwhelmed this holiday season if you don’t feel like cooking. One positive from the Pandemic we now know is anything we need is just a click away. My favorite go to is Williams Sonoma. They have so many choices and excellent qualityhors doeuvres. You can also look to your local grocery store like Fresh Market or Ingles. They can make stunning holiday platters with just a few days notice.

Maybe you are not interested in doing anything but hosting. Beau & Ashley Menetre at The Nest Catering and Events are wizards at throwing amazing parties.
The Nest Catering & Events
– 404-319-1052

Food Adventures and the Pasta Station!

Food Adventures and the Pasta Station!

Like most Chef’s, I rarely eat my own food, so I have to have places that not only inspire me but make me happy to enjoy a meal I didn’t make! For those of you that haven’t visited my Food Adventures page, check it out!

But this Newsletter is about a treasure I found right here in Landrum and it is hands down one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever eaten in, including every Little Italy across the country! The Pasta Station, located in Landrum, is the gold standard for all things Italian. Jose is a master of flavors, textures, presentation and you won’t leave hungry as the portions are extremely generous.

I don’t know where to begin. The Caesar Salad is so delicious and dressed perfectly, this coming from someone whose clients love my version. The Ravioli with Marinara Sauce melts in your mouth and you know they are handmade daily as the shape is not traditional. We’ve tried an array of dishes with our fave being Chicken Milanese served with Roasted Potatoes and Shaved Arugula Salad… and your vegetarian chef actually ate a few bites. Crispy on the outside tender in the middle. We haven’t missed a weekend since they opened and I wait all week for Saturday night dinner.

About Jose, after completing culinary school, he honed his skills for several years in New York City and decided to move South and landed in Asheville. He continued cooking in both small and corporate kitchens and ended up at Renzo’s in Hendersonville. After spending five years helping to shape and grow that business, the pandemic hit. So, he made the brave decision to open his own place along with his wife Cecilia and it’s a great success, so check it out…

Spotlight Local Business Update

Spotlight Local Business Update

Back in February, my newsletter featured small business owners both locally and nationally. Since that time there have been some exciting changes locally that I wanted to share with you. We are so fortunate to have theses talented people right here in our community so give them your support!

All Good Things Bakery – Jessica now has her very own space and it’s beautiful. The new shop features Gourmet Coffee, Breakfast Pastries and Croissants. Of course, she will continue to create her amazing Pies, Cakes, Cookies, Puddings, Cupcakes and Special-Order items. In addition to the bakery items, the new shop has freshly made bread daily courtesy of Benny, Jessica’s brother.  He has some of the best Artisan Breads I have tasted as well as Rolls and Focaccia. Bonus, you can order Hand-Crafted Charcuterie Boxes and Truffles perfect for any gathering. Plus, they make great gifts.  

Tryon Bottle – Della has taken this family owned business that started out as a humble beer and wine shop and morphed it into an expansive one stop shop for incredible selections of craft beer, wine, premium cigars, cocktail mixers and the newest addition Frose and Frozen Mimosas. And even though All Good Things Bakery and Benny’s Bread have moved down the street, you can still get all their delectable treats and eats and relax in the cozy indoor and outdoor settings.

The Nest Catering & Events or 404-319-1052 – Beau & Ashley Menetre, founders of the Nest Artisan Market & the Tryon International Film Festival, are expanding their business empire with the addition of a full -fledged Catering Company! They have been active in the Tryon community for over 9 years and bring an incredible amount of expertise and professionalism for a unique catering experience. They make catering seem easy from start to finish. They seamlessly design the menu and from there you can sit back and relax! No event is too big or to small… from intimate dinner parties to bridal showers to corporate events. I recently referred a high-end client from Charleston that had their Bridal Shower here and the testimonial was “they could not have found better catering in Charleston than what Beau and Asley delivered”. Wow….. 

Benefits of Cold Pressed Juice

Benefits of Cold Pressed Juice

Over the past several years, I have been on a juice regimen which has been instrumental in reducing my inflammation. Because of my success, many of my clients have implemented juicing in conjunction with cleaning up their diets and have made great strides in their overall health.

Grabbing a cold pressed juice is the perfect way to flood your system with nutrients that will curb cravings, boost your energy, and promote immunity. Other benefits include aiding the body in detoxification while absorbing important vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants. If you are like me trying to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet is always a challenge and having the juices on hand is the perfect solution to taking your health to the next level.

Mountain Juicery is a family-owned business located in Asheville and Hendersonville, North Carolina. All their juices are made in house using a cold pressed juicer (no heat), which preserves the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables. Each of their 16 oz. bottles of juices contains an average of 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables. *Note average daily requirement 1-2 cups of fruit 2-3 cups vegetables. I wanted to figure out a way that my clients could try a variety of the juices so owner Ashley Covington came up with a great idea… a juice flight! So, takes this opportunity to taste some of their most popular cold pressed juices. The flight includes four 8 oz. juices for just $16 (including tax). Dates for availability will be included in the Weekly Menu.

Mountain Juicery Flight:
Shade of Green – Kale, Romaine, Parsley, Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Lemon, Ginger
Pisgah Pear Ale – Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Pear, Mint, Lime
What’s Up Doc – Carrot, Apple, Lemon, Turmeric
Daily Glow – Pineapple, Cucumber, Lemon, Mint

How to Make the Most out of Fresh Produce and Herbs and Carrot Top Pesto

How to Make the Most out of Fresh Produce and Herbs and Carrot Top Pesto

Summer is a great time to really clean out your refrigerator. With the farmers markets and fruit stands in full swing eating fresh is a breeze but it can seem like a lot of work! Here are a few tips to make your food prep really work for you!

  1. Throw out any old produce and try to plan a menu for the week ahead. If you are a person who would rather decide what to cook as you are shopping you still need to keep your purchases realistic, not only from a time management perspective but for reducing waste. Most people throw out 15- 20 % of fresh items weekly because they just don’t get to it or it goes bad before they do.
  2. When you return from the grocery or farmers market wash and store everything that day. By prepping all your vegetables that day you set yourself up to enjoy fresh salads and vegetables all week with only minutes to plate a salad or sauté whatever you like.
  3. Fresh Herb Storage: Basil should be kept at room temperature in a glass container filled with a few inches of water with a plastic bag covering it. This will keep it fresh all week. Other herbs like cilantro, dill and mint can either be kept the same way as basil but in the fridge or wrapped in damp paper towel and placed in plastic storage bag in the vegetable drawer.
  4. What to do with excess Herbs? Here is a link with great ideas


  • 1 cup carrot leaves (from about 1 bunch carrots)
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup of nuts of your choice (roasted cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt


Pulse the carrot tops, parsley leaves, nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped. With the processor on, slowly drizzle olive oil, and process until blended. Add the Parmesan and salt, and pulse until combined. *Cooks Note: Mint leaves are also a great addition to this recipe

Salsa Recipe and Green Tomatoes

Salsa Recipe and Green Tomatoes

Living here in the South, fried green tomatoes are the gold standard for chefs, but there are so many other ways to use them. I’m a big fan and have developed lots of recipes where I substituted green tomatoes from my favorite red tomato recipes! I love this green tomato article, it even gave me new ideas.

Many of you have asked for my Green Salsa Recipe (see below). It’s so fresh and vibrant! It also makes a great topping for a Cali Mex Burger.

• 2 green tomatoes quartered
• 1 half small onion quartered
• 1 jalapéno seeded and quartered
• 1 garlic clove
• 2 Haas avocados
• ½ cup cilantro tops
• 1-2 limes juiced
• salt to taste

Place cilantro, onion, jalapéno, salt and garlic in food processor and pulse until combined. Add green tomatoes, avocados and lime juice and pulse until chunky unless you like a smoother salsa then puree. Feel free to add more of any of the ingredients to your taste.