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A La Heart Catering Keeps it Local and Real

By S. Mathur

A La Heart Catering is a family owned catering business in the heart of the Sonoma wine country, and relies on local farms and bakeries for the best fruits and vegetables, cheeses, breads and meats. Being green and local was an article of faith for A La Heart long before it became cool. Founder Deborah Rodgers recalled that she began way back in 1982, with a close friend.

"We worked together cooking at a neighborhood restaurant so my friend asked me to cater with her which sounded like so much fun," she said, "And it was! We made poached salmon and put little dolls coming out of their mouths."

As the requests for the catering service grew, Rodgers decided to make this her career and has never regretted her choice. Her daughter, Chief of Operations Mariana Krambs, grew up with the business and has never wanted to do anything else.

"I have a very early memory of my mom making me a bed underneath a buffet, and lying there happily watching the familiar feet of the servers while I napped," she said, "My mother has built such an incredible network of employees, vendors, and clients that it's a blessing to be able to continue what she began when I was a toddler."

According to clients, A La Heart makes the best poached salmon, but there are also other specialties that combine traditional recipes with some fun innovations.

"I dearly love our chile verde stew that I have been making for 45 years after many lengthy trips to Mexico over the years instead of going to college," Rodgers said, "I use chuck instead of pork and have changed it a bit over the years - but the latest change was to put chunks of garnet yams at the end of the braising. It complements the tomatillo sauce and is amazing served over our chile cheese cornbread!"

For Krambs, one of her favorite menu items is the butternut squash lasagna with bechemel sauce. She describes it as cozy, creamy and delicious, like nothing you've ever had before. Also highly recommended is the housemade feta herb cheese topped with basil chiffonade. It's always in demand and is now being packaged for sale in local markets. There are catering menus to guide clients, but almost any recipes can be requested.

A La Heart has a good relationship with local vendors, and prefers to work with them than the big names out of San Francisco or Napa. With very competitive prices and years of experience in event planning, they can ensure that things will go smoothly and that clients and their guests will enjoy the party.

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