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A Pure Chance Business: Left Coast Catering

By Elisha Neubauer

If you ask Laurine Wickett how her business got started, she'll tell you by pure chance.

During an accidental run-in with a former coworker, Jeffrey Kay, back in 1993, Wickett was offered to help Kay cater a dinner he had been commissioned to do. Thinking why not, Wickett jumped at the chance to work with Kay. The dinner was being held by Larry Ellison, co-founder of the company Oracle, back when the tech boom was just getting its start in what was to become Silicon Valley and was about to put Kay and Wickett on a path neither of them could see coming.

"During those first few years we cooked for many famous people at Ellison's home including Laurene and Steve Jobs, Michael Milken, and Al Gore," Wickett said. The pair continued working together for several years merely from word of mouth, catering dinners for industry leaders in Silicon Valley. When they were asked to cater a wine dinner for the Schug Winery the duo realized quickly that it was time to get serious and incorporate.

"They required us to provide them with a business license, health permit, insurance, etc," Wickett said. "That inspired us to take the plunge and to form a business."

In the fall of 1995, Wickett formed Left Coast Catering and filed for a business license in addition to securing a commercial kitchen in the Bayview district. While Left Coast is known for its amazing creations, there are so many other reasons that people seem to flock to the local San Francisco company for their catering needs. Wickett realized early on that an event was about more than just the food and set out to deliver an experience, from start to finish, in order to set herself apart from the influx of catering businesses in the area.

"Left Coast knows how to throw a party," she said. "We want people to have fun and feel taken care of from the first time you talk to us on the phone until the end of the event when we are sweeping the floor and filling your refrigerator with tasty treats."

In addition to an amazing overall experience, guests and clients can feel comfortable giving their business to Left Coast Catering, thanks in part to the eco-friendly decisions Wickett made in the kitchen. Wickett, and her husband Henry, found themselves faced with a unique opportunity when building their space in Bayview.

"We were able to put our environmental beliefs into reality," Wickett said. "This included reducing our use of natural resources, decreasing our carbon footprint, and doing our part to create a healthier planet for our daughter Lily, who's now three years old."

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Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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