Category: Latest Events

Culture-Specific Menus for Events and Weddings

Churros by Celine and Company

Celine & Company boasts a culturally rich history and a diverse kitchen staff. We have the training and the desire to build the culture-specific menu you envison. Back in the ‘90s, our Asheville catering company was just getting going. Founder Celine Lurey brought her traditional Egyptian culture into the food she prepared. When, then, head chef Kim Lloyd arrived they aligned in their love and talent for preparing traditional Meditteranean dishes. Now the owner operator, Kim continues to passionately build menus. She seeks out kitchen staff that portray an aptitude for preparing unique, wordly, and traditional culture food items. 

For instance, our executive chef Austin Tisdale has extensive experience in preparing cuisine from a wide variety of Asian cultures. His wife and fellow chef for Celine & Company hails from Mexico. She combines her traditional customs with her professional experience to create incredible regional dishes. Her talent is not alone in our kitchen. Celine & Company currently boasts kitchen staff who have a worldly knowledge of cultural food and experience in devising menus, such as Indian, Mediterranean, Korean, and Latin American, for various events in Asheville. 

Wine Night hosted by Celine & Company and Metro Wines

Our most recent cultural event held at Celine & Company’s “On Broadway” event space in Asheville was a decadent and delicious wine dinner. Our menu, inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, delicately paired with the Spanish wines that were served that evening by Metro Wines of Asheville. We started the night with piquello pepper and smoked goat cheese bites softly placed on edible flower petals. We followed with a traditional Spanish gazpacho and charred ciabatta with escalivada. The entree was a delicious lamb meatballs topped with Spanish paprika tomato sauce, white asparagus with saffron aioli, and a zesty lemon gremolata. 

Celine & Company takes delight in preparing culture-specific menus. We always work with the event coordinator, client, or other point-of-contact to be sure our kitchen is on target. Our wine dinner concluded with churros for dessert. Lightly fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the fritters were then rolled in cinnamon and sugar and plated with chocolate ganache on the side—every churros served was devoured! 

Catering Cultural Weddings in Asheville 

Weddings are often cultural events. Celine & Company takes great care to properly prepare dishes that are important to the client. Furthermore, we seize the opportunity to learn and grow our knowledge when a new dish is presented to our kitchen. The wine-paired menu described above was inspired by an opportunity we had to cater a Spanish wedding the previous summer. We love this type of experience. We want our clients to know how willing, excited, and trained our staff is to make menus that are inspired by their culture and traditions. 

When clients request a specific dish we are unfamiliar with, our response is always, “Teach us!” It was an aunt of the groom who taught us how to prepare authentic Persian Jeweled Rice. From Filipino lumpias to Nigerian jollof rice, our Asheville catering kitchen takes pride in sharing our skills for preparing global cuisine items. It is through our extensive experience as one of the most well-known and best catering companies in Asheville, and our openness to learn new dishes, that Celine & Company can offer clients a menu for their guests that make them think of home. Whether home is the American South, Mexico, Ethiopia, Italy, India, or Thailand, we look forward to accommodating your cultural event and food traditions. 

Catering to Baked Wedding Traditions From Around the World

Breaking the bread at a Russian wedding in Asheville

From the breaking of the bread to cutting the cake, baked food traditions for weddings are steeped in symbolism for the newlywed couple. Whether your family is from the South and looking for the best Southern-style wedding cake in Asheville, or you have guests traveling from another continent for your Asheville destination wedding, let Celine & Company make it a night filled with your family’s favorite baked food. Celine & Company’s in-house pastry chef Rebecca Millsapps is experienced and talented at her trade, and enjoys preparing either traditional or unique baked items for clients. For some of our dessert examples from previous menus, click here or keep reading for some of our favorite baked wedding food traditions from around the world. 

Wedding Reception Begins with the Breaking of the Bread

We’re kicking off the list with the breaking of the bread. Originally from Bulgarian culture, the breaking of the bread happens at the beginning of the reception. The mother of the bride hands the newlyweds the loaf for them to tug on. Whoever gets the larger chunk is considered the “boss” of the marriage. In this tradition, the mother of the bride bakes the bread before the wedding. However, Celine & Company stands ready to assist. We can use our own bread loaf recipe, or yours! We often experience and are accustomed to the whole family participating in the days leading up to the wedding. We are honored when a client wants to share their family’s favorite recipes with our kitchen staff. Let us know beforehand, and we look forward to scheduling a time for you to come down to our kitchen and teach us your ways. 
Should You Do a “Princess” Cake Or Groom’s Cake? 

In Sweden, weddings often include the elegant traditional Prinsesstarta cake, or “”Princess” cake. This decadent wedding cake consists of alternating layers or jam, pastry cream, and sponge cake with a thick top layer of whipped cream. The layers are wrapped in marzipan, traditionally dyed light green, and adorned with a pink marzipan rose and powdered sugar. Meanwhile, in the American South, it has become a tradition to allow the groom to design the wedding cake. The groom’s design does not usually include princesses, but more often includes football team logos, the groom’s home state, favorite animal, or—even—a “stacked donut” cake. We love these images of Groom’s cakes. Note: although we do not bake wedding cakes in-house, Celine & Company has worked closely with a number of local wedding cake bakeries and has solid recommendations that are sure to exceed our client’s expectations. 

“Happily Married” Wedding Favors 

In Brazil, bem casados (“happily married”) are delicious little cookies that are traditionally given to guests as wedding favors. Consisting of two small sponge cake disks with dulce de leche in the middle, bem casados send off your wedding guests with a tasty treat and beautiful symbolism for the married couple. Contact Celine & Company Catering and Events in Asheville to discuss your cultural wedding or other traditional event. We look forward to hearing about your culture’s food traditions and how we can help you keep them alive and well. 

August 2019 WomanUP Event in Asheville NC

. August 2019 WomanUP Event at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville. Catered by Celine and Company.
August 2019 WomanUP Event at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville

The August 2019 WomanUP Event in Asheville NC happened this past week. It was led by Cheri Torres, author of the book Conversations Worth Having—and what an event it was for Celine & Company. Our woman-owned catering business looks forward to every WomanUP event, and continuing our relationship with the Asheville community of ladies in business. The discussions are motivational, the attendees are interested in connecting with each other, and everyone takes part in fueling each other’s individual successes. Celine & Company cannot emphasize enough our pride in being both a sponsor for this nonprofit event and caterer of this powerful meeting-of-the-minds that ultimately contributes to the economic health of our beloved Asheville community. 

How We Do Breakfast For 400 Business Women

As experienced caterers in a progressive city, Celine & Company is at the forefront of healthy eating trends, and has extensive experience accommodating dietary restrictions, allergies, and preferences in our menus. We are constantly developing and testing new menu items for vegetarians, vegans, and people following the paleo or keto diets, as well as menu items that accommodate allergies to gluten, nuts, dairy, and more.  For instance, our breakfast menu for the August 2019 WomanUP event boasted vegan herbed potatoes, gluten-free shrimp and grits, gluten-free protein balls, vegan muffins, and more.

Celine & Company event staff sets up our breakfast buffet for WomanUP at three stations. The stations are strategically positioned around the large room, so the coffee is always nearby and the breakfast line at each station is never long. We want your attendees to be able to locate the breakfast fare, fill their plate with a meal that caters to their personal diet, and easily make their way back to their seats. 

How To Create a Magical Buffet Table For Your Seminar

It might begin with a mutual appreciation for the fresh blueberry muffins but—as we often witness—the conversation turns into a meet-and-greet and exchange of ideas. 

We are seasoned professionals in the catering business who know firsthand that a buffet can be an uninspiring fixture in the room or a magical conversation starter. As proud business owners, we cannot help smiling at the sight of attendees engaged in conversation around our tastefully decorated (and tasty!) buffet. As event leaders, you can also take delight in getting your attendees engaging with each other before your day’s agenda starts. 

What better way to kick off your seminar than with a cup of delicious coffee and friendly conversation? Allowing Celine & Company to cater your event in Asheville—whether you are hosting a seminar, luncheon, formal dinner, or silent auction—lets you experience what puts us at the forefront of a competitive industry for over 25 years. 

Congrats! You’re A 2019 Crown Jewel Award Nominee!

Crown Jewel Awards

We are so honored to be nominated, recognizing the creativity behind one of the premier events in the Carolinas. We make every event special for our client.


The Crown Jewel Awards is the signature event of the ILEA Charlotte Chapter. The Crown Jewel Awards competition was created for the Creative Events and Hospitality professionals of the Carolinas, giving other association members a platform to get recognized for their work in their industries. All hospitality professionals can enter the awards competition and attend the Charlotte-based ceremony and gala in April. The awards are anonymously judged by another ILEA Chapter located outside of North and South Carolina.

From 2000-2015 this awards ceremony was known as the EVIEs, or Events in Excellence, and was open to ILEA Members and Non-Members alike. In 2015, the ILEA board decided to give the EVIEs a facelift and re-branded the event as the Crown Jewel Awards. Many of the categories for the award entries will remain the same and will be based off the highly contested International Esprit awards, but the goal is all encompassing.

5 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Company Meeting at C+C

There are many factors that go into making the perfect corporate meeting. From location to presentation and, of course, the food. Celine and Company has everything you could possibly desire to create the best environment for your next meeting.

Location, Location, Location

Finding a location that is both accessible and accommodating for any business affair is crucial in planning a corporate meeting. Built in 1926, the Broadway Arts Building boasts close to 6,000 sq. ft in the heart of downtown Asheville. The perfect location convenient to most Asheville hotels and transportation, this vintage style building is both accessible and elegant. The main room can comfortably fit 275 people in a standing expo style environment, or about 225 guests for seated events with accommodations such as tables, podiums, and seating arranged to your specifications.

Audio Visual

Have a meeting that involves PowerPoint or speakers who need the limelight? Celine and Company will arrange delivery and setup of podiums, AV equipment, and even a rentable stage to ensure your corporate meeting has the proper tools to get the job done.

Agenda for Guests and Venue

When executing any event, it is vital that your guests are all on the same page when it comes to the flow of a meeting or event—and equally important that the venue complies with your schedule. Celine and Company can provide an event coordinator that will work with you to make sure that your meeting or event will run smoothly—including scheduling, dining and bar services.

Warm and Welcoming Hospitality

It’s important to feel at home in any venue. At Celine and Company all staff members come to work with the dedication and professionalism that ensures that each event is met with exemplary service. Celine and Company strives to work with your expectations and budget to make sure the event is perfectly staffed and running as smoothly as possible throughout the entire event process.

Amazing Catering!

With detailed, nutritionally balanced and delicious menus designed personally for each event, it’s no surprise that Owner Kim Lloyd, a classically trained chef, will work with you to create a custom menu that perfectly fits the atmosphere of your next meeting—whether it’s healthy snacks and beverages, a cocktail style event, or a five-course meal.

With a focus on sustainability and experiential service, Celine and Company is incomparable when it comes to hosting important corporate events. With their unbeatable environment, great food, and excellent service, Celine and Company offers a stress-free, professional environment to make your next corporate meeting memorable. Contact us for your event and don’t forget to ask about our Corporate Packages.

How To WOW Your Guests at Your Next Corporate Meeting

Coffee Networking

The success of any corporate meeting starts with your attention to details during the planning process. What most organizers forget is that events aren’t only about getting a number of people together in a meeting room. A company meeting should be an opportunity to both strengthen and expand the relationships between each attendee.  It should also be an enjoyable event for your guests; one that they won’t easily forget. In this blog, we’ll see how to plan a corporate meet-up that is guaranteed to WOW your guests!

One Rule: Fill In The Blanks

While most of your day will be spent discussing strategies and accomplishments, every corporate meeting should incorporate meaningful moments of downtime. This is when your guests aren’t engaged in group activities and thus tend to scatter. Some might walk out for a breath of fresh air, others will leave the venue altogether and explore the surrounding area.

Downtime is actually the most powerful ally for a successful corporate meeting. Here’s how you should make the best of it:

  1. Plan interactive coffee breaks to help your guests punch through the ice. Coffee is the nectar that keeps most professionals up and running even through the busiest of days. Still, a majority of us prefer to sip their cup in silence and solitude. As pleasant as this might be, such behavior is a no-go for corporate meetings.  When that mid-morning break finally comes up, make sure you include plenty of group activities. These will help your people be more social, strengthening their ability to work together!
  2. Organize an after-hour cocktail reception giving everyone a chance to unwind. After a long day at work, who doesn’t like to take the edge off with a craft cocktail and pleasant conversation? As you’re planning your corporate meeting, you should include at least one cocktail reception. Simply pick a venue, hire a group of musicians, invite your guests to order their favorites, and sit back as they mingle and socialize!
  3. Hire a skilled group of catering professionals for a meal your guests won’t forget. Your corporate meeting will only be as successful as the food you serve. This is why you should refer to a professional like Chef Kim at Céline and Company Catering. Chef Kim’s focus is on a well balanced daily meal plan including fresh and flavorful vegan and gluten free options. Celine and Company Catering is also conscientious of event flow logistics and time management parameters.

Corporate Dinner Plate

What are you waiting for? Contact us and start planning a memorable corporate meeting today!

Asheville – A Vibrant City Perfect for Your Next Company Meeting

Downtown Dusk Shot

Location, location, location – we know you have heard it before but the right location can make or break the success of your meeting. You’re about to ask your employees to pack their belongings and spend several days away from the comfort of their homes. The place that hosts your company meetings must be able to provide a productive environment for working and a relaxing one for unwinding!

Among the 50 US states, North Carolina is particularly suited for hosting company meetings. Its pleasant climate – with cool summers and warm winters – as well as its rich history and beautiful landscapes make this region desirable for everyone. Asheville is conveniently located in Western North Carolina and boasts a majestic mountain backdrop!

Why Asheville?

Founded on top of an ancient Spanish colony, the city affectionately nicknamed the “Land Of the Sky” is the biggest settlement in Western North Carolina. It’s collaborative community and the diverse local culture have allowed this sprawling town to rise and become a nationally recognized travel destination, but that’s not all! Here’s why any event planner should choose the highly experiential Asheville to host their next corporate event.

Relative vicinity to an airport, as well as other infrastructure. The Asheville regional airport connects the area to all major travel hubs in the United States. Local and national airlines offer flights to the city, with low fares and daily trips. Those attending your company meeting will never have to worry about changing flights or spending long hours in security lines!

Breathtaking points of interest, for some much needed after-hours downtime. All work and no play make any company meeting grueling. Fortunately, Asheville offers several points of interest that those attending your event will be able to visit in their free time. Places such as the Biltmore House, Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina Arboretum, and multiple US National Historic Landmarks will allow your guests to relax, let go of their stress, and enjoy the uniqueness of the scenery that surrounds them. This doesn’t only make for a good vacation, but also boosts their performance throughout the whole event!

Buskers playing in Asheville, NC

A centuries-old culinary tradition, kept alive by the chefs at Céline and Company. American and International delicacies come together in the streets of Asheville. Local farm fresh ingredients make up the backbone of the region’s cuisine, with a mix of flavors that you won’t be able to find anywhere else!

At the helm of Céline and Company since 2006, Chef Kim Lloyd strives to offer catering for any kind of corporate events, no matter how big or small. Let us take care of your next company meeting and treat all participants to a dining experience that they won’t forget.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us right now and move the first step towards a successful company meeting in Asheville!

Just Economics and Just Brew It!

Celine and Company Catering is proud to be a Living Wage Workplace and to support Just Economics at this year’s Just Brew It Homebrew Tasting and Competition!

certificationlogoJust Economics of Western North Carolina’s “Living Wage Certification Program” is the largest program of its kind in the nation. With nearly 400 local certified employers they are setting the bar and inspiring other communities to follow suit. Being Living Wage Certified means that an employer pays all of their employees at least a wage that is sufficient to live in any given area. Many variables determine the living wage of a particular region and in most cases what is considered a living wage is higher than the federally established minimum wage. For Asheville, the living wage is set at $12.50/hr and $11/hr if the employer provides health insurance. The advocacy behind living wage programs stems from a common belief that the federal minimum wage has not kept up with the increase in cost of living. Many would agree that is especially true in developing cities like Asheville.

The benefits of paying a living wage are realized on a personal level, a business level and a socioeconomic level.  Starting with the employees that have a chance of living above the poverty line; productivity increases as financial stresses decrease. Business owners see a lower turn-over rate, an increase in worker morale and thus a more positive work environment for everyone. On a larger scale, the greater economy benefits as people making a living wage are more capable of maintaining stable housing and supporting other businesses. Everyone wins.

The mission of Just Economics, together with their largest contributors; The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, is to “serve our communities through focus on philanthropy and economic development.” Their combined focus for 2016 is in promoting living wages, efficient transit and affordable housing.


Just Economics of WNC supports its efforts by involving the community in events like the Just Brew It Homebrew Festival taking place this Saturday, June 4 at The Wedge Brewery. This annual festival features more than one hundred local homebrews for sampling, live music, food trucks, a scavenger hunt and more! In order to attend the festival, you must be a current member of Just Economics of WNC. Basic Memberships start at just $25/person.


To learn more about becoming Living Wage Certified, Just Brew It Homebrew Festival or other programs like their Community Education, and Leadership Development, Transportation Campaign, or to simply donate to this incredible cause, visit their website at

To see what other cities are doing to promote a sustainable economy through Living Wage Campaigns, explore some of these great resources and maybe you can begin to make a difference in your own community.

The Durham Living Wage Project was launched last year and is modeled after Asheville’s Living Wage Certification Program!

Atlanta’s Living Wage Ordinance was initially proposed in 2003 and would require businesses with a financial relationship with the city of Atlanta to pay a living wage to their employees and provide a minimum level of healthcare. The proposal has been heavily debated for over a decade and a resolution has yet to be found. A significant difference between this proposed ordinance and Just Economics’ Living Wage Certification, and others like it, is that the implementation would be mandated and not voluntary.

To find out what the Living Wage is for your city, visit

~Marisha MacMorran

The Legacy

CelineMichaelCeline and Company has been building a reputation synonymous with hospitality and delicious food for many years in Asheville. For Asheville natives, there is no question about how Celine and Company got its name but out of town brides and grooms-to-be don’t always know the story. I had the privilege of working with founders, Celine and Michael Lurey in their last two years as the leaders of Celine and Company and now I have the great honor of sharing their legacy.

The Beginning…

Celine was born in Heliopolis, Egypt and immigrated to The United States in 1965 to attend school at Warren Wilson College. Shortly after, she was introduced to Michael Lurey. They began a journey together that would take many twists and turns. After college, Michael began working in his family business, The Vanderbilt Shirt Company when manufacturing was a large part of Asheville’s thriving industry. During this time, Celine was active in many organizations in Asheville and had become a natural entertainer, heading events with the Asheville Symphony, The Junior League and the Southern Conference. As a notable detail, Celine was the first non-American born President of The Junior League of Asheville and also the first female President of Beth Israel Synagogue. In addition to their work, Celine and Michael were raising two kids, David and Nicole.

After thirty years of great success with his family company, manufacturing began moving out of the area and The Vanderbilt Shirt Company was set to close its doors. “We faced a cross-roads in our lives and we had a choice to make.” With Celine’s innate love of cooking and entertaining, the concept of Celine and Company was a natural fit. The doors to Celine and Company opened in March of 1993 at 23 Page Avenue in downtown Asheville. They operated as a restaurant and a special events facility in the beginning. “At the time, we were aware that the majority of new restaurants in downtown Asheville were not successful. But, for us, failure was not an option. We put everything we had into Celine and Company,” Celine vividly recalls.

Celine and Michael were working hard to maintain both the restaurant and the special events when they began to realize that the market was asking for private venues. “We started off doing what we did well and we didn’t try to force the growth. That just came. Dinner for twelve evolved into parties for 900!”

When I asked Celine about how she has seen Asheville grow as a popular destination for weddings, she paused briefly before recounting “In 2001, I remember talking with a father of a bride-to-be from Cincinnati, OH and he had been referred to me by the title of ‘The Wedding Lady of Asheville.’ From there, the weddings just kept coming and coming.”

Cultural influences on Celine’s cooking…

It is no surprise that Celine’s Egyptian and Jewish background has had a major influence, not only on her love of food and entertaining, but also the skills that set her apart in preparing ethnic dishes. Considering her heritage, Celine exclaims that, “Whether it is a wedding or a circumcision, everything is centered around food and drink!”

On how the culinary landscape of Asheville has changed, Celine explains with a baffled smile, “Fifty years ago, in Asheville, people did not care about Egyptian food or Mediterranean cuisine. No one even knew what hummus was!” As Asheville’s food culture began to evolve, Celine was already ahead of the curve. With the growing popularity of ethnic and Mediterranean cuisine, Celine was ready with her Famous Hummus, Spanikopita, and Tabbouleh, all of which she became known for.


In 1995 Celine joined Bob Caldwell on Carolina Kitchen, a cooking show that is still aired on WLOS. For twenty years, Celine was filmed preparing her signature dishes. This experience gave Celine and Company natural exposure and also transformed Celine into a household name.



The Broadway Arts Building…

The Broadway Arts Building was built in 1928 and was originally a furniture store; later becoming one of Asheville’s early special event venues. Celine recounts that, “In 2001, The Broadway Arts Building just fell into our laps. We were one of multiple caterers working there and then we were approached with an offer to buy the business. It came at the perfect time and we jumped on it.” After Celine and Michael purchased the business, “On Broadway,” a complete renovation of The Broadway Arts Building began. Adhering to the strict renovation guidelines of the National Park Service and US Department of Interior, 49 Broadway is now one of many significant buildings in Asheville listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the completion of the renovation, The Broadway Arts Building became a mixed-use building, completely outfitted with a commercial kitchen on the bottom floor and, of course, the incredible event venue that “On Broadway” is today.

CelineKimOn Chef Kim…

Throughout my conversations with Celine and Michael about their beginnings, their triumphs and their struggles, one thing shines through. They both come back to the culmination of all of the hard work, all of the sweat and tears. The day that Chef Kim came. Chef Kim’s husband, Jeff, was first to respond to their Craigslist ad in search of a new chef. After a brief conversation, Jeff told Celine and Michael that they needed to talk to his wife. Michael recalls that day with a big smile. Chef Kim put her heart and soul into the business and Celine and Michael saw that as the absolute best transition to retirement. After 9 years together, Celine describes Chef Kim taking over the business as “a seamless transition into great hands with incredible success.” On the most rewarding aspect of all of their hard work, Celine says, from her heart, “So many have started with a dream and have not had the privilege of seeing it go on. Nothing compares to seeing the continuation of our dream.”

On retirement and …

As Celine and Michael approach their 50-year wedding anniversary, they express “No regrets at all!” about the journey that has led them to where they are today. They are thrilled to be sharing time and adventures, traveling and seeing the world together. They have not wasted any time in their retirement so far; crossing destinations like the Panama Canal, Singapore and Istanbul off of their bucket list of places to see. Next on their itinerary is a trip to Mallorca, Spain for a visit with family.


Thank you for the foundation that you have laid and the high standards that you have set. Best of luck to you both, Celine and Michael, from the bottom of our hearts!

~Marisha MacMorran

Food Styling, Take One!

Food Styling

4:00 am alarm clock. 5:00 am Chef pulls up to my house. We travel through the early morning to the kitchen “On Broadway” to gather and pack the car full of food and supplies that we will need to set the stage for a “party’, just like and completely unlike the parties we have set for hundreds of times. We are headed to Waynesville, NC as professional food stylists for a movie being filmed in and around Asheville. Chef Kim is clearly qualified to stage a lavish and exceptional buffet, fit for the finest of films. What nobody mentioned to tell us, is that everything changes on a movie set, sometimes by the minute.

The scene is set on the front lawn of a breathtaking estate. We are the first feet to disturb the dew on the lawn. The sky is just turning pink. The poolside guesthouse is bigger than both of our houses, combined. There is a gigantic statue of Poseidon towering over the pool. This was my first day on a movie set. Chef Kim had spent the previous day with Celine, doing a smaller scene in a different part of the house. She was already a pro.

Chef Kim. Chef wears many different hats, in life and on set. In the original planning, the first scene that we were staging for, one of the lead actors was to take a sip of gazpacho and exclaim that it was the best gazpacho he had ever tasted. It would really be the only thing that was eaten from all the food that was staged. Chef prepared the most spectacular gazpacho possible! It came time for the actor to sip it down and exclaim in delight and instead he casually decided that he didn’t feel like doing that and it was struck from the scene. Just like that. What? Seriously? This particular all-star actor did not seem so cool anymore. This was the first of many things that shifted on a dime.

The main part of the food staging was a lavish buffet. Chef had prepared beautiful platters of sliced pork tenderloin with roasted red peppers, cascading breads and squashes and rainbow carrots, chicken salad stuffed endives, a giant seashell bowl of colorful pasta, bacon wrapped scallops, tiny tea sandwiches and a great big turkey named Betsy surrounded by little Cornish game hens. None of the food was to be consumed. It was for filming only and had to look the same at all times, day after day. As Chef was applying the final touches, a crew of ‘chefs’ entered the stage to attend to the buffet. One of them looks at her, points to the roasted peppers and asks her, “Why are those peppers all burnt?!” Well, that ‘set the stage’ for their relationship and the fake chefs, as they came to be known, never found their way into her good graces.

Rolling with it. All of a sudden, they are setting up a second buffet. We had only planned for one and Chef has high standards for the presentation of her buffets. Lavish. Beautiful. Most of what we brought was already set on the first buffet and some holes needed filling! With limited resources, Chef threw together pieces and platters in minutes and no one would have ever guessed that she didn’t plan it exactly that way. The ultimate victory was her grabbing seven long skewers with bacon-wrapped scallops on the ends and sticking them into the leaves of a pineapple top that had been cut off and tossed aside. Like a boss. It was the most unique and glorious culinary presentation I’d ever seen.

The learning curve. For me, the learning curve of being on a movie set was mind blowing. One of my favorite moments; on day two or three of watching the same extras take the same steps and sit at the same tables with the same people, one of the ladies approached me and whispered “Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? I really don’t want to ask the guy I am sitting with.” Well, I’ll be. It was the 20th time I had seen them walk together and sit together and talk but it was the first time I had even considered that he was not actually her husband and it in fact he was a complete stranger. There were a myriad of “duh” moments throughout the week.

Craft Services. It was apparent pretty quickly that there was some confusion that we were not feeding people on set. Understandably so; we were hauling food in and out every day and we wore black aprons. From time to time, someone working on the set would ask us to get them something. We gladly did. The Craft Services that were actually serving food to the cast and crew were phenomenal. Their trailer was a mobile convenience store and kitchen all in one. I had never seen such a thing. Can you say “kid in a candy store?” The first problem that this created, and probably the biggest problem of our whole week on set was the unlimited supply of delicious coffee. Hot or Iced. We had a good amount of free time on our hands and walking to the Craft Services trailer to make coffee gave us something to do. We would take turns going on coffee runs, making coffee for ourselves and other crew members. On about day four, just after lunch, with very little sleep in days and waaay too much coffee in my system, we were standing in the background waiting to watch a scene being filmed… “Quiet on the set! Camera up! Rolling!” This was the billionth time I had heard this but this time it was the funniest thing I had ever heard in my life. I could not control my laughter but I could also not make a sound. My body started shaking and tears began to stream down my cheeks. Chef sent me directly to stand in the corner until I could pull myself together. I started to rotate decaf into my regiment after that.

The people. We worked within the Art Department. This included production designer, special effects supervisor, art directors, set decorator, set dresser, property master, and assistants. Many of them had won or been nominated for Emmys for movies like The Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, Into the Wild, A River Runs Through It, and even Lord of the Rings and Die Hard! These people and their hardworking assistants and extra hands were the coolest people to get to know. Endless stories and experiences shared, even some with scars to prove it.

Friends for life. The set designers chose to bring in real local professional caterers to set the stage for this party scene (us). They also chose a local DJ to set his own equipment and act as an extra. The nature of this particular set included a couple hundred people, all extremely busy at different times. Our new DJ friend fell into the same grey area that we did. We were busy at set up and breakdown and handful of hectic, crucial, crazy moments in between, like when the unpredictable mountain weather would give no warning and begin to pour rain onto all of our hard work! The rest was downtime for us. We did not sit in a plush air conditioned room like the cast. We did not get shuffled to the nearby elementary school with the 100’s of extras. We were not really restricted from any part of the property. We hung out, we played cards, we explored as much as we could and we managed to stay relatively out of trouble. Except for when Chef was using a potty inside the house instead of the porta potties down the drive and got busted by one of the top producers! Ten minutes later there was a sign on the door that read “Cast and Executives Only.”

Pyrotechnics. The day there was planned to be an explosion scene, everything on the set changed. Tents and fans and directors chairs were brought in. All of the top producers and investors were on the set. Everyone was there for the show. A fire truck for safety and a drone for filming. It was exciting. We were given safety instructions and strictly forbidden from taking any photos or videos. We had third row seats for six exciting explosions.

The celebrities. I haven’t said much about the celebrities for a few reasons. There was so much excitement and experience during that week that passing by one of the A-list actors or even talking with one became not a big deal. I thought the best moment with a star was early one morning as Chef and I were sitting on a sidewalk on the edge of the set and one of the actors who is also a well-known comedian was passing by and stopped to do Steve Martin ‘Wild and Crazy Guy’ impressions for us. He was hysterical.

The kicker. The movie was set to release one year after filming, which would have been several months ago. Due to some financial setbacks, this major production has been hanging in limbo. It was announced in October that the film may still be released. Will we ever get to watch the fruits of our labor on a big screen?

~Marisha MacMorran