About Paradise CateringJon and Nancy have been working together for over 22 years. By supporting local and growing their own vegetables, they have created menus for their clients based on inspiration from their travels and have grown Paradise Catering into the best catering company on the Monterey peninsula.
MEET JON KASKY:
Jon was influenced by his experience with Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, and Ken Hom while at the California Culinary Academy. Upon graduating with honors, he became the private chef at a major California winery, where he remained until founding Bird of Paradise Catering in 1985.
MEET NANCY ROHAN:
Growing up on the East Coast fresh food was not readily available, so my small garden where I grew radishes, carrots and lettuce was crucial. While at home I was learning the importance of growing my own ingredients, at my Grandma Edna’s house I learned the importance of good taste–she was my inspiration, teaching me how to cook Hungarian food and baking from scratch. I worked with her in the kitchen from a very young age! Years passed, I went to college in Boston, studying the arts, before moving to California. Once here my two worlds, the old-world and new world of foods collided. Having taken classes at Cordon Bleu and learning from top chefs, I developed my skills and love of great cuisine. Before Paradise Catering, I worked alongside a great teacher, Sharon Campbell, starting our own catering company, Ontrays; together we worked hard to embrace our community utilizing all local foods. And then I met Jon... I joined his company Bird of Paradise as a chef and we put our two souls together to create a strong catering company that supported our values. Bird of Paradise grew and grew and is now considered today’s top catering company on the Monterey Peninsula. We love what we do–and it shows in our food.
In their 1-acre farm in Carmel Valley Village, Jon and Nancy embrace the seasons and grow: - Mainly unusual and heirloom vegetables including:
Tomatoes, Squash & Beans (seeds purchased in Italy)
- Various Lettuces
- Greenery and Garnishes to decorate their presentations
- 100 Zinfandel Vines to make their own wine in their cellar!
- 14 citrus trees: 10 varieties! Have you ever seen a “Buddha-hand”?
(They also utilize composts to enhance the soils.)
Their farm also houses a few fanciful touches:
- Unusual succulents, “Monsters & Crests”
- Giant Staghorn Ferns
- The notorious “Pink Apples” recovered from Earthbound Farms
- Tree-house (for the adults... fun!)
FAVORITES TO GROW:
Jon and Nancy love to buy seeds of unusuals wherever they travel and grow them in their greenhouse to bring rare specialties to your event. For example, Jon found “Orchidea” (orchid-colored) Cicoria (Radicchio) on their trip to Umbria, Italy in 2009. Also, heirloom tomatoes are an ongoing passion–Jon and Nancy participate in the Carmel Tomatofest and seek out the unusual tomatoes you can’t buy.
DOING THEIR PART:
The kitchen at Paradise Catering generates a lot of compost; always has. If you think about it, that’s a huge plus: it means they peel and process tons of vegetables and fruits. This says loads about their focus on serving fresh, not-processed foods; as well as their commitment to minimize their “foot print”. Imagine 25 years of enhancing their farm soil rather than adding to a landfill!
JON AND NANCY LOVE GOING PLACES
Our great passions are cooking, gardening and travel.
Of these, travel may seem the odd one, but we’ve found that our travels have informed and inspired our cooking and even our gardening!
In Meursault, in the heart of Burgundy, our wine-making friends taught us a dish we named for it’s creator: “Salmon E Zucchini salad, Claire Bouzereau”. Claire, also cooked us the “All-Crepe Dinner” (appetizers, entrees, and desserts) a marvel of inventiveness.
In Tuscany, we make Orichiette (little “ears”) pasta for a dish with Stewed Rabbit. (We also bought seeds of unusual vegetable varieties, unavailable state-side.)
In Florence, we tried the “Bistecca Fiorentina” wherever we went (the best was at a winery, Antinori). So now, we can offer “Tuscany Steak” at our events.
In the Zocalo of Oaxaca, we learned “Tlyudas”, and ate “Chappolinas” (dried Grasshoppers with Chili). Then we attended a village wedding in Sata Inez, Oaxaca, where we paraded the live Turkeys, Chiles, and Chocolate that became the “Turkey Mole” wedding banquet.
In India, we learned an appreciation for the importance of toasting whole spices; grinding, and then making our own blends.
In Paris, we fell in love with Bistro and Brasserie Cuisine... we now have a deep respect for braised meats and Steak Frites. Also, we’ve returned over and over to Dehilleria, the world’s greatest cookware store. Where we load up on exotic tools and serving pieces(photo). In Paris, we found ‘La Maison de Truffe’ a virtual shrine of all things Truffle.
New Orleans taught us Voodoo–Cajun Quisive, now we can re-create Mr. B’s Barbecued Prawns (better wear a bib!).
In Pennsylvania we learned ‘Pittsburgh Pot Roast’ which we evolved into ‘Pittsburgh Nachos’.
At the original Hotel California, in Todos Santos, Mexico, (it really is down a dark desert highway!) we figured out our tequila Barbecue Sauce.
In San Francisco’s Chinatown, I learned real Peking Duck... (in the old days I used a bicycle pump, but not I use an air compressor to inflate the ducks).
In Seattle, we savored the variety of wild-harvested mushrooms and delighted in 10 varieties of Salmon. (Visit Pike Place Market! – there’s nothing else like it!)
WHERE THEY'VE BEEN
Everywhere we go we learn something!
- All over the US!
- Hong Kong
- Next: Portugal Spain
- Hong Kong: Singapore Sling
- Germany (Jon only) Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands
- Great Britain, London
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