By John & Dorothy Salmon
A few months ago we had the opportunity to plan a joint Birthday Party for John and his only daughter, Shawn, who share a birthday. In the interest of maintaining a bit of family privacy, we are happy to report that the birthdays being celebrated represented a total of 119 years of life. As a further clue, one of them was celebrating a birthday with a zero at the end!
As we started to prepare the guest list, the numbers quickly grew to more than 90 people. With just our kids and grandkids, we start with a pretty large number. We had a hard time paring down the list of invitees and were not able to invite many friends. To those of you who are reading this article who we were not able to invite, we hope you understand.
We decided to have a Sunday-afternoon party, rented a location, and then had to determine how to provide food and beverage for our guests. Normally we would just call our good friend Melissa Teaff, at Melissa Teaff Catering, who always knows exactly what we want and need and takes care of things without a second thought. Unfortunately, Melissa was already fully committed to others on the day of our party, so we had to do some research.
Melissa recommended Mark Raymond, Chef and Owner of Mark’s the Spot Fine Food. We had honestly not considered a food truck for our needs, but we are delighted to report that Mark’s the Spot Fine Food was available and came to our rescue with its fully-equipped food truck. To begin, John left a message on their website and quickly received a return phone call from Laura Reese, their Event Planner. Laura worked with us from start to finish, attending to every detail to prepare for the event and managing the serving staff that Mark’s the Spot supplied to the party. Laura lives up to her description on their website, that she has an “obsessive attention to details and timelines.” With her decade of hospitality, corporate staffing and event-planning experience, she is just the person you want around to ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.
Delighted with Laura and the initial proposal she gave us, we asked them to hold the date and we began to do some research. All of the comments we got from others who had worked with Mark’s the Spot were excellent. Chef Mark Raymond honed his cooking skills around the world, having worked in kitchens in New Zealand, Australia, London, Spain and Sonoma, and he started Mark’s the Spot Fine Food in 2010.
Working with Laura, we planned the party. Since three of our kids are in the wine business, we decided that we would provide all of the beverages; but, we asked Laura to get a bartender for us … no problem and the bartender who came was wonderful! For food, Laura gave us a number of items to select from, all of which would be served in easy-to-handle formats so that folks could eat them sitting at a table, standing up or sitting with the plate in their lap. We knew that we would not be able to seat everyone all at once. The menu we finally selected included:
Three choices of sliders:
• Ooh Girl Fried Chicken
(Buttermilk–fried-chicken thigh with black pepper aioli and slaw)
• Little Bubba Burger
(Niman Ranch ground-beef patty with onions, blue cheese and slaw)
• B Good (Bacon, basil and brie, with house-made chutney or vegetarian available upon request)
A selection of sides:
• Coleslaw (Hand cut and not
• French Fries (Fried to perfection in California rice-oil and lightly salted
• And, a dessert of Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding, served with caramel sauce and crème anglaise.
We also bought a ceremonial birthday-cake to hold the candles… although not much of the cake was eaten since everyone was well satisfied from the offerings by Mark’s the Spot.
In addition to the food, Mark’s the Spot provided buffet serving tables, table linens for the buffet table, chafing dishes, serving utensils, compostable plates, forks, buffet cards, with stands, printed menus, napkins, beverage dispensers for water and lemonade, plastic cups and ice. In addition to the bartender, Laura also brought a server to help her to both serve the buffet and clean up after the party. Of course, Mark was busy cooking in the truck, so we did not see him much at all and we kept him plenty busy!
Without question, every one of the guests went back for seconds and raved about the quality of the food. When all of the guests were gone and the party over, Laura and her crew cleaned up the party site to the pristine condition that existed before the party began!
So, when you are planning a party and looking for caterers, we suggest that you give Mark’s the Spot a try. We have not disclosed what we paid for our party because each party is a little different. If you want to get an idea of prices, the Mark’s the Spot website has a number of Sample Menus and Pricing that will help you to decide whether this is a good solution for you. If you think that it is, there is an Event Planning Form on the website that you can fill out, e-mail to Mark’s, and begin the process to plan your event.
As Laura has posted on their website, “You are a delight to do business with and we will be sure to recommend you.” – John Salmon
… so that is what we are doing here!