February 19, 2013 -
Every day, inside our winter hoop houses, the spinach and lettuces freeze and come back to life. How hearty is that? Ben took these pictures of ice formations along the doors of this super cool microclimate. The patterns seem to resemble roots…don’t you think?
Posted in: Spice Acres
Tags: Chef Ben Bebenroth, Farming Fun
January 21, 2013 -
As the Executive Event Planner of Spice of Life Catering Co. and Spice Kitchen + Bar, Jess Andjeski has worked in the service of dozens of brides and grooms. But this coming May, she’ll be front and center with her own groom-to-be as they exchange vows in the place where it all began – Lincoln Park in Tremont. How does a professional planner plan her own day? Read on for answers from the future Mrs. Brian Edmonds.
Q. Jess, congrats on your engagement! Who’s the lucky guy?
A. His name is Brian. We’ve been together for four years. We met when I was bartending in Tremont and become instant friends. He’s the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life. He teaches Special Ed at PEP (Positive Education Program) so he deals with some pretty tense stuff on a daily basis. But he’s still able to come home and make jokes and laugh, so I think that’s pretty awesome.
Q. Will you be planning the event yourself or will you have some backup? And who’s going to be running the show on the big day?
A. On the wedding day, I REALLY don’t want to feel like I’m working. I’m taking that very seriously. It’s just like second nature to me to go into “work mode” when I’m in that environment. And even if this is my own day, it might be hard to turn that off. I know I’m in really good hands, though. A friend of mine, Erin, who also works as Spice as a service captain, will be running the show that night.
But I’m definitely doing all the planning. I can’t imagine not planning it! For the last five years, I’ve been working with the best vendors on every aspect of the wedding experience – spaces, flowers, photography, bakers, stylists, you name it. It’s so cool combing through ideas and choosing the ones that are just right for our day. My favorite part is styling the space. We’ve got an amazing venue for the reception at 78th Street Studios.
Another big thing I’ve learned is to request help with setup and take down. I can’t tell you how many times, at the end of the night, I’ve seen a buzzed up bride and groom trying to un-decorate the space. They should never have to worry about that…and neither will I!
Q. What sources do you look to for inspiration?
A. Pinterest has definitely been a source for me. It’s a great idea starter for sure. I love to craft. I love being able to make things, and I’ve found some really fantastic ideas from that site.
My wedding will be hodge podge of every wedding we’ve ever catered. I’ve had some really generous brides give me a bunch of vintage china or a bunch of vintage cloth. After you collect all this stuff for your wedding, you never want to see it again, so people are just throwing stuff my way – it’s great! Vintage is definitely the theme and the look. But we’re really just trying to keep it as simple as we know how.
Q. In your experience as an event planner with Spice, is there anything you’re trying to avoid from past events?
A. Here’s one thing I’m avoiding….the wedding DJ! That works for a lot of people and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having one. But for us, we really wanted to choose the music that would set the tone and reflect our personalities. So we hired our friend, Chuck, who has a show on WRUW 91.1 called “On the One.” He plays a lot of funk, groove and jazz – just really fun stuff. Every time we go to see him play, we can’t stop dancing. We’ll tell him 10 songs that we’d really love to hear and we trust that he’ll play really awesome dance music all night. That’s so important. Music is the soundtrack for the whole event.
Q. So, here’s the million-dollar question: What’s on the menu?
A. I’ve been working with Ben and Brandon on the menu and it will be a little more casual than a traditional buffet-style wedding. The main dish is called a Piadina, which is an Italian taco. We’re doing grilled chicken and pulled pork as the fillers. The guys do this huge platter of beautiful of fresh spring greens, pickled veggies and fresh salsa, so you can just do it up however you want. The side dishes are seasonal, of course. I think we’ll do some grilled sugar snaps with mint and basil and somehow we’ll get asparagus on there, which is just beautiful in early summer. We’re also going to have cumin-roasted carrots as a side. Those things will definitely round out the plate and fill people up.
That’s kind of where we’re headed, although nothing is set in stone. Brian has been such a good sport with all this stuff. He’s like, “If it tastes like what it sounds like, let’s do it.” And we can’t wait because we know it’s going to be great!
*Editor’s note: All pictures noted with an *asterisk* are taken by Full Bloom Photography, who has also been commissioned as the couple’s wedding photographer.
Posted in: Spice of Life Catering Co.
Tags: Cleveland weddings, Jess Andjeski
January 2, 2013 -
We’re turning the corner on our one-year restaurant anniversary! To say it’s been a wild ride is an understatement. Spice Kitchen + Bar launched with energy, excitement and optimism (and, quite honestly, a bit of trepidation), and we watched it grow like proud parents seeing their baby take her first step. And then sprawl all over the floor a time or two….then shake it off and hop right back up again.
Now we’re running full speed, but not without help! Here are the twelve things we’ve been most grateful for in 2012 – our very first year as restauranteurs.
12. The Deerbuster’s fence.
Until this year, Spice Acres suburbia has been a veritable salad bowl for the freeloading deer population. We called Deerbusters after numerous failed attempts to save $1,000s in lost produce. Now, a massive 7ft. fence protects the leafy greens so that they can grow and flourish for tomorrow’s menu.
11. Chickens + Eggs
After exploring some dead-end chicken coop options via Craigslist, Chef Ben Bebenroth built one from scratch using the wood from the old restaurant patio fence. Now, nine hens produce 5-8 eggs a day and sneak under the Deerbusters fence to explore suburbia in their free time. Look for a special Spice Acres egg on the 2013 menus.
10. A very handy boss.
When you open a restaurant on a shoestring budget, resourcefulness is key. Our catering truck runs on fryer oil from the kitchen, saving us hundreds of dollars on diesel fuel each month. In theory. It runs, well, most of the time. On those off days, our chef must trade his knife kit in for his tool box to get our truck back on the refried road.
9. Fun, festive times.
New Years Eve Prix Fixe Night. Dyngus Day Polka. Our annual Smashing Pumpkins Party (literally, not musically). Spice Lunch with Santa. We’ve had a blast hosting memorable events that help make the CLE a great place to be.
8. A totally awesome neighborhood.
Speaking of “places to be,” let’s talk about Detroit Shoreway + Gordon Square Arts District. We feel so fortunate to have such supportive biz neighbors and community leadership. Next time you’re in town, make a night of it! We hope you’ll include us in your plans for dinner and a movie, pre-theatre cocktails or tapas hop.
7. A city of local food.
This year was Sustainable Cleveland 2019‘s Year of Local Food, which happily coincided with the West Side Market‘s 100 year anniversary. The perfect storm of culinary greatness. Ten years ago, standing alongside a handful of farmers market vendors at the chef demo stand in Shaker Square, we would have never imagined local foods would become such a huge force in this region. We’re proud to be part of it.
6. The awards circuit.
We were honored with a few fantastic accolades this year, including Cleveland’s Best Caterer (Scene Magazine) and Cleveland’s Best Restaurant Garden (Cleveland Magazine). We’ll work hard to continue to earn your vote for 2013 awards (Best New Restaurant, anyone?) with an intense commitment to serving up an incredible dining experience every time.
5. An urban hoophouse.
Thanks to Gardening for Greenbacks, a little grant from the city, we built a large, rainwater-catching hoop house from Tunnel Vision Hoops behind our parking lot. In doing so, we’ve extended our season by at least three months so keep everything growin’ while it’s snowin’. If you’re curious about what’s coming up this time of year, just ask your server for a tour before dinner.
4. Trusty investors
Here’s a little secret. Unlike most restauaraunts in town, Spice is not bank funded. Instead, we have a handful of private investors who believe in the importance of buying local and building our economy at a grassroots level. Thank you, investors.
3. Ego-stroking reviews
This year’s positive reviews and feature stories really put some wind in our sails when the going got tough. And aside from a couple of cranky Yelpers and a woman named “PickyEater” on Urban Spoon, we were pretty pleased with the feedback from guests and bloggers alike.
2. The best staff in town
Our people rock. That is all.
1. Your good taste.
Thanks to your patronage, we’ve been able to pour over a quarter million dollars back into the marketplace in and around Cleveland – building our culinary ecosystem and our regional economy. When you choose to bring your money to Spice, or many of the other independently owned restaurants in this town, you truly make a difference in creating a vibrant community that benefits all of us.
Cheers to a bright and prosperous 2013!