Thai-born Nisa Lee’s coconut shrimp
Myong’s Pacific Northwest salmon with lentil pancake and sweet and spicy sauces
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Myong Private Label Gourmet (360 N Bedford Rd, Mount Kisco 914-241-6333). How can you not love a Korean woman named Myong who claims to make the best potato latkes? This converted Jew, married to an American and mom to two bar mitzvahed kids, is a master of international cuisine: European, Middle Eastern, Korean, and Asian fusion. She is as adept at making Asian coleslaw and bok choy (staple items) as she is brisket and chopped liver. She’s also big on offering gluten-free items—turkey burgers, various chicken salads, butternut squash lasagna, lentil pancakes, to name a few. Catering take-out platters typically run from $8 to $15 per person; parties can run from $28 to $46.
Matt Miller Culinary Productions (231 S Highland Ave, Briarcliff Manor 914-945-7177). Whether its brisket for Hanukkah or the seven fishes for Christmas, Miller, who started in business at the Hilton Rye Town and has been serving Westchester for 25 years, likes to say his company will take a family tradition and bring it to the next level. All you need to do is look at the photos on his website to know he and his staff can create an affair to remember. His personal favorites? “Anything with a shell,” he says. Prices vary but average from $35 to $70 per person with a minimum of 10.
Ginger crème brûlée also from Nisa Lee
Nisa Lee (914-552-5258). Looking for out-of-the-ordinary, personalized service with high-quality eats? Look no further than Pelham Manor-based Nisa Lee, a self-taught chef who’s run her six-year-old catering business solely by word of mouth. Though she travels in celebrity circles (she’s catered events for Vanessa Williams and Halle Berry), she is down-to-earth, sweet, and friendly. And, as a mom of four, she knows exactly how hectic life can be—especially around the holidays. Her eclectic cuisine captures bold flavors from exotic locales like Thailand (where she was born), the South Pacific, Fiji, the Caribbean, and Spain, with décor to fit the mood. Lee is all about being a one-stop-shop, meaning she’ll do everything from intimate meals for 10 to corporate events for up to 1,000, and provides the rentals, flowers, entertainment, decorations, and more. She prides herself on the fact that, of the 600-plus events she’s done over the years, no two have been exactly the same. Expect to pay about $65 per plate.
Pasión Catering—Food by Rafael Palomino (179 Rectory St, Port Chester 914-933-0833). For Rafael Palomino, the holidays are the ideal time to swoop in and help residents add some Latin sizzle to their parties and events. The well-known restaurateur, chef, and author behind restaurants Sonora in Port Chester and Greenwich Tavern in Greenwich, Connecticut, specializes in tapas parties, including such favorites as sirloin steak empanada with guajillo and golden raisin ají; crispy chicken coated with coconut and drizzled with mango and tequila reduction; and crab meat and black-bean cakes topped with a saffron sauce. The caterer also does buffets and sit-down dinners and brings his own staff to cook in-house for you. Plates range from $35 to $50 per person with no minimum or maximum.
The Perennial Chef (25 Depot Plz, Bedford Hills 914-666-6523). Chef Michael Williams’s cuisine can best be described as French-Californian with an international flair. The caterer prides himself on the fact that he uses antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and also happily supplies vegetarian dishes. Seasonality is key, with emphasis on the freshest ingredients. During the winter months, Chef Williams turns his attention to more comfort foods such as stews and braised meats prepared with winter squash, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, celery root, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and other cold-weather vegetables. The company has even begun growing its own organic produce. Prices vary according to the complexity of the menu, but generally start around $38 per person.
Provisions (209 Wolfs Lane, Pelham 914-738-6622). If your family is riddled with picky eaters, Nannette Connors’s unpretentious fare can break the stalemate. Order a platter of quiches and seasonal salads for a casual shindig sure to please everyone. The shop’s greatest claim to fame, though, is the decadent dessert platters—Belgian chocolate brownies, rich pecan bars, and more. Expect to pay about $36 for a 12-inch dessert platter; about $35 for pasta and green salads.
Standing Room Only (1491 Weaver St, Scarsdale 914-472-3002). Flexibility and being as “green” as possible are key at Standing Room Only. The company’s new chef, Rene Corey (a Johnson and Wales graduate with experience that includes stints at the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown and at Canyon Ranch Spa), has infused the menus with more locally grown ingredients; she’s also working on reducing the company’s carbon footprint. In business 20 years in March, SRO works in two ways: “fully catered,” in which it supplies all the staff, is a minimum of $1,800 or with clients simply ordering holiday items for pick-up and/or delivery. The retail marketplace can accommodate a variety of budgets and there is no food minimum.
Stan’z (26 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont 914-833-9760). Bet you didn’t know this quaint neighborhood eatery, popular for its salads and overstuffed sandwiches, also does full-service catering. Best of all, its offerings fit perfectly with the “new” economy mindset: not too formal, yet not too plain. Steve Weishaus, the self-taught chef behind the counter, prepares foods everyone loves to eat: a range of rustic Tuscan-style meals with an American twist. Catering services start at $12 per person.
Susan Lawrence Catering (26 N Greeley Ave, Chappaqua 914-238-8833). This Chappaqua staple has been a Greeley Avenue essential for more than 20 years, and it’s easy to see why. The catering side is big on presentation, which includes impeccable attention to detail: antique copper serving pieces, fresh herb topiaries, Della Robbia-style evergreen garlands with pomegranates, and a sophisticated culinary style. Owner Mark Kramer prides himself on “uncompromising commitment to providing clients with the very best possible in terms of food, service, and creativity—but most of all, making them feel like a guest in their own home.” Prices start at $50 per person.
Jeanne Muchnick admits she loves food…and the warm aromas of holiday cooking. Her food stories have appeared locally in Rockland Magazine, Putnam Magazine, and The Journal News and her first book, Dinner for Busy Moms, will be served February 2010 (Plain White Press).
Nisa Lee food photos by Halina sabath