For 14 years, Michelle Mulford worked her way up through nearly every aspect of the food business: restaurant kitchens, catering companies, pie-maker, personal chef to actors and directors, and a stint at Formaggio Kitchen South End. In 2014, the Brookline resident opened Uncommon Feasts, a full-service, boutique catering company specializing in high-end home dinner parties, corporate events, weddings up to 100 guests, and other personal celebrations.
As a personal chef, Mulford says she strives to keep guests lingering together at the table long past the last bite. Her upbringing in a Sicilian family contributes to her approach to cooking: soulful and fresh, but never stuffy.
Q. When did you decide to make cooking your career?
A. From the first moment I can remember, there was never any question about what I wanted to do. I learned by doing from my Sicilian grandmother and her sisters who would be cooking all day, using as much as possible from my uncle’s garden. They taught me to cook everything by hand, so that’s what I continue to do. I still love every minute of it.
Q. Why focus on high-end events?
A. What I do is very different than what other catering companies are doing. I source my ingredients from New England farmers, butchers, and cheesemongers that I’ve known for years, so I know where every single thing comes from. I customize menus around what’s in season, and everything is made by hand — from the pasta to the ice cream.
Q. How do you typically work with clients?
A. I create a special menu based on their vision for the event and the taste of their guests. Marianne Staniunas, our in-house wine director, selects all wine from small producers to pair with each course. I do a site visit at the client’s home to see what special pieces they want to use, and I fill in with vintage servingware from local artisans. Right before the event, I’ll go to the farmers market and see if there’s anything I can add for a special touch. We manage everything from set-up to clean-up, so our clients can enjoy their party as though they’re a guest and not worry about any aspect of it.
Q. What is your ultimate goal?
A. It’s recreating that experience that I had as a child, of eating well and feeling so taken care of that you don’t have a care in the world.
For more information, visit uncommonfeasts.com.Cindy Cantrell may be reached at email@example.com.