Mezrano and her staff are preceded by their reputation as one of Birmingham’s premier groups of caterers and event planners. In fact, they were recently given the award for “Best New Hors d’oeuvre” at the International Catering Association’s Catie Awards in Las Vegas, for a unique dish called Green Eggs and Ham.
The dish was originally created at Mezrano’s Garden Café for a reception honoring the Birmingham Slow Food chapter. It’s composed of a grit cake with roasted red pepper and Benton’s sustainable, organic ham. A mini quail egg is added, and the dish is then topped with hollandaise sauce. “We certainly like to use local and seasonal [when we can],” Mezrano says. “That’s the green part. It’s kind of an interesting angle, a twist on it.”
Mezrano credits her creativity and her acquisition of rudimentary cooking skills to her upbringing. “My parents were both great cooks,” she says. “My dad was in Huntsville with all the farmers and had businesses at the main farmers’ market. I grew up with that fresh produce, so that was always a special interest and topic in our lives.”
Food continues to be a family affair for Mezrano and her son Jason. “After college, my son decided to go into food,” she says. “He worked at Highlands Bar & Grill, Hot and Hot Fish Club, then went to culinary school before working in Napa Valley. He also credits my mother for his love of cooking.”
Green was anxious to work with Mezrano, at least in part because of great word-of-mouth. “People have nothing but wonderful things to say about her,” says Green. “I wanted to do something for summer for entertaining, and she has such a great reputation. Many of my customers have used her for their events, so we thought we would reach out to her.”
Over the course of the evening, Green and Mezrano hope to teach guests how to prepare some appetizers and a main course dish that feeds a crowd. “I’ve always liked pulling things together with a total concept,” Kathy says. So, in addition to a menu fit for entertaining, the women will likely concoct a drink to compliment the Spanish-style food.
The Mezranos are pleased to be able to set the table for an intimate evening. The space at Bake and Cook is small, with room for a little over 20 guests. “The people that come and the individuals that do the demos have a relationship,” says Green. “It’s not exactly auditorium seating, but it works really well.”
Each guest will have an up-close view of the kitchen, which is stocked with merchandise from the store. Green stands behind each item in her comprehensive stock. “I love all my stuff,” she says. “I like products that make sense. I’d rather use one thing for four tasks then four things for four tasks. A lot of products are geared around multiple uses. We’re pretty nuts and bolts, not big on frivolity.”
With more than 30 years in the food industry, Green considers her journey into retail to be a circuitous one. At age 15, she was up to her elbows in suds, working in the dish room of a restaurant near her home in Boston. She worked as a waitress before transitioning to a management position at a small restaurant where she worked in college while earning a degree in American history. It was several years later that she decided to attend culinary school in Hyde Park, N.Y. But, as a fourth generation small-business owner, she knew that it wasn’t chef experience she was hungering after.
“I found that the restaurant industry suited my personality and that I love food,” Green says. “I never wanted to be a chef, I just wanted to work in an industry where I knew I could move around quite a bit, have a lot of different experiences and, transition fairly easily from one segment of the industry to another. I’m grateful that’s how it played out.”
Her current location allows her a well-rounded taste of it all. With a chance to host events for the 2000+ people on her weekly newsletter list, she enjoys engaging with the “gracious community” she has found here in Birmingham.
The in-store demonstration will take place on Tuesday, April 13, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Birmingham Bake and Cook, located off Highway 280 in Inverness Village. Advance tickets are $25. For more information or to sign up for Bake and Cook’s email list, call (205) 980-3661 or visit bakeancookco.com. For information about Kathy G., visit www.kathyg.com.
Cory Bordonaro writes about food for Birmingham Weekly. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org