The opening of Luciana McKeown’s catering and cooking business in January, 2007, was delayed when an ice storm hit the area and closed down everything in town. She successfully weathered that challenge and opened later that week. She has been meeting challenges head-on ever since. On January 19 of this year, she hosted a five-year anniversary celebration at her business on Commerce Street in Marble Falls. Her business has just been voted the best caterer in Marble Falls in the 2012 Highlander Reader’s Choice Awards. Life is good.
I first met Luciana about a year after she opened the business. My first impression was that she was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic people I had ever met. That still holds true today. I assumed that, as busy as she is, she probably doesn’t have much leisure time on her hands, so when I asked her what she did with her “spare” time, her answer took me by surprise. She works out! Three times a week she does cardio kickboxing, she does zumba twice a week, and she and her husband are taking ballroom dancing classes at Harmony School. So, that’s the key—I should have known!
Along with her apparently boundless energy, she loves what she does and said she would not want to do anything else. Food has always been a big part of her life. Several members of her family have been in the restaurant business, including her mother. She also gets a lot of her inspiration, she told me, from a cousin in Italy who is a successful caterer and often appears on television.
Luciana invests her enthusiasm and energy in every project she undertakes. The main focus of her business is the catering operation. Several restaurants in the area and many individuals provide catering services, but as a licensed caterer with a licensed kitchen she is able to provide full service for a variety of events, small and large, and a large selection of menus. While Italian food is her forte, she offers a variety of cuisines and she has partnered with Lance Gray of Rock’n G BBQ to respond to requests for barbeque.
She has just come off a very busy holiday season, and she has weddings scheduled all the way to November. She loves weddings and being part of the festivities. Because it is a special day for somebody, she said, her part has to be totally perfect and seamless. That standard of excellence and her personal commitment to clients are evident in her attitude toward every phase of her business.
When she first opened, Luciana offered hands-on cooking classes that she conducted weekly during the noon hour. That has since evolved into evening cooking demonstrations. People love to eat out, she noted, and why not learn something at the same time? For the price, which varies depending on the menu, the guests enjoy a multi-course dinner and take home some new techniques. Her kitchen is large, but there is limited space for serving, so reservations are required. One of her long-term goals, in fact, is to acquire a larger facility so she can conduct bigger classes.
For Valentine’s Day this year, her cooking demo is going to be an intimate, candlelit “date night” dinner. The menu includes an appetizer of baked stuffed shrimp, salad, vegetable, and dessert (crème brûlée). The star of the show is the entrée, chateaubriand with portobello mushrooms and glazed shallots. Class size is limited to 18 and reservations are required. You can check her website (saucyscatering.cs) for details and more information about the current schedule.
Cooking classes are fun, she says, and she is excited about tentative plans for a cooking day camp for children, to be held in July. These will be half-day sessions, probably for two different age groups. The areas of instruction will include all the safety aspects, proper ways to wash and clean, using the equipment, cooking, and serving—even table etiquette! At the end of the week, the plan is that the children will prepare and serve a meal for their parents.
Luciana never seems to be at a loss for new ideas and new projects. Keep an eye on her website to see what’s coming up. Meanwhile, here’s a recipe from her website. While the combination of flavors may seem surprising, the pairing of gorgonzola, a blue-veined, rich and creamy Italian cheese, with fruit is a natural. She uses boneless pork chops in the recipe and says that it is absolutely delicious.
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RAISIN GORGONZOLA SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter
6 pork chops
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/3 cup raisins
6 ounces gorgonzola cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
additional parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the chops and cook on high heat about 3 minutes per side. (Do not overcook. Reduce the time if the chops are thin.) Remove chops to a baking dish and set aside.
To the same skillet add the broth, parsley, and raisins and cook on medium high heat until the sauce begins to boil. Reduce the temperature to low and stir in cheese; cook until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and pour over chops. Cover baking dish and bake approximately 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork chops reaches 165 degrees. Plate the chops and sprinkle with more parsley for garnish.
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Saucy’s Catering &
2411 Commerce Street,
Marble Falls, TX 78654
(830) 265-7227 (cell)