Good food for a good cause

Planning a wedding with a philanthropic component is nothing new; couples have been donating money to charities in lieu of favors for years. But did you know that you can also do good for the community with your choice of a caterer?

L.A. Catering is owned and operated by LifeCare Alliance, whose mission statement is to lead the community “in identifying and delivering health and nutrition services to meet the community’s changing needs.” Programs like Meals on Wheels, senior dining centers, and farmers markets, IMPACT Safety and Project OpenHand-Columbus all fall under LifeCare Alliance’s purview.

“I explain it as we are a branch of LifeCare Alliance,” says Holly Butcher, executive catering and event sales manager for L.A. Catering. “But 100 percent of the profits go back to LifeCare [Alliance] … we’re a social enterprise.”

LifeCare Alliance has been around since the late 1890s, but L.A. Catering came on the scene relatively recently, in 2001.

“We had an experienced chef on-site, hired with LifeCare [Alliance] and working in the Meals on Wheels program,” Butcher explains. “He collaborated with a couple of other people and thought, ‘You know, we have the facility, we have the kitchens, the equipment to cook food. So why not find another place of revenue for LifeCare Alliance and start the catering?’ ”

Today, L.A. Catering enjoys its own dedicated culinary and wait staffs. Currently, they serve fewer than 20 weddings in an average year, allowing for a more personal experience between the chef and the to-be-weds.

“We can sit down with the [couple] and the chef to create an exclusive menu just for their guests, what they think they would like, rather than being strict to a menu,” Butcher says. “Our chefs are super creative, so we can come up with some really good menu items.”

Butcher adds that this customized approach to menu items means the company doesn’t have many fixed specialties, but there is one item that is fairly popular.

“One of our most famous items is our bacon sticky bun,” says Butcher. “It’s kind of like a sticky bun with the maple, and then he bakes the bacon crumbles on top. It’s excellent. People go crazy for it.” Typically, the item is served as a dessert, but Butcher has seen multiple couples request it for their appetizer buffet.

L.A. Catering often serves at a variety of venues around Columbus, from the Ohio Statehouse to the Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington. But the company also has its own event space—the L.A. Catering Event Center west of the Brewery District—with a capacity of up to 350. The space is currently remodeling, with new carpet and lighting being added to the facility’s solid amenities, like a quality A/V system and free parking.