Chef Bruce Riezenman has a few guiding principles when it comes to Park Avenue Catering, the successful catering and event production outfit he’s operated since 1989.
The first is a commitment to uncompromising quality, something he’s been able to achieve through hiring a team of experienced, similarly minded professionals, many of whom he trains in-house.
“We pay attention,” says Riezenman. “We’re a very small company at heart, a custom catering company. We pay attention to everything, get involved in the details, and that makes for a better event.”
The second is to make it from scratch, working with the best ingredients, ideally from local vendors who are as conscientious about nurturing the environment as he is. Riezenman also focuses on making meals to reflect the seasons.
An active member of Slow Food USA, Chef’s Collaborative, Smith River Alliance and other professional, culinary and conservation organizations, Riezenman only offers sustainable seafood choices, serves shade-grown, fair trade organic coffee, cooks without trans fats and uses rBST-free dairy products. As the first green-certified caterer in the North Bay, he also encourages clients to consider “all-green” menus for their events.
Those events include everything from corporate breakfasts, brunches and lunches, wine and cheese tastings, barbecues and sit-down dinners to high-end fund-raisers and full-blown weddings (where nonprofit organizations and happy brides and grooms can enlist Park Avenue Catering to help with everything from location selection and valet parking to all the important details of the table, most especially the menu).
All types of parties can also be done, from cocktail parties to bar mitzvahs and birthdays. For those who like to pick from a set menu, one of its proudest offerings is “Four Valleys, One Heart,” a table of seasonal and local delights, starting with passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by a first course, then main course, cheese course and dessert buffet.
“We do the very intimate to the quite sizeable,” he adds, “and also casual to very formal.”
The caterer attends many of the events himself, driving around on weekends to ensure clients enjoy a personal touch. “I’m involved in every aspect of the company,” he says. “Having such an involved owner makes a big difference.”
Riezenman is originally from the East Coast, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He opened the New Deal Restaurant in New York City before coming to Santa Rosa to become the executive chef of Prospect Park Restaurant (where he started Park Avenue Catering), then Buona Sera in Petaluma. Considered an entertaining guru, he’s a passionate educator on issues of food and wine; always evolving, Riezenman last October released Pair It, a new food and wine pairing application for the iPhone.
He’s also become a very popular local figure, with hundreds of Facebook “fans” following his every move, ever present at many of our area’s charitable events, such as the Art of Dessert Fundraiser, where he featured a Chocolate Opera Cake.
Park Avenue Catering has 18 full-time employees, and many, many more part-time and seasonal staff.
“I have a very loyal employee base,” Riezenman concludes. “I’m very proud of what we do.”
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..