Spotlight on Marcia Selden Catering

For over 30 years, Marcia Selden Catering has been creating unique events with an accent on extraordinary food, creativity, and highly polished professional service. We sat down with Managing Partner and Executive Chef Robin Selden to learn more about the family business!

Can you tell us how your mother became inspired to begin Marcia Selden Catering?

I always start by saying that my mom was an entrepreneur before the word was in the dictionary. When Martha Stewart published Entertaining forty years ago, Marcia exclaimed “I can do that,” and that’s exactly what she did!

She spent the next 20 years cooking for countless dignitaries and celebrities, catering everything from intimate dinner parties and cocktail receptions, to galas for thousands in New York City. At this point, her business was booming and she tapped me and Jeffrey (my brother) for help. He was on a fast track in the New York Luxury Hotel world and I was fairly happy in my job, but we figured that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The rest is history as we grew the business to twelve times its size in revenue and staff and moved to our current home at 65 Research Drive in Stamford.

Being an entrepreneur is all about wearing multiple hats. How did each family member find their perfect spot within the business?

Jeffrey joined us the summer of 2011, leaving the New York Palace Hotel as the second-in-command for their Food & Beverage department. He brought a wealth of business knowledge to the company along with his NYC Catering contacts and clients, so we felt that it was important to have a presence in the city. In the summer of 2014, we took over a floor of a building on 38th street to dedicate to our NYC offices, kitchen, and venue called Above Twelve. As a Managing Partner, Jeffrey wears a variety of hats and is responsible for Sales and Operations along with our beverage program called Liquid Kitchen.panna cotta

I am responsible for the Culinary Team, our Creative Operations team, and all of our Marketing efforts. I’ve found that I’m happiest when creating our advertising campaigns and working on research and development for new recipes. Mom is the “name on the door” and she is responsible for whatever she wants on any given day—much deserved after working on building this amazing company for 40 years. She is the creative force that pushes us all to do our best and she reminds us to never accept mediocrity. She is the greatest mentor to us all!

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Could you describe the happenings in your kitchen on the morning of a big event?

Like the opening night of a Broadway show– very organized and perfectly executed mayhem!

What looks fresh to you this year as we head into the summer months?

I’m most excited for the local farm fresh produce.  I’ve never met an Heirloom tomato that I didn’t love!

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Is there a recent food trend that you’re glad to see disappear?

Yes– Activated charcoal!

Is there a classic you’d love to see come back in vogue?

I would love to put a modern twist on traditional dishes like Chicken a la King and Beef Stew.

You’ve just served up another successful wedding reception on a lovely Saturday evening. What does your perfect recovery Sunday look like? How do you treat yourself?

I’d definitely head to the local diner for breakfast before my “real” job as a parent kicks in. I’ll hit usually the grocery store, do laundry, help with homework, and then maybe treat myself to a pedicure.

And when you’re cooking for yourself, what’s your favorite comfort food?

I love anything cooked out on the grill and big pots of soup chock full of veggies (usually with beans and quinoa).  I’m also obsessed with breakfast and will never turn down an awesome omelet!
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Imagine you’re marooned on a desert island. What three kitchen tools would you like most to have with you and why?

  • My favorite Stainless Steel mixing bowl because I can prepare anything in it and even eat out of it and it won’t get damaged by the sea water.
  • My Shun Chef’s Knife which is my favorite, “can’t live without it,” tool in my kitchen
  • My Porcelain Enamel Coated Cast Iron Casserole (with the lid) because I can use it to boil water, cook soup, sauté, braise and even fry if I’m lucky enough to start with a few pantry items like oil!

 

Spotlight on Little Red Fox Bakery

Kristi Tursi of Little Red Fox Bakery knows how to please the eye just as much as the palate. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles recently grilled her about celebrating with sweets throughout the seasons.

 

In just a few words, could you tell us about your bakery? 

I’m the owner of Little Red Fox Bakery located in Essex, Vermont.  What’s with the name, you may ask? When I was six I told my family that I was the owner of Little Red Fox Bakery, thus a dream has become a reality. The majority of my business specializes in ‘Celebration Cakes’ for weddings and ‘Elevated Events’ as the component of my bakery that focuses on all catered events. I incorporate locally sourced and ‘Made in Vermont’ ingredients in all of my bakery goods. I’m lucky enough to be able to use maple syrup that is produced down the road from where I live!

I’m also a food stylist and photographer with ongoing assignments throughout New England and the New York Metropolitan area where most of my work is based. Yes, I focus on the visual presentation, but I live by this rule: Flavor Leads Style.

 

You’re living in a perfect world: So many of us love to bake and everyone loves baked goods! How did you discover this passion?

I’ve been baking since I was a little girl, but the road to opening my bakery and catering business wasn’t a straight route! My mother’s side of the family is Hungarian, so I was fortunate enough to start my baking adventures with some of the world’s most classic recipes. Holidays, birthdays, and special occasions were all opportunities to learn my beloved recipes. I’m not embarrassed to say that on a recent trip to Budapest, Vienna, and Paris, I sampled pastries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

I studied psychology and art history in college and even pursued post-undergraduate work in those fields, but my love for baking and the desire to run a business ultimately led me to opening the doors to Little Red Fox Bakery.  I love the exactness and precision of bakery life paired with the creative freedom and design work for wedding cakes and sweets.

And you’ve a great deal of experience as a food stylist down here in New York City?

I worked for a few luxury e-commerce sites and quickly segued into food photography and styling assignments–It’s an aspect of my business that I truly love. My work was recently published in PDN (Photo District News) for food photography and I also have ongoing collaborations with brands such as CARGO Cosmetics and Fjallraven for styling and photo work.

 

If you’re planning sweets for a large event, logistically speaking, what is a good direction to go in? And what types of treats might not go so smoothly?

For large scale events, I always work to appeal to everyone’s unique tastes and requirements; treats for people with nut allergies, some gluten free selections, and a show stopper type of dessert to add an element of surprise. I generally try to go with things that tease the palate, so I include a variety of textures: gooey, crunchy, smooth, and fluffy, to name a few. I also always like to include savory sweets, like rosemary or caraway biscotti. The latter goes well with wine at cocktail parties, so you can say that I cover the taste sensations that begin the meal and those that end it.

 

We’d love to hear more about some of the work you’ve done for weddings.

I specialize in wedding cakes, favors, and full service catering under the part of my business known as ‘Elevated Events.’ I love making wedding cakes that incorporate unique details, like calligraphed messages on wafer paper affixed to the surface.

A current trend is to have a dessert table in place of a cake. Brides (and grooms) come in for a consultation and talk about all their favorite memories of getting to know each other and the foods associated with those memories. We like to curate a menu that is truly a culinary reflection of their courtship.

 

Spring is just around the corner. What tastes and textures do you think are best served as people tire of heavy winter foods?

People generally want things with fruit and palettes that are reminders of the awakening of spring on the landscape. Small fruit tarts, fruit mousses in mini chocolate cups, and mini cheesecakes topped with fruit tend to be popular choices. On the more elaborate and fluffy side, we have meringues, a crowd favorite. They are feather light, perfectly sweet, and customizable to pretty much any flavor profile.

 

A truly elegant show stopper is a layered mocha dacquoise cake, which includes layered hazelnut meringue with mocha butter cream. A Spanish Windtorte, a Baroque looking construction of fancy meringue piping, is also excellent as it can be topped or filled with a pastry cream and seasonal fruits and berries – the perfect transition from decadent holiday treats!

 

What goodies do you think can keep cool in the summer heat?

I love trifles. The flavors are so versatile, and they can be made in large or small scale; it’s the ‘just right’ amount of cake to cream to fruit ratio! I also love fruits tarts and shortcakes, both of which incorporate fruit and can be made on the lighter side for those 90+ hot, humid days.

Last year, we did an event held in a non air-conditioned old barn at the edge of a river; think ninety degrees, humidity, and mosquitoes. We made a lemon three-tier cake with lemon and lavender infused pastry cream filling. It was a semi-naked cake that we adorned with frosted berries and mint leaves. On the side, I had chilled raspberry champagne-soaked watermelon mini cubes on a stick—they were almost as popular as the cake, maybe more so!

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And how is chocolate best served in the summer?

Hopefully not melted! I think a ganache tart can be served in hot and humid weather quite well.  My two most popular flavors in the summer incorporate orange blossom or lavender; both have a hint of flavor that is balanced by the semi sweetness of the chocolate. I love to garnish the tarts with edible flowers—always a gorgeous finishing touch for tying in the color scheme of a wedding. Time management and organization are key when baking and presenting food, especially when it’s warm. In summer weather, a cooler or two may displace diamonds as a girl’s best friend.

 

As fall returns, what ingredients do you like to bring forward from the back of the pantry?

Fall is one of my busier times for weddings and catered events, so I created a theme called ‘perfect pairings’ to help those planning a Fall wedding with some level of continuity among their sweet and savory choices! I tend to reach for nutmeg, cinnamon, or even smoked maple! I love mulled cider, as it pairs wonderfully with cider doughnuts and apple pies. As a Vermont-based baker, it goes without saying that I sweeten my desserts with maple syrup and maple sugar any chance I get. I think a dark maple syrup provides for the best pronounced flavors in my pumpkin pies, butter creams, and compotes! 15099470_1475730969123730_2837803386319929344_n

I also love chestnuts. I include a chocolate chestnut ganache tart as a holiday selection and I make Chestnut Mignons, a Hungarian specialty with chestnut cream, chocolate, and rum shaped into a chestnut shape and enrobed in chocolate and mocha couverture.

 

For winter holiday entertaining, whether it’s a cozy get together following an afternoon of ice skating, or a more formal holiday affair, what could we surprise our guests with?  

Who doesn’t love to fawn over a dessert table? For a small, casual gathering (after skating, say, by a roaring fire),  I would have a menu that includes cinnamon hot chocolate paired with Belgian brownies and whipped cream, hot cider paired with maple churros, and piping hot mochas with chocolate éclairs filled with blood orange pastry cream. 16122724_271096073310002_9068248877664043008_n

For a formal affair, I love to present a crepes cream cake that looks like it has a thousand layers. Another favorite that I made for a Scandinavian event was the Princess cake; a green dome of pistachio marzipan adorned with delicate pink flowers covering layers of cake, pastry cream,  and lots of whipped cream.

 

In terms of classic recipes, what do you think never goes out of style?

A classic genoise cake, which is a French-style cake that serves as the foundation for simple jelly rolls and many elaborate pastries. It is perfect ‘as is,’ but even better as the cake layers on a scrumptious wedding cake. A genoise holds up incredibly well year-round and can be made with ingredients that a home baker will have in their kitchen.

And when the ovens have cooled and you close up shop for the day, how do you like to spend your down time?

I live in Vermont for a majority of the year and love getting outside to enjoy the Green Mountains! From November through April, my skis are by the front door so I can literally step outside, don my skis, and off I go! In the summer months, I turn into a kayaker. I’m also the happy owner of a German Shepherd puppy, so hiking, trail running, and sailing on Lake Champlain are perfect departures from a chaotic day of baking and decorating (and it keeps the puppy happy)! My time in nature keeps me focused and serves as a beautiful work/life balance! When I’m in the city, I walk everywhere–I’ve been known to walk from SoHo to the UES. I love the contrast of solitude and city buzz. I think art and beauty and truth are found in that contrast.

 

Spotlight on Tessler Events

Eyal Tessler of New York City-based Tessler Events knows exactly what makes an important day a most memorable one. Recently, Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked him to reveal some of the secrets of his successes.

 

AA: What should fill our heads when we think of Tessler Events?

ET: When thinking of “Tessler Events” I would like people to think of us as more than just event or party planners. I want you to think about us as your partners in creating memories for life and making dreams come true. We don’t just look at the end result because we like to think of ourselves as your event architects; we take you through the journey of the planning so you can enjoy and learn every step of the way.

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AA: Is there a venue in New York that you long to design for but have not yet had the chance?

ET: One of my dreams is to do a midsummer night alfresco dinner in Central Park.

 

AA: You’re capable of beautifully expressing a variety of aesthetics and I’ve seen you do very clean and modern spaces that are still very lush and opulent in mood. Your work seems so new, but where in your journeys do you find inspiration?

ET: I love just walking around the city and getting ideas and inspiration from theater, movies, fashion, architecture, art and more.  It’s not always about the big things — the right small element that can sometimes deliver the biggest impact.

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AA: To you, what makes or breaks a dinner party?

ET: I think a dinner party should be a reflection on the hosts, together with the art of entertaining. It’s all about putting together the right group with the right menu in the right atmosphere and with the right seating scheme. If you don’t have all of these elements, you can unwittingly create a recipe for disaster.

 

AA: How large can a dinner party be until place cards are necessary?

ET: I think any size dinner party can have place cards. Part of the art of entertaining is making sure the right people sit next to each other to fuel conversation and, sometimes, new relationships.

 

AA: And how large can a dinner be before escort cards are needed?

ET: I think any dinner party with more than two tables should have escort cards so it’s easy for your guests to find their seat.

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AA: Do you care to share any pet peeves about tablescapes? What are you fussy about and most relaxed about?

ET: I don’t like tabletops that are too crowded and fussy because a table setting should be comfortable and welcoming. I don’t think you need five different glasses for each place setting at all times; you can always reset silverware and glassware. A big no-no for me is to have a centerpiece that prevents conversation between people across the table. I think for small dinner parties, sometimes less is more.

 

AA: When the day is done, how do you like to wind down?

ET: I like to exercise, listen to music and just separate the work day from the private life. Disconnecting is a very hard task as a business owner, but I try my best!

 

AA: And when you’re traveling for pure pleasure, what kind of adventure are you hoping to find?

ET: My happy place is the ocean, so the best adventures for me include a beautiful beach with lots of time to relax and recharge.

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24 Hours in Rome with Cristina Verger

Cristina VergerNew York-based destination event planner Cristina Verger is an expert at creating the most memorable events all over Italy and beyond. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked Cristina to let us in on the very best places to hang our hats in her beloved birthplace, Rome!

 

 

Where to Stay

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  • Hassler Roma: Located at the top of the Spanish Steps with phenomenal views, Hotel Hassler Roma positions you a short distance from the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Vatican, and countless other treasures.

 

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Coffee breaks: Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe has the best coffee in Rome! Located between Piazza Navona and The Pantheon, this café opened in 1938 and the beans are roasted right on the premises.

 

  • For a quick bite to eat: Refreshing, pure and modern, Yugo Fusion, is a delight to the palette as much as it is to the eye.

 

  • Fine Dining: Tucked away down a side street near the Pantheon and intimately designed, La Rosetta has earned its irrefutable reputation by perfectly preparing the freshest fish and seafood caught daily.
  • Drinks: As seen in Fellini’s classic 1960 film, La Dolce Vita, Harry’s Bar is a must for a reviving cocktail with a little celebrity spotting on the side.

What to See

  •  Borghese Gallery: This is an extremely tough one to choose because all of Rome is an open air museum. Originally built by Architect Flaminio Ponzio as a Villa Suburbana for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, you can get your fill of masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, and more.

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Thank you for sharing your Rome favorites, Cristina!

Where are your favorite destinations to visit in Rome or other cities around the world? Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

24 Hours in Paris with Loli Events

Both French born, Lauren Fremont and Coralie Prats of Loli Events make gracious living their business. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked them to share their favorite haunts in our beloved Paris for you to keep in mind for your next trip to the City of Lights!

Where to Stay

Pavillon de la Reine

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Les petits cafés: My love for coffee shops is endless, and thankfully Paris is full of them! My favorite is the Saint Regis Café on Ile Saint Louis because of its authentic style and location–the servers are super fun and the coffee is really good too!
  • Fine Dining: Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is located inside the Palace Hotel Le Meurice and it is truly stunning. Walking into this restaurant is already an experience in itself!
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The grand dining room at Le Meurice Alain Ducasse

  • Cocktails: Le Moonshiner is a speakeasy on Rue Sedaine and it is the best place in Paris to drink a good whiskey cocktail! The hidden entrance and retro decor make for a memorable night out.

Le Moonshiner

What to See

  • La Seine Banks: It is always interesting to wander along The River Seine, especially around the two islands, Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis, and along Saint Germain. You will find all kinds of people; joggers, old people with their dogs, lovers, artists, and workers on their way to the office.  During sunsets, the buildings turn into gold and the sky softens with gorgeous shades of pink–I will never get enough of it!

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  • The Square Georges-Cain: This is my favorite place in my beloved neighborhood, Le Marais. It is a lovely park in front of a beautiful building and it’s very well maintained–It’s my little heaven on Earth! The location on a quiet street makes it the ideal place to relax outside in the nice weather. The Square George Cain

 

  • Paris doors: How can we not talk about these huge and colorful street doors? I have so many blue doors photos on my phone–they are all different and all majestic!
  • Old little streets & Passages: Paris used to be so differentPassage des Princes back in the day! I’m always very nostalgic when I find a little street and picture the whole city before Haussmann’s renovation in the 19th century. Thankfully, we still have the beautiful Passages like two favorites: Galerie Vivienne and Passage des Princes!
  • Museums: Musée Jacquemart-André is a beautiful hotel particulier in Paris that offers a large collection of private paintings and antique furniture. The grand townhouse is divided into five major parts and it is a wonderful place to explore.

Musée Jacquemart-André

Merci to Lauren and Coralie for letting us in on a few of their Paris favorites!

Where are your favorite destinations to visit in Paris or other cities around the world? Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

Real Weddings: Lauren & Sam

Real Wedding

Lauren & Samuel

Brooklyn Museum

December 17th, 2016

 

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Wild winter weather provided a spectacular backdrop to Lauren and Samuel’s ceremony. Sided by charming brickwork from the original Beaux-Arts structure that was designed by the legendary firm of McKim, Mead & White, ensconced guests could gaze past the chuppah, over a joyous gospel choir, and through a modern glass addition with evolving weather cascading safely beyond.

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Lauren first visited with Dempsey and Carroll’s Austin Ackles last June with her sister Carolyn and their mother, Wendy, in tow. The three (all sharp, design savvy and decisive) arrived with a very clear vision and with a great appreciation for the tried-and-true engraving process. Our Pewter ink and  Dempsey White paper thrilled them, while the hand calligraphed names of the bride and groom contrasted perfectly with the modern font for the text. After the calligraphy is handwritten, it is then etched into a copper plate that’s inked and pushed to paper, one by one, on an antique press. Finally, edges of the invitation were carefully beveled and hand painted with silver ink and envelopes were finished with a subtle, shimmering silver lining.

With cocktails in hand, guests mingled amongst masterpieces by Corot, Cassatt, and Degas in the colonnade before moving in under the impressive skylight space. The overall feeling was of a classic ice palace, but one given warmth and an edgy modernity, with magically-hued lighting effects in pinks and greens and lavenders.

A winter wonderland and subtle pine scent surrounded Dempsey & Carroll escort cards. Columns of birch echoed those of marble and massive scale that bordered the space.

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Additional lighting effects gave the impression of late in the day sun weaving its way through a cluster of swaying aspens.

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A smartly conceived floor plan ensured that the guests were wowed by the immense history of place while still close enough to one another for an intimate vibe. Lauren and Samuel’s marriage celebration carried on as everyone let go to classic Motown, R&B favorites and early hip-hop.

Dempsey & Carroll is pleased to have had a role in such a brilliant affair. Congratulations to a most lovely couple!

Credits:

Photography: Ira Lippke Studios

Wedding Planner: Vanda High Events

138 Years of Dempsey & Carroll

As we approach our 138th anniversary on August 28th, we look to our heritage and how we have carried on the tradition started by John Dempsey & George Carroll in 1878. From our first location in Union Square, to our current home on the Upper East Side, we have proudly stayed close to our New York City roots as we continue to create the highest quality of hand-engraved paper goods. The past few months have been exciting as we have ushered in new collections.

This spring, we launched our collaboration with FORM Design studio, a firm which “strives to be an arbiter of taste and holistic living, blending the line between what is beautiful and what sustains”. The unique pieces for this line were created with mixed media and inspiration from the Earth’s natural beauty.

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Pieces from our collaboration with FORM

This summer, we launched new lines from our continued partnership with F. Schumacher. It has been an honor to work with this storied brand as we combine our luxurious paper with the iconic designs of Schumacher’s fabrics. The Lansdale and Zanzibar collections have expanded our offerings to include matching journals and coasters to the boxed sets of correspondence cards. We also launched four bespoke lines in addition to the boxed products so that our clients can add new looks to their personal paper wardrobes.

 

We have seen our collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin come to life this month with correspondence cards, coasters, hang tags, and a 2017 calendar. Hendrick’s Gin is produced in the small seaside village of Girvan, Scotland using a blend of spirits from two different antique stills. Our process of engraving paper has remained virtually unchanged since our founding and we continue to use the same equipment as we have since the 1800s. Both of our brands celebrate tradition while forging through the 21st century.

August has also seen the launch of our new lines with John Derian. Fabricated in his New York City Studio, Derian uses decoupage as a unique way to bring life to an assortment of home furnishings. Our new collections pair classic Dempsey & Carroll motifs with extraordinary designs from Derian’s archives.

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John Derian Blue Coral

The excitement of our new collections reminds us to look to our history for inspiration. Dempsey & Carroll has transcended two centuries of incredible changes in the world. We have seen the leaps of technology and the rise of the digital age. As we head into the next 138 years, we look to one of our favorite quotes about why we continue our legacy of facilitating gracious living:

“The love of elegance and exquisite finish in stationery is no new love, but elegance and finish are not in themselves artistic, they are simply the last result of mere mechanical execution. We take especial pleasure, therefore, in calling attention to the work of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll, who have earned for themselves the honourable designation of “Art Stationers.”

The Home Journal (Town & Country), 1879

We are thankful for our loyal clientele, as well as all of the extraordinary people who have come before us in building this brand. Cheers to 138 years of Dempsey & Carroll!