There are a number of milestones we will all cross over throughout our lifetimes; certain moments that will create lasting memories with those we love. Weddings, showers, birthdays, anniversaries and many more are amongst these moments. Weeks, sometimes months go into planning these occasions and one of the most important elements within that planning is truly great food. No one understands this better than John Black and Stefan Legein, owners and founders of John and Stefan Catering in Oakville, ON.
“Food has always been about bringing people together. Whether it’s a bridal shower, an anniversary party or a corporate event, food can elevate that experience so much further than many realize,” John explains.
John and Stefan Catering is a company born of a lifelong friendship between the two owners. John and Stefan have known each other since they were very young. John is a trained chef who has worked in the industry for 12 years. He studied at George Brown College, which is known for its programs in the culinary arts. Stefan is a professional hockey player and is currently playing in the United States. He splits his time between his passion for cooking and his passion for the ice. In the winter he is devoted to his professional hockey career, and in the summer he works alongside John. While the process of going from friends to business partners has not always been an easy one, the two have discovered a strong balance that works very well now.
“Our driving goal for the business has always remained the same. We wanted to provide a very customized experience to our clients. The events we are hired to cater are important pieces of our clients’ lives, so we want to ensure each experience with us is as unique as the event itself,” John shared.
Each menu is created custom to each event with complete flexibility for dietary restrictions. A vegan and gluten-free option are always made available with each menu John and Stefan create. The company is focused on modern techniques with sophisticated yet clean flavours. John himself draws inspiration for his cooking from Italy and France, but was quick to add that their team is very passionate about using flavour profiles from within our own borders. Celebrating Canadian cuisine and buying locally are two of the guiding goals behind their company.
“I am extremely proud to be Canadian and being able to celebrate the food of those around me is a very satisfying achievement. For me to create a dish and say ‘Oh these beets were grown in Milton, and this Goat Cheese came from Woolwich, and these organic sprouts were grown in the Niagara Region and these apples came from Chudleigh’s Farm,’ I say that with a strong sense of pride.”
John shared that the team is very committed to paying a high level of respect to each ingredient they use and where those ingredients come from. They truly enjoy getting to know each member of their local network and have developed strong and loyal relationships with a number of farmers, suppliers and purveyors nearby.
“It’s a mutually supportive dynamic. We support their business and they support ours,” John elaborated.
When planning an event with a larger number of people in attendance, John said it is crucial to keep a few key items in mind. The first might seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. It is important to understand your demographic and who will be eating the food. This goes hand in hand with number two, which is to create a balanced menu.
“For each course, we recommend having a balanced variety of beef, seafood, chicken, vegetarian and gluten-free options to offer. They say you can’t please everyone, but we beg to differ on that. Now more than ever we encounter a wide range of allergies and intolerances to food, so we operate on the basis of always being prepared for these. We want to ensure guests with dietary restrictions get to enjoy their experience just as much as the person next to them,” John explained.
The third thing John stressed to keep in mind is quantities. Having too much food is better than not having enough. Accurately predicting how much you will need is difficult, but when you have as much experience as John, Stefan and their team do, it becomes much easier.
John and Stefan Catering is hired for everything from wedding ceremonies to family birthday parties to corporate events. The team started out working with mostly residential clients, but through nothing more than word of mouth, they have quickly gained recognition throughout the Greater Toronto Area as a highly-skilled catering company for any occasion.
“It really is unbelievable to look back on our growth and how quickly its happened. We could not be more grateful to our local partners and clients for the part they’ve played in our success. Our next step has been our dream since we were just kids. We want to open a place of our own. A great spot right here in Oakville that we, and others, can call home,” John said.
Since they began their journey in the culinary industry, this dedicated duo has always dreamt of owning their own restaurant. The vision for their space is gastro pub inspired. A gastro pub is a restaurant that specializes in high-end beer and bistro-style cooking. “It’s comfort food, if you will,” John explained. The premise will be to incorporate some fan favourites they’ve developed over their years of catering, and have both menus and beer and wine lists that change weekly. They want to craft an atmosphere that is relaxing but, as the night draws on, becomes entertaining and exciting.
“It’s all about creating an ambiance for guests that is unlike any other spot in town. I think Oakville needs that. I think Oakville wants that.”
For more information on John & Stefan Catering, please visit: www.johnandstefancatering.com