WHAT IF?

TV Advert for Mugg & Bean by morrisjones&co. Creative Director: Margarita Karvouniaris.

I’m cooking today. A lunch for 30 people. The client is advertising agency morrisjones & co. I have no idea why they are working on a Saturday, it’s no business of mine; my business is simply to feed them, something I love doing for this appreciative, creative bunch of young people.
Paula (who does not want to be called Mrs Calhoun) asked me this question the other day:
All those film shoots you cater for – are they for local films, international? Met any interesting people there? Do you ever serve, or is it all “pick-up” buffet style. How many do you generally have to cook for?
In answer, I will give you a bit of background. For a long time, I have cooked secretly for people. It began with a boss I once had, a quite-high profile woman. She first asked me to make lasagna and salad, put it in her dishes and not tell anybody; she didn’t want her guests to know she hadn’t made it herself. Next it was a prawn curry she asked for. And so it went on. One day a business associate of hers asked me to quote on catering a light supper for a board meeting. A vague dream started forming in my mind; perhaps I could have a catering company?
Things carried on this way for a few years, in between my writing, editing, proofreading and freelancing for advertising agencies. In February I was offered a stint that I doubted I should take; it was a longer contract than usual and I was not sure that I wanted to not be a ‘free agent’ for such a long spell. The project was interesting, though, so I took the leap and went off to spend 6 weeks at morrisjones&co. On my last day, I took some cakes to the office as a farewell gesture to the staff, who had become my friends. The art buyer, a lovely, gentle girl, praised the cake and asked if I did catering. I said I did, albeit on a small scale. Shortly thereafter, she asked me to do the food for the crew at a photographic shoot.

Photography: Mark Lanning for Mugg & Bean
Most of the shoots I cater for are stills; product shoots for their clients.
Soon one of the clients asked me to cater for a team building brunch, and so it went … ever wider ripples. I now cater on average once a week, sometimes twice. I limit the numbers to 20 people, but today – because I love the people – I have made an exception and am cooking for 30. Buffet style.


Photography: Clive Stewart for Debonairs

What if I hadn’t taken the morrisjones 6 week gig? I don’t know, I have a feeling that, somehow, catering was going to be in my future anyway.

Photography: Clive Stewart for Debonairs

Photography: Mark Lanning for Mugg & Bean

For more takes on Sidey’s weekend theme, click here.

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66 Comments Add yours

  1. u r a great example of, the way to b good at what u do, is to luv it. i’m happy in your happiness. u don’t fool us. it’s clear this takes enormous work. but the energy u pour into your ventures is multiplied by your natural genius and pleasure. thank u for sharing.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you, Doc, your comments warm my heart 🙂

  2. slpmartin says:

    I must agree with Sana…what you do demonstrates a wide range of skills and knowledge most don’t have or even attempt to develop.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you, Charles, and goodnight, sweet dreams 🙂

  3. dearrosie says:

    I too agree with Sana: You’re passionate about food and cooking and it shows. You’re an inspiration to us all.
    Speaking for myself, I’d be grateful to find a job I love and do so well as you.

    Please tell me what the heck is in the “triple decker flavours”???

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s a pizza: Sweet & Spicy Chicken Triple-Decker®: Three layers, three cheeses – cream cheese, chicken, mushroom, onion, pineapple, tomato & herb pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, topped with Tikka sauce, cheddar cheese & spicy mozzarella cheese with a sprinkle of parsley.

      1. dearrosie says:

        Is that a serious menu item? Not a joke?

      2. theonlycin says:

        Dead serious, people love it. There’s another one: Three layers, three cheeses – cream cheese, ground beef, sliced pork cheese griller, bacon, onion, tomato & herb pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, topped with BBQ sauce, cheddar & mozzarella cheese with a sprinkle of parsley.

  4. leigh says:

    What can I say? Fortune favours the brave? Yes!

    1. theonlycin says:

      And so it goes 🙂

  5. earlybird says:

    Interesting to read your story. I did catering for a while… couldn’t make enough money from private clients… But I’d love to do stills and work with food photographers. Now that must be fun. Sigh! Another disadvantage of my living in the middle of nowhere 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s not hugely profitable, I agree, but it keeps me going when the other work is thin on the ground.

  6. Sparky says:

    I was happy to read because I also wanted to know what Paula asked but I saw you did not respond. I wouldn’t want to be Miss Nosy by highlighting the non-response. You are having it good and I am happy that you are happy, hehe! More like what Oprah encourages, when you do something you love it doesn’t feel like work. (Not sure if you are her fan ‘cos I remember some negative comments @ letterdash n I can’t remember if you where part of them) I sound like a groupy now. Have a lekker weekend once more 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever said anything negative abour Oprah, Sparky, The weekend went by too quickly, didn’t it?

  7. souldipper says:

    Your passion shows and it shows well, Cin!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you Amy 🙂

  8. Tilly Bud says:

    I really enjoyed this post. You are an interesting woman.

    1. theonlycin says:

      You are very kind, Tilly 🙂

  9. I too agree with Sana! Well done Cindy, richly deserved, enjoy every minute. Seriously think I should get your autograph now.
    🙂 Mandy

  10. bluebee says:

    Nice to be able to stipulate what you will and won’t do in this regard, so it remains a passion and does not become a chore.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I prefer to make each dish as if it’s the only one I am makiing, bluebee, with bigger numbers that is not always possible.

  11. john l malone says:

    it sounds very exciting Cindy; I tyoo love being around creative people; may it go well

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks you, John, so far so good 🙂

  12. deepercolors says:

    Word is getting around about you, that’s for sure. Keep up the good work.

  13. SidevieW says:

    It’s always good to work at your passions

    1. theonlycin says:

      I guess I struck it lucky 🙂

  14. Leeswammes says:

    So nice, Cindy, to get to do work that you really enjoy. Hope the catering business because your main trade!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I hope so too, Judith 🙂

  15. pinkpolkadotfood says:

    Wow, Cindy – You are brave!! You have so many talents!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you Pinky 🙂

  16. Cindy, it’s such a wonderful story, full of taking what life sends you and making the very best of it. I’m so glad one of the great loves of your life – cooking and food – is becoming such a central part of it.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Katie, I am a very lucky girl 🙂

  17. All I remember from that stint was the beautiful view and the food trolley everyday! Haha. Everything happens to make us better people! Yah! Xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      You have a good memory 🙂

  18. SuziCate says:

    Wow, sometimes just one choice makes everything ele fall into place…so happy it turned out like this for you. I do know for sure those who enjoy your fares are blessed – I salivate all over my keyboard just reading your posts daily!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks SuziCate 🙂

  19. Congrats, Cindy, I love how this has happened for you – richly deserved!! You must have loads of fun with all those creative people 🙂 Thanks for including that stunning ad too – a gorgeous little respite!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Isn’t it just delightful, Naomi? 🙂

  20. nrhatch says:

    Passion . . . makes it happen! Glad the Universe is conspiring on your behalf. 😀

  21. Tes says:

    You are so brave and passionate about your work! Wonderful days you must have doing the thing you love 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I am having a lot of fun, Tes 🙂

  22. They take some pretty cool pictures – I’m sure it’s even better for the wonderful meals they have 😉 Being brilliant can be very challenging on an empty stomach, you know 🙂

  23. They take some pretty cool pictures – I’m sure it’s even better for the wonderful meals they have 😉 Being brilliant can be very challenging on an empty stomach, you know 🙂

    Have a fun weekend, Cin!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Lee, it went far too quickly 🙂

  24. adeeyoyo says:

    Wow, it can be very rewarding, but also very taxing I should think. Make the most of it while you’re still young (relatively speaking, haha) and energetic and maybe you can end up being the ‘madam’ with others doing the hard work.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I don’t want it to grow to the extent that I need staff, adee … won’t be fun then … xxx

  25. Thank for lunch Cinds… we enjoyed it 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      I am glad, Margs, warms my heart 🙂

  26. Wowza, that’s awesome. I love that you secretly made food for work mates. I’m impressed. There’s some damn fine karma headed your way. 🙂 Cool pictures. Very funky!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Cheffie 🙂

  27. Tinman says:

    I think your last sentence is right – you obviously love what you do so much that you’d have ended up in catering anyway.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you Tinman, and thanks for the visit 🙂

  28. Linda says:

    You’re a lucky woman as are your clients!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Linda, I hope they think so too 🙂

  29. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi says:

    Wow! They must have been good cakes to inspire your colleague to ask if you did catering. I think you are totally right – if you have a passion for something it shines through. You were meant to make people happy with food (and your blog for that matter). Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks for visiting and reading, Keely 🙂

  30. Tandy says:

    somehow, we all end up just where we are meant to be xxxx

    1. theonlycin says:

      We do, don’t we? xxx

  31. Jamie Dedes says:

    It’s wonderful to do the things we love and love the things we do. Lovely post and pleased that all worked out for you.

    Their three-layer thing looks interesting … anything w/cheese looks good to me. All American breakfast: not quite, but it looks good. My own all American breakfast is cheese, fruit, and coffee! Alternately, tofu, fruit, and coffee. Not typical.

    Off to have mine now …

    1. theonlycin says:

      Not sure I could eat a tripple-decker, Jamie, but they seem very popular 🙂

  32. Kathy says:

    Love the background Cindy, though continents apart I feel I know you just a little bit better, now. But, my big question is: How do you find time to do it all? You must be a very busy lady. Kudos to all you have accomplished.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I am quite busy, Kathy, the Devil makes work for idle hands 😉

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