Meet Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering

Meet Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering

Hosting a dinner party or coordinating a corporate event? Give Luisa a call – she’s a 5 Star Chef in our book!

Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering at the Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil Seminar. Photo by A Girl and A Camera Photography.

We met Luisa, a personal chef and caterer based in San Carlos, about a year and a half ago while she was selecting ingredients in our store for an event she was catering. Luisa spoke with Christine about sending in a few of her tried-and-true recipes to feature in our e-newsletter as she buys most of her ingredients from our store in the first place. Of course we loved that idea!

Since then, we’ve featured many of Luisa’s recipes in our newsletters, the store and our blog. Remember Fresh Saporito Ravioli with Sage Butter & Toasted Walnuts and Fava Beans & Crispy Pancetta Salad with a Pea, Pecorino & Mint Dressing? Those are hers!

Naturally, Luisa was the first chef we thought of when coordinating the olive oil seminar, and she was happy to help. We gave Luisa a simple run down of our event and she then put together a suggested menu for the seminar featuring four hors d’ oeuvres: Prosciutto-Wrapped Roasted Figs, Brie Toast with Chardonnay-Vanilla Syrup & Golden Raisins, Watermelon, Italian Feta & Mint Skewers and a seasonal fruit, nut, cracker & cheese platter. We know you all loved the choices as there wasn’t much left over at the end of the night!

As self-proclaimed food enthusiasts, we at Sigona’s love hearing chef’s stories, cooking methods and favorite recipes, so we asked Luisa for her story:

Where did you grow up? I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life. My parents moved from Terceira, Azores Islands (a Portuguese Island) and moved to California with my mom’s parents before I was born.

How long have you been in business in San Carlos? Three years.

What steps did you take to get where you are today? I am self-taught. When I was a kid, long before Food Network, I loved to watch cooking shows on KQED (Yan Can Cook, Julia, The Frugal Gourmet, Jacques Pepin). My mom still has some of my crazy handwritten recipes; the ones where I would write down the ingredients as fast as I could while watching the shows. In the end, my recipes made no sense because I couldn’t keep up!

How’d you get your start? My first “big” client found me via Craigslist. He worked for First Republic Bank of San Francisco and wanted to throw a lavish party for some of his special clients. One of the clients owns a luxury yacht and offered use of it as the venue in the Schoonmaker Point Marina in Sausalito. I was hired to cater that event and to this day one of the clients in attendance has been a regular customer of mine.

Why do you do what you do? What do you love about your job? I have always enjoyed the entire process—thinking about recipes, choosing a recipe, combining recipes, making up my own recipes. Baking or cooking is like my therapy. My mind clears and I think of nothing except what I’m making at the time.

Luisa also incorporated in-season fruits at the seminar. Photo by A Girl and a Camera Photography.

Food is something that will never be boring to me — the flavors and combinations are endless! It’s also very satisfying to serve and feed people. It makes me feel great to see people really enjoying what I have made for them.

Are you a one-woman show for most events? I do all the shopping & preparation. I generally operate independently, but it depends on the size of the event. For example, I do small dinner parties independently. If it’s a larger party and people need servers or a bartender, I have a great group of on-call help.

What catering or personal chef services do you offer? I cater a lot of different events, from weddings and corporate parties to intimate dinner parties for a small crowd. There are more details and menu options on my website:

Where do you source your ingredients? Is there a motto or rule you have for yourself about the food you use in your business? My favorite places to shop for produce are Sigona’s, because of the variety and quality, and Half Moon Bay’s local farm stands. There are plenty of fresh seafood places in Half Moon Bay, too, and The Gourmet Corner in San Mateo has wonderful French imports.

Everything I buy is hand picked by me personally and I try to always use whatever is in season. All meats/poultry are organic, all fish/seafood is wild and fresh. I like to make everything from scratch (from puff pastry to stocks), but any products I purchase I make sure are made of all natural ingredients.

How far are you able to travel for a catered event? Most of my inquiries are within the Bay Area, but I do travel. Last summer I did in event in Sebastopol.

What are two favorite things to make and/or eat? There are way too many to choose from! However, here are two recipes I made last Saturday for a Spanish themed dinner. They were both a big hit, even with the kids. Also, they both feature two seasonal items: fresh corn and heirloom tomatoes…

Favorite cheese: This is a tough one because ALL cheeses are wonderful to me in different ways! Although my favorite cheese to snack on has always been an extra sharp cheddar paired with some strawberry jam & crackers or a crisp Granny Smith apple.

Fruits or vegetables?: I love them both! It’s hard to decide between a fresh peach crostada OR a Rainbow chard and smoked gouda gratin!

Favorite cookbook/chef: I admire SO many chefs, but Donna Leahy is one whose recipes really embody everything I love and my style. I love her philosophy of freshness and simplicity. She’s been a true inspiration.

Is there a tip/piece of cooking advice you’ve been given or you give to others that you find has come in handy? Always cook for others what you love to eat yourself. I tend to find that if I think something is delicious, most other people think it is, too. Also don’t get caught up in trying to make “fancy” stuff or have your main focus be trying to impress everyone. If you start out with all quality ingredients you really don’t have to do all that much.

Luisa created beautiful dishes for the seminar. Photos from A Girl and a Camera Photography.

Site for A Girl and a Camera Photography:

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