Tuesday, January 22

Profile: Peter Callahan


If you’ve read Town & Country, InStyle, Quest or House Beautiful—just to name a few—chances are you’ve heard of caterer Peter Callahan. Callahan Catering has been on my radar screen for many years but it was the December 2007 ELLE article, Taste in Spades (US edition) that once again brought him back to my attention. The article appealed to my senses on many levels, but what really struck a cord was the simplicity of the menu devised by Peter and Kate Spade.

Of course, for a caterer to attract such prominent media attention and to achieve this kind of celebrity status the food and service must be first-rate. However, a combination of great food, pitch perfect presentation and a witty sense of humor is not easy to achieve. It is Peter's unique blending of these qualities that places Callahan Catering head and shoulders above the competition.

Meatballs with Spaghetti

In 1985, after a brief stint on Wall Street, he decided to trade in his financial career in exchange for one with a greater degree of creativity. For Peter, who is self-taught, it seemed like a natural move. "At a young age I was growing cultures for sour dough bread. Maybe it was because I felt sorry for my mom who is a fabulous cook and my two sisters can't boil an egg,” Peter jokes. By the time Peter went to college his love of all things culinary was full blown. “I had an equally enthusiastic roommate. We had butchered lamb and beef in the freezer and cases of Pouilly-Fuissé splits in the fridge,” he recalls.

These days his company’s clientele list reads like a who’s who—Hermes, JP Morgan, Lehman Brother, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany are just a few of Callahan Catering’s notable clients. An impressive list not withstanding, Peter is amazingly gracious, down to earth and most passionate when it comes to good food and great wine.

Cheeseburgers and Fries

How did you go from Wall Street to catering?
I went from the rock and roll side of Wall Street (the commodity trading floor) to catering, as I was wild and carefree.

What is your favorite food memory?
Watching my wife eat foie gras at Le Cirque 2000 when it first opened.

What it the one thing in life you can't live without?
My personal macrobiotic chef and guru.

What is your favorite city for dining?
Nantucket

Who would you most like to meet and how would you send the day
?
I would most like to meet Marie Antoinette and party with her if any of those movies are historically correct.

What is your idea of the perfect dinner party?
A perfect dinner party must be all overnight guests so the evening evolves into the yonder with something decadent, unexpected and lustful such as bootleg absinthe in a Goth fountain.

What is your favorite indulgence?
Warm fondue mountainside after skiing.

What food trends have outlived their shelf life?
All food trends have outlived their lives, but my least favorite is that of copying others' innovative ideas.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I am macrobiotic (when I can be).

What books are currently on your bedside table?
On my bedside table are no books, I’m a caterer, remember!

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photos Ross Whitaker

15 comments:

Anne said...

Love Meatballs with Spaghetti! Very clever!

Anonymous said...

What a cool guy!

ALL THE BEST said...

Anne if you look at his website you will find his clever take on food to be his trademark.

ALL THE BEST said...

Yes anonymous he is cool and very nice too!

girl meets glamour said...

Wow, love the presentation, esp. the burgers and fries. Great post!!

~Kate

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Kate! I love the burgers and fries too! Smaller portions - smaller calories! :-)

Girl in Glasgow said...

Oh I missed the Dec (US copy)! What was on the menu?

miss cavendish said...

Oh dear--no books?! I hope you recommended a good title or two!

annechovie said...

Great profile, Ronda. I have seen Peter's work on The Food Network before and it's nice to read more here.

Suzy said...

I love the spaghetti and meatballs too, how clever!

Mary-Laure said...

I just love stories of people who gave up a top corporate job for more creative, albeit less stable, occupations... (Doesn't everyone?)
Thanks for the sweet comment you left on my blog, I'll add you to my links too.
(Suggestion: I saw you wrote about Penhaligon - I wear their Blenheim - and Creed, so if you're into super special perfume houses, why not write a post about Annick Goutal? I love her scents...)

pve design said...

Why not cater macrobiotic? Seems like there is a disconnect with his diet and what he caters?

ALL THE BEST said...

My guess is Patricia (and I could be entirely wrong) but I would imagine that if you are catering to such as large and diverse client base that it may severely limit the options available. Of course I am no expert on macrobiotics:-)

JCE said...

I would have like to have been his college room, sounds like a blast. Nice profile.
JCE

ALL THE BEST said...

Me too Mary-Laure. I find such stories inspiring!