In our latest Vendor Spotlight, we asked Sales Manager of Wolfgang Puck Catering, Jami Pennings, about her services and why you should choose WP for your next event. She graciously invited our team for an intimate dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Test Kitchen and we’ve got to say, WE HAD A BLAST! The space was cool, the staff was friendly, and the food was exceptional. If you’re passionate about food, we highly recommend making a reservation; we think it’d be great for date night or an engagement party. Keep reading to learn more about Jami, the Test Kitchen, and WP Catering.
How is the dining experience at the Wolfgang Puck Test Kitchen different from other dining experiences in Los Angeles?
There are many elements that come together in creating this unique experience. It all begins with the food and the chefs. The versatility of the different chefs really shines in the various ingredients, flavors, and techniques in the dishes that end up on the plate. Another element that makes it different is the space–you begin the evening in Wolfgang’s studio kitchen, which has been redesigned as a lounge with an outside seating area on the terrace of the Pacific Design Center. Then, guests get to tour the Test Kitchen and see the modern equipment the chefs are using to produce some of the dishes and cocktails. Dinner is then served at an omakase-style chef’s counter where the chefs prepare sometimes up to 20 courses right in front of you.
Could you tell us a little about some of the chefs that are currently cooking in the kitchen?
Chefs Alan Latourelle and Jenny Ung are the main chefs at the Test Kitchen and are there every week. They are both Los Angeles-born and trained. Each brings multiple years of experience with Wolfgang and a vast diversity of cooking styles to the Test Kitchen. Chefs Alan and Jenny are joined each week by two to three guest chefs from Wolfgang’s kitchens around the world.
What other types of events regularly occur in the Test Kitchen unit?
At the Pacific Design Center and Test Kitchen, we host everything from private dinners for ten guests to galas for 2,000 guests. The variety of spaces that we can offer between the terrace, Spectra, and Red Seven provide a great setting for corporate events and life celebrations. We have used the den for Wolfgang to film his Master Class series in addition to a variety of shoots for magazines and television cooking segments.
How did you become the Sales Manager for Wolfgang Puck Catering, and what does your role entail?
I was an event producer in Hollywood before joining the Puck team. I used to hire Wolfgang Puck Catering for my red carpet events. I got to know their team and really loved the work they did. Eventually my sales rep asked me if I would be interested in joining their team, and six plus years later, I still love going to work every day and creating memorable culinary experiences for my clients.
Why choose Wolfgang Puck Catering for weddings in particular?
My motto is, “Tell your story through food.” We love to incorporate the couples’ food passions throughout their wedding day. I ask the couple questions about where they love to go out to dinner, what they make at home, what were their favorite dishes growing up… so I can create a custom menu that speaks to the couple.
How was the list of catering venues on your website curated?
We have handpicked a variety of venues around Los Angeles that best align with our couples. Whether you want an ocean-front beach wedding or a downtown loft, we can recommend a variety of spaces that meet your style and budget.
What is your relationship with wedding planners and clients during the wedding planning process?
My role as a catering sales manager is to assist in creating a memorable culinary experience while providing exceptional client services relations. I always make myself available to planners and clients to answer questions and ensure the planning experience is not stressful, but seamless and enjoyable.
Where do you host soon-to-be-married clients when they want test items for their menu?
We are a chef-focused company (after all, it’s in our name), so we host where our chefs are most comfortable–in the kitchen! We very much encourage chef-client interaction during the tasting. At a recent one, the chef overheard the client talk about how much she loved our signature pizzas. Even though we were not tasting pizza for their menu, the chef brought over a hot pizza a few minutes later for her to enjoy.
Could you explain what molecular gastronomy is, and why you think it’s becoming increasingly popular for wedding receptions?
Molecular Gastronomy blends physics and chemistry to transform the taste and texture of food. Some chefs do not accept this term and prefer to describe their technique as “modern cuisine” or “experimental cuisine.” This type of cuisine is popular with “food-curious” couples. Millennials seem to be big fans of this style and presentation. If the couple is inquiring on this style of cuisine, I recommend blending both molecular and some traditional cuisine so everyone is happy.
What advice would you give to couples when creating the dining experience at their wedding reception?
I would suggest the menu reflect their favorite foods, and be transparent with your catering budget. If your budget is tight, then focus on the item(s) that mean the most to you and scale back on the other items that tend to add up, but don’t have a large impact on the overall dining experience. I once had a bride who really wanted to offer a surf and turf duo entrée. The duo entrée pushed her over budget, so we scaled back to a beer and wine bar, and instead of tray passed hors d’ouvres, we offered a beautiful stationary cheese display. We stayed within budget and she was thrilled to offer her dream entrée to all of her guests.
We’d like to send a big, fat thank you to Brandon Aquino for joining us and capturing these beautiful photos!
Lastly, if you’d like to see some behind-the-scenes action of our night at the Test Kitchen, click here to visit our YouTube.