Santa Maria Sun / Eats
Eat, drink, and be married: Say, 'I do!' to Field to Table Catering and Events
BY WENDY THIES SELL
Turning 30 in September was a milestone for Santa Maria native son Tracy Labastida.
This fall, he left his job of six years as executive chef and general manager at Testa Catering—the largest caterer in Northern Santa Barbara County—to venture out on his own.
On Nov. 1, the enthusiastic and energetic Labastida started his own top-tier catering company, Field to Table Catering and Events, focusing on upscale weddings.
The 30-year-old knows a thing or two about fields and the produce grown in the valley’s fertile soils—his parents are the former owners of Labastida Farms. He’s familiar with the farmers, the markets, and the seasons, and that knowledge comes in handy when he’s buying locally grown, seasonal produce for his events.
A 2008 graduate of Cal Poly, Labastida double majored in ag business and nutrition, and worked his way through college employed part-time by numerous caterers.
He recently decided the time was right to create his dream job— boutique caterer. Labastida also strives to make his clients’ dreams come true, giving them one-on-one attention, one-of-a-kind menus, and a unique, customized experience.
“You’re going to pay a premium,” Labastida said, “but you’re going to get a premium product.”
And brides are willing to pay that premium: Labastida is already more than half booked for 2014.
He says that 80 to 85 percent of his events are weddings, many set at gorgeous vineyard venues in the Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and other scenic Central Coast locales attracting couples from across the nation.
“The wedding industry on the Central Coast is just blowing up! It’s so big,” Labastida exclaimed. “These people are flying in. I don’t have one client from California. Everyone lives outside of California.”
He is currently designing a wedding reception menu for a bride living in Paris, France, and her groom, who lives in New York. The couple plans to wed here on the Central Coast.
Labastida believes every couple is different, so their special day should be unparalleled too.
“I want to create something truly unique that no other wedding will ever have because we customize it,” Labastida said. “We sit down together and I give them exactly what they want.”
The chef makes every dish from scratch, and everything is prepped, cooked, and served on site.
One of his recent custom-made wedding menus featured a main course trio: “Lamb, diver scallops in the shell, and pork tenderloin,” Labastida said, “all family-style sides, with special sauce that matches the main course.”
A recent sunset dinner in the vineyard at Tolosa Winery featured a beautiful amuse-bouche plate with goat-cheese-stuffed tomatoes topped with caviar; artichoke and Gruyere gougeres; Kadota fig and walnut Brie over toast; and escargot-and-gorgonzola-stuffed mushrooms.
Labastida seeks out the best local produce he can find, working one on one with local growers like Babé Farms of Santa Maria.
“They have such unique items that you only find in the best restaurants across the United States and you can’t really get anywhere else, which is something so cool about Santa Maria,” Labastida said.
“There’s squash blossoms, and purple cauliflower, and dates, and there’s figs—when they’re in season—and persimmons, and different unique things. You really can have whatever you want!” he said.
Labastida’s generation is the one getting married right now and he knows from personal experience that 30-somethings are hungry for fine cuisine.
“Everyone is kind of a foodie,” he said. “We’re just so used to eating out and going to great restaurants … and that’s just the lifestyle now.”
To contact Tracy Labastida, e-mail info@FTTevents.com or go to his Field To Table Catering and Events website, fttevents.com, or visit facebook.com/fttevents.
Labastida recently secured a kitchen to work out of in Nipomo; the former Rosie’s Restaurant across the street from Jocko’s. He has no immediate plans to open it as a restaurant, but expects to book private events there in the spring, after planting his herb and chef’s gardens.
Give the gift of fine cuisine
Locals don’t need to attend a posh wedding feast presented by Field to Table Catering and Events to enjoy one of Tracy Labastida’s culinary creations. One of his recipes was recently published in the latest Enjoy Cooking The Costco Way cookbook. The book is available at Costco stores, costcoconnection.com or at Amazon.com.
Labastida’s spinach-stuffed salmon over citrus salad recipe in the book features produce from Babé Farms and Gold Coast Packing.
Sun wine and food writer Wendy Thies Sell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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