Hi, I’m Arlene Cotler, an experienced and seasoned chef and caterer in Asheville. My story begins in New York City as a teacher for the deaf. My days were exhausting and frustrating and I often found my escape through cooking. Scattered around my loft was a multitude of cooking magazines and books. The combination of the inspiration I received from Julia Child’s cooking show and the hundreds of food articles and recipes stimulated me to start to cook for friends. The dinner parties that I threw were a hit, and so began my career.
Years later I started a catering company with Fanny, a woman who owned a nearby cooking school. The joint effort, Panhandler’s Catering, began in 1976 and we began with smaller dinner parties and eventually grew to larger fetes. We found ourselves doing Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Fundraisers and Corporate events. We were a success!
In 1991, my husband and I decided it was time to leave New York, so we packed up and found ourselves settling in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. We haven’t looked back since. It excited me to have the opportunity to again become part of a burgeoning food scene. The area was rife with great produce, locally grown meats, poultry and local mountain trout. We were able to get fresh seafood coming directly from the coast of North Carolina to our farmers markets. The possibilities were endless and my creativity was being stimulated.
I believe you create your own luck, but I am also aware that I am a very lucky person. I found myself at the right places at the right time and I once again tapped into my passion – I love to cook. I love to make beautiful great tasting food and I love the joy it brings to others. My menus and style are unique and attention to detail and the clients’ needs are essential. Asheville provides a wonderful canvas, and some of the finest ingredients available. I am so lucky!
I provide complete catering service and detailed planning for your events and believe in devoting unique attention to each client’s needs. You can count on one of a kind menus for your event, regardless of specific dietary restrictions.
There is no such thing as a set menu. My repertoire is continually expanding to include the best of new food trends and to take advantage of the freshest seasonal bounty.
Being located in Asheville, and surrounded by organic farms and fresh meats and produce, my catering clients are presented with edible beauty, farm-to-table.
My team is my “work family” and many of them have been with me for years. Every one of my servers is highly trained, well groomed and well mannered. I believe in service that is crisp and unobtrusive yet personable.
In addition I have assembled a group of like-minded professionals who can provide extras such as entertainment and dÃ©cor.
We are equally at home designing a wedding, corporate event, charity gala, or an intimate sit down dinner.
• Custom Menu Design
• Beverage Coordination
• Field Kitchens (we often work without a kitchen)
• Service guidelines, timing and coordination
• Highly trained service staff
“Arlene did an amazing job! She’s a bit on the pricy side but her food and service is completely worth it. I’ve been to weddings where the food was just ok and I wanted my guests to have a meal they would rave about. Arlene delivered! The favorite hors d’oeuvres were the mini chicken and waffles. Bite size deliciousness that had guests following the serving tray around the cocktail hour! Arlene customizes her menus to each bride and groom so whatever your favorite foods or style she’ll work with you to make it happen. Her staff did an amazing job serving at the bar and the tables and Arlene worked closely with the Arboretum staff and my day of coordinator to make sure everything was set up and organized as I had requested.”
“Arlene is by far the ONLY caterer that i would recommend for ANY event, any size, any circumstances…there are many caterers who can do an event, but she is consistently GREAT..her food is fabulous…her staff very efficient..she is always on time…and all the clients rave about her FOOD! I love working with her because she cares about EVERY detail and making it RIGHT no matter what it takes.”
“Her attention to detail is amazing. Her eye for presentation is exceptional. She is experienced in parties of all sizes and her food is ALWAYS great! In my experience, it is easy for many caterers to do a good job in the controlled situation of a hotel or restaurant, but it is rare to find a caterer who can do a great job when there is no kitchen on site. That is a treasure.”
“What a wonderful, delicious and breathtaking table you created!! It was, as always, a real pleasure to work with you. A special thanks to Eddie for all his work”
“We just wanted to thank you for being so amazing at what you do and sharing your gifts with us for our special day. We have loved working with you and creating this fabulous menu. You were so attentive to our hopes for the cuisine and made it possible for this aspect of the wedding to be just the way we wanted it to be.”
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