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!