Hi. I’m Teri Smolens, the owner and chef, offering my catering service in Humboldt County since 1996. I have been cooking professionally since 1977 in various capacities, listed here in chronological order. As you can see, working with food has been a big part of my life. My parents are both good cooks. I have fond memories of many weekend gatherings with music and food, lots of community theater cast parties, and holidays complete with good food and entertaining ideas. Catering was a natural road to take to combine my love of cooking and entertaining, an outlet for creativity, and a means of income. I feel very fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love!
Humble beginnings… age 16, Baked Bread and sold it to friends of the family. You have to start somewhere. I also grew the family vegetable garden which was part hobby, part summer job.
Domestic cook, St. Hedwig’s Parish in Wilmington, Delaware. I was the private cook from 19771980 for the priests (no, I’m not Catholic), preparing lunch and dinner. I was also given the task of catering and supervising help for holiday parties numbering up to 50 people. I decided the job would be my own self-taught cooking school since I was given the freedom to make whatever I wanted and the budget was practically unlimited for ingredients.
Rent-a-Cook My first cooking service, 198082, in Orange County, CA. I worked as a cook for hire, doing family dinners, cocktail parties, and dinner parties.
Strolling Sandwich Company My sandwich delivery route, selling sandwiches and baked goods, 1983. I was accompanied on deliveries by my son, then just a baby, in his stroller.
Tasty Morsels my wholegrain cookies & cake business, 1984, in Santa Rosa, with 32 local stores as my clients. I kept this going up until three weeks before my due date for my daughter’s birth.
Manila Nursery School Manila, CA. In 1985, I worked as a preschool cook, making breakfast and lunch. The job included all menu planning, purchasing, preparing meals and doing cooking projects with children 35 years old. Definitely a challenging crowd to please! I loved the challenge.
Eel River Music Camp 198891, Alderpoint, CA. I was the cook for the three-day weekend camp, planning and preparing meals for fifty people using an outdoor cook shed.
Annual Natural Fiber Fair 19902000, at the Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA. Two day weekend food vending event, I provided onsite meals, breakfast, lunch and snacks for 60100 people.
Oodles of Noodles my annual pasta salad booth at the North Country Fair, Arcata, CA. From 19952000. Also a food vending event (entailing handling of cash onsite, as well as never really knowing how many people to plan for. I no longer do “vending” events.)
Teri’s Custom Cakes Begun in southern Humboldt in 1990, I have done cakes for all occasions, many customized in 3-D fashion for the occasion. All my cakes are made from scratch with only natural flavorings. As of 2006, my focus is primarily on wedding cakes and cakes made as a dessert for events that I also cater.
Food For Families Begun in 1994, a weekday delivered meal service, specializing in family style menus. Each meal served 46, the entrée and vegetable a “heat & eat” item accompanied by salad and bread. This was my vehicle for getting my name out in the area, to build a catering clientele. This was the beginning of Teri’s Custom Catering & Cakes.