MY BACKGROUND

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 1977–1980 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, 1980–82, 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 3–5 years old. Definitely a challenging crowd to please! I loved the challenge.

Eel River Music Camp – 1988–91, 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 – 1990–2000, at the Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA. Two day weekend food vending event, I provided onsite meals, breakfast, lunch and snacks for 60–100 people.

Oodles of Noodles – my annual pasta salad booth at the North Country Fair, Arcata, CA. From 1995–2000. 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 4–6, 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.