Plenty of families will be hitting their favorite eateries this weekend to toast Mom, but a growing number of others have gone a different route: hiring caterers or picking up prepared to-go items for private celebrations at home. The pandemic seems to have accelerated an already growing trend of using such resources for small dinner parties and family gatherings, say local professionals.
“I’ve definitely had more calls for events at home, including Mother’s Day,” says Chef Celeste Gill, private chef and owner of Chef Celeste Bistro in Main Street Market. “I think the idea of using private chefs and caterers to do special events at your house is here to stay. COVID has reinvented how people socialize.”
For her clients’ small gatherings, Gill says she likes to open with cocktails and a charcuterie board. For a main course, she might serve tenderloin, and dishes like shrimp Creole, grilled vegetables and bread pudding for dessert. For brunch, it’s often chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits or grits and grillades, Gill says.
There’s no question that many Baton Rouge residents are excited about dining out this Sunday, but the ease and comfort of not having to wear a mask, or worry about the last stages of the pandemic, have plenty of folks opting for their own dining rooms or patios. Moreover, securing Mother’s Day reservations at this point isn’t easy. By Wednesday night, only four restaurants in greater Baton Rouge showed availability on Open Table for 11 a.m. slots on Mother’s Day.
Gilded Artichoke owner and caterer Lisa Boudreaux-Lecoq has also noticed a sustained increase lately in requests for dinner parties and private celebrations. She turned down four different requests to cater on Mother’s Day, and that was only because she’s catering a large wedding the night before, she says.
“I think this trend is here to stay,” says Boudreaux-Lecoq, outgoing president of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “These intimate gatherings were one of the ways people survived the pandemic, and they don’t want to let go of them.”
Boudreaux-Lecoq also thinks that because the pandemic inspired home improvement and redecorating projects, people are excited about showing off their refreshed dwellings.
“I always had clients who might do it once a year, but now it’s much more common,” she says. “I think people like being at home.”
Kathy Mangham, owner of Gourmet Girls, says she’s always done a lot of curated dinner parties, but believes the pandemic has triggered a big increase in sales from her Bocage store’s refrigerated case of grab-and-go items, including things like fruit and cheese displays, hummus platters and crudité.
And while you may plan to skip a restaurant this year, your favorite eateries are still a great source of catered items, including specialty cocktails.
Modesto, for example, sells different flavors of margaritas by the gallon that bring a festive vibe to your backyard party.
Here are a few more reliable sources for tasty items to add to your Mother’s Day table:
BLDG 5: The cooler case here is always filled with interesting frozen entrees, including lamb and pear stew, chicken tortilla soup and salmon curry. Pick up pans of lasagna, etouffée and gumbo, too.
Bergeron’s City Market: Refrigerated cases hold all sorts of goodies, including casseroles, pot pies and soups, side dishes like spinach Madeleine and appetizers like hot crab dip.
Calandro’s Supermarket: Retro classics like pimento cheese (in many variations) and pecan cheese balls are perfect additions to the Mother’s Day table. Pick up great wine while you’re shopping.
Red Stick Farmers Market: Pick up hard-to-find items, like Belle Ecorce goat cheese, one of the region’s only farmstead cheesemakers, meaning it’s made from the milk of goats raised on the property. Pair these delicate chevres with a fresh baguette from Forte Grove bakery. The market is also a source for edible flowers.
Tony’s Seafood: Some things never go out of style, like party platters of baby muffalettos, shrimp cocktail or fried seafood, which also includes some of Tony’s signature seafood boudin balls.