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Friday, Dec 28 2012 12:50 AM

Foodie: Brenda Wright

By Hillary Haenes

Brenda Wright is always on the go. The president of Catering Affairs Inc., is busy running her business, which serves about 600 to 700 people per day Monday through Friday, and more than 2,000 people for weekend barbecues.

While Wright, 57, turned the kitchen and staff over to her son Jarrod, she continues to handle the business end of things for the 35-year-old Catering Affairs Inc.

Related Photos

Brenda Wright is the president of Catering Affairs.

Catering Affairs chef Jarrod Wright teaches Julie Cofield the finer points of cutting chicken.

At Catering Affairs, Miguel Serrano cuts grilled vegetables.

Freshly prepared ingredients are critical to Catering Affairs� success.

Wright, who has owned the company since 1999, continues to help clients plan events. Catering Affairs Inc. will cater any special occasion from intimate dinner parties, to breakfast and lunch deliveries for office meetings, weddings, company picnics, rehearsal dinners, open houses and holiday parties.

For your next event, call Catering Affairs Inc. at 326-4800 or go to cateringaffairsinc.com.

Cooking advice

When I developed an interest in cooking: I was 9 years old when my dad opened his restaurant. I've always been interested in food.

My first catering gig was: A 300-guest wedding at a home along the Kern River. It went very well ... I knew you were wondering.

My disastrous catering story: We had an outdoor wedding reception for more than 400 guests in October. It rained! Not just rain, it poured! The rentals were delivered the previous day and it rained on the tables all night. We couldn't dry them, they were soaked through. The rental company had to pick up the tables and bring out dry ones. The chairs were also soaked. At the last minute, the father of the bride decided to move the furniture out of the house and move the dinner inside, but for 400 people? I sent two employees out to buy every E-Z Up they could find. We had tables on the front porch, under the gazebo, anywhere we could find a dry spot. The servers were walking through mud puddles trying to get moved and set up. As soon as we got set up, the rain stopped. We served dinner, and the rest of the reception was finished outdoors.

Everything goes better with: Family.

I always mess up: I always burn the garlic bread.

I rock at making: Anything on the grill.

One of my cooking secrets: Don't be afraid. Cooking is such fun. Add seasoning little by little and taste frequently.

How I find inspiration to create a new dish: Every year I attend a catering conference. There are approximately 5,000 caterers who attend from all over the world. I take classes and attend seminars. I always come home with new ideas.

If I could spend a day with a famous chef or fellow foodie, it would be: Paula Deen because I can relate to her story. She worked hard to raise her kids while starting her business and now her boys work with her. And, she loves to laugh.

Advice I would ask her: I'd like to know how she gets it all done. My business has grown and there are days when I struggle to get everything done.

Tools of the trade

My favorite piece of cooking equipment: We use our Robot Coupe a lot.

Must-have kitchen tools: My Santoku knife. You can cut, chop and peel anything.

Go-to cookbooks: I have hundreds of cookbooks. "Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook" is well-worn.

Ingredients that I avoid: Dried herbs. We try to use fresh herbs when possible.

I buy this in bulk: Everything !

Dream kitchen appliance: A Fast Eddy's Cookshack smoker.

A few of my favorite things

Favorite cuisine: Authentic Mexican food.

Best food memory: Baking cookies with my kids when they were young.

Best culinary destination: Las Vegas.

Always in the fridge: Butter and an onion.

Weirdest food I like: Pickled tongue (I don't think it's weird).

I'm addicted to: Frank's RedHot sauce.

Comfort food: Soup of any kind.

Dessert: Chocolate.

Family recipe: My mom's potato salad (with bacon).

My splurge at the grocery store: Good cheese.

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