Please tell us about Bob Sferra Culinary Occasions and what services you offer...
Bob Sferra Culinary Occasions is a full service caterer specializing in custom, locally sourced menus for every event from boxed lunch to an elegant wedding reception. We have a boutique pastry shop that features homemade custom wedding and special occasion cakes, pastries and other sweet treats. We also offer interactive Cooking Classes both in our pastry shop and in your home or office. A final aspect of our business is culinary travel; custom tours of European destinations with a focus on food and wine.
Please tell us about yourself...
-- I am obsessed with good food, which is understandable considering I grew up in a large Italian family where what was on the table was as important as the people gathered around it. My Mom and her two sisters, as well as my Uncle were all huge influences on my love of food, cooking and eventually my career choice. I am a 1996 graduate of John Carroll University with a marketing-business degree
-- My culinary career spans over 25 years; during that time I have been awarded IACP scholarship to attend L’Ecole Lenotre in Paris, attended the Ritz Cooking School, also in Paris and earned a Grand Diploma in Pastry Arts from The French Culinary Institute in New York City.
-- In the fall of 2008, my company expanded culinary class offerings and offered our first European culinary tour to the Italian region of Umbria. In 2009 I offered a culinary tour of Provence and 2010 a culinary tour of Spain. In the fall of 2015 the most recent culinary tour to Florence, Sienna and Milan was completed.
-- I currently teach culinary classes in partnership with Fresh Fork Market and Gervasi Vineyard in Cleveland and Canton; Culinary Occasions is the primary caterer for the Cleveland International Film Festival and I serve as Executive Chef and Consultant for Trevarrow, Incorporated -- the Cleveland Wolf and Sub Zero Appliance Distributor.
-- I am a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business course, Class of August 2014.
-- In early 2015 I won a $5,000 pitch contest sponsored by the Cleveland Leadership Center to promote a culinary program for a disenfranchised youth.
How did you get started in the catering industry...
My first start came after answering an ad for a Chef’s apprentice for Cleveland culinary guru, Parker Bosley; with zero experience he hired me to work as an apprentice and I stayed at Parker’s for nearly 7 years.
I started my company after I worked at the Viking Culinary Arts Center and was moonlighting catering parties for Viking class regulars, until it was a stronger independent business that I was able to start private catering; in 2007 Bob Sferra Culinary Occasions was born.
What do you love about your job and the wedding industry?
I really love the “event” -- seeing all of the elements of a wedding come together; watching the rentals placed in each planned location; setting the cake table; watching the florist and event planner tweak every detail that wraps around and enhances the food; preparing the courses of food and then seeing the excitement and amazement as guests enter the site! It is a creative art piece each time unfolding in front of your eyes; I find it all fun and fascinating!
Thanks so much, Bob, for introducing yourself to us and our readers!