Growing up in the ’60s, Linda Pilcher had the good fortune of having a mother who was a really great cook. And beyond that, she actually made healthy, fresh things, like her own yogurt and granola. “That’s the tradition I grew up with,” recalls Pilcher, owner of Something Elegant Catering. “But in the sense of what is happening today, it was not quite the same because people really didn’t think so much about locally grown and produced foods. It wasn’t in our vocabulary.”
Pilcher enjoyed being in the kitchen, but when it came time to chose an occupation, she studied and began working as a psychotherapist. “I actually specialized in eating disorders,” she remembers, “but during my education and then actually doing it, I realized it wasn’t for me.” Meanwhile, Pilcher explains that a friend provided some inspiration when she changed professions and opened her dream mystery book store. “I thought, Well if she can figure out what she wants to do, then what is it that I really want to do? What I enjoyed doing most was cooking and the art of presenting food, and it seemed to me that a way to do that was to start a catering business.” And in 1984, that’s exactly what she did.
Since that time, Pilcher’s business model for Something Elegant Catering has evolved to include an emphasis on the environment. Not only does she support the use of locally grown produce, but she is a steward of the earth with repurposing, as well. “I’ve always had a thing about being environmentally responsible in my personal life—I’ve recycled ever since recycling was made available. I’ve always tried not to use plastic as much as possible, and now we contract for composting with a company in St. Louis called Blue Skies Recycling.”
And while a client’s budget is an important factor when designing a menu, Pilcher considers what crops are readily available from a variety of local sources. “We try to guide people to serve foods that are seasonally appropriate,” she notes. “I used to walk by the Soulard Community Garden all the time, and I thought what a cool thing! We now grow all our own herbs either in our kitchen garden at our Maplewood location or in the Soulard garden, as well as peppers, tomatoes, and whatever else for making salsas, sauces and garnishes. I also go to the farmers markets, and I have a source, Andy Ayers of Eat Here St. Louis, who is a broker with all the local farmers. Twice a week, he puts a list online of what’s available.”
From small dinner parties to large receptions, Pilcher believes that Something Elegant Catering and its chef, Jason Bartnick, can deliver a highquality, delicious, fresh fare. “We also are known for our salads and tasty vegetable dishes, which really may be as simple as roasting vegetables and tossing them in a Marsala glaze with fresh herbs,” she says. “I recreate the wheel all the time in terms of creating a menu. And I am a food stylist, so I think presentation is hugely important since you look with your eyes before you taste.”
Not to be forgotten, the catering company produces its own desserts, as well, and some of its baked goods, like cookies, brownies, bars and granola, can be found at Ladue Market and Gelato Di Riso on the Hill.