A Living Greenwich interview with Susan Watson Scully of Watson’s Catering & Events:
I grew up in Rye, the eldest of five. Once I got my first EZ bake oven I was off and running. Both my mother and my grandmother liked to entertain. They would shine the silver, write the place cards and get everything organized early in the week for a party.
Before I started my Catering business, I received a degree in Fashion Merchandising and worked at the original Outdoor Traders, Lord and Taylor Training Program and Carroll Reed. When I switched gears into the world of catering and events I partnered with a chef who had trained at La Varenne in Paris and formed Greenhouse Catering. Our first official party was for the newly renovated Rye Art’s Center for 500 guests. I remember renting an enormous hay wagon and 12’ tall cowboy from United House Wrecking. That was in 1986 and the story made the front page of the Rye Chronicle.
My passion became planning the parties and making them memorable. The little details are so important. Not every party requires the bells and whistles but when they do there is nothing I like more. Still to this day my top three theme parties in town were a girls night for 350 ladies ready to party, a full on Animal House theme party, and a fun boardwalk themed dinner where the table with six frozen drink machines collapsed fifteen minutes before the party started. Somehow, we got the table propped back up in time, with the host keeping his composure perfectly.
When I started Watson’s Catering on Pemberwick Road almost 25 years ago, all of the caterers that I remember were women. There was Susie Morton, Libby Cooke, Patty Blake, Nancy Allan Rose, and myself. I remember when Martha Stewart came on the scene with her entertaining cookbook. That changed catering dramatically. All of a sudden everything had to look beautiful and be garnished beautifully.
Food trends now and in recent years are all focused on local ingredients. We do source a lot of organic and local ingredients but it’s hard to indicate that on a menu that may be planned six months in advance. Restaurants have the advantage of choosing what is available and putting it on the menu. We have to shop for what has already been promised and then try to buy as much organic and local as possible. The other topic in food trends: all the gluten free, vegan and other dietary issues that people deal with now. We always have to have options available to make sure each guest is happy.
The Greenwich customer is very important to us. We have a very philanthropic client base and so often times a personal party brings us benefits and fundraising events. We give back a lot to the community each year by way of ads in programs, discounted parties and auction items. We have had relationships with non-profits such as the United Way, The Boys and Girls Club, Neighbor to Neighbor, Breast Cancer Alliance, The CT Farmland Trust, Greenwich Historical Society and many more.
I have been very fortunate to have loyal staff over the years. Five members of “Team Watson’s” have been with me in excess of 14 years. We use mostly local vendors as there is a comfort level knowing they are local and also give back to the community.
Working and living in Greenwich has been great. There is so much to do! I love taking the island beach ferry across and back on a perfect night with friends, it is the perfect fresh air outing. I love the restaurants near my apartment. I eat at Morello, Mediterraneo, Douro, Harvest, MacDuff’s and Abis.
We started our business in the Pemberwick section of Greenwich and are now here in our new space at One Glenville Street, the former home of The Shirt Box and Glenville Video. Now we are actually able to host small events and it is much more efficient to have both office and kitchen in one building. We are happy to still call Glenville our home.
I have catered parties for two sitting Presidents. The first party was for President Clinton in Norwalk, pre 911. The second was for President Bush at a home on the water in Riverside, post 911. My most vivid memory was the morning I came over the bridge to the house and saw a navy seal come out of the water, as if in slow motion, with all the stuff strapped to him. It made me stop and think how much the world had changed.
My website honors my father, John Watson Scully. He was my guide and my biggest cheerleader. I once needed a pound of butter at a party on Round Hill Road. It was a Saturday night. He brought me my pound of butter in his signature button down and bow tie on his way out to dinner with my mother. My best-dressed delivery man!
To view the Watson’s Catering website please visit watsonscatering.com