Like many small business owners, jenny elmes saw the need for a service in her community of Lexington, Virginia. Now, 14 years later, she continues to fill that need with her boutique catering company, full circle catering — keeping in mind her original intent and the local environment.
When a local catering business left her community, elmes saw the opportunity to take her event-planning skills to the next level. “I decided to jump in with a bunch of great recipe ideas, some wonderful friends, two silver platters and a pretty good mission statement,” she says. “My mission statement was, and still is, based on using local, sustainable goods and leaving as little impact on the environment as possible.” That mission boils down to an even better catchphrase: big taste, little footprint.
To accomplish the first half of her mission, elmes focuses on good ingredients and great service. “It’s a personal and perfectionist way of catering,” she says. “I don’t have a choose-from list, and I don’t send out menus blind. I chat with each client about what they love and don’t love, their ideas, their theme and their budget.” Just as her business’s name suggests, elmes sees each project through full circle, from start to finish.
Creating big taste also requires fresh ingredients, which elmes gets by shopping locally. Over the years, she has found that buying fresh ingredients grown right in her community has gotten easier and easier. “I now source 65 percent of what I need locally in the winter months and 85 percent locally in the summer months,” she says. “I find that my clients like that I source locally and are so happy with the fresh, delicious taste.”
As she sources more and more of her ingredients locally, elmes also reduces the size of her business’s environmental footprint. full circle catering is a Certified Green Restaurant™ by the Green Restaurant Service, which means that elmes has to stick to some pretty high standards. For instance, she composts waste on and off site, recycles whatever she can and chooses materials with as little packaging as possible. Making sure her business operates as environmentally friendly as possible is a full-time job itself, but it’s something that elmes has been passionate about from a young age.
“I grew up with parents who cooked together and gardened together — and they still do,” she says. “They were also instrumental in starting the recycling center in our hometown. That sort of passion for locally grown, good food doesn’t leave you.”
Check out jenny's recipe, below, of one of her summer favorites - Tomato Pie:
- Prep time: 35 minutes
- Cook time: 14 minutes
- Total time: 49 minutes
- Servings: 8 pieces
- 1 pie crust for an 8 or 9 inch pie plate*
- 2 T to ¼ C pesto**
- 5 medium tomatoes sliced and salted (just sprinkle it lightly with salt) and left to drain in the sink in a colander
- 1 cup(s) of mayonnaise--Dukes
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3-4 green onions sliced—green and white parts
Download the full recipe for jenny elmes' Tomato Pie, here.
For more information about full circle catering, visit www.fullcirclecatering.com.
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