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LET'S EAT: Friendship forged over love of food is Georgian Shores Catering's recipe for success

With family-style, ready-made dinners, and gourmet catering, Georgian Shores Catering makes food to suit every palate

What’s the recipe for a successful catering business?

For Georgian Shores Catering, you take 25 years of friendship, add even more experience in fine-dining kitchens, fold in a lot of hard work, and you have three locations that opened in three years with plans for more expansion.

Chef David Scoffield is one half of the executive chef team, including Wade Plewes, that have made Georgian Shores Catering a name to know.

Plewes and Scoffield worked together for many years before starting their catering business in Midland.

Scoffield says he learned a lot from Plewes while working with him and he owes a lot to his friend.

“He’s the reason I had the courage to get into business,” says Scoffield.

“I was afraid of business,” says a self-deprecating Scoffield. “But, like everything I’ve done, if it’s really hard, or I’m afraid of it, I’m going to be the best at it that I can be. Either I’m going to lose everything, or I’m really going to kick it off. It’s been scary.”

Fast-forward three years of success, three locations, and a few awards, Scoffield says, his biggest concern was that it was too easy.

Then Plewes told Scoffield, “You have 25 years of experience. You’re just good now. Whether you can believe it or not.”

Then COVID-19 came, and reminded Scoffield that it’s not easy at all.

Nearly half of the food service establishments in Ontario experienced about a 40 per cent decline in sales in 2020 due to the pandemic according to Statistics Canada.

Many of those places weathered the storm of the pandemic by pivoting and offering more take-out.

For Georgian Shores Catering, they already offered family-style cuisine in their storefront that had been a huge success in the community, with their own employees, and with the local firehouse across the street.

Aside from the catering services they offer, Georgian Shores Catering prepares ready-made meals including lasagnas, jerk chicken, butter chicken, cabbage rolls and a rolling menu of mouth-watering dishes that changes from week to week. 

“We get ideas based on the ingredients that we have,” says Scoffield.

There is no favourite dish that Chef David makes either in the shop or the catering side of the operation, because it changes all the time, and the answer to what his current favourite is may shock you.

“Currently, I’m a fan of parsnips,” says Scoffield.

For Scoffield, his favourites revolve around the ingredient.

Cooking is a creative pursuit, and it involves experimenting with an ingredient to discover how its natural flavours can be elevated, enhanced and enriched.

Of his food guru, Master Chef Enrico Montecchi, Scoffield raves, “He could make a caramel sauce that would make you want to drink a cup of it.”

That’s what makes cooking and the art of cuisine so intriguing.

“I can go into a restaurant, try something, and say, I can do that, or have my mind blown and have no idea how the chef did it.”

Scoffield recalls wistfully that he was a punk while training under Montecchi, and did not appreciate what he could have learned from the his master who worked in the White House kitchen.

“It was like learning martial arts from Bruce Lee and only learning how to front kick.”

Since then, Scoffield has learned a lot in the diamond-rated, high-volume kitchens of the gourmet food service industry where chefs can exhaust themselves trying to make dishes look like the art that went into their preparation.

Now, Scoffield and his partner are more concerned with cooking seriously good food. Their menus cover every style of cuisine form south-east Asian inspired spring rolls and tornado shrimp, to Greek chicken and rice, to savoury pies that may remind you of your grandmother’s cooking — they’re that good.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas, Georgian Shores prepares about 1,000 meals, and they show no signs of stopping any time soon. It’s full steam ahead, except when it comes to the dinner boat tours the company had planned to launch.

Scoffield is reserved while discussing the plans that promised to bring the Miss Midland back to the shores of Midland Bay.

“People feel like we let them down in the town. It was a series of unfortunate events. Cost, inexperience and changing government rules made it impossible. We’re working hard with the Miss Midland right now. We’re working very hard to get it back using our program. Hopefully that happens.”

Georgian Shores administrator Lisa Desjardins had a front row seat to all the planning that went into their attempts to make the boat tours a success.

“Georgian Shores Catering really took a hit," she said. "They did everything they could, and they’re still trying.”

All you have to do to see their commitment to keeping things local is look at the products available in their storefront: Hewitts jams, Georgian Bay Coffee Company, Chef Bill Presents drunken jams, and what meal is complete without some Kawartha Dairy ice cream — the best ice cream in the world in this writer’s humble opinion.

Georgian Shores Catering aims to go above and beyond for their local community, and they do that through donations, and supporting local.

To learn more about how Chef David cooks, you can take a one-hour cooking class as part of a fundraiser for the Midland branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Victorian Christmas.

Georgian Shore Catering is located at 555 Bay Street in Midland.