Interview with “Featured Vendor” Kaleb Norman of Kaleb Norman James Design

November 3, 2014

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What inspired you to create Kaleb Norman James Design? 

I’ve always been creative. When most kids couldn’t wait for baseball practice, I couldn’t wait for it to get over so I could get back to designing or building something. By the time I was finished with high school, I knew I wanted to do something in the design world and signed up for a bunch of architectural design courses. Quickly I realized it wasn’t nearly hands on enough for me and the times I had been most happy creatively was when I was working with flowers and helping friends with their weddings. So I started doing some research and found an incredible school in Manhattan and within a week was signed up and on my way to NY. After about 5 minutes of my first class, I was hooked and no doubt remained that this is exactly what I wanted to do.

What do you love most about your job?

Weddings have this way of being larger than life and over the top. It’s fast paced and chock full of momentum, so every day is different and there’s no monotony. Each client is entirely unique from the next, but the one thing I’ve found in common is that they come to me because they’re passionate about creating a beautiful wedding. So when their passion encounters my own, it’s amazing seeing what we can accomplish together. The process of working with someone so closely for anywhere from 6 months to over a year allows me to build a really special bond with my clients. We got through a lot together, form choosing venues, dealing with family issues that affect the wedding, to the small things, like choosing which shade of white we want the flowers to be. By the time the wedding comes we’ve generally become great friends. There are two moments that I love most on the day of the wedding- just before the first look, I always take a moment to connect with my bride, see how she’s doing and then show her the bridal bouquet for the first time. Getting to see the look on her face and the way her eyes light up is the best…the second is when I get to reveal the reception space to the bride & groom before it’s filled with their guests. We’ve spent months dreaming this up together and when I get to open the doors and show them a perfectly appointed space, created entirely for them, it makes all the late nights and hours of prep work, absolutely worth it!

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Where do you find inspiration?

I have a serious case of Wanderlust. If I’m home for more than two months at a time, I get antsy and have to go somewhere new. Travel for me is the biggest source of inspiration. I love experiencing a culture different than my own. From the street fashion, to the architecture, to the food, it’s all so beautiful to take in. I try to place close attention to the details that surround me, so when I travel I love find boutique hotels and shops. These smaller places never skimp on the details, so I’m inundated by fresh takes on design and style. I love finding the way locals interpret the styling of these places and try hard to pay close attention while in town.

What do you see as the prevailing event design and décor trends for 2015?

So far, I’ve noticed that metallics aren’t going anywhere! Adding in that touch of gold, bronze or silver seems to be the accent everyone going for. Whether it’s changing it up with gold flatware or adding a metallic, sequin linen, I’m constantly being asked to incorporate metallic touches for my weddings. Also, I’m getting lots of requests for “bringing the outdoors, in.” People seem to be loving the idea of really lush, greenery heavy concepts, with flower walls, suspended branches dripping with florals or creating centerpieces that feel more like trees than just flowers, everyone seems to be on the cascading floral/lots of greens concepts.

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Photo by Gabriel Van Wyhe

Falling for Fall & Winter Events: Our Sodo Park Open House

October 20, 2014

Fall events are a favorite for us.  We love the combination of sweet coziness and beautiful natural scenery to create a warmth that washes away even the rainiest of days.  Our Fall/Winter open house events were themed with this in mind and emphasized an “into the woods” experience that brought together earthy elements with ethereal neutrals to bring out the original beauty in everything we showcased during the event.  Vintage pieces play nicely in this theme as does vibrant accent colors like you will see in our Dahlia display below.

Take a peek at a few gorgeous photos from Gabriel Van Wyhe of Van Wyhe Photography.  To see more photos from the open house event, visit our Facebook page.Picture 1

Our Herban Design Studio  carves out a warm corner (above) and showcases inspiring table top settings (below) that exemplify the elegant, outdoor, natural theme of the event.

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A table of Dahlia’s complements the neutral décor with a burst of vibrant color.

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A few featured tastings from our fall and winter menus included our baby spinach salad with grapes, toasted walnuts, gorgonzola crumbles, and pear vinaigrette; our fennel-crusted halibut with olive and fennel caponata, and a sampling of our fall and winter appetizers, including our signature Sweet Potato and Dungeness Crab Cakes with chipotle remoulade and chives.

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We are grateful to our team and partners who made our Sodo Park Open House intimate, inspiring and beautiful.

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Love,

Us

Celebrating Success: Owner BJ Duft featured in the Puget Sound Business Journal

September 18, 2014

We are thrilled and incredibly proud to grace the pages of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s September 12th issue. The full-page Sound Strategies spread can be found below.

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Herban Feast sprouts offshoots for events with Northwest vibe
SOUND STRATEGIES

Glenn Drosendahl, Contributing Writer

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Marcus R. Donner

B.J. Duft, owner of Herban Feast, surveys the company’s main event space in the Sodo Park building on First Avenue South in Seattle.

Every Friday morning at his five-acre Vashon Island “farmette,” Herban Feast owner B.J. Duft hand-picks about a thousand edible flowers to take to work.

“It’s my Zen practice … my centering time,” he said.

Centering apparently works. In 15 years, Duft has built Herban Feast from a two-person operation into one of Seattle’s leading catering and events companies with about 800 events last year and annual revenue of nearly $7 million.

Innovation and diversification have been keys to the company’s growth.

It started with a small West Seattle café in 1999. It restructured, became a catering company in 2003. Then came the big changes that turned it into a local industry leader.

Herban Feast added its own event venue, Sodo Park, in 2008, followed by a restaurant (Fresh Bistro), a second indoor event venue (The Foundry), a design studio and, this summer, an outdoor venue on Vashon (Froggsong Gardens). A flower shop is scheduled to open in November.

“Building a business model that’s financially supportive,” Duft said, “gives you the depth to be creative.”

Herban Feast goes into what he calls “ideation mode” to meet changing customer expectations.

Wedding parties now are less likely to want the traditional sit-down dinner and multi-tiered cake than something more innovative. Similarly, Duft said, corporations want anything but stuffy and predictable, and are asking instead for events that get workers away from the office and electronic devices.

“The Northwest has a distinctive way of doing events,” he said. “The glitz and glam factor is not as big as in some other cities. People here are looking for other approaches.”

Herban Feast’s jobs are split roughly 50-50 between private and corporate events. Duft is aiming for higher-end events now – for example, weddings with a budget of at least $50,000 – reducing the overall number while keeping total revenue about the same.

The company was named “All-Around Best Wedding Vendor” this year by Seattle Bride magazine. Online voting was open to anyone to produce a top five, and then was limited to industry professionals to pick the winner. “So,” as editor Ali Brownrigg put it, “that means Herban Feast gets high marks from both their clients and their peers.”

Duft plans no more growth in terms of facilities this year, but would like to consolidate next year to get his office and sales teams, and his 4,500-square-foot catering kitchen, all under one roof.

A special thank you to Glenn Drosendahl and Ali Brownrigg for sharing our story, and our partners, friends, clients, and guests who have made this successful story possible.

Three Fabulous Fall Events We’re Participating In

September 4, 2014

Fall is arriving and with it comes fall fashion, food and fabulous events.  Here are three that we are participating in and hope you’ll join us!

Join us at the first ever Ferraris and Fashion event to benefit the Inspire Youth Project, which provides emotional support to at-risk youth affected by HIV/AIDS.  It is expected to be an unforgettable evening hosted by CityGuru with a delicious multi-course meal, European inspired street wear on the runway alongside Ferraris, live music, and cocktails from Cocktail Carpentry’s Brian Lee. Early bird special pricings are available online until September 8th.

Date: Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Time: 5:30PM- 11:30PM

Location: Bell Harbor Conference Center- Elliot Hall

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We are excited to host the GSBA’s 2014 Taste of SVEDKA Cocktail Contest at The Foundry.  The GSBA aims to expand economic opportunities for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. Join local bars and restaurants, including Ray’s Boathouse Café, the Lobby Bar and El Gaucho, for a night of sipping unique craft cocktails. RSVP by September 15th by calling (206)-363-9188 or email office@thegsba.org, including include your guests’ full name and email addresses.

Date: Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Time: 6:00PM- 8:00PM

Location: The Foundry by Herban Feast

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And, last but certainly not least, our team is excited to participate in Seattle Bride Magazine’s annual Urban Unveiled event, which will be held at the Seattle Design Center. This sophisticated event is a celebration for nearly-weds to allow them to mingle with Urban Unveiled partners, including US!, who can help turn their “Big Day” visions into reality.  Guest will enjoy sampling cuisine, desserts and fine wines while witnessing a fashion show by the legendary Luly Yang.  This year’s theme is Versailles, so be prepared for the royal treatment. Tickets here.

 Date: Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Time: 5:00PM- 8:00PM

Location: Seattle Design Center

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Happy Fall Friends!

Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Love,

Herban Feast

Introducing our New and First Outdoor Event Venue!

August 6, 2014

We are thrilled to announce our newest and your soon to be favorite outdoor venue for weddings and special events! Friends, escape with us to Froggsong Gardens on Vashon Island.

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** All photos courtesy of Eliott Peacock Photography

Entering Froggsong Gardens you’ll wind your way through stately trees to a front gate that opens into a series of sprawling English-estate-inspired garden features, including a recirculating stream that flows 150 feet through the garden – from a shady hillside down through the sunny lawn. Punctuated by leafy architectural statements, a contrasting color palette and floral adorned structures, Froggsong Gardens’ mesmerizing estate is certain to become your first choice for booking your most special outdoor events.

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Froggsong Gardens is a 16-acre uniquely styled garden estate designed to host extraordinary events – from weddings and private parties to corporate retreats. Located centrally on Vashon Island, Froggsong Gardens is fully equipped for intimate events of 25 to large celebrations up to 250 with complete event planning services, including our award-winning locally-sourced cuisine and the option of event styling and décor from our Herban Design Studio.

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Guests will enjoy being immersed in the lush, private gardens while taking in rolling territorial views and special spaces with features like indoor/outdoor fireplaces and covered pavilions. To arrive at the venue from the North or South end of the Island, guests can choose chartered private boats or public ferries and personal or private car, or bus service.

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Operating an outdoor event space has been a longtime dream for our owner BJ Duft and since we are in the business of turning dreams into a reality, here it is!

Froggsong Gardens is available for event bookings June – September. To book the venue, please call 206-932-4717.

Seattle Bride “Best of” Winner

July 14, 2014

We are excited and grateful to be honored in Seattle Bride’s “Best of” 2014 competition!

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Along with our friends, colleagues, partners, and peers, our team attended Seattle Bride Magazine’s annual unveiling event, where 2014 “Best Of” winners were announced.

We were honored with the “All-Around Best Wedding Vendor”

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Our Sodo Park event venue was awarded as the “Best Quintessential Seattle-Area Reception Site”

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Alante Photography

And, “Best Place for a Large Gala Wedding (200+)”.

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Alante Photography

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for recognizing us and honoring us with this prestigious award.

Love,

Your Herban Feast Team

 

The Most Important Questions to Ask Your Caterer

June 23, 2014

Your big day requires a bunch of big decisions.  To help you in your planning process, we’ve captured a list of the top questions we receive from our couples about our catering services.  Even if you are not hosting your event with us, these are the best questions to ask your caterer to ensure a wonderful, fun and well-planned event.

How do I choose my menu?

This is important because you may find some caterers have set options, while others invite you to create your own menu from scratch. At Herban Feast, we offer our couples the option to choose from one of our featured menus as well as the opportunity to work with our culinary team to craft their own menu.  We find the majority of our couples find items they love on our featured menus.

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Photo: Watermelon gazpacho, seared beef canapé, roasted pork loin (back), golden beet tartare (front), and crying tiger chicken endive leaf spoon

Do you offer tastings?

For many couples, it will be imperative to sample the dishes being served at their event.  If this is you, make sure you ask about tasting events! We invite our couples to attend our bi-annual open house tasting events or sample dishes during a private tasting.

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How do you handle last-minute requests, such as additional guests who forget to RSVP?

Aunt Millie thought she mailed her RSVP. To your surprise, you now have two more guests. It happens.  More often that you might expect.  It will be important that your caterer can accommodate such last minute requests.  At Herban Feast, we strongly encourage our clients to capture a final guest count one week prior to the event.  This enables us to ensure there is the perfect amount of food for all of your guests and reduces food waste.  However, we recognize surprise guests happen and will always make sure to accommodate them.  There may be a slight variance on the meal and an additional fee incurred.

 Will you be at my event?

This may be important for some brides. If this is you, you must ask this question.  Our Event Service Teams are structured to ensure that the onsite team is well connected to all the details from start to finish. With strong communications in place, your event services coordinator will seamlessly transition the event to your onsite team whose mission is to make your Big Day or event carefree, fun and memorable.

Will you handle all table settings, such as place cards and favors?

This question will often result in a mixed answer. Be sure you are clear on your responsibility.  As a Full-Service Caterer, we provide or coordinate all aspects of equipment rentals from tenting, tables and chairs to china, glassware, flatware & linens.  This does not automatically include place cards, favors or floral décor.  However, we can accommodate this through our Herban Design Studio.

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Do you have a per-person price minimum?

Financial questions are always the most difficult questions, but the most important in keeping on track with your budget.  Most caterers will gladly share this information.  At Herban Feast, we have seasonal minimums for off-site catering.  Our venues also have seasonal food and beverage minimums.

We hope you found this helpful! Did we miss any burning questions?

Like us on Facebook for inspiration, special invites and event updates.  Book Herban Feast catering by calling 206-932-4717

Herban Feast Real Wedding: Shelley & Jason Green

June 4, 2014

Herban Feast Real Wedding: Celebrating “Coupledom”

We are thrilled to share the special day of Shelley and Jason. Filled with joy, love and jello shots, we adored the spirit and uniqueness of their wedding.

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Shelley and Jason met online and felt like they had been close friends for a long time.  This closeness and their ability to bring each other into full on belly laughs led to their gorgeous proposal at Jason’s annual Christmas party in front of closest friends.

Let the wedding planning begin!

The couple focused on truly enjoying the planning of their wedding using a “joy” filter – that is to say, it became the couple’s metric for making decisions.  When faced with each planning question, they would ask themselves “How much joy will ‘x’ provide on the day?” (we love!) and then make the decision.

The couple also felt that without a strong cultural heritage and no religious affiliation, they would focus on celebrating their “coupledom”.  The celebration was shaped by their favorite and most meaningful things as key elements of their wedding day (this is where the jello shots came in – a Jason specialty!).

A special thank you to Ozlem Yavuz for the photography. It tells a beautiful story.Photo 2

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A Borracinni’s sheet cake featured a design by Jason’s Best Man.

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House made jello shots.

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Cheers to Shelley and Jason! A long happy, healthy life filled with lots of belly laughter.

Spring/Summer Showcase Open House

May 28, 2014

Seasonal Catering and Stunning Seattle Venues Showcased at Spring/Summer Open House Events

Thanks to our vendors, attendees and team for making our spring/summer showcase open house events at Sodo Park and The Foundry an incredible success!

A special shout out to ABC Special Event Rentals, Blue Danube Productions, August Wine Group, Prop Gallery Events, Butler Valet & Transportation, The Paper Paramour, Vintage Ambiance, Choice Linens, Celeste Cooning Artist, and Bruce Pavitt :: DJ!

And, John Parker (Jmidland Parker) for these beautiful photographs!

Our Herban Design Studio brought together a variety of textures with warm neutral colors for an elegantly stunning décor.

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Hello Orchid – the pantone color of the year!

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Delicious bites reflecting the best of the season and our signature Sweet Potato and Dungeness Crab Cakes garnished with chipotle remoulade and chives.

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Topping off the evening with our assorted soda float parfaits – an open house favorite!

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Visit us on Facebook for inspiration, events and special invites.  Planning a summer event? contact us at 206-932-4717.

Our West Seattle Restaurant, Fresh Bistro, is Celebrating 5 Years!

May 19, 2014

Our West Seattle Restaurant, Fresh Bistro, is Celebrating 5 Years!

We’re thrilled to be celebrating five amazing years in West Seattle!

Celebrating 5 Years

We hope you’ll join us for a two week special menu, showcasing favorites from our original menu.

They include appetizers such as:

Pan Fried Garlic Chive Cakes with crispy garlic chive rice cakes, sweet ginger sambal, soy lime gastrique, pickled ramps

Ahi Tuna Avocado Mango with sesame brittle, plantains, lime soy pudding, chili onion oil

And these entrees:

Cedar Seared Wild King Salmon with pea vines, morels, black garlic puree, salmon caviar, potato pea cake

Fennel Crusted Halibut with wine & butter spring veggie ragout, arugula pistou, fennel and micro green salad

 Fennel Crusted Halibut

And Kurabuta Pork New York with creamy white wine butter jus, morels, pea vines, spring peas, pan roasted French fingerlings

Kurabuta Pork

You’ll also go home with a sweet treat from our pastry chef!

It’s sure to be a full house, so make a reservation online today or call 206-935-3733. Fresh Bistro is online at www.freshbistroseattle.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/freshbistro