Yolanda & Alice Garretti are the mother-daughter duo behind the famous Acquolina Catering & Events business. Their business ethos is centered around Italian hospitality and endlessly customized food and entertaining services. Yolanda Garretti's career in the culinary arts began when she worked as a food correspondent for Vogue Spain. Famous among her friends and family for throwing lavish dinner parties with exceptional food, Yolanda was encouraged by the director of Vogue Spain to build a career in catering. After graduating from the Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Milan, Yolanda launched a small but exclusive catering business based out of her Sutton Place townhouse in New York City. Her fabulous food and sophisticated décor soon made her one of the most sought after caterers in the city, and she founded Acquolina to meet the large-scale catering needs of her elite clientele. Notable Acquolina clients include Massimo Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani, and Princess Alexandra of Greece.
When daughter Alice Garretti was growing up, she was the first to taste-test her mother’s creations. Alice remembers bringing the most amazing packed lunches to school each day, which often consisted of a farro salad and a homemade prosciutto sandwich. Alice’s career in catering was inspired by countless childhood memories of her mother’s exquisite dinner parties, with guests raving about the supreme quality of the food and Yolanda’s presentation. After graduating from college, Alice worked for several New York-based catering companies before finally joining the family business earlier this year. Alice has a strong sense of pride for Acquolina, as she witnessed her mother turn her passions for food and entertaining into a hugely successful business.
During my conversation with Yolanda and Alice, we discovered the commonalities between interior design and event catering. We spoke about that final reveal moment, when a house has been fully installed or when a catered event begins, and how much behind-the-scenes chaos is involved before each project or event is revealed to a client. Yolanda says that food is like theatre; a great meal should trigger all the senses. A beautifully decorated room should inspire and spark feeling in a very similar way.
Acquolina offers their clients completely customized menus and décor; no two events are ever the same. When Yolanda and Alice meet with clients to prepare a plan for a catered event, they always ask their client about their favorite foods, restaurants, and stylistic preferences in order to create a carefully tailored catering plan.
Recently they launched Acquolina To Go, an ecommerce platform where people are able to order Acquolina menu items. Alice says that they carefully curated their To Go menu to include items that travel well, and are very easily assembled with minimal cooking involved. Their concept is to enable people to gather their families and close friends around the dinner table while enjoying a delicious home cooked meal. They offer delivery twice weekly at the moment, with plans to increase the frequency of their delivery dates in the near future. Each meal comes in an elegant bag with foolproof instructions for cooking or assembly. Their menu changes each week, and they recently launched a Fall/Winter menu with popular dishes such as fava bean purée topped with sautéed broccoli rabe and chicken with orange and prosciutto. Click here to view their current menu and order your Acquolina To Go meal today!
Near the end of our conversation, Yolanda and Alice answered a few questions from our audience on Instagram. See their answers below:
How would you decorate your table for entertaining at home?
Alice: I start with one idea and work around it. Usually my process begins with a particular idea that I can’t get out of my head, like Marzipan fruits for example. Once I have that initial idea, it’s easier to build upon and gather elements that pair well together.
What makes a good chef?
Yolanda: Patience and passion! Travelling and experiencing the foods of different cultures also provides inspiration.
Alice: A good chef learns as much as they can about the product they’re serving, and knows how to elevate it without overcomplicating it.
What are your favorite spices?
Alice: Peperoncino (chili flakes) and turmeric.
Yolanda: Lots of coriander, and of course saffron because I’m from Milan!
What are your favorite cocktails?
Alice: I don’t like to taste much sweetness in my cocktails. Recently I’ve been enjoying a tequila based cocktail with a spiced rim that has pear juice and a thyme sprig garnish.
Yolanda: Although I don’t drink often, I love sweet cocktails like Aperol spritz and mojitos.
What are your favorite dishes?
Alice: I love the osso buco from our new Fall/Winter menu, it’s perfect for colder weather. There’s also a wonderful frisee salad with hen of the wood mushrooms, pumpkin oil drizzle and toasted pumpkin seeds, which is from our new menu.
Yolanda: I love desserts and chocolate! I’ve also been enjoying cacio e pepe and a very simple, light risotto made with rosemary and lemon.
To learn more about Acquolina Catering & Events and hear our full conversation, click here!