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Tantalizing Taste Buds

December 23, 2015

Annabel’s & Co. Catering has been feeding Metro Detroit for more than two decades.

By Matthew Totsky | Photography by Brett Mountain

For the last 23 years, Julie and Erik Herman and Bradley Dockery have worked to make Annabel’s & Co. Catering a force to be reckoned with on Detroit’s culinary scene. Their clients have come to count on them for unique menus, delicious creations and offbeat presentations.

“Our main goal is to open up people’s palates,” Julie says. “We want our clients to try something new and to experience dishes they’ve never tasted before. Of course, we have requests for favorite dishes on the menus we prepare, but we always try to enhance those dishes in a unique way or suggest new side dishes to make the meal more exciting. Our food is always fresh, and we like it to have lots of flavor and texture.”

One way that Annabel’s & Co. Catering achieves this standard is by enhancing its menus with special seasonal dishes.

“This past fall, we whipped up some ice cream sandwiches with Ray’s cinnamon ice cream between cider mill donuts.

“For one Halloween menu, we featured black candy apples, cauliflower that looked like brains and chicken wings made to look like bat wings. It was a fun way for our clients to enjoy our food and get into the spirit of the season.

“This winter, we’ll look at things like split pea soup with a smoked turkey leg, a light salad, some really crusty bread and a warm drink like caramel apple cider. What could be better when you’re stuck inside?”

Julie and her partners are always looking for different ways to spice up an event through food.

“The big thing right now is food that is not so big,” she says. “People are moving toward smaller portions because they want more variety. This approach has led us to serve soup — or even cheesecake — in shot glasses. That way guests at an event can walk around and eat and can try many different things and not worry about overindulging on one particular item.

“People also like stations because it gives them a variety and allows them to choose what they want,” she continues. “Fajita bars and salad bars are great examples of this concept. We can offer up nothing but fresh ingredients and people can make what they want. But we’ve also served up French fries in cone cups so they can be passed around. Or a whole roasted pumpkin filled with root vegetables. There’s nothing we won’t try and that’s what makes it so enjoyable for them — and us!”

Over the years, some pretty famous names have enjoyed the culinary delights served up by Julie and the team at Annabel’s Catering.

“We’ve cooked for every governor in Michigan since Blanchard,” she says. “Once, we catered a private event attended by President Bill Clinton and another where Jerry Seinfeld was in attendance. We were never nervous about any of those events because we believe in what we do. Personally, I’m a lot more afraid to cook for my own kids because they’re so picky!”

Cooking has always been a big part of Julie’s life, and even though she’s tried different career paths over the years, she always knew she’d find a home in a kitchen.
    “My mom cooked a lot and I fell in love with it by cooking with her,” she says. “I graduated from college with a degree in fashion. I was working a managerial job in retail when I got my first catering position. I knew it was the right fit and quit the other job on the first day. I applied to culinary school and met Brad and Erik soon thereafter. Everything just clicked between us because we had the same goals and philosophies.”

Julie is quick to point out what each of her partners brings to the table in regards to food expertise. “Erik is the protein master. He can cook a steak to perfection. He just gets it. Nothing is ever dry or undercooked. It is not easy, but he’s mastered that art form.

“Brad is all about flavors and display. He started out as a pastry chef. His approach to food is creative and artistic, and everything is always delicious.

“For me,” she continues. “I like to find recipes, and I can spot a trend before it happens. Cooking for me is kind of a Zen thing. I’m calm and at peace in the kitchen and this enables me to deal with last-minute situations, which is important because the catering industry is filled with moments like that. But whatever happens, the show must always go on and the client must always be happy.”

A self-professed foodie, Julie feels fortunate to live in an area that offers so many distinct menus and amazing restaurants.

“It’s really a gift to be surrounded by so many delicious options,” she says. “There isn’t a lot I don’t love, but Bacco Ristorante in Southfield is one of my local favorites. They have the best shredded brussel sprout salad. It’s got yellow raisins, capers, chopped egg and a light lemon vinaigrette.

“I’m also a fan of places that put nothing but love into what they serve. The Donut Cutter in Berkley makes the best donuts because they’re all homemade. I don’t want something that was whipped up in a commissary. We once worked with them on a donut wedding cake and the reaction was amazing. It made the wedding fun and memorable — and that’s what it’s all about.” NS

Annabel’s & Co. Catering, 5600 Crooks Road, Troy, (248) 813-7800, annabelscatering.com

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