Throughout her career, Stacy Scott has catered and party planned for folks in the Bay Area of all walks of life and almost any event format. As the owner of Stacy Scott Catering, she’s the key player for many of the biggest and best events in Marin, and she’s also the Directory of Culinary at Vivalon’s Jackson Café, where she’s on a mission to create a vibrant community for older adults.
Stacy wasn’t always in the party planning business, though, and instead was writing investor relations reports for NutriSystem when she realized that her passion was pulling her in a different direction.
“I lasted from Monday until 3:00 pm on Friday, when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to do that for my life,” Stacy explains. “I had been in the entertainment industry previous to that, and I loved parties, so I decided I was going to start a business in the party industry.”
By her own admission, she set out without any experience, bought business cards, and started looking to book clients. “I ran into someone who had a construction company, and they hired me for their staff picnic of 400 people,” says Stacy. “Mind you, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I made so many mistakes. It was so awful, but I loved it, and somehow they loved it too, so I realized I really wanted to do this.”
Learning from the mistakes of her first job, she knew she needed to gain some more experience, so she began dishwashing for an event company in San Francisco. After a few years of working her way up, the company asked if she would be willing to take on the smaller events that they wouldn’t usually accept. They gave her equipment, staff, and tools to set up her up for success. “I ran with it,” says Stacy, “and that’s how I ended up in catering.”
For Stacy, making and serving her food creations through her catering business is not the most important, or even her favorite, part of the job. “I came to this realization very recently,” Stacy explains. “I do not consider myself a chef. I look at being a chef as one piece of what I do; it’s the medium to something bigger. I love the whole circus. I always thought of it as theatre, and even in the café we say ‘it’s showtime’ when the lunch starts.”
Cooking was the way into the party business for Stacy. “It’s always been about the service and building relationships with people. They expect a show,” says Stacy, and that’s exactly where she succeeds. Completely self-taught, Stacy never received formal training, she doesn’t have cookbooks or watch cooking shows, but her success in the industry proves she was born with a confluence of skills and knowledge to make events the most successful they can be, working with and for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Martha Stewart who had an incredible influence on the way Stacy views her work.
“There is no way to over-emphasize the impact that Martha Stewart has had on the industry,” says Stacy. “She took what was a mid-century, primarily female activity of homemaking and party-planning, elevated it, and built an empire around it.”
Twenty years ago, Martha’s company hired Stacy to cater a party for employees from her office in San Francisco. “It was beautiful. It really was a gorgeous event,” Stacy recalls. “I tried to get ahold of them after the event and didn’t hear back. I started to get worried but finally Martha’s assistant called me back.” The assistant told Stacy that she had done a wonderful job, and they were so happy with her work. Martha had one critique for Stacy, though, that would open her eyes to what it meant to be in the industry. The assistant said that Martha wanted to tell Stacy that the ties her staff wore should have matched the color scheme of the party. “In other words, the level of detail and vision was so important to Martha that, although the party was gorgeous, I missed a detail. It didn’t even occur to me. It made me realize that was the level of concept that had made her Martha Stewart. It was a learning experience.”
Today, Stacy is known for her meticulous attention to detail, and she brings this lesson to every job, including to the Jackson Café. “The most rewarding part of being in the Jackson Café is understanding how important this place is in people’s lives,” says Stacy. “There are people who come in here every day. It is part of their routine. It becomes an activity for them, and for some it may be the only time of day they eat a home-cooked meal,” Stacy explains. “I have specifically decided that the food should be home-style, not high-style, but home-style, because what I think about is someone who is 75 years old and what feels like a happy comfortable meal for them.”
In her explanation, once again, it’s clear how important it is for Stacy to create an experience, not just a meal, and beyond that—a community. For this reason, Stacy joined the Vivalon team in the Jackson Café after caring for her mother and brother. “My mother and brother were both simultaneously dying,” Stacy explains. “That experience of spending deep time with an older adult and all that that encompasses made my husband and me want to be involved with an organization that really celebrated the vibrancy of older adulthood.”
To bring her vision for the Jackson Café to life, Stacy makes a conscious effort to ensure the café is a warm and vibrant place for older folks to enjoy a meal. This month, she unveils the expanded café menu to offer more choices to her already wonderful offerings.
We invite you to join Stacy in the café Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30am to 1:45 pm. You can enjoy a home-cooked meal for just $12, or $8 for Vivalon members.
Check out the menu here. We can’t wait to see you here!