Food For Thought specializes in business catering, home entertainment, celebrations and weddings. Fresh food made from scratch from the highest quality food products available, while utilizing as much locally grown and raised sustainable food as possible.
Food For Thought’s founder, Emily Ryan, can plan and execute large community events, weddings, and in home functions such as anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays. FFT services are flexible to meet our diverse client’s needs, they offer pick up take and bake style foods, as well as meal packages for new moms, vacationing guests to MT or for a family member or friend in need. Customers can rely on FFT for a high quilt product and an even higher level of customer service.
Cater.com: Can you share an early memory that helped shape your interest in food and cooking?
Emily: When I was a little girl, I LOVED to watch cooking shoes with my babysitter, Mrs. Durbin. Without cable and limited access to TC programs I remember the excitement when a cooking show popped up on PBS: Yan Can Cook, Julia Childs, Capril’s Kitchen, it didn’t matter who or what they were cooking, I was hooked and intrigued and desiring more!
My first science project experiment was in 4th grade was to decipher if the color of food affected the way it tasted. I added blue, green and red food coloring to chocolate chip cookie dough to determine if the color of the cookie affected one’s choice in selection, as well as the perceived flavor compared to the . Of course, the kids chose the colored ones, but adults and children all agreed the plain cookies tasted far better. I didn’t realize until after I finished my college degree in food science, that I at 10 years old I was already a food scientist!
Cater.com: You used to have a deli and café in addition to running an event service. What influenced your decision to cut back and just concentrate on the catering side of the business?
Emily: The decision was initially very personal, but financially it was a smart yet risky business move. My extremely expensive lease was set to expire, I was beyond exhausted running 3 businesses, and my heart was leading me to concentrate on the part of my job I enjoyed most. I tossed the idea around for over a year before I jumped in, found a builder, moved the kitchen and revamped Food For Thought. It was the best business I have made yet!
Cater.com: What are some ingredients or flavor combinations you’re looking to getting back on the menu with the arrival of spring?
Emily: Unfortunately we are extremely limited in Montana in terms of the abundance of spring produce, however we always look forward to our “limited spring bounty”, as we thaw out from the long winter. Currently we are utilizing spring pea shoots & tendrils, baby greens, and edible flowers in our salads. We are also showcasing the amazing varieties of goat cheese products such as trifled chèvre and herb goat ricotta in our hors d’oeuvres platters. We love to work with bright simple fresh flavors and colorful ingredients, such as citrus, herbs, asparagus, shallots, boo chow flowers, radish & beet microgreens, and nasturtiums. Our clients enjoy the seasonal change in our menus as we create innovate recipes to showcase the delicate flavors of spring.
Cater.com: When was the last time that you felt you or a staff member really exceeded the expectations of a client?
Emily: I hope to do so every day! Our policy at Food For Thought is to follow up with every client, every customer and every order for honest feedback. We cannot do better tomorrow than we did today if we don’t continually assess and evaluate our product and services. My goal is at the very least 100% customer satisfaction, thus when a client throwing her very first networking event with a group of female entrepreneurs writes back and says:
“It was SO wonderful! Everyone really enjoyed the food and there was only about half a platter leftover. The PERFECT amount. Delivery was flawless, experience and presentation was amazing. Thank you so much for everything!”
Cater.com: You’re not only committed to delivering fresh and amazing food to your clients but you’re also committed to making a difference to your community as well. What inspired your decision to sponsor the HAVEN (local shelter for abused women and Children) Mother’s Day 5K Race, and feeding over 500 community members as they raise money for the HAVEN’s new shelter?
Emily: My success has been a direct result of the support of my community. Without my dedicated and amazing customers I would not still be in business after 7 seven long years, nor would I have been able to achieve my current level of success. With so many non-profits and amazing organizations within South West Montana, I chose HAVEN because it is personal to me, no child, woman or family member should ever feel unsafe in their home. If I can help achieve this goal by donating food for 500, I will continue to do so until there is never a need for a family emergency shelter.
Cater.com: What are some signature dishes that are unique to the Bozeman and the surrounding areas?
Emily: Trout, Bison, MT Grassfeed Beef and of course Huckleberries, are unique to our region. Some of our favorite dishes showcasing these ingredients are: MT Grass Feed Flat Iron Bison Steak Encrusted With Cracked Black Pepper, and Truffle Salt Served With Huckleberry Balsamic Gastrique. Imagine Almond and Fennel Crusted MT Raised Trout With Brown Butter and Crispy Fried Sage!
Cater.com: Can you share some tips for keeping the catering budget down while not sacrificing too much on quality and “wow” factor?
Emily: I’m a true minimalist at heart, thus my food philosophy is to keep it simple and seasonal. When utilizing fresh seasonal ingredients they do not require a lot of manipulation, thus allowing the colors and textures to shine through to create the “wow” factor without a whole lot of fuss and additional expenses. Food that looks and tastes delicious is the key to any successful event. Over the top presentation and technique is unnecessary and looks fussy and unapproachable. Ultimately, taste is the most important aspect.
Cater.com: Can you share a favorite simple yet extraordinary simple summer meal?
Emily: I envision seasoned flank steak thrown on the grill, very thinly sliced and served over a bed of summer grilled veggies, think red, yellow, orange peppers, red onions, green beans, and purple potatoes drizzled with fresh pressed olive oil and sprinkled with roughly chopped herbs. Lightly charred grilled corn on the cob, with cilantro lime butter and queso fresco (think yellow, black, green, white). And raspberry peach shortcakes with cardamom whipped cream and candid mint.
Cater.com: Food for Thought has received catering awards and recognition for beautifully presented meals. Where does your inspiration come from when it comes to the presentation aspect of catering?
Emily: Bozeman is an amazingly beautiful place to call home. The sweeping landscapes with snow covered mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers and endless blue skies evoke so much passion for me. I have always been drawn to beautiful things, places and spaces. I am continually searching for unique linens, dishes glass ware, silverware. Little accents of texture, color, height and depth that make our food stand out but without being overpowering. I play around with organic elements as well such as wood, rocks, greenery and utilize as many natural elements as I can to create the perfect gable scape for the event. I try to stay away from “trends” and let my personality shine through, and try new elements as much as possible.–