Chris Boukedes used to push brooms. Now, the former burger-flipper manages the Galway Hooker Pub in Lake Norman and The Comedy Zone at the N.C. Music Factory. The son of Greek immigrants, Boukedes' projects have spread all over Charlotte's culinary scene. This summer, he opened his own catering company, Charlotte Catering (http://charlottecateringandevents.com), at the EpiCentre. Boukedes hopes to direct all elements of an event, from the food to the photography.
Creative Loafing: Given the recession and all of the big stars on Food Network, what's something that catering can do to get that same attention?
Chris Boukedes: It already has. Every little restaurant has looked at catering as an answer. What I've seen in the last three years as a whole, restaurants are struggling. One out of 10 restaurants today won't be around in five years. The EpiCentre has got some of the best hooks you can ask for from a catering perspective. I know the food. Now, you're going to tell me I have three to five of the coolest venues in Charlotte that I can put my events on in? It's a no-brainer for me.
Where do you figure out that hook of what people want? Because it's different every time.
By my experience. Having 20 years of this, there's not much that I haven't seen. Luck is nothing more than being prepared, and being ready for it. You've got to be lucky to a certain level to catch people at the right time, you've got to be lucky to meet somebody that has the same interest, and try to grow something. But that's no more than timing and being prepared, because the same kind of luck can be bad luck. My father used to say this a lot, "Don't expect to be lucky, be prepared to be lucky." Meaning, put yourself in the situations, put yourself in front of the right people. Be around people that are successful in the field of things that you want to do.
What would you cater for yourself and your family if you had a $100 billion tab?
I want a damn 20-person catering inside of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Mediterranean food all the way through. Grilled chicken with my Grandma's recipe. Lots of greens. Lots of Uzo. And a lot of dessert. I've been there six or seven times. I want to be the event planner that can say, "Hey, one of my venues is the Parthenon." Everybody can have the back room of a restaurant that's separated from the general dining room. It's places that are creative that you can add a little character to them and make your own. That is what differentiates us.