We are so excited to share with you this series where we interview our lovely Union Friends. We are always blown away by the passion and incredile talent in the Vancouver wedding industry and we wanted to share these amazing people with you all. So grab yourself a coffee, take a break and enjoy!
Happy Wednesday, friends! Today we are thrilled to introduce to you the lovely Donna Wadsworth, the owner & head honcho of Savoury City Catering & Events. We met up with Donna at the Shameful Tiki Room escaping the chill of a winter’s night with laughter and cocktails. Donna is a delight to be around and we have to tell you that the food that her and her team creates is absolutely delicious. They have won many awards for a good reason. If you’re looking for a caterer for your next event, hire Savoury City. We’re sure you and your guests will enjoy every bite!
Now, on to Donna!
Why weddings? What do you love about them?
I just simply love weddings, I really do. I like how the planning can be a yearlong journey with the couple and their family. It is wonderful and so touching how you become part of the family. I’ve been adopted many times!
Weddings are a window into their private world, a very special world that we get to see. For me weddings are about two people who love each other and they are celebrating this love in front of people who love them back. Weddings are intimate and they are fun and joyous. There are so many poignant moments and I love that.
This is a little nuts, but I also really like the anal amount of detail that goes into a wedding day. I really get off on that.
How did you start in catering?
I started in Toronto in a backwards way. I went to the University of Toronto to study Russian literature and then realized it wasn’t for me. I wanted to work with food. At first I started a dessert company in Toronto, but after two years realized I hated it. I hated sugar and all of the chocolate under my nails. So, I started cooking in restaurants and found that life wasn’t for me either. Then I worked in catering and loved it. I loved the chaos of it, of always working in different venues.
I moved out to Vancouver and was an executive chef for another catering company and eventually burnt out. I then started a gourmet frozen foods delivery service, but after 3 years I found I’d only made 10 cents! My clients kept on asking me to cater so I started doing that and here we are today. Catering is an insane love. I love the passion of it, the madness of it (it is constantly changing), and the interaction with people.
What is one of your most memorable/best experiences in business?
There are so many! One memory that sticks out is a wedding that we catered on Gambier Island. I’m absolutely terrified of water ever since I had a white water rafting accident. I came out of the boat in a class IV rapid and rode a kilometer and a half in the water. I don’t bruise and I was the colour of the rainbow when I came out of the water panting like an animal. So needless to say, I’m terrified of water.
The groom from this wedding was a speed freak in his boat. He drove us over to the island to look at the property and I was sitting in the front of the boat white as a sheet. We were airborne, slamming through the open water, and the groom looked at me and asked ”Donna, are you afraid of the water? You have to let go of the boat because you’re prying the wood off!” We got to the other side and I was stricken. I asked him to please slow down for me. What does he do but start doing wheelies in the boat! He had no clue of my terror. I survived the ride and we did the site inspection. The property was on the side of Gambier Island where there are no ferries. So we had to transport everything by private boat, load everything into wheel barrows, up the dock into a pick up truck and drive to the property.
The groom wanted a pig roast for the wedding, so on the day I had a whole roast suckling pig strapped onto the top of the gunboat taking us there. I told the captain not to speed because I would kill him if we lost the pig. I was terrified of losing it in the ocean! It truly was a memorable wedding. The stress of it all almost killed me, but I lived and the wedding went really well.
What is your favourite part of a wedding?
I can’t watch a wedding ceremony because I cry every time. My staff all knows to get me to leave when the ceremony is about to start. The part of a wedding that I love the most is when the bride arrives and the ceremony is about to start. I see all of the anticipation, I see all of the excitement, and I see the bride and her Dad and the emotion between them. I love it.
What is your best piece of advice for an engaged couple?
My advice it is to be true to yourselves. Be really honest about who you are and what you want. Don’t try and please everyone else. A wedding is a really special, pivotal day in your life together, so it should really be about you two. If you want to do an afternoon tiki bar reception then do it. If you want to do an opulent plated dinner then do that. Whatever you chose, be true to yourselves and your vision and honour what makes the two of you special together. Don’t sway to peer pressure. Most of all have fun with it and enjoy it.
What is the one thing about you that not many people may know?
I’ve always wanted to go to the Antarctic to see Emperor penguins before I die. I lived in the Arctic for 3 years when I was younger so I really want to go to the Antarctic too.
I’m also addicted to Smartfood. Terrible, I know.
What is your most prized possession?
It is my grandfather’s gold pocket watch that was presented to him after 50 years working of on the railway. Normally it would go to the first-born grandson but my grandfather didn’t like any of his grandsons so he gave it to me. It has been stolen twice and I’ve lost the fob that had my grandmother’s picture on it, but I still have the watch. I adored my grandfather.
What was the best decision you ever made?
The best decision I ever made was to leave Toronto and move to Vancouver 15 years ago. I’ve never looked back.
If you could learn one random skill, what would it be?
I’d like to learn how to read a map. I have zero sense of direction. Isn’t that awful? Thank goodness for GPS!
What is inspiring you lately?
New restaurants always inspire me. We were just in Seattle for my birthday and I went insane over what they were doing there. We went to two restaurants, The Walrus and the Carpenter and The Whale Wins, and I loved the honesty about what their food is all about. I also adore Lucky Peach magazine, Kinfolk magazine and Bon Appetit and Saveur for the gorgeous food.
I’m really excited by the whole farm to table movement and snout to tail cooking. I love that people are finally understanding the importance of cooking like that. We just had a whole pig come in from Gelderman Farms and seeing the excitement in my chefs over it was fantastic. My chefs were like kids at Christmas. We have our own curing chambers now to make our own charcuterie. We make all of our own cheese and all of our own bread. We really use the whole pig, and I get so excited about that. I’m also adamant about our food being local and ethically sourced.
If you could trade places with another person for a week, who would it be?
Katharine Hepburn. I loved her because she was so strong and formidable and unapologetic about who she was. She was a phenomenal actress. I thought she was a remarkable force.
Donna, it was such a pleasure hanging out with you talking about our favourite subject, food! We feel so lucky to know someone as passionate about their work as you are. We can’t wait until we get to see you again.