|Maria Kopsidas, owner of Cookology at the Dulles Town Center, helps set up for a cooking class in October 2011 while sommelier Nancy Watson-Delauder and chef Brad Spates talk in the background. Times-Mirror File Photo/Beverly Denny|
With Loudoun being the official home of more than 175 companies that employ more than 100 people, food for corporate outings can be a lucrative business for local caterers.
After being in business for more than five years, Cookology owner and founder Maria Kopsidas has decided to expand the company to provide catering.
Cookology is a business based on inspiring customers to connect with friends and family through cooking. The company's owners specialize in teaching hands-on classes in their commercial kitchen in Dulles Town Center.
“I decided to do this because in addition to hosting ongoing food preparation classes, we were frequently being asked to cater events ranging from weddings to corporate meetings,” Kopsidas said. “I think it is going to get more official because we do this all the time. Someone will call us up and say, 'can you do an on-site lecture and demonstration?' and we end up feeding the entire crowd anyway.”
Before making catering an official branch of Cookology, Kopsidas and her team of 10 chefs regularly attended corporate health fairs at AOL, Neustar and other big businesses in Loudoun to educate their employees on healthy eating.
Seeing the way the chips were falling, Kopsidas began preparing for the branch out.
“It has become a bit of a challenge, but we started to buy all the equipment for it to support the huge requests each year and now we have the stuff so we might as well branch out,” she said. “I am a little hesitant about getting into catering, but nobody is really talking about healthy food.”
With her conscientious nature, Kopsidas will be taking it slow for the immediate future, only doing breakfast and lunch for corporations.
“We have done a few weddings before, because couples have had their first dates here and we could do it, but it is a whole other side of the business that I am hesitant to get into,” Kopsidas said.
The main focus of Cookology catering is “clean eating” and following the popular Paleo Diet, which consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, nuts and roots.
As part of its healthy menu, Cookology is a frequent user of local produce, utilizing 70 percent during its summer classes and participating in Loudoun's Farm-to-Fork program.
“We offer on-site nutrition lectures and cooking demonstrations for many of our corporate clients during catered team meetings and conferences,” Kopsidas said. “Eating for health, well-being and performance is part of our philosophy at Cookology, where we believe everyone with a little practice can learn to cook healthy meals as part of their every day lives.”
With her past experience,, Kopsidas has been able to make some subtle changes to the way the catering program operates.
“It is really a challenge to make sure we have enough food because everyone is hungry. I am really encouraging people to buy more instead of them telling us to just come,” Kopsidas said. “We always inevitably run out of food and it looks bad on us, so that had been a big issue. We just have to get in there and plan. I have found catering is nothing but planning and talking. I hope to make the process more efficient and easy.”
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