Michael Prete, Co-owner, Portsmouth Catering Co., Hampton, NH

Chef Profiles by Alana Jeralds / January, 2016

Designing your own cuisine, utilizing local food options, and experiencing a fun, food-loving experience is what one can expect from Michael Prete’s catering. Prete, co-owner of Portsmouth Catering Co., gears his catered events around the clients. Recently combining the food end of the business with an event center has allowed Prete’s unique catering qualities to impact all aspects of his functions. Prete began catering around 2005. In 2011 he continued catering under The Kitchen Eatery and Catering. High demand led to officially establishing the Portsmouth Catering Co. in February 2014. Prete asserts, “When you hire us, you’ll feel like friends (who happen to be chefs and amazing servers) helped you with your event. No suits, no stuffiness, nothing but innovative scratch cooking made with heart.”

How do you create the perfect event?
Behind the scenes, we work as one unit; there is no division of front and back of house. When you work five, six, sometimes seven days out of seven, you need to love what you do as well as the people around you. We follow what the word “cater” means. We design our services around the client. No prefabricated menus to pick from. We meet with our clients, talk to them about what food they love, what food they dislike, the time of year for local farms, the theme of the party, and then create a menu based on that information. On the service end we do whatever the client needs to make sure their event is perfect. We can do just the food, or we can do it all: rentals, bar service, event design, lighting, etc. We will do anything, from coordinating wedding dress shopping with the bride, to arranging for a florist or set design. We deliver beyond expectations with innovative, fun, delicious food. If you’re not into food, we are not the caterers for you. We love to be challenged and love to conjure up new ideas and new ways to present the food.

How did you know cooking was what you wanted to do?
I started helping (at least I thought I was) my aunt, mom, and grandmother making marinara, meatballs, braciole and typical Jersey-Italian foods. Later came the ah-ha moment. I was working as a line cook. One day during one of my breaks at work, I drew a picture on a dusty car window in the parking lot. Come to find out, it was our executive chef’s car. While I was drawing, a voice behind me said, “All great chefs are artists.” As soon as he said this, I began thinking and looking at food differently.I didn’t choose cooking. I feel that cooking chose me. I started as a prep cook just for a job and it sucked me in, this lifestyle, this industry. I left for a while and opened up a couple of paintball shops and began playing professionally, but then cooking called me back.

What are your plans for the catering business?
We are more than a catering company; we now have an events center in Hampton equipped with picturesque ponds, an island with a footbridge, 24 acres, board rooms for corporate meetings, a helicopter pad, an onsite greenhouse, and a beautiful newly remodeled banquet hall for seminars, receptions, and gatherings of all kinds. The setting of the events center is an entirely secluded property. The ponds and gardens are truly a sight to see, as well as our beautiful landscaping. We have an oversize working fireplace, bridal suite, porch, valet, and rentals. And our renowned award-winning catering company on site, of course.

We are also in the process of adding a second catering facility in southern Maine due to the amount of events we are doing along coastal Maine.

 UPDATE: Mike Prete and Matt Greco opened Blind Pig Provisions last summer on Badger Island in Kittery, Maine, “A unique throwback gastro pub, funky American style food, riverside beer garden.” Cozy up to the bar year round, or relax on an Adirondack chair during warmer months, with stunning views of the Piscataqua River.

 Portsmouth Catering Co.
One Liberty Lane East, Hampton, NH

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