OVER THE LAST 35 YEARS, the Al Copeland Family of Restaurants expanded throughout the New Orleans region, with such recognizable restaurants as Copeland’s of New Orleans and Cheesecake Bistro. The dining group recently opened Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls in Baton Rouge and a Latin American eatery called Nole in the Lower Garden District.
This February, the group launched its first catering business — Mirepoix Event Catering (504-620-3751; www.mirepoixcatering.com). The company prepares food for both large- and small-scale events, from office cocktail parties to anniversaries and weddings.
Although his restaurant group has been successful, Al Copeland Jr., CEO and chairman of the board for Al Copeland Family of Restaurants, said he didn’t want to open an off-site catering division until the business was fully capable of supporting it.
“One of the things that made the timing work for us is we had six restaurants with skilled employees at all levels — from servers, to bussers, to line cooks, to prep cooks — that we could draw in as a resource in order to execute off-site events,” Copeland says.
He also hired a corporate chef who works alongside Copeland in the test kitchen. Together, they built a menu that’s well-suited to off-site catering.
Highlights from the collection of corporate, social and wedding menus include crab cake beignets with remoulade dressing; Asian-inspired salmon tacos topped with mango almond salsa and coconut curry vinaigrette; roasted duck, andouille sausage and shrimp gumbo; cornmeal-crusted oysters; crawfish ravioli; and lasagna bolognese with beef and pork. Mirepoix also creates deluxe charcuterie boards and cheese displays.
“Copeland's has been in business for 35 years serving scratch-prepared cooking, which a lot of restaurants have gotten away from over time, and we continue to stick with it,” Copeland says. “My great-grandmothers and grandfathers hunted what they ate. They grew from the garden, and they were very deeply ingrained in the scratch cooking process.”
There’s always something new to try in New Orleans.
Copeland describes Mirepoix’s dishes as Cajun-Creole cooking.
“We use what's called the Holy Trinity as a base for our cooking: three parts onions, two parts celery and one part bell pepper,” he says. “That's the base of making etouffees, gumbos and jambalayas and things like that.”
Although several of Mirepoix’s offerings are characterized by spices and rich sauces, the company also offers lighter fare, like caprese salad skewers and chimichurri chicken salad served with crackers.
“We probably have a library of 300 recipes that are approved for Mirepoix,” Copeland says.
Copeland believes his pool of experienced employees will ensure Mirepoix’s success.
“A lot of people hire temp employees for these types of events, and (the temps) don't really know the culture of the company,” he says. “They don't have the passion and the heart for their food or the business. We're able to use our skilled and passionate employees that are well-trained and knowledgeable in our food. So, I think that's something that sets us apart.”