Jeff Zak has been in the food industry his whole life and spent many years working up the “food chain” before opening up his very own catering business called Jeff Zak Catering 16 years ago.
It started on “the right side of the tracks,” as Zak puts it, in downtown Plymouth vs the Old Village divide. Having moved from Forest Street to the main drag of Old Village, Zak works year-round providing butler passed appetizers, full plated dinners, contemporary family style meals and gourmet buffets. He’s been to three years of the LGBT Wedding Expo and Zak is very excited for what he has planned to showcase. This year he is expanding his role at the expo and is providing a fully catered champagne brunch.
Working as a full time caterer, Zak provides unique and dynamic meals for celebrating relationships, recent graduations, business meetings and many more types of venues and events. He takes his time to understand the desired look and feel of the event through the eyes of the planner and the host.
Zak’s early culinary career began with working in fast food, as a dish boy, as a line cook in a family restaurant and then in catering jobs.
“It’s fun and really exciting,” Zak said about being a full time chef. “It’s not a drudgery job. In the 80s, when I would work a party, I felt like the kitchen dish slob. And now I get to be a peacock. I like the creativity of it and how my work changes.”
Zak cannot get enough of food. That is to say, that after spending all day preparing and organizing a kitchen, he returns home and watches cooking shows from PBS and the Food Network, constantly seeking out new and exciting dishes.
Preparing for an event is a big task. It’ll take around two hours for Zak and his team to prepare the dishes and pack them up for transportation. But when they arrive at the event location, Zak and his team immediately go about integrating their part of the celebration.
“There are so many variables to choose — from plastics for cake and china for the rest. And where the event is located, and how much does the client want to do for preparation? How much do they want my staff to set up in addition to food?” Zak explains.
Every event is guaranteed to have the Jeff Zak Catering touch. Zak prefers to meet the hosts of an event and get a feel of their likes and dislikes. He says that bigger events involve a lot of negotiating, but that’s what he likes to do — he likes to plan.
“I usually have people leaving here with their heads about to burst, because they thought they could come in and get a quick price, and I end up unloading with questions about layout and blocking of the event,” Zak said. “Are they going to go right from the ceremony to cocktails; are they going to have pictures? I do wedding planning stuff along with catering.”
He has contacts for rentals, flowers and beverages and is even able to make these cheaper. Zak will provide suggestions on layout and table covers so that the look and feel of the event matches the intention of the organizer.
During a recent interview with BTL, Zak recounted a story where he and his crew worked a wedding and upon arriving found out that the linens were not placed on the tables and the dining chairs. They had to work extra diligently to maintain time structure and have everything prepared for the start of the event.
In order to avoid that type of setback for his crew, Zak discusses the intimate details of his food experience and what his vision of the room looks like. Big events, like theater or expos, are all about collaborating with other members of the design team.
Zak would like to expand his business and eventually own a space like the old Plymouth Market. One part of the space would have a New York loft feel and would be a blank canvas, another would be set up like a cooking class with layer seating, a third would include a more bridal shower-esque layout and the final room would be a tall counter with stools to be used as a space for wine tastings or bachelorette parties.
“I like things to be perfect for someone,” Zak said. “I guess I really like the whole experience of my part to come from the heart. I want it to be ‘so good.'”