Wedding Woes Wednesday ~ Our Caterer Fell in Love With Me

Sometimes I wonder why my life is so weird. Mark ALWAYS wonders why my life is so weird. My birth father did sell me for a vacuum cleaner, and I did grow up watching horror films from the age of seven because my mom was addicted to them. But that doesn’t explain the pure hilarity of our wedding. You can read about the Day Of catastrophes here:

Being that it’s Wedding Woes Wednesday, I thought I’d go into the weirdest thing that happened while planning our wedding, which is our caterer falling in love with me. I’m not telling this story because I think I’m all that and a bag of chips. I assure you, I don’t. There was more going on behind the scenes of this ridiculous situation.


When Mark and I met I was working for a local produce distribution company as a customer service rep. I had several local white-tablecloth restaurants in my care, and I talked to the head chefs daily to place their produce order. We prided ourselves on great customer service, and if a client needed something right away, I put the items in my back seat and drove them to the restaurant. My favorite restaurant, who we shall call “The Persian, a World Cat Cafe” for anonymity purposes, was on my call list. The head chef, who we shall call Chef, started calling me every day for immediate deliveries. He always seemed to need an emergency case of frisee or spring mix, or something stupid like onions. (Dude, go to Savemart, it’s ONIONS.) I happily drove it to him because I hated my job and wanted to get out of the office, and the restaurant was just downtown, close to where I lived in a tiny rat hole apartment.

I’d drive up to the back door, where he would come out to get his salad or whatever, and we’d end up talking for like half an hour at least. He was a nice guy, a few years older than me, and we always had a lot to talk and laugh about. I ate at his restaurant regularly. It was my favorite upscale place to go and share appetizers and wine with my girlfriends. He told me to always come into the kitchen and say hello and he’d take care of me. (Not “take care” of me, get your mind out of the gutter, Christie!)

My absolute FAVORITE dish there was on the app menu, pumpkin ravioli. We typically got that, the roasted garlic with brie and bread, and calamari. (OMG that sounds so good right now…) Once he put duck egg rolls on the app menu and they were AMAZING! Serious party in my mouth. (Shut up, Christie.) But next time we were there, they were no longer on the menu, so I went into the kitchen and said how bummed I was because that was my fave dish of his EVER. He said no problem, he’d make them for us. Wow… OK! When the pumpkin ravioli went off the menu, he’d make those for me too. We were VERY spoiled, and he always comped us part of our meal.

One night things got totally weird. I was at a high table in the bar with two of my girlfriends, and Chef came out to ask us how we liked our food. He’d made us the duck egg rolls again, and my friends were in love with them. He hung around our table for a few minutes asking me questions about my life, and generally chatting with us. We asked if he cooked at home and he said yes, every day. I said, “Who do you cook for?” He started shuffling his feet and squireling around, looked down and said… his wife, clearly uncomfortable admitting to me that he was married. “Okaybyegottagetbacktowork,” and he fled the scene. My friends started laughing hysterically and Summer said, “He’s got a THING for YOU!” I laughed it off thinking it was no big deal that he thought I was pretty.

When Mark and I got engaged, I asked Chef to cater our wedding. It was a natural decision, being that The Persian was my favorite restaurant and Chef and I were friends. We planned the menu, a rustic Italian feast, and discussed the non-traditional tiramisu cake I wanted. Afterwards he kept making samples of the cake and having me come in to taste it, but it wasn’t quite right. It was dry, and that was REALLY weird to me because every one of his desserts at the restaurant were to DIE for. Like, I wanted to marry these desserts. So why couldn’t he get my damn cake right?! He even had me come in for lunch with he and his wife, a very nice woman with very short hair, no makeup, and overalls on. He made my favorite on the lunch menu, his crab cakes.

One time the bartender at The Persian insulted me by helping a thinner, taller girl first (when I was there waiting for three minutes before she walked up), then making a comment to the guy next to me, “That’s what happens when you’re hot. You get good service.” And he left me standing there. Didn’t take my drink order STILL. I went into the kitchen and told Chef, who told me I was incredibly beautiful and the bartender is always a jerk. Then he had him FIRED. Yet still, I had no idea that this dude was falling in love with me. Because seriously, I was engaged. I was marrying the love of my life and he knew that.

So anyway, here I was, seven months from my wedding, and I get a phone call at work from Chef. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t do your wedding.”

“What?” I was devastated, because I’d dreamed of him catering since the first time I ate his food. We had seafood-stuffed manicotti and rose petal salad planned! Long-stemmed strawberries and rosemary baked chicken and new potatoes! I was literally going to die! “Why?”

“Look… I have feelings for you. I can’t work with you. I have to save my marriage. And I have to face that I have a drinking problem. I’m going into rehab.”

“Ummm…. paahhh… uuuuuhhhh… Okay. I understand.” I wished him success in his recovery.

He was fired shortly after.

I needed to find another caterer and I needed to do it fast. So I called one of my other accounts, a personal chef for one of the sorority houses at University of the Pacific in Stockton. He said he’d be happy to do it and we met, I gave him the original menu, and we mapped out how he was going to cook and serve at the rotunda at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. A month went by and I didn’t hear from him about a contract or a deposit. I kept calling the kitchen and it was always busy. One time he answered, and I said, “Hi, this is Dawn Dimas. You’re catering my wedding.” He said, “HELLO? HELLO? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” and hung up on me. Needless to say, that guy is a douche bag. Dude, if you don’t want the job, call me and tell me you’re turning it down. Don’t mess with me like that. I was PISSED.

So here I was AGAIN, six months before me wedding with NO CATERER! I was FREAKING OUT. Mark and I are ITALIAN! The food was very high on the list of priorities. Thank GOD, I had another account that I could call on. Her name was Celia, and she owned Mustard Seed Catering (she’s sold it since). She’s the sweetest woman ever, I had shot her daughter’s wedding, and she gave us a great deal. Same menu, and my boss was gifting us ALL of the produce for the wedding, so it was amazing. Seafood-stuffed manicotti, rose petal salad, roasted chicken, and long-stemmed strawberries were ON like Donkey Kong! Celia was AMAZING to work with, and OHMYGOD the food was AMAZEBALLS. People are still talking about our wedding food and it’s been almost twelve years. She even gave me the recipe for the manicotti.

However, the poor woman went through hell working with us. If you’ve read the blog posted above about our wedding from hell, you know we had to change reception location and we were over two hours late starting due to the huge storm that washed up Lacy Peterson’s body. So, as it’s pouring rain and we are scrambling, and the hotel concierge was finding us an indoor location, poor Celia and her partner were parked on the side of a San Francisco street in their catering van for two hours, waiting to hear where they were to go. She was SUCH a trooper and was VERY kind, but OH MY GOD I’m still humiliated about it to this day. And to top it off, we paid her that night at the wedding with a check, and…

… wait for it …

… the check bounced. Mark had just sold his house in Kansas City days before and the money hadn’t hit his account yet. Humiliation set in. I’ll never recover.

Shortly after our wedding, Celia sold Mustard Seed. I’m pretty sure we’re the reason she retired. Oh my God…. So humiliated.

In the end of the tornado that was our wedding, we were married. I was with the love of my life, my best friend, the best husband I could ever ask for. And that’s all that matters. Weddings are one day. Marriage is forever. Remember that when something goes wrong at your wedding.

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Mark Kelly
March 18, 2015

Mmmm... I could go for a bag of chips right now. And yes, your life is weird. Now where's my chips???

March 18, 2015

Whoa Dawn, your wedding has the most interesting and yes weird backstories I've ever heard! So now we know why you have such an affection for photographing weddings making the memories as memorialized that yours was. Love your take on things too BTW.

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