A group I volunteer with (and serve on the board of) recently contracted Ciree Linsenman to cater a large, upscale banquet we hold every year. The food had to be vegan, though, as we're an animal advocacy group.
To our delight, we discovered that Ms. Linsenman, aside from being one of the only gourmet vegan caterers in the Twin Cities and the Upper Midwest, also is one of the best and most inventive chefs around. To make such sophisticated food, let alone vegan food, requires both skill and creativity, which she certainly does not lack. The food she made got rave reviews from our 70+ guests (especially her peanut-cinnamon soup, and her "cheddar quenelle" main dish) and also showed people just how good vegan food can be.
At the elegant tasting event she held for us before the actual banquet, I was also amazed by her veganized version of "fesenjan," an Iranian stew made with pomegranate and a multitude of spices. Ms. Linsenman made accessible a traditionally meat-based dish and, as such, much be applauded for opening up new possibilities in the vegan food world. One key touch in the dish that I found remarkable was her home-made seitan (a beef-substitute made of wheat gluten).
I was also impressed with Ms. Linsenman's ability to gracefully handle the chaos and uncertainties of planning a large event. Moreover, she listens intently and doesn't have any kind of diva-attitude; Ms. Linsenman is eager to always deliver on her clients' needs, and she's able to take abstract ideas and turn them into concrete results. Often times, I'm not sure WE knew what we wanted, but Ms. Linsenman was able to figure out what we needed.
Moreover, Ms. Linsenman has a great sense of humor and knows how to be both an entertainer and a professional caterer. This set us all at ease as we knew she was on top of things, wasn't fazed by last-minutes changes, and didn't need to be overly-directed to get the job done.
She's also talented in other arenas, namely photography, videography and cooking classes. I had the pleasure of attending one of her dog biscuit-making classes, which was enormously fun; it was like a small party, with a hands-on activity, and plenty of delicious food and wine to make the workshop even more interesting. And, while my group hasn't used her as a videographer, one need only look at her work to see she has great skills in marketing and framing things in a way to attract the most attention to your business. I was particularly impressed with the video work she's done for Ethique Nouveau, a boutique store in south Minneapolis.
Ms. Linsenman's array of talents, and her wry sense of humor, make her a pleasure to work with. Her food is easily among the best you'll find in the Twin Cities and I just hope she'll open a restaurant in the near future, because we need one, and she's one of few chefs capable of doing it right.