27 Apr

Interview with Chef Sam Merenda

We sat down with Executive Chef Sam Merenda who spoke with us about his experiences in the kitchen, food and dining today, as well as some tips for the newly engaged!

Executive Chef Sam Merenda

What was the main reason you decided to be a chef?

Growing up my grandmother was Italian. She taught me at a very young age how to make gnocchi. Since then I always had a passion for cooking. Grilling out was always fun as a teenager. During high school I took food services courses which enlightened me to want to pursues the chef profession after graduation.

What inspires you the most?

Flavorful combinations that intertwine into an awesome dish.

What is your favorite thing about working in the catering industry and for Kahn’s Catering? What about the most challenging?

My favorite thing about working in this industry is all the great food you get to create and eat. The most challenging part of the chef profession is the long hours worked and holidays you miss while your at work, but I love the amount of satisfied clients and guests that we feed on a daily basis.

This industry, whether it is restaurant or catering, is always changing. How do you keep up with all the cooking trends?

It’s important to stay in the loop with social media, magazines, research, food shows and dining out. Pinterest is huge in understanding what others are finding an interest in and through that we can expand and explore our menu based on what is trending.
If you had one weekend to travel anywhere, which city would you dine in?

Sicily. Hands down.

Is there any ingredient you think is under-appreciated in dishes?

Obviously salt, but mirepoix is under utilized. It’s a mixture of chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Surprisingly it is a basic that gets overlooked often.

For the newly engaged, what kind of questions should they be asking their caterer?

You want to trust your caterer and it’s important to understand their experience. Ask how many weddings they cater in a year and how many chefs they have on staff. It isn’t unlikely for us to have six weddings on one Saturday during the busy wedding season, but we have an amazing staff that knows how to prep and serve large numbers of people.

Any advice you can give them?

Always challenge your caterer to provide you with a tasting prior to the event. Kahn’s offers tastings three times a year. Our wedding clients have the opportunity to attend one of those once they book with us. Tastings are a huge part of the planning process. It gives you the opportunity to try a variety of different food and also an opportunity to experience the service you can expect at your wedding.


Executive Chef Sam MerendaAbout Chef Sam Merenda

Chef Sam Merenda began his career at the American Culinary Arts Academy in Lakeland, Florida in 1997. By the year 2000 he had both his Culinary Arts degree and a degree in Hotel Resort Management. His talents were recognized early as he became a corporate trainer for the growing seafood concept Bonefish Grill. After a two-year stint, Chef Merenda moved over to Walt Disney World Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Florida to work as Sous Chef in three different world-class resorts: The Boardwalk Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and The Coronado Springs Convention Hotel. Continuing to advance his career, in 2007 Chef Merenda had the distinct pleasure to work as Senior Sous Chef in the Wolfgang Puck Café, downtown Disney. Relocating to Indianapolis in 2009 Chef Merenda worked tirelessly as Sous Chef at Oakley’s Bistro and then Chef de Cuisine at Charbonos in Avon before coming to Kahn’s Catering as Executive Chef in 2012.

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