When it comes to El Paso’s vibrant culinary scene, there is often one aspect that gets overlooked: events catering and private chefs.
Today’s Buy El Paso Adventures we take a look at three seasoned vets from the world of catering and events (see what we did there?). Megan Hoover, the chef and owner behind Megalicious Meals; Janet Herrera, chef and owner of La Vianda Catering; and Benwan Gorham, chef and owner of All Occasions Southern Soul Food and Catering. Each exemplifies the spirit of creativity, dedication, and community-driven success that makes El Paso businesses thrive.
Megan Hoover began her culinary journey as a private chef for local families for nearly two decades. By building her reputation as one of El Paso’s top private chefs, she was able to branch out into a food truck and private events ranging in size from small dinner parties to weddings with 150 guests and everything in between, including buffet or banquet service.
The journey to entrepreneurship for Megan was both exhilarating and challenging. During the pandemic shutdowns in 2020, Megan’s catering business unexpectedly grew.
“Starting my own business and watching it grow has been exciting,” she said. “During the pandemic, when all the restaurants had to shut down, people started calling me to deliver meals to their homes. That really pushed me to grow even more, I kind of didn’t really have a choice.”
Megan’s unwavering commitment to her hometown, El Paso, is evident in her dedication to providing exceptional catering experiences that celebrate the city’s spirit and people.
Janet Herrera’s journey began over 20 years ago when she noticed a gap in the market as established caterers were retiring. She decided to fill that void with her expertise in desserts and sweets, which eventually evolved into providing meals for private schools and senior homes into La Vianda Catering.
La Vianda Catering’s unique strength lies in its ability to offer comprehensive event planning services. From designing menus to coordinating decorations, music, and more, Janet’s team orchestrates seamless events that leave lasting memories.
“I was born in El Paso,” says Janet. “It makes me proud that El Pasoans choose to support local businesses. They have the choice to go anywhere but they choose local businesses. We have the quality and capacity to provide many of the same services larger companies or companies from other places have. And they trust us.”
Benwan Gorham’s culinary journey started in the military. During his service in the U.S. Army, Gorham was encouraged by a superior to pursue his passion when he retired.
All Occasions Southern Soul Food and Catering specializes in a mouth-watering fusion of French-Louisiana cuisine and down home southern soul food.
“Here in El Paso, most of what is offered is Mexican food, there were a few small restaurants doing soul food or seafood but they weren’t doing it Louisiana style,” says Gorham. “I wanted to give that flavor to El Paso.”
Like many new business owners, Gorham was nervous about getting started, but with lots of research and lots of love for his craft, he’s been putting smiles on the faces of many El Pasoans.
“Those smiles are my favorite part,” Gorham said. “I put love into my food. It’s not abou the business. It’s about the smiles. We are a family business.”
By choosing to support local caterers like All Occasions Southern Sould Food and Catering, Megalicious Meals and La Vianda Catering, the people of El Paso are not just indulging their taste buds but also contributing to a richer, more vibrant culinary landscape.
“Buying El Paso keeps money here, locally,” said Gorham. “The mom-and-pop caterers and restaurants are what El Pasoans were brought up on. The big chains came in later but when you want that authentic flavor, that’s when you come back to local businesses. That’s why we keep it local.”