a vision for creating remarkable events
food first. inspired by ingredients. great service.
Occasions Caterers was founded in 1986 by twin brothers, Eric and Mark Michael with big ideas in a tiny apartment kitchen. Believing that food at catered parties should have the same high-quality ingredients, inventiveness and style as the best restaurants anywhere and knowing that the people preparing and serving the meal should be as gracious, knowledgeable and polished as the best service ever experienced; they created Occasions Caterers and became the standard-bearer for catered events in DC and beyond. Today, the kitchen is bigger and the team has grown but the ideas are the same: Food first. Inspired by ingredients. Great service.
1962The First "Occasion"
The First "Occasion"
Mark Michael (left) and Eric Michael (right) | Baltimore, Maryland
1986big ideas, tiny kitchen
big ideas, tiny kitchen
Eric and Mark l started Occasions Caterers with big ideas, a van, and a tiny apartment kitchen, in Washington, DC.
Originally a drop-off catering operation, the brothers focused on room-temperature offerings such as sandwiches and salads for corporate receptions and meetings.
1986full-service, by popular demand
full-service, by popular demand
Just months after the launch, Occasions began operating as a full-service caterer for corporate, social and private events, and even weddings.
1987Trendsetting: Southwest and Cajun
1988Outgrowing the apartment kitchen
Outgrowing the apartment kitchen
Occasions moves to the U Street Corridor. Expanded kitchen space and a state-of-the-art fax machine was a game changer at the time.
1988Assembling a team
Assembling a team
The brothers began to assemble a team, of talented chefs, creatives, and event professionals.
1988Favored by Washingtonians
Favored by Washingtonians
Voted as the “Best Caterer” by Washingtonian magazine.
1990Hot Trend: Neon & Carnivale
1991National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
Catered our first event at the National Gallery of Art, a prestigious and unforgettable moment in Occasions history.
1992The first event at Air & Space
1992Dru joins the team
Dru joins the team
Dru, joined the team as the gate-keeper (some say receptionist), and has remained at Occasions ever since. In 2012, she celebrated her 20th anniversary with Occasions.
Selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Occasions had the privilege of catering the after-party for President Clinton’s inauguration.This marked Occasions’ first inaugural event.
Started catering events at the Russian Embassy, and eventually the Sate Department.
1994Executive Chef, Sina Molavi joins the team
Executive Chef, Sina Molavi joins the team
As Executive Chef, Sina has been one of the driving forces at Occasions for over 18 years. Defining industry standards, he leads a troop of chefs in a 15,000 square foot, state-of-the-art kitchen , where originality, and respect for ingredients are the pillars of his culinary philosophy.
Domingo directs the Expediting and Transportation departments and has been with Occasions for almost twenty years.
1994Offices on the Hill
Offices on the Hill
The brothers move the sales team to 910 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, just steps from the US Capitol. The kitchen remained nearby at 1110 Congress Street.
1995Trendsetting: Themed Parties
Trendsetting: Themed Parties
Themed parties were all the rage. From James Bond-inspired parties to 1960’s disco, everything from menu, to decor and even wait-staff attire paid homage to themes based on eras in time or pop-culture.
Paul joined Occasions as a waiter and quickly became an event captain. After years of experience on-site, Paul transitioned into a management role, and is currently the VP of Logistics.
199610 Year Anniversary
10 Year Anniversary
Celebrated our 10-year Anniversary with an event for staff, friends and family at the Russian Embassy.
1996An unwelcome fire!
An unwelcome fire!
On the night of the 10-year Anniversary party, our kitchens on Congress Street NE survived a terrible fire. No one was injured, and the kitchen was fully restored.
1996Next Generation Catering
Next Generation Catering
Together with software developers, the brothers create CaterXpert, a robust catering program which became an industry standard and is still used today, across the country.
1996Joel joins the team
Joel joins the team
Joel joined the team as an Account Executive and has been part of the Occasions team for over 18 years.
1997Wedding at the Vice President's residence
Wedding at the Vice President's residence
Karenna Gore and Andrew Schiff celebrated their wedding and danced the night away with 300 high-profile guests at the Vice President’s residence. The entertainment for the evening included Yo-Yo Ma and Aretha Franklin.
1998Top of the list, by Washingtonian
Top of the list, by Washingtonian
Celebrating 10 years of being being the Top Vote Getter, for best caterer in Washingtonian Bride & Groom magazine.
Catered our first annual Corcoran Ball. The Corcoran Ball is an iconic event in Washington DC, and kicks off the Spring gala season, each year.
1998An Occasions Superstar
An Occasions Superstar
She’s the genius behind our most signature dish — the beloved Corn Soufflé. No one else was like her. Michele McQuaid brought a fiery energy to the team and never took “no” for an answer. She was an Occasions super-star for almost 20 years and whom our library is named after.
Russell is the V.P. of Operations and his been with Occasions for over 15 years.
Ellen is an Account Executive and has been with Occasions for over 15 years,
1999An aquavit luge. Why not?
An aquavit luge. Why not?
With AOL, and the tech boom, new youthful creatives come to Washington. Pictured here is an aquavit luge, for the opening of the Vikings exhibit at the National Museum of National History.
Nancy is an Account Executive and has been with Occasions for over 15 years.
The team surprised Eric and Mark with twin Razor Kick-Scooters for the office.
2001Big Parties & Barbecue
Big Parties & Barbecue
President George W. Bush’s inauguration and his Texas roots, brought big parties a whole lot of barbecue to Washington.
2003The President's Dinner
The President's Dinner
Catered the Annual President’s dinner for 6500, making it the largest event we ever catered at that time.
2004Nowruz at the James Beard House
Nowruz at the James Beard House
Together with a team, Chef Sina Molavi traveled to the James Beard House in New York City to serve a special Persian menu, celebrating Nowruz, the “Persian New Year”.
The Occasions team travels to Spain. For 5 days, they visited markets, farms, vineyards and restaurants for a culinary-packed tour of Barcelona.
2004Conveyor Belt Crazy
Conveyor Belt Crazy
Debuted our new Japanese conveyor belt (normally used for Sushi) at the National Air & Space Museum. A fun, and eye-catching way to display food, the conveyor belt is still a hot-ticket item, for cocktail receptions.
2005Fair-trade, organic, single-origin beans, from Nicaragua
Fair-trade, organic, single-origin beans, from Nicaragua
Occasions travels to a coffee farm in Nicaragua with local Washington chefs to learn about fair-trade, organic, single-origin coffee and select the perfect beans for coffee service.
2006MENUS Catering is Launched
MENUS Catering is Launched
Occasions launches MENUS, a drop-off catering division, ideal for office, and corporate events that don’t’ require full-service.
2006Bastille Day at the James Beard House
Bastille Day at the James Beard House
The Occasions team returns to the James Beard House in New York City, to prepare a meal, celebrating Bastille Day.
2007Occasions in Naples!
Occasions in Naples!
The team travels to Naples, Italy to taste wines, visit farms, and meet with chefs to get inspired for 2007.
2007Trendsetting: Lit Tables
Trendsetting: Lit Tables
Occasions debuts its custom designed, LED lit tables and bars. The tables can be lit to different colors, or be used to back-light a printed linen.
2007Trendsetting: Bite-size Me
Trendsetting: Bite-size Me
Everything imaginable became bite-size. This was particularly important on the Hill, following Congressional rules and regulations.
Named the Top Caterer in the Washington Business Journal
2008The first Green Caterer in the nation
The first Green Caterer in the nation
Occasions was named the first certified Green Caterer, by the Green Restaurant Association.
2009Obama's First Inauguration
Obama's First Inauguration
For President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, we were spread across the city for inaugural parties hosted by Google, PIC (Presidential Inaugural Committee), The Creative Coalition, Michigan State Society, and more.
2009Night at the museum
Night at the museum
The excitement, volume of events, street closures and high-level security made for a challenging, yet incredibly memorable time. With only a few hours in-between events, we provided staff with blankets and sleeping bags so they could find a few hours of rest before the next event.
Google’s inaugural bash for 2,000 guests at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium included giant igloos.
2009Trendsetting: Craft Cocktail Program
Trendsetting: Craft Cocktail Program
Worked with award-winning mixologist Derek Brown, to create a craft cocktail program and train staff.
2009St. Patrick's Day at the White House
St. Patrick's Day at the White House
Logistics Manager, Paul Varga served President Obama at the White House St. Patrick’s Day dinner.
2009Event Innovator: Eric Michael
Event Innovator: Eric Michael
Co-Owner, and Creative Director Eric Michael, named a Top Event Innovator, BizBash magazine.
2011A Second Term
A Second Term
Featured on NPR to share our thoughts on the upcoming inaugural weekend, celebrating President Obama’s second term.
Commissioned paper-cutting artist Beatrice Coron to custom create several scenes, depicting Occasions’ work. Coron’s work has been featured in the Metropolitan Museum, The Walker Art Center and The Getty. She is known for illustrations, fine art, book art and public art. To learn more, visit her website.
2012A Dinner Party with Alice Waters
A Dinner Party with Alice Waters
Hosted Sips and Suppers, a fundraising dinner with Alice Waters as and Joan Nathan as co-hosts to support Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kitchen.
2012Have Garnish. Will Travel.
Have Garnish. Will Travel.
Our team of chefs, waiters and executives made our way to Charlotte, North Carolina to cater the Democratic National Convention.
2012Let's Move: Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
Let's Move: Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
Hosted the judging round of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest from the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, fighting obesity among children. Winners of the nation-wide contest, attended the “Kids State Dinner” at the White House, hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. Executive Chef Sina Molavi was on the panel of judges alongside Jose Andres, Sam Kass, and the Chief Editor for Epicurious.com, Tanya Steele.
2012A New HQ!
A New HQ!
The Michael brothers restore what was once the Ottenberg Baker, to become the new headquarters for Occasions Caterers, located in Northeast Washington D.C.
2012Community Art Project
Community Art Project
Partnered with Sitar Arts Center and Higher Achievement to create a mural the Occasions. Students from both organizations designed and created the mural, while learning about local foods, nutrition, and sustainability. The mural grows each year, as the students add onto the mural each Summer. Both organizations focus on educational development and mentoring.
2012snow and skating in the library
snow and skating in the library
Install and ice-rink and make it snow in the Library of Congress? No problem.
2012Eat real. Mostly plants. Not too much.
Eat real. Mostly plants. Not too much.
Partnered with Martha’s Table, and Les Dammes d’Escoffier to host Food Day at Occasions Caterers. Parents and children from the Martha’s Table network came to learn about healthy, affordable, and delicious ways to source and prepare foods.
2012Chefs for Equality
Chefs for Equality
Proud sponsor of the first annual, Chefs for Equality fundraiser, supporting the Human Rights Campaign, headquartered in Washington D.C.
A few team members traveled to Paris to attend Maison d’Objet, a tradeshow focused on lifestyle design. They returned with plenty of ideas to inspire event-planning for the rest of 2013.
2013Tenting the National Mall
Tenting the National Mall
Catered a tented, and seated dinner for over 3500 guests, on the National Mall, honoring the United Sates Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 20th Anniversary.
20132013 Inaugural Trends
2013 Inaugural Trends
Trends spotted at the 2013 inaugural weekend included a healthier and more sustainable approach, reinforcing Michelle Obama’s Lets Move initiative as well as craft cocktails, “adult” root-beer floats and milkshakes as well ad reinvented all-american classics. We also saw more late-night cocktail parties and Sunday brunches than ever before.
2013A Dedicated Team
A Dedicated Team
Pre-game huddle before one of the many inaugural celebrations. Teamwork is everything.
2013Trendsetting: Updated Classics
Trendsetting: Updated Classics
Relaunched many of the tried-and-true, all-time classics. Wedge Salads and Shrimp Cocktail will never get old, and don’t have to be played out.
2013JBF Taste America: DC Edition
JBF Taste America: DC Edition
Our very own Chef Chair for “Amici e Cucina”, the Taste America dinner, hosted by the James Beard Foundation at the Italian Embassy. Occasions produced the event with the help of Dufour Productions, Chief and Ambassador Capricia Marshall, Chef Sean Brock, Donna Brazile and other local chefs. Guests enjoyed a progressive Italian-inspired dinner, featuring courses from different local chefs. All proceeds from the evening benefited the James Beard Foundation and FreshFarm Markets.