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Company

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.

 

Occasions History

1962

The First "Occasion"
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The First "Occasion"

Mark Michael (left) and Eric Michael (right) | Baltimore, Maryland

1986

big ideas, tiny kitchen
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big ideas, tiny kitchen

Eric and Mark l started Occasions Caterers with big ideas, a van, and a tiny apartment kitchen, in Washington, DC.

1986

Basics first
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Basics first

Originally a drop-off catering operation, the brothers focused on room-temperature offerings such as sandwiches and salads for corporate receptions and meetings.

1986

full-service, by popular demand
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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.

1987

Trendsetting: Southwest and Cajun

1988

Outgrowing the apartment kitchen
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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.

1988

Assembling a team
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Assembling a team

The brothers began to assemble a team, of talented chefs, creatives, and event professionals.

1988

Favored by Washingtonians
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Favored by Washingtonians

Voted as the “Best Caterer” by Washingtonian magazine.

1990

Hot Trend: Neon & Carnivale

1991

National Gallery of Art
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National Gallery of Art

Catered our first event at the National Gallery of Art, a prestigious and unforgettable moment in Occasions history.

1992

The first event at Air & Space

1992

Dru joins the team
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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.

1993

presidential after-party
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presidential after-party

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.

1994

Embassy Row
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Embassy Row

Started catering events at the Russian Embassy, and eventually the Sate Department.

1994

Executive Chef, Sina Molavi joins the team
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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.

1994

Meet Domingo
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Meet Domingo

Domingo directs the Expediting and Transportation departments and has been with Occasions for almost twenty years.

1994

Offices on the Hill
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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.

1995

Trendsetting: Themed Parties
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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.

1996

Meet Paul
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Meet Paul

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.

1996

10 Year Anniversary
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10 Year Anniversary

Celebrated our 10-year Anniversary with an event for staff, friends and family at the  Russian Embassy.

1996

An unwelcome fire!
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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.

1996

Next Generation Catering
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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.

1996

Joel joins the team
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Joel joins the team

Joel joined the team as an Account Executive and has been part of the Occasions team for over 18 years.

1997

Wedding at the Vice President's residence
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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.

1998

Top of the list, by Washingtonian
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Top of the list, by Washingtonian

Celebrating 10 years of being being the Top Vote Getter, for best caterer in Washingtonian Bride & Groom magazine.

1998

Cinderella-like
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Cinderella-like

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.

1998

An Occasions Superstar
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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.

1999

Meet Russell
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Meet Russell

Russell is the V.P. of Operations and his been with Occasions for over 15 years.

1999

Meet Ellen
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Meet Ellen

Ellen is an Account Executive and has been with Occasions for over 15 years,

1999

An aquavit luge. Why not?
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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.

1999

Meet Nancy
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Meet Nancy

Nancy is an Account Executive and has been with Occasions for over 15 years.

2000

Twin Scooters
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Twin Scooters

The team surprised Eric and Mark with twin Razor Kick-Scooters for the office.

2001

Big Parties & Barbecue
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Big Parties & Barbecue

President George W. Bush’s inauguration and his Texas roots,  brought big parties a whole lot of barbecue to Washington.

2003

The President's Dinner
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The President's Dinner

Catered  the Annual President’s dinner for 6500, making it the largest event we ever catered at that time.

2004

Nowruz at the James Beard House
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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”.

2004

¡Salud!
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¡Salud!

The Occasions team travels to Spain.  For 5 days, they visited markets, farms, vineyards and restaurants for a culinary-packed tour of Barcelona.

2004

Conveyor Belt Crazy
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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.

2005

Fair-trade, organic, single-origin beans, from Nicaragua
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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.

2006

MENUS Catering is Launched
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MENUS Catering is Launched

Occasions launches MENUS, a drop-off catering division, ideal for office, and corporate events that don’t’ require full-service.

2006

Bastille Day at the James Beard House
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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.

2007

Occasions in Naples!
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Occasions in Naples!

The team travels to Naples, Italy to taste wines, visit farms, and meet with chefs to get inspired for 2007.

2007

Trendsetting: Lit Tables
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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.

2007

Trendsetting: Bite-size Me
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Trendsetting: Bite-size Me

Everything imaginable became bite-size. This was particularly important on the Hill, following Congressional rules and regulations.

2007

Top Caterer
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Top Caterer

Named the Top Caterer in the Washington Business Journal

2008

The first Green Caterer in the nation
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The first Green Caterer in the nation

Occasions was named the first certified Green Caterer, by the Green Restaurant Association.

2008

Trendsetting: Dessert-Pops

2009

Obama's First Inauguration
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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.

2009

Night at the museum
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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.

2009

Google It.
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Google It.

Google’s inaugural bash for 2,000 guests at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium included giant igloos.

2009

Trendsetting: Craft Cocktail Program
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Trendsetting: Craft Cocktail Program

Worked with award-winning mixologist Derek Brown, to create a craft cocktail program and train staff.

2009

St. Patrick's Day at the White House
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St. Patrick's Day at the White House

Logistics Manager, Paul Varga served President Obama at the White House St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

2009

Event Innovator: Eric Michael
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Event Innovator: Eric Michael

Co-Owner, and Creative Director Eric Michael, named a Top Event Innovator, BizBash magazine. 

2011

A Second Term
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A Second Term

Featured on NPR to share our thoughts on the upcoming inaugural weekend, celebrating President Obama’s second term.

2011

Papercut
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Papercut

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.

2012

A Dinner Party with Alice Waters
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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.

2012

Have Garnish. Will Travel.
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Have Garnish. Will Travel.

Our team of chefs, waiters and executives made our way to Charlotte, North Carolina to cater the Democratic National Convention.

2012

Let's Move: Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
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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.

2012

A New HQ!
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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.

2012

Community Art Project
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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.

 

 

2012

snow and skating in the library
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snow and skating in the library

Install and ice-rink and make it snow in the Library of Congress? No problem.

2012

Eat real. Mostly plants. Not too much.
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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.

2012

Chefs for Equality
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Chefs for Equality

Proud sponsor of the first annual, Chefs for Equality fundraiser, supporting the Human Rights Campaign, headquartered in Washington D.C.

2012

Bonjour!
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Bonjour!

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.

2013

Tenting the National Mall
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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.

2013

2013 Inaugural Trends
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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.

2013

A Dedicated Team
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A Dedicated Team

Pre-game huddle before one of the many inaugural celebrations. Teamwork is everything.

2013

Trendsetting: Updated Classics
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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.

2013

JBF Taste America: DC Edition
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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.