An Ahwatukee Foothills mother of two spent 14 years in the high-tech corporate world managing sales teams before the company she was working for shut down and a movie helped her move closer to a long-standing dream of being in the hospitality industry.
“I had no sales reps left to manage so I went to the movies to do something,” Chef Laura Slama said. “I ended up in a foodie movie and as I watched the movie I thought, ‘I do that. I do that. Why am I not doing this?’ I went to the parking lot and called Scottsdale Culinary and arranged a tour. The minute I stepped on campus I knew I was home.”
Slama thought when she first went into the classes that she would find a chef she could partner with to open a restaurant.
She had always loved hospitality and she thought it might be a good idea to learn what went on in the kitchen in the event that she opened a restaurant and her chef left.
Within a couple of weeks into the classes Slama realized she didn’t want the obligation of owning her own restaurant but she definitely wanted to be cooking.
“When I finished school instead of going to work at a restaurant or for another chef I started my business,” Slama said. “I started all the processes I needed to get Celebrated Cuisine started and at the same time I started doing private dinner parties.”
Chef Laura was pretty specific about what she did and did not want to be doing. She knew she didn’t want to be a personal chef. She also didn’t want to be just a caterer. She began a series of cooking demonstrations and parties. With each party she did, her business spread through word of mouth. Nine years later her business continues to grow.
Now Chef Laura does all types of private events, as well as cooking demonstrations, hands-on classes and corporate team building events where she gets the whole company cooking together. She says while Celebrated Cuisine falls under a catering license, it is so much more.
“We are private event chefs,” Slama said. “We provide a very high level of hospitality, cuisine and affiliated services. For me the premise is when we come on site the host should feel as much as a guest as their guests do. They shouldn’t have to worry about anything.”
Slama takes care of anything the party requires with companies she has worked with for years. This may include valet, live music, lighting and party rentals.
It makes it easy for a host, who only has to write one check, and for Slama, who knows the companies she can rely on to show up.
She has had cooking demonstrations on almost all the local television morning and midday shows. She also writes for Tukee AZ magazine about local restaurants and has four types of homemade granola on shelves all over the country called Laura’s Gourmet Granola.
Chef Laura has been labeled “the healthy chef.” She’s classically trained in French technique and her repertoire includes international cuisine, but she loves everything both Italy and the Southwest have to offer. She is also known for her fish and vegetarian recipes, but she will prepare whatever her clients want.
Her favorite events are over-the-top plated dinner parties where she can get really creative and corporate teambuilding. Other favorites are the live cooking demonstrations and classes.
Chef Laura will be conducting a cooking demonstration for teens at Ironwood Library on Thursday, June 9 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Teens will learn about making smoothies and then be asked to create their own smoothie as well as a marketing campaign to go with it.
“For me it was important that I do it because it’s my backyard,” Slama said. “Also doing a smoothie class is a great way to talk about nutrition without them feeling like they’re being preached to. They get a full education from me. It’s not just go and blend a banana today.”
The class is free for teens ages 12 to 18, but registration is required. Teens can sign up at the registration desk at the library.
Chef Laura will also be hosting summer camps for teens. For more information on Chef Laura Slama, her summer camps and other events, visit celebratedcuisine.com.