North Moore Catering was born out of a longing. Jess Jazey-Spoelstra was working at Walkers in Tribeca, corner of North Moore St. and Varick St. (7th Ave), in Manhattan. Disenchanted with the catering at her wedding, Jazey-Spoelstra had an epiphany, and decided to launch a catering company instead of a restaurant. She and her husband Harmen, along with general manager Sandra Doyle-Holden, set about building North Moore’s status as one of the city’s foremost caterers almost entirely on word-of-mouth.
Jazey-Spoelstra is a natural communicator with her finger firmly on the culinary pulse. Like any effective entrepreneur, she has a particular charisma and an innate gift for training and mentoring skilled staff that can communicate her vision and deliver it with finesse.
When Jazey-Spolestra was offered the restaurant space at Museum London for the River Room, she and Harmen were initially reluctant. However, the room and the facilities were the proper fit for a caterer with the Jess’s entrepreneurial vision and creative talents. The River Room quickly became a success.
Her latest project is the upscale Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shop, in the premises previously occupied by the gift shop at Museum London. The café is named after Tom Benner’s White Rhino sculpture that has stood watch on the grounds of the museum since 1987. There are plans to place patio tables on the well-manicured front lawn and guests will also be able to sit by the beautiful pond on the west side of the Museum.
Jazey-Spoelstra’s sophisticated design sensibility is reflected in all her projects. It is about delivering elegance, and paying attention to detail. Smoky crystal chandeliers, with dozens of multifaceted hanging crystals, and custom-made black leather banquettes set the tenor. Designed to be multi-functional, the space can be repurposed for special and private events.
The in-house scratch bakery is set to showcase pâtisseries, pies, croissants, handmade doughnuts and hand-rolled bagels. Pastry chef Michele Lenhardt’s chic dessert offerings include goat cheese cheesecake, cherry and lemon tarts and her signature chocolate pâté. The café will be licenced and the kitchen will turn out grab and go sandwiches, paninis, and charcuterie and there are plans to make tapas available on Thursday nights.
Jazey-Spoelstra focuses on providing innovative and cutting edge food experiences combined with extraordinary service which is her hallmark. She does not source products from the standard food suppliers but instead selects each food item to ensure quality and freshness at each event.
She has a penchant for adding her own signature style by reimagining food styles and cultures. “Quality has always been my number one priority, even if it means that my prices are higher than some competitors. At caterings, we still cook all the food fresh on site with a portable kitchen. Everything is made from scratch and if we can’t keep our standards because of budget constraints or venue constraints, then we won’t do the event.”
Most ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible, but some iconic staples such as smoked salmon, caviar, bagels and cream cheese are express-shipped by courier from the famed Russ & Daughters in New York. This is a testament to her desire to bring nothing but the best to the table for her clients.
Last May, Jazey-Spoelstra invited me to the River Room to sample Russ & Daughters hand-sliced smoked salmon which is only available once a year (the year prior it wasn’t available at all). The cold- smoked Gaspé Nova is a primal experience due to the combination of the fattiness of the fish and the mild smokiness. She served this delicacy with double hand-whipped, eat-it-by-the-spoonful, scallion-cream cheese and proper hand-made chewy bagels. We also sampled the complex and sensual mouth feel of Osetra caviar from sustainably raised Californian sturgeon. On another occasion she invited me to sample some new dishes. Well, nobody in this city does bone marrow the way the River Room does – oh, the deep and satisfying pleasure of eating pure rich hot bone marrow.
Speaking of Russ & Daughters, Jazey-Spoelstra told me about an independent documentary called The Sturgeon Queens. Its recent release was timed to coincide with Russ & Daughters centennial this year. The documentary features an extensive interview with two of the daughters for whom the lox and herring emporium was named. One hundred-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and her sister 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman both share anecdotes that encapsulate the Jewish immigrant experience: “hard work, humor, romance, and a little tsuris (aggravation).” Other participants include the fourth generation family members who operate the shop today. The film also features Herman Vargas, aka “The Artistic Slicer,” longtime employee, now manager, who represents the new wave of immigrants behind the Russ & Daughters counter.
North Moore caters cocktail parties, weddings, post-wedding brunches, dinners at your home, corporate events or any other occasion that requires a caterer. Past events have included cocktail parties with guest lists of 1500, as well as intimate dinner parties.
“We are a full service catering company that takes care of the rentals, linen selection, floral, decor, backdrops, head table decor, wedding cakes and favours,” says general manager Sandra Doyle-Holden. “We assist with timeline, floor plan and planning. We take great pride in everything we do and do our best to ensure every event is perfect,”
North Moore Catering
519- 697- 2560
Venues: The River Room / Rhino Lounge www.theriverroom.ca; Museum London www.londonmuseum.on.ca; Mercedes London; Farhi Farms; Civic Garden Complex www.london.ca/civiccentre; Centennial Hall www.centennialhall.london.ca; Michael Gibson Gallery www.gibsongallery.com; Children’s Museum http://www.londonchildrensmuseum.ca; The Grand Theatre www.grandtheatre.com; Fanshawe Pioneer Village, Fanshawe Conservation Area, Old Century Barn.
Museum London, Ridout Street North
MONDAY—SUNDAY: 9 AM—5 PM
THURSDAYS: 9 AM—9 PM
The River Room Café
Museum London, Ridout Street North
MONDAY—FRIDAY: 9 AM—4 PM
SUNDAY FOR BRUNCH
The River Room is also open in the evenings for private dining, weddings, dinner parties, cocktail parties, holiday parties, and business dinners.
BRYAN LAVERY is a well-known chef and eatdrink’s Food Writer at Large.