LANCASTER – Want a special meal, but don’t feel like like cooking or cleaning? Looking for a special picnic, but don’t want to shop and put it together?
Contact Gather Provisions.
Lancaster chef Erin Anderson, a native of Northboro, is launching a new business featuring private dinners in your home and curated picnic boxes ready to take to any outing or gathering.
Anderson had 13 years of experience in the food service industry working in restaurants,
corporate dining and private residences. After living and cooking in Southern California,, she returned to her roots in Central Massachusetts.
COVID-19 allowed her to focus her passion for food into private dinners in residences to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions.
“I will be your personal chef in your home for special occasions,” Anderson said. “I take care of the shopping, off site prep, on site cooking and service and clean up.”
The other part of the business is picnic boxes featuring ready to go items that are packaged in a box ready to take on a picnic or to any outdoor occasion, whether it is at a nearby winery or to hang out in Clinton’s Central Park.
“This is the next level in the grazing and charcuterie board trend,” Anderson said. “My picnic boxes go beyond salami and cheese, although there’s some of that in there, too. Nothing needs to be reheated. It’s all items like chicken salad, hummus, side salads and dessert. It will include all utensils, napkins, plates and even a trash bag so nothing gets left behind. “
The picnic boxes launch on June 12.
“So far, I have been doing a lot of private dinners in people’s homes. I do custom menus and different dishes for every menu I create; that way it is catered to each client,” she said. “One favorite was a crispy char siu pork belly with fresh spring peas and pickled radishes. Another favorite that a repeat client requested again was sautéed shrimp with spinach, blistered tomatoes, basil and crispy capers. It is simple elegance.”
Anderson said she is developing a following for her food.
“I have done a couple custom picnic box orders and many people tell me that my hummus is the best they’ve ever had,” she said. “One feature in the boxes that will be popular is the Waldorf chicken salad, which has walnuts, celery and grapes in a creamy lemon dressing served with mixed greens and whole wheat pita.”
Anderson said she thinks the picnic boxes will be the main focus for summer.
“They will be perfect for people getting back out again now that we’re getting somewhat back to normal,” Anderson said, but private dinners can be tailored to any tastes and level of formality. “The private dinners can range from simple BBQ to elegant, multi-course plated dinners.”
The picnic boxes are $80 plus tax and $5 for delivery. They serve two people for a meal and three or four for snacking.
“My recent custom order client said the portions were great and that they had leftovers. There were two of them,” she said. “I would say the private dinners are similar in price point to going out to a fancy restaurant. But, I can accommodate a wide range of budgets, depending on what the customer is looking for, whether it is buffet, full service, a simple BBQ or a five course plated dinner.”
Anderson said she can accommodate most dietary restrictions (nut free, gluten free, etc). However, the food is prepared and stored in a common kitchen with the risk of exposure to allergens, she added.
“I love to bring people together with food,” Anderson said. “I am starting this business because I want people to gather around the delicious things that I make for them. It brings me joy to make people happy through food, to bring people together with food. I have a passion for cooking and the best way for me to create food that people will love, is to cook the things I love.”
Like many others, Anderson developed an interest in cooking by watching Julia Child when she was young.
“I always appreciated the process of cooking and had a general understanding of it. But, it was when I lived in Southern California for 10 years that my love for food really exploded,” she added. “I moved there to pursue a career in film production, but the food culture, exposure to new cuisines and year round fresh local produce, brought out a whole new love of food. My friends and I would go to farmers’ markets and then come up with things to cook based on what we bought that day. My primary restaurant experience is in Italian food, but I love to prepare my own versions of Latin, Spanish and Asian dishes as well.”
For the picnic boxes, Anderson describes her style as “rustic elegant” salads, dips and treats that are simple to eat and mix and match.
“It’s the way I love to eat when I’m out relaxing in nature whether in a park or by the beach.”
Pre-orders for standard menu picnic boxes go live every Saturday afternoon and end Tuesday at 6 p.m. Pre-order links are online at www.GatherProvisions.com. They will be delivered the Friday and Saturday of that week. Custom box orders should be placed at least one week in advance. There is also a link on the website for custom orders.
Eventually, Anderson hopes to use the food truck kitchen facility in Boylston, shared by other food producers.
“I have not worked out of it yet, but I anticipate the advantages to be saving in cost, the ability to use the facility only when I need to,” she said. “They also connect you with farmers’ market and food truck events if you are interested in doing those as a business. It’s great for smaller businesses who don’t yet have the clientele or capital to justify and afford a brick and mortar” facility.
” I am so excited to bring this business to the area. I think it is the perfect accompaniment to all of your fun summer activities,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s a romantic date, relaxing by the firepit or a day at a local winery or brewery, just Gather Provisions and enjoy your day.”