Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Big Milestone for Love at First Bite Catering

Love At First Bite Catering
18281 Gothard St. #108
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

This post is a little bit of a departure from our usual restaurant reviews. I usually try to stay away from featuring catering and event planning companies, but I had to make an exception for my good friends at Love At First Bite.

This Huntington Beach-based catering company just celebrated their 35th anniversary with a big event and ribbon cutting at the Rainwater Gallery in Downtown Huntington Beach. It was attended by a number of government dignitaries, local Huntington Beach business leaders, past and current clients, numerous employees, and friends and family of the owners, John and Stacy LaBrake.

I've known John and Stacy even before they took over this already widely respected Love At First Bite Catering over 15 years ago. I've seen them continue to grow their business, which started as a two person operation, into a little mega empire with over 50 employees, and doing 1,000 events a year. I've been to a number of events where they have done the catering and planning, and I even worked ineptly one morning in their kitchen a long time ago. I was never asked to come back.

This 35th-anniversary party was more than a celebration of the past, as it was a celebration of the future. I heard numerous toasts and speeches where they mentioned, "here's to another 35 years." Of course, John will be 105 by then, or at least look like it. Kidding, of course, John. This party was kind of a chance to stop and breathe while looking towards the future. A future where they see themselves continuing to do business in their beloved Huntington Beach and giving back to the community by supporting local schools and kids athletic teams.

This was not only a milestone celebration but also a chance for Love At First Bite to showcase what they do on a daily basis. Guests were treated to a multitude of well-presented appetizers and salads. Highlights for me were the California Salad with a wonderful orange vinaigrette. The Edamame Salad was not only colorful, but tasted great.  Another standout was their scratch made hummus varieties. They had an eggplant, cilantro, and bell pepper hummus, which not only were unique but were very fresh and went well with the provided pita chips.

Lucky attendees of this anniversary party were treated to some barbecue, along with a bottle of ACE LaBrake's BBQ sauce. Barbecue has become one of the trademarks of Love At First Bite's events, and this barbecue sauce created by owner John LaBrake has won rave reviews. I'm looking forward to using my bottle very soon.

The highlight of the evening for me, besides seeing old friends was this Grilled Cheese Bar, which was helmed by Donnie Bruyn. Donnie has over 45 years in the restaurant business and is a vital part of the LAFB family. He's been featured in numerous magazines, and also held a position working on President Reagan's Inauguration Ball. Here at Love At First Bite he serves as a chef, trainer, and staff motivator. Donnie was doing a great job feeding all of us at this party, as he expertly manned the grilled cheese bar. Three kinds of cheese, avocado, plenty of bacon, and some caramelized onions made this sandwich a winner and sent me home happy.

It's great to see a local business thrive for 35 years and keep their upward trajectory going. It's even better when they are your friends, and you can say that you knew them before they became a success in the catering business. While driving home, I realized that whether you were a supportive friend, satisfied client, or one of the government officials invited to this event, you definitely could feel that you were part of the Love At First Bite family on this evening. Congrats on your 35 years in business, and here's to many more years of catering success.

For more information about Love At First Bite Catering, head to their website here:


  1. Mmmmmm, the food here looks delicious :P. I like how they are giving back to the local schools/teams to support them. Always a great cause when giving back to the community.

    1. Jin - Thanks for taking the time to read this post. These guys do a great job, and if you're lucky enough to be at an event where they are catering, you will be in for a treat. Good people too!