The Table Catering offers delicious meals with a focus on sustainability
By Rachel Trachten
“How do we offer high-quality, farm-to-table meals that are accessible to a broad audience while honoring our farmers, our team members, and our own expertise?”
Nicole Callis and her chef husband, Peter Callis, try to answer that question each day as they find more and better ways to make and serve healthful and appetizing meals packed with great flavors for their East Bay customers.
“We want our meal subscriptions to benefit busy professionals and parents and also give back to the community,” Nicole adds.
Before the duo opened the Table Catering, they had both held restaurant and corporate food-service jobs and worked for various mission-driven companies. They also frequently stepped up to help when friends or family needed their entertaining expertise for large gatherings. But when the pandemic hit and they were both laid off, they turned to each other and said, “What better timing to go in and launch our own business!”
Seasonal Menu Varies Each Week
Now in full swing, the Table Catering offers weekly meals made from scratch using local, organic, and sustainably produced ingredients. Their rotating seasonal menus might feature dishes like Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Squash, Kerala Fried Tofu with Coconut Ginger Rice, Whole Grain Waffles, and Little Gem Hazelnut Salad.
Nicole and Peter’s approach to packaging always keeps an eye on eliminating single-use disposables. They use glassware that’s picked up after use, and they turn to compostable containers when needed. Customers can opt for Wednesday curbside pickup or delivery by PIIKUP, a socially responsible Black- and woman-owned business based in Oakland. The Table Catering also caters for weddings, graduations, memorials, religious gatherings, and other community events at their central Berkeley venue space.
Local, Sustainable Ingredients
Chef Peter looks to nearby producers for ingredients with high sustainability values. For beef, chicken, eggs, almonds, and olive oil, he visits his friends at Burroughs Family Farms, who practice regenerative and organic farming in Denair (near Modesto).
“They are an awesome family,” says Peter. He wishes they could start offering milk again. “That is how it all started with me. It was so good. Life changing.”
Peter also reaches out directly to Capay Mills for organic wholegrain flour and Massa Organics for brown rice, and he and Nicole make weekly visits to nearby farmers’ markets in Oakland and Berkeley, where they can always get plenty of hyper-fresh locally grown vegetables and fruits.
Nicole and Peter have been married for 10 years, and with two young children at home, making nourishing meals is always top of mind.
Alternatives to Sugar and Salt
“I love cooking and I love to cook food in the most natural of ways,” says Chef Peter, who is always looking for ways to reduce the use of processed and refined ingredients. “If a recipe calls for salt or sugar, you can find substitutions,” he says. For sweetness, Chef Peter relies on puréed dates, persimmons, or honey. For salty and umami flavors, he turns to soy sauce or miso. Try out his chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti and meatballs recipes, which show home cooks how this creative chef might revise his recipes to arrive at a more nutritious end product.
Peter Callis has a broad range of experience as a Bay Area chef. After earning a degree in chemistry at UC Berkeley, he attended culinary school, interned at Chez Panisse, worked at several Bay Area fine dining restaurants, and fed 2,000 Google employees daily with his culinary team at the Mountain View campus.
Serving the Community
Peter Calls also put his talents to work in the nonprofit sector. At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, he ran a soup kitchen using reclaimed food. He was also in charge of a training program to teach unhoused, low-income, or formerly incarcerated people the skills needed to work in a commercial kitchen. Now, in addition to his role as executive chef and co-owner of the Table Catering, Peter cooks a bi-monthly meal for the unhoused at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, where his commercial kitchen is located. And, thanks to their connection with PIIKUP founder April Fenall, the Table is part of the rotation at Nourish, a program that prepares and delivers healthy meals for new moms.
“We are always exploring new nonprofit partnerships,” says Nicole Calls. “We want to ensure that our food-insecure community members have equal access to nourishing meals.”
This story is sponsored by the Table Catering.
Below: The Table Catering staff serve at a Children Rising nonprofit fundraiser at Oakland Rotunda.