September 22nd began as just another beautiful day on the East End. The sky was blue and virtually cloudless; the air late-summer warm and carrying only a whisper or two of early autumn. It was the perfect day for a party, and Cavaniola’s Gourmet was gearing up—as usual—to cater it perfectly. Just two facts existed to make the day extraordinary: first, that the party in question was a wedding; and second, that the bride, Katy Frank, was one of the catering company’s own.
Each year, Cavaniola’s caters hundreds of events. They do everything from eight-person dinner parties to cocktail parties that serve over 400. What they rarely do, historically, is throw a party for themselves. It’s not that they’re opposed to it (who’s opposed to parties?); just that the opportunity has rarely presented itself. That is, until Katy, the captain of their staffing company, agreed to marry Max Baurs-Krey.
Katy met Max, a server and part-time manager at Sag Harbor’s Bell & Anchor, years ago through a mutual friend. They got engaged in Long Beach and will honeymoon in January in Costa Rica. They are, by all accounts, a beautiful, magical sort of couple—and on Thursday, September 22, Cavaniola’s delivered them a beautiful, magical day.
Melanie Loban was the catering company’s chief magician (though her official title is Executive Chef and Event Planning Manager). Together with her team, Melanie transformed Katy and Max’s venue—Naugles Barn at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead—into something straight out of our most elegantly rustic, Pinterest-inspired dreams. The flowers were kept simple, with each arrangement made up predominately of green and white blooms and little purple thistles. Because Katy is eco-conscious, Melanie made sure all of the plates and flatware were either biodegradable or recyclable.
And then, of course, there was the food.
“Katy has seen so many parties, so she knew right away what she wanted menu-wise,” said Melanie, on-site at Naugles Barn the day before the wedding. “And she knew that because she’s one of our own.”
And for that same reason, Katy knew also to trust Melanie implicitly.
“I see Melanie make magic every time we cater an event,” said Katy, a week or two after the wedding. “So I just had complete trust in her. She can go in and transform any space. And, being from Maryland, crab cakes are my favorite thing and I’m really picky about them. So it definitely doesn’t hurt that Melanie makes the best ones I’ve ever had.”
Along with those best-ever crab cakes, Katy and Max’s guests enjoyed chicken and waffles, deviled eggs, lobster rolls (with Montauk lobster), and raw oysters and clams. And that was only cocktail hour! For dinner, guests were invited to “make their own pie” at the Rolling in the Dough food truck. For dessert, Katy’s friend, Arina Rudneva (pastry chef at Page in Sag Harbor) made coconut cake, coconut cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, and apple cakes—the sweet ending of the meal mirroring the sweet ending of Katy and Max’s love story: Arina was the mutual friend that first introduced the couple four years ago.
Also sweet, of course, was the fact that Bell & Anchor donated much of the wedding’s liquor. Even sweeter? Cavaniola’s price tag for the event: free.
“Katy is a very intricate part as to why our catering department has flourished,” said Melanie. “It’s done so on Katy’s back. The staffing department has really flourished and it’s all because of Katy.”
That’s why, at least in part, all of the staff at the wedding volunteered their time to work it. It also explains why Melanie stopped her work at Naugles Barn the day before the wedding to speak with me: for the team at Cavaniola’s, what they do is so much more than a job. For them, every party is so much more than a party.
“There is no failure in catering,” said Melanie. “Everything just has to happen. No matter what it takes to get there, we will do it. We’re just used to doing it all for others. It’s so exciting to be doing it for Katy.”
And, of course, Melanie and the rest of the Cavaniola’s team did it with aplomb. The wedding was perfect and everything—the bride, the groom, the food, the barn—was beautiful. Another job well done by a team who doesn’t know how to do the job any other way.
“I think that’s what I’m most coming away from this experience with,” said Katy, reflecting on her and Max’s special day. “An overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude. And a little bit of awe.”