Above: Spring lamb chops with roasted vegetables
Chef Tim LaBant is best known for the much-lauded, locally sourced cuisine at his restaurant, The Schoolhouse at Cannondale. What you might not know about LaBant is that he’s also one of the Gold Coast’s most sought-after caterers. The chef had started catering long before opening The Schoolhouse, but once the restaurant was running smoothly, he took his talents to homes, tents, beaches and farms throughout Fairfield County. The Schoolhouse’s sold-out farm dinners, sited on the pastoral grounds at Wilton’s Millstone Farm, created enough buzz for LaBant to know he was onto something big.
To date, Tim LaBant Catering & Events by The Schoolhouse at Cannondale has hosted more than 300 events, from intimate affairs to over-the-top weddings. LaBant brings his unique touch to both private homes and offsite venues, including The Hickories (Ridgefield), Chamard Vineyards (Clinton), Philip Johnson Glass House (New Canaan) and even Compo Beach (Westport). Once the client settles on a location, LaBant’s team sets the wheels in motion for an event that truly reflects the client and the nature of the occasion, with custom menus, décor and ambience.Whether it’s helping a nonprofit with its annual gala or planning a beachside rehearsal dinner for a young couple, each event is personalized, right down to floral arrangements and table settings.
Case in point, last summer a young couple came to LaBant to celebrate a milestone birthday. “Their dream party would have been down in the islands, where they party on the beach by day and hit a nightclub later. Since they are parents of two young children, heading out of town for a birthday weekend did not make sense,” LaBant says. “So we brought that vibe to their backyard, complete with lounge furniture, fire pits, a DJ spinning dance tunes and a craft beer and taco bar during the day for guests by the pool.”
In the same season, he coordinated a successful fundraiser for the Wilton YMCA. “They wanted to shake up their usual plated dinner, gala-style event. To make the benefit more intimate and friendly, we created a menu based on our farm-to-fork dinners,” LaBant explains. “To encourage better communication among guests, dinner was served in family-style platters that were passed. The less-formal menu and farm scenery beautifully contrasted the sophisticated table décor with flowing runners, crystal glassware and custom-printed menus. A fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs, along with a bluegrass band, completed the scene.”
At the end of the day, tracking every detail matters, says LaBant. “Planning an event is highly personal. But we love when the clients show up and finally see how their vision has come together. We like to observe the looks on their faces. That’s what we do it all for.”
A few of LaBant’s favorite creations include:
Fish taco with mini margarita “We use a mini Patron bottle with a straw that matches the theme of the event.”
Risotto-filled egg shells “People can’t get over how we get the top off of the egg with such precision. It’s a secret.”
Tomato soup in a shot glass with grilled cheese triangle “Perfect comfort food.”
THE SCHOOLHOUSE AT CANNONDALE
34 Cannon Rd., Wilton; 203-834-9816; schoolhouseatcannondale.com
Dinner: Wed.to Sat. 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Lunch: Fri.to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Brunch: Sun. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.