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Meet Mark Holden of DINE Catering and Events

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Holden.

Mark, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a British, classically trained chef, I started my career in the beautiful, picturesque area of the United Kingdom; the Lake District. At 18 years old, I was training with some of the most prestigious and recognized chefs in the country and revealed in the challenges that they set upon me on a regular basis.

Throughout my career in the UK, I worked as a Head Chef in many locations across the country, including the sleepy town of Alderley Edge, home of many Manchester United footballers and their families. This was a particularly exciting time in my career, as I am an avid football supporter and really enjoyed creating menus for the players and their wives. Over the next twenty years, as a self-employed chef, my role took me to many a kitchen across the UK, and internationally. Memorable locations include leading kitchen teams at Wembley Stadium, Cheltenham Racecourse, and the London Olympics in 2012 where I was personally responsible for the smooth delivery of 18,000 meals across the stadium daily.

Abroad, I have worked in Paris and Abu Dhabi and had the very humbling experience of working for royalty along the way. So, why Houston? My wife, Louise, is a high school teacher and decided to embark on an exciting change to bring her teaching experiences to Houston. As a chef with a diverse palette and a taste for creativity, I decided to undertake the biggest challenge of my life to date, and open a catering company. DINE Catering and Events was the creation of both my wife and myself, and we both work in the business together to create what we believe is a mix of classic, unique and unexpected flavorsome food, only made using the finest ingredients from scratch.

Our company is continuing to grow and flourish in such a diverse and accepting city, and we are excited about what the future holds. We have been working to serve some globally recognized companies to date, but also thoroughly enjoy the personalized and intimate settings that we create for a clients’ birthday party or wedding celebration. We are also initiating a pop-up Afternoon Tea service which will be launching soon, to celebrate our heritage and culture.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Anyone who has to work in the hospitality industry will tell you that it’s a hard industry to be in! Long days, hot kitchens and the mid-summer Texan heat can sometimes feel like a recipe for disaster!. But up until this point, it has truly been an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for us. Personally, it has sometimes taken a while to learn the different names for ingredients that Americans are used to. For example, zucchini in the UK is courgette, whilst Eggplant is Aubergine. That’s definitely raised a few eyebrows when asking in stores for help to locate a certain item!

We decided to go against the norm, and rather than open a restaurant first, and then develop a delivery service, we took a different approach to our business plan and opted to provide a restaurant-quality service in the comfort of a clients’ home or personalized setting. This has proven to be a popular option for us, as we have covered almost every square mile area of Houston along the way, and had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people at many different venues also.

The hospitality industry is fast-paced and ever-evolving, and this has also been great as we can offer such a diverse cuisine, and budget plan for all, that we get to do what we love the most, which is create unique and exciting menus and services for people who are willing to try something a little different.

DINE Catering and Events – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
DINE is primarily an outside catering company that specializes in personalized, unique and creative menu plans for all types of clients, occasions and budgets. As a chef that has been trained in so many different cuisine styles, I am able to create and execute menus that offer something a little different to the norm that is seen on many occasions by other vendors. Our specialty usually involves cocktail hour Hors D’oeuvres and what we call in the UK, bowl food (mini entrees).

These items allow guests at our event to experience a number of different cuisine styles, served in a creative way and allow people to mingle and talk with one another in a more informal setting. This style of service is fast becoming a popular way to serve up a wedding reception meal to guests and was most recently seen all over the world at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I would like to think that they stole this idea from us!

Having said that, we are proud of our British Heritage and are excited to be launching some plans with David’s Bridal in the near future. We also look forward to serving Houston and the Greater Area a traditional British Afternoon Tea service, and continuing to develop both our corporate and private clients menus and services. We are proud of the fact that our reviews are always positive, and we can always deliver what we promise to clients. As a company, we pay meticulous attention to detail on all of our services offered, and our pictures speak for themselves.

Everything you see on our website and social media is all taken from clients’ event. To be able to recreate these high-quality promises in venues that sometimes may not even have a kitchen is something we pride ourselves on.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, success isn’t something that I like to define from an achievement, but more from a feeling. If you can wake up every day and feel happy to have the opportunity to do something that you love to do, then you are successful.

One of the most important things for me in my industry is how I make my clients feel about my services. When you see a genuine, happy and positive response from a guest or a client, then you know that your contribution to their event was a successful one. Food in Europe is always at the center of socializing with friends and family, and so to have such an important part to play in somebody’s special event or celebration is always such an honor for us as a company.

I also feel extremely proud of my team. Without my team behind me, I would not be able to offer the quality services and products that I do to my clients, and absolutely know that my team would 100% deliver in exactly the same manner if I could not be there myself to represent my company. They contribute fully, and wholeheartedly, to our success at DINE.

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