We’ve enjoyed the food at Totally Cooked for years, and we admire the folks there, too. They’re good people with a lot of care for what they do and a lot of culinary flair!
We first met Head Chef and Grand Poo-Bah Dante D’Avello while attending the house party of a mutual client in late 2011, and were delighted by his humor.
Not long after, we met Kristin (then) Fortney (now) Yoho, while working on some awesome project or another, and really dug her style. We really got to know each other, though, while working on Handpicked in 2013 with her husband, Adam (who’s an efficient and positive bartender), and the rest of the Totally Cooked Team.
Kristin is a force to be reckoned with. She leads through example and with a fierce sense of style. That’s just one of the many things that makes Kristin Fortney Yoho of Totally Cooked a Vendor We Adore.
Read on for her reflections on what it takes to be a great wedding catering company… and a great wedding DJ!
Something New Entertainment’s Anna-Jeannine “DJ AJ9” Herman, Wedding Entertainment Director®: What first interested you in Special Events Catering Management?
Totally Cooked Catering’s Kristin Fortney Yoho, Director of Special Events: Though my education was not directly in Event Planning or Hospitality Management, I find it to be a great advantage. Education and expertise in schematic design, flow & layout, timelines, design, colors and creativity are not always something you find in a catering event coordinator. I started my food industry adventure as an early teenager for the catering company my mother works for. Over the next 18 years, I gained experience in many aspects of servicing clientele from serving, hostessing, bartending, expediting, managing and catering. I am well rounded and can visualize the large picture with all aspects accounted for. I am a foodie and love everything about food from cooking, gardening, learning, designing menus, etc…This position allows me to utilize all of my training and natural talents and share my passions. I love it. It’s busy busy but the adrenaline of the final day set up and seeing those smiling faces make it all worth it.
DJ AJ9: How would you describe your Cuisine / Style?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: I describe myself as a chameleon. I can go from boho one day to chic to business professional to trendy the next days. I would describe Totally Cooked as the same. We specialize in everything. Our BBQ is out of this world, we produce food from all cultures and ethnicities. We can accommodate any allergies or dietary restrictions. We love new ideas and new challenges as well. It all keeps life interesting.
DJ AJ9: How is Totally Cooked different from other catering companies?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: As mentioned before, we are chameleons. We have never had to say no to a client’s request. We also have an awesome inventory of props and unique items for rent to our clients. I often say I work for Santa Claus. If I think of something new or see an item of interest, I discuss with Dante and Poof, it appears. Whether he makes it with his own two hands or knows a friend with the talent to accomplish the task, he makes it happen. I truly am lucky in that I get to express my artistic side and he appreciates that.
DJ AJ9: How long have you been serving wedding clients?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: I have been working for Totally Cooked for going on 3 years. I have been in the food industry for 18 years.
DJ AJ9: What do you enjoy most serving Wedding Clients?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: Even if they have the same theme, they are all different. I adore making their dreams come true. I have been called a fairy god mother by my brides. Making brides cry in the best way possible is truly an overwhelming experience. Getting the mother’s hug and the firm approving handshake of the fathers….We are making memories that last a lifetime. That is something special.
DJ AJ9: What is the most important consideration couples should make when hiring a catering company for their wedding reception:
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: hmmmm…. I do not think there is one most important consideration. I think there is a lot to consider. Budget is always a big participant in a couple’s decision making process. But how are you spending your money? What is the value that you are getting? Do you feel comfortable? Were your requests and ideas heard? (When grandma is at the tasting and thinks there should be a salad, but the end decisions do not include a salad, I bring a salad for grandma and she is beaming from ear to ear because we remembered). Being an offsite catering company, we typically handle much more than the food. Staffing, equipment, rentals, bar, etc…. There is a lot that goes into what we provide. We are a single entity. Family owned and run, hardworking team members and dedicated to our clients. We develop friendships and relationships with our clients, which in turn keeps them returning for years to come. I once hand delivered a homemade smoothy for one of my brides at her hotel room. Early on we had been emailing about good advice for the morning/day of and she was over the moon. This all explains communication and dedication. Also, honesty. We strive to provide a complete estimate in the beginning, reflecting everything that will be needed the day of. We don’t want a sticker shock later when things were not discussed ahead of time and have to be added on later. That’s never fun.
DJ AJ9: What is the most interesting/challenging/delicious/fun menu you’ve ever prepared for a wedding?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: Challenging may not be the menu itself but could be one of my larger weddings around 240 guests with plates meals. The kitchen was downstairs and we had to run up and down that flight of stairs a million times. We must have done something right because the mother just returned for her other daughter’s upcoming wedding. Could be the “Unique” spaces that we have had to create for a “Kitchen” space, using head lamps because of no electricity. Interesting would probably be the “Garbage Plate” for a “half” New York couple. We knocked it out of the park, bringing the grooms roots to Northeast Ohio. A garbage plate consists of the layering of Hash browns and homestyle Macaroni Salad half and half on the bottom, two 5-1 Burger Patties, American Cheese slices, Raw Onion and a Special sauce that the groom had brought in from New York. I have several pretty fun menus coming up this year that stand out with burrito bars, Boozy SnoCones and a carnival theme for the cocktail hour 🙂 Can’t wait.
DJ AJ9: What’s the question I am not asking you but you wish I would, or what’s the question that clients usually do not ask you but you wish they would?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: Do you know the secret to life? My answer – No, not yet. I’ll have fun and take advantage of learning forever but we can close with happiness is the result of subjective interpretation of perception.
DJ AJ9: What do you look for in a great DJ and/or lighting designer and what are your DJ/lighting designer per peeves?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: Knowledge and offering suggestions. I always think collaborative thinking is wonderful, combining great minds creates greater ideas.
I always have my Lead Server touch base with the DJ before anything starts to ensure we are all on the same page and timeline. It peeves me when they do not check with us to ensure everything is as scheduled, announcing dinner before it/we are ready. Or being snotty towards us, demanding their meal. We are here for the same goal 🙂
DJ AJ9: How can your DJ and lighting design “Co-workers” help you hurt you or irritate you throughout the day?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: Hurt mainly by not working on the same timeline and not letting us know if they need to change some things.
DJ AJ9: How can Something New Entertainment do better or how have we already excelled?
Kristin Yoho, Totally Cooked: No critiques here. I love listening to you speak and I think you do a fantastic job!
About Kristin Fortney Yoho: I graduated from Ursuline College in 2007, Summa Cum Laude, with a double major in Interior Design and Historic Preservation. I am the Director of Special Events for Totally Cooked Catering. I am an Army wife and fur mother to two crazy pugs, Winstin and Ziggy. We take advantage of our Ohio locale by hitting the trails on our bikes and kayaking the river, enjoy traveling to, well anywhere and my dream goal is to become a sommelier for professional and personal enjoyment. Maybe some day 🙂
About Totally Cooked Catering: Totally Cooked was introduced to the world in 1998 by Dante and Kelly D’Avello. Totally Cooked provides catering, hospitality services and event planning to the corporate, social and wedding worlds. We provide pick up, drop off and Full Service options for our clients. Our headquarters is located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with a ToGo location in downtown Akron, Ohio. We service all of Northeast Ohio and are willing to travel!