Neighborhood: Corey’s Landing
Neighbor since: 2008
That Jane Perin enjoyed a 40-year career as a professional caterer shouldn’t shock anyone who’s tried her chicken salad, quiche or strawberry jam cheesecake. What might come as a surprise: She didn’t start with culinary school or a family business — just a dare.
At a mixer for new members at the Redding Country Club, in Redding, Conn., she encountered “the absolute worst” hors d’oeuvres she’d ever tasted (the meatballs “were as hard as golf balls,” she said). A cheeky comment that she could “cook better with her eyes closed” received an equally flip response from the club president: “Prove it.” So, she did.
The next year, Perin and a friend made 1,500 appetizers, for which each woman received $50. At the time, Redding had approximately 5,000 people, so word got out, and Perin fell into a new business, catering, without ever having to advertise. Catering eventually led her to operate “The Old Schoolhouse Café” in nearby Wilton, Conn., before she moved in 1988 to Sarasota.
She continued to cater in the Sunshine State, servicing mostly dinner and cocktail parties, along with a few big events for the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. At the urging of her boyfriend, Phil Kreiss, she hung up her professional apron “a few years ago” so the two could have more quality time on nights and weekends.
IN HER OWN WORDS: “When you like to eat, it usually follows that you like to cook.”