Small San Diego Catering Business Booms

Banyan Kitchen and Café Chi Chocolat is a Delicious Jack-of-all-Trades

Two delicious dishes beautifully plated

Photo Used With Permission

Sitting on the corner of a tree-lined lane in Point Loma’s Liberty Station sits Banyan Kitchen and Café Chi Chocolat owned by Tess and Jesse Brown. The business combines the couple’s catering service, Banyan Kitchen, and chocolate boutique, Café Chi Chocolat. The two eateries demonstrate the food-lovers' ample culinary capabilities. Inside, large windows illuminate the store and plush, stylish chairs face walls embellished with local artwork.

Originally from New York City, Tess enjoyed cooking at home but with a growing family and desire to start their own business, the couple moved to San Diego and founded the business 16 years ago in Little Italy. Banyan Kitchen catering was the initial business, however, when chocolate was requested for catering events they were often disappointed in the quality of chocolate they received. This turned out to be a “good” problem as it inspired them to begin making their own chocolate,  leading to the creation of Chi Chocolat. Now experienced caterers and chocolatiers, they devote time and care to the dishes they prepare and the incredible chocolate they handmake. Plus, Banyan Kitchen is accommodating to dietary needs and preferences, offering gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes when requested.

Unlike many caterers, the dishes at Banyan Kitchen are ever-changing. Tess says she enjoys catering events “because of the creative process. It keeps the job fun. It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if we only offered a few dishes. I enjoy creating a menu based on what the customer wants.” In addition to being an extremely flexible catering business, Banyan Kitchen believes in using the freshest produce and exotic spices resulting in simple, clean and delicious dishes. “Good food should be simple,” Tess explains. “Flavors should be highlighted, not covered up. The less I have to add, the better.” Bon Appetit to that!

Naturally, Tess and Jesse approach their work in Chi Chocolat with the same attitude. Each piece of artisan chocolate is handmade and preservative-free with no added sugar. They offer a decadent array of flavors using spices discovered during their many travels. These flavors include, but not limited to, burnt caramel, chili tangerine, rosewater, lavender and green cardamom dusted with edible gold. With so many exquisite chocolates, it is hard to choose just one. Thankfully, the display counter inside the store makes it easy to view and hand-select which chocolates will be going home with you. And, if it’s possible that all of this chocolate sampling wears you out, you can always get a latte at the espresso bar for a quick pick-me-up.

Additionally, as if gourmet food, artisan chocolate, and an espresso bar weren't enough, Chi Chocolat will be launching a happy hour on Thursday and Friday evenings starting in April. Because what goes better with gourmet chocolate than a good Merlot?