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Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024

LENNY BENT

When that film crew takes a much needed break for lunch or a snack, it may be the goodies prepared by Lenny Bent they are eating. A gourmet caterer to the entertainment industry, Bent has fed the staffs of “MADtv,” “The Hollywood Squares,” and “That’s So Raven.” When not on the set of a film or TV show, Bent caters special events and will open a restaurant in Chatsworth in June 2012. How did you get into film and television catering? I started back in 1988 with a friend of mine. He was at a company called Movieland Catering and they did shows on the Paramount lot, like “Cheers” and “Family Ties.” I fell out of it for a while and worked on dining yachts, and when that got slow, I started back with (film work). Then I moved back to the Valley and started my own company. What foods are most popular with the production crews? They like variety — Mexican, Thai, barbecue, Cajun. They love hamburger bars and making their own burgers and hot dogs. You have to be versatile in many different cuisines and never become repetitive, especially if you are doing a long-running show. It is a lot of experimenting. What’s the toughest part of your job? The hours are brutal. When a production company calls on you to serve at six in the morning that means you need to be up and ready at work three hours before and sometimes earlier if you are traveling long distances. You serve breakfast at 6 a.m. and turn around and do lunch in six hours. A lot of times they might throw you a curve ball and move the entire set up to a new location or make it for an hour or two earlier than you originally been told. What’s the most satisfying part of your job? When you complete a meal and the compliments start rolling in. Lots of people you might not know or have anything in common with, they will come up and say that a meal you made was excellent or reminded them of something their grandmother made. You know the work and the extra effort and extra bit of love put into the meal have been appreciated by the crew. Do you know of caterers who have moved to other states to do film work? I know of one other company that went to Chicago… and of people moving their kitchens and commissaries as they find the work has migrated. It is harder to work here in Los Angeles. There is more competition in the catering industry; the freeways are hard, and the health department regulations are difficult. It is easier to work where the production companies have migrated to. We’ve worked in different states and our big problem was we weren’t local and they wanted the locals to have the jobs.

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