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Are you being served? Nicolas Berthomet

Are you being served? Nicolas Berthomet

For an original surprise party, without having to rush around with all the preparations, why not call on Nicolas Berthomet's talents? Based in Angoulême, 'Events by Nicolas' takes care of all the fine details and leaves you to thoroughly enjoy a relaxing moment with your loved ones...


Event catering

One of Nicolas Berthomet’s favourite memories of his work is the time he was given a key to a client’s home, sneaked in with his team of chefs, prepared a 'cocktail dinatoire' – foie gras, smoked salmon and herring toasts, mini snail brioches and orange, ginger and prawn soup, followed by mini macaroons and brownies – lit candles, decorated the table with fresh flowers and put lounge music on, before shutting the door behind him.

"We put all the food in the fridge with a note saying when to eat what," says Nicolas, dressed smartly in a crisp white shirt and black suit. "It’s true that on that occasion, I didn’t get to see their reaction, but we got a text message around 11pm from the lady’s husband saying what a great job we’d done and how surprised he was." The husband enjoyed his birthday so much, in fact, that his wife got a similar surprise for her birthday the following year, when he rented a duplex and asked Nicolas to set the scene.

Organising and catering for any event, from a romantic dinner for two to a marriage with 500 guests, is what Nicolas thrives on. Originally from the south Vienne, Nicolas had his vocation marked out from a young age. "We often had people round to eat. A lot of it is to do with the education our parents give us," Nicolas says. "My parents were farmers and they taught me the value of hard work." His early start as an apprentice at the age of 14 working in the kitchen was followed by a stint in patisserie, then as a waiter and later as an apprentice sommelier before becoming a Maitre d’hôtel in charge of events at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

"What can I say? I was curious to try out everything to do with the industry!" Nicolas says, laughing. He worked at the Château de Curzy, the Relais Château owned by TV presenter Eric Cachard in the Vienne, at the Grange aux Oies in Nieuil and then at La Ribaudière, where he was Thierry Verrat’s assistant. His varied experience gave him a taste for the finer things in life and has gone on to serve him well in his current role – head of Events by Nicolas, a catering and events organisation company in Angoulême.  

At just 24, he began putting together the plan for his catering business. "When I first told my friends and family what I wanted to do, they thought I was mad! Luckily, I did have a lot of friends who offered me moral support. Many were older than me – in their forties – and had some business experience. They really helped me, but I’ve learned that you can never rest on your laurels, no matter where you get to."

Before the company even had its premises, Nicolas was receiving orders. Once set up – after transforming an abandoned garage in Angoulême into a stylish office and kitchen – he was thrown in at the deep end: his first event was a marriage in the Charente, and then a week later, a reception of 500 people.

Nicolas

Now 26, he’s established himself in the Poitou-Charentes for organising events, catering for businesses and festivals, and holding cookery classes. "I always knew what I wanted to do and that was to make people happy. What I love about events is that they’re ephemeral – no reception, marriage or birthday cocktail party is ever the same." And with everything from flowers and photography to tableware to organise, it also combines his second passion: decoration. "I’ve always liked decoration, I even thought of becoming an interior designer at one point," he says. "I am always on the lookout for ideas and inspiration. I often flick through lifestyle magazines and books. But it comes down to instinct – you have to have an eye for it." 

 Judging from his portfolio, Nicolas definitely does have an eye for it. He has worked at events at Châteaude Maumont, the Logis de Puygaty and Château Pouyade, organising everything from the canapés to the parasols to the chairs. And Angoulême’s Bande Dessinée festival chose him to cater for their receptions.

event

Living in the Charente for the past eight years, Nicolas has grown fond of the region and its people: "Through this job you get to meet really interesting people at beautiful receptions." He has made acquaintances and contacts over his time in the industry – his first jobs were from people he knew. "For my first year and a half, it has all been through word-of-mouth,’ Nicolas says, adding that May to September and the end of the year are his team’s busiest times. "And we have car launches, birthdays and marriages booked in for the forthcoming months." 

His team mainly works in the greater Angoulême area, but is happy to go further afield. "The furthest so far has been the Lot-and-Garonne for a Franco-Italian wedding," Nicolas says.

As for the cuisine, Nicolas’s team of chefs are a creative bunch, having worked in Michelin-starred establishments. "We’re always coming up with new ideas. It’s modern cuisine with a twist. I’m actually the only 100-percent traiteur in the region. The others generally have a restaurant or a charcuterie as well."

Having achieved so much so young, Nicolas is still soaking it all in. "I’m pleased with how things are at the minute – nice and stable. But I suppose I’d quite like to have an épicerie fine too one day..." 

Top Tips from Nicolas for hosting events:

Re-use the flowers from the buffet tables for the decoration of the reception room

Never put out the chairs before dressing the tables. You’ll be quicker as you can get around more easily

On a round table, always put a plate on the central fold. This gives the table perfect symmetry

Organise a cocktail dinatoire rather than a sit-down meal. That way, guests can talk together as a group, or in smaller groups. The host gets chance to talk to all the guests while eating at the same time, making for a friendlier evening

Put effort into the décoration: it makes all the difference when you invite family or friends. Make sure you harmonise your colours and don't put serviettes in the glasses

Make sure you have two glasses for each guest: one for water and one for wine

 

Contact Details

>Events by Nicolas, 8 Boulevard de la République, 16100 Angoulême.

www.events-by-nicolas-traiteur.com 

Originally published in Living Poitou-Charentes magazine.  © All Rights Reserved

WORDS: Rebecca Lawn