Chef Tim LaBant is best known for his much-lauded, locally sourced cuisine at his restaurant, The Schoolhouse at Cannondale; but what you might not know about LaBant is that he is also one of the Gold Coast’s most sought-after caterers.
Since 2005 loyal customers and fans kept approaching him to cater their upcoming wedding or a home-style summer lunch, served alfresco, on their property or at a local beach or venue. What most do not realize is that Tim started catering long before opening The Schoolhouse. Once the restaurant was running smoothly, LaBant began to take his talents to homes, tents, beaches and farms throughout Fairfield County.
The Schoolhouse’s sold-out farm dinners, sited on the pastoral grounds at Wilton’s Millstone Farm, created enough buzz for LaBant to know he was onto something big.
Since those early days, Tim LaBant Catering & Events by The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, has hosted more than 300 events, from intimate affairs to over-the-top weddings. Through it, LaBant brings his unique touch to both private homes and offsite venues.
Sip-size margaritas and bite-size tacos
Connecticut favorites including The Hickories (Ridgefield), Keeler Tavern (Ridgefield), Chamard Vineyards (Clinton), Phillip Johnson Glass House (New Canaan) and even Compo Beach (Westport). Once the client settles on a location, LaBant’s team sets the wheels in motion for an event that truly reflects the client and the nature of the occasion, with custom-built menus, décor and ambience tailored uniquely to the event.
Whether it’s helping a nonprofit with its annual gala or a beachside rehearsal dinner for a young couple moving out from New York City to Fairfield County, each event is personalized from the get-go, including the team’s signature floral arrangements, table settings and menu that reflect the theme and the audience.
Case in point, last summer a young couple came to LaBant to celebrate a milestone birthday. “Their dream party would have been to be down in the islands partying on the beach during the day and hitting the nightclub in the evening. Since they were parents of two young children, heading out of town for a birthday weekend just did not make sense,” the chef recalls. “So we brought the entire vibe to their backyard, complete with lounge furniture, fire pits, a DJ spinning dance tunes and a craft beer and taco bar during the day for guests lounging by the pool. Every detail was thought out with great care, down to the rustic, custom-painted wooden-pallet menu.”
In the same season, he and his team coordinated a hugely successful fundraiser for the Wilton YMCA community. “We knew they wanted to shake up their usual plated dinner, gala-style event. To make the event feel more intimate and friendly, we created a menu based on our farm-to-fork dinners,” LaBant explains. “To encourage better communication amongst guests, the dinner was served in family-style platters, where guests passed the food and served themselves, along with plenty of wine on all of the tables. The less-formal menu style made a beautiful contrast with the farm scenery and the sophistication of the table décor. With long tables and flowing runners, crystal glassware and custom-printed menus, the evening held an air of understated elegance. A fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs and candlelight, along with the sounds of a bluegrass band, completed the vision for the evening and provided ambience in abundance.”
Interior of The Schoolhouse restaurant
At the end of the day, tracking every detail matters. “Planning an event is highly personal. We’ve planned our own weddings and events and know just how stressful it can be to keep all those moving parts cooperating,” he says. He helps clients enjoy planning their wedding or special event, giving attention to every detail but without stress. “That look on their face, when they show up to their event and see how their vision has come together; that’s what we do it all for.”
Ricotta fritters in bamboo cone
A few of LaBant’s favorite creations
Fish taco with mini margarita: “We use a mini Patron bottle with a straw that matches the theme.”
Ricotta dumplings with powdered sugar: “This elevates fried dough to an elegant dessert.”
Risotto-filled egg shells: “People can’t get over how we get the top off of the egg with such precision; it’s a secret.”
Strawberry Flowers: “Fresh local strawberries on a skewer, topped with torched meringue, and displayed in a container with wheatgrass that just screams spring is here.”
Mini bacon, egg and cheese one-bite sandwiches: “Just what every wedding guest wants after dancing all night.”
Tomato soup in a shot glass with grilled cheese triangle: “Perfect comfort food .”
THE SCHOOLHOUSE AT CANNONDALE
34 Cannon Rd., Wilton
Dinner: Wed.-Sat. 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Lunch: Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Brunch: Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.