Ardagh woman Margaret Teskey is president of Taste Catering in San Francisco
SERVING up feasts to presidents, film stars and rock stars comes easily to the woman whose first steps in good food came as she grew up on the family farm in West Limerick.
Now, Margaret Teskey, who is president of Taste Catering in San Francisco has added another notable client to the company’s stellar list. Last week, the company provided the taste of Irish menu at a reception hosted by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for hundreds of Irish and Irish American dignitaries in City Hall, San Francisco.
“When the consulate called, I said absolutely, yes, I want to do this,” she explains.
And, true to her origins, Margaret ensured there were plenty genuine Irish products on offer including Cahill’s porter cheese from Newcastle West, brown soda bread and Kerrygold butter. She even created her very own “Taytos”, hand-made crisps to make people feel at home.
As Margaret describes it, really simple food but done right. She was also particularly pleased that another high-profile West Limerick woman was at the reception: Joanne Hayes White from Ballingarry who is the San Francisco fire chief. “It is amazing to have a woman head up the fire service in a major city. She is a wonderful woman,” Margaret enthuses.
Her passion for food, she explains, can be traced back to the wholesome food available on the Teskey farm in Reens, Ardagh where her late parents Neil and Peggy held sway. “My mother wasn’t a great cook actually. But we didn’t grow up on processed food,” she recalls. Eggs, chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle, even sheep were all reared on the farm and brought to the table. “I didn’t realise the value of it then or know what my experience was until after,” she adds.
Her culinary career began at Ashford Castle Ireland after which she moved to The Old Course Golf and Country Club in St. Andrews Scotland, From there she emigrated to the US and continued cooking and learning from top chefs in California before joining Taste Catering, of which she is now president, eight years ago.
“What separates me from other caterers is detail. I am a stickler for detail,” she says. And she loves the excitement and creativity involved in putting an event together. “When clients come to me they are looking for an event rather than just catering.”
“I do like to collaborate,” she adds and clients, as well as company staff, like that sense of collaboration she brings. “I can bring their ideas to life.”
Many of the events Margaret has worked to create carry non disclosure agreements. But among those who can be named are President Obama. “I did three events for him and had the great pleasure of meeting him,” she recalls. She has also met President Clinton, Bono and Robin Williams in the course of her work and did Christina Aquilera’s wedding.
But one of Margaret’s all-time favourites is Muhammed Ali, a hero from childhood days when she watched his fights on TV. “He was so lovely and wanted to meet the staff,” she recalls.
“It is hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Margaret says of her job. “I thrive on it. There is never a dull moment. Every event is different, is a new challenge, a new opportunity to do something memorable and great.”