According to Tony Candela, Bronxites appreciate good food. More than Manhattanites. More than Brooklynites.
Maybe that’s why International Caterers has stuck around for 25 years.
When Candela and Ciro Savarese opened in 1983, the borough already boasted a number of well-established caterers.
But “a quality product, fair prices and top-notch service,” as Candela likes to recite, propelled International ahead of them all.
“We started out with a little piece of the pie,” said Candela. “Now our customers are second-generation. When these kids were born, their moms and dads had us cater their Communions. Then Christenings, Confirmations and graduations. Before we knew it, we were catering weddings and another set of Communions.”
International Caterers serves fresh from the Hunts Point markets meat, dairy and produce– mostly Italian-American cuisine. Chicken franchaise, penne with vodka sauce and eggplant rollatini are customer favorites.
Candela attended Hyde Park’s Culinary Institute of America where he honed his skills; he’s a versatile master chef.
“We did a big party for the post office with hundreds of people,” Candela said. “They wanted all sort of foods – Spanish, Italian, French, German, Chinese, Irish. We were able to pull it off.”
International Caterers employs 15 people and operates out of the Knights of Columbus Hall on Ampere Avenue.
Candela grew up in Yonkers and Savarese in the Bronx. Their best memories from the business include meeting boxer Gerry Cooney, actor Danny Thomas and New York Archdiocese Cardinal Edward Egan.
It wasn’t always celebrity banquets for International, though. In the 1980s, Candela remembers shifting food from van to beat-up van, praying that one would start. Once, a customer accidently lit Candela’s tablecloths on fire.
Open 363 days a year, International caters funerals, backyard barbeques, retirements, anniversaries and birthdays. Candela likes weddings best.
“We enjoy food,” Candela said. “That’s how we got into the catering business. We also enjoy making people happy.”
International Caterers recently donated the refreshments for Waterbury-LaSalle’s holiday party Sunday, December 4.