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Restocked kitchen: New catering outfit settles in at P’Park Boathouse after previous chef’s vanishing act - Brooklyn Paper

Restocked kitchen: New catering outfit settles in at P’Park Boathouse after previous chef’s vanishing act

Audo-gone: The boathouse at Prospect Park, which houses the park’s audubon center, can host private events on weekends thanks to a new pop-up center nearby, but some nature lovers say they want to enjoy the great outdoors inside.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Hopefully this one won’t dine and dash!

A new caterer recently set up shop inside Prospect Park’s Boathouse after another chef sent stewards of Brooklyn’s Backyard scrambling to fill its kitchen when he abruptly vanished in the heat of wedding season last summer.

A director of Purslane, the latest outfit tapped to serve guests at the landmarked Beaux Arts–style building on Prospect Park Lake, promised she would never leave potential clients at the altar — and said if she did, they would know where to find her.

“We’re part of the community, so that’s not something they have to worry about,” said Amanda Braddock, who oversees events for the company.

Braddock’s outfit — which she operates with colleagues who include a partner in such buzzy local restaurants as Boerum Hill Italian eatery Rucola, Cobble Hill wine bar June, and Fort Greene South American restaurant Metta — in May won an exclusive contract to serve food at the Boathouse, which meadow keepers at the Prospect Park Alliance conservancy rent out for weddings and other parties at price tags between $4,500 and $7,000 from April to November.

And for an additional $175 a head, Purslane will provide everything that goes on your table at any given function, including linens, tableware, drinks, and food — with the cuisine focused on so-called farm-to-table, Northern Italian fare similar to that served at Rucola, Braddock said.

The caterer said park leaders chose her company following a rigorous selection process that she said seemed tailor-made to root out any bad actors following the disappearance of her predecessor.

“Based on the ones we’ve done in the past this one felt very strenuous,” Braddock said.

Meadow officials worked with a catering consultant and reviewed applicants’ finances “very carefully” while selecting a vendor, according to Alliance spokeswoman Deborah Kirschner, who described the process as normal otherwise.

Last July, caterer Jackson Berson suddenly ceased his company The Moveable Feast’s operations at the Boathouse when he skipped town amidst divorce proceedings with his wife of 15 years, according to a Gothamist report, which said the chef’s vanishing act left several brides and grooms worried that the deposits they paid for his services — some in excess of $12,000 — would be lost.

The Alliance, however, waived the venue’s pricey booking fees for the cheated couples and helped arrange new contracts with three stand-in caterers for their events, according to another rep, who declined to comment on how many, if any, people cancelled their celebrations due to the phantom food-and-drink provider. The conservancy’s leaders — who oversee Prospect Park in conjunction with the city — also encouraged clients to contact their credit-card companies to reclaim any cash Berson stole when he disappeared, the rep said.

And its contract with Purslane includes a new term that requires clients pay the Boathouse’s booking fee directly to the Alliance, not the caterer as stipulated by previous agreements, Kirschner said, eliminating the possibility that a rogue chef could run away with those funds.

The attorney who represented Berson in his divorce suit at the time of his disappearance declined to comment, saying he is no longer her client.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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