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Meet Daniel and Nicoletta Herlihy of Do or Dine Catering in Oceanside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel and Nicoletta Herlihy.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I don’t think it’s a story for us more like an insane passion for change and to constantly better our lives for growth. I was an NYC Local 40 union ironworker. This union is one of the hardest to get into in the country, and we did some badass work.

We are the psychos walking the iron up 70 stories. That vintage picture of those men eating lunch on the beam is a perfect example of how we work. My mind was set to be an ironworker for life, and I thought I was ok with that. I had zero culinary experience matter of fact I’m embarrassed of how I ate. I’m actually surprised I survived a single man. I met Nicoletta on 9th St, and 5th Ave in Brooklyn and my life changed.

Nicoletta is the oldest of nine in a crazy, crazy Italian family. Real Italian, not American Italian there’s a huge difference lol. Nicoletta has no culinary schooling what so ever. She learned from her Nonna and her mom when she was young and then she was self-taught. This is her husband speaking on her behalf and I’m going to be bragging big time about her in the next few sentences.

First, she speaks four fluent languages, she didn’t speak English till she was ten. So it was Italian, French, Spanish, English. She’s been in the kitchen her whole life, as an Italian woman and the oldest of nine she didn’t have much of a choice. When she was 18, she opened her first Gelato and pastry shop in Vancouver Canada on complete accident. She was going to school to be an international corporate lawyer, but an opportunity came up for her to open this shop and she took it.

(Her family still has this gelato shop till this day). She left the shop for her family to run while she spent the next eight years traveling the world and teaching culinary to all walks of life. In those years she opened a wine bar and several start-up restaurants. Her dream was to move to Nyc and open another gelato shop, and she did all by herself with no help.

The first time I came to her shop, there was a huge line out the door and around the corner, and I got to cut the line lol. Years later, Nicoletta was offered a job as the head chef and culinary instructor at Eataly in the Flatiron district. She met and got to work side by side with all the famous chefs in the world as well as all the finest ingredients. She worked under Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali for the last few years in NYC.

One night we were on a date at our favorite spot to eat in Brooklyn, and at the end of the meal, she broke some life-changing news. She said “babe I love you but I want more from my life, and I want a change” I’m moving to California and I would like you to come, but if you don’t I understand and wish you all the best. I was pissed and upset and didn’t get it. I was a Nyc ironworker the highest paid most badass job you could have.

Honestly deep down, I was drained and miserable. Ironworkers and alcohol and drugs came hand in hand in Nyc, and I was exhausted from the lifestyle. One day I just had the worst day of work, and then I had a horrible jam-packed train ride back to Brooklyn which seemed to last about 12 hours. I was filthy and sweaty and jumped right into the shower.

I began to cry in desperation and stuck my head out of the shower and said “babe I’m ready to move let’s do it” We saved our money for the next year and slowly gave away most of our possessions that we didn’t want to travel with. I bought a 2005 Ford F150 that my mechanic said wouldn’t make it across the country. lol, Then we bought an enclosed motorcycle trailer to store our two motorcycles and my tools. We left Brooklyn and were on the road for 45 days and traveled over 6,000 miles.

Nicoletta decided to get an 8-week old boxer puppy three days into the trip. Fyi this was my first dog, and it was a hyper boxer, and we planned on camping most of the trip. Until Memphis, our dog decided to pee all over me at 3 o’clock in the morning in our tent. We started to stay in La Quintas all around the country because it was free for pets. Memphis was never potty trained correctly, haha! We visited almost every state in this beautiful country, and it changed our lives.

I was promised, and guaranteed work as an ironworker in San Diego and I felt confident until I got there. Nicoletta reaches out to several companies and chefs and lets them know she’s moving there and would be looking for any culinary jobs that they would be able to give her. Nicoletta and I didn’t know a single soul in Cali and had no connections there. It was just Me, her and Memphis. We lived in a beach rental for three months, and I immediately began to try and find work as an ironworker.

After weeks and weeks of looking for any kind of job, I didn’t find anything. Nicoletta got work immediately. Oh by the way when we were on the road, she got voted top three chefs in NYC for culinary instructors and head chefs. I started driving her to all these different random jobs she got. I helped her shop load and unload and drive her home. Then I began helping her prep and then cook and slowly help her teach classes. We received such great feedback for every job we decided to start a company.

In my personal opinion, Nicoletta is just as talented as the best chefs in the world. She is the most well rounded talented woman that Ill ever meet and shell work any man under the table. She can cook the best meal you’ll ever have and then Make you the best pie, cake or gelato you’ll ever have. She knows about wine, cheese, olive oil better than most professionals in those fields.

Honestly, she’s a genius in every sense of the word and shes my wife. I learned hard and fast from the best teacher, and now two years later I harvest my own animals and make pasta from scratch and I’m a complete food snob and so passionate about farmers and eating the right way. Two years later Do, or Dine is almost fully booked for 2019. We didn’t have business cards or a website for the first year. Every job was word of mouth and a handshake.

Our motto is “support those who support you” Today we have incredible relationships with our farmers and we never been happier, and you can always taste the love in our food. We are together every day we work together we live together, and we fight for each other. We work crazy long hours all the time, we make absolutely everything from scratch, and it is truly a labor of love.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth is boring and uneventful lol. We left high paying careers in NYC and moved across the country to California with very little money to support us. We honestly didn’t know anyone and had no connections here. We started a company that I had no clue how to start, and I didn’t even know how to cook a single thing. We had a truck that was going to break down at any moment.

All of our clothes and things we shipped across the country didn’t arrive on time so we had to buy new clothes for different jobs. We also had to buy so many cooking supplies that we didn’t have. “we borrowed most of them from the rental we were in” Were in Million dollar homes cooking private dinners, and I had to pretend I knew what was going on most of the time. Luckily Nicoletta is a rockstar like I said.

When you cook for someone that pays you well you can’t mess it up at all. Its gotta be perfect… Just imagine you move to another state nowhere near any family or friends, and you have a career you have no clue how to run and have no clue where to get the best ingredients, and if you mess it up at all, you can’t survive. That was every day for a long time lol.

We did over 1500 jobs in two years, and honestly, we had all positive comments for every event. Trust me the behind the scenes was totally imperfect and we had a ton of people giving us advice on what we could do better next time, but we never failed at a job.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Do or Dine Catering – what should we know?
Do or Dine… Husband and wife company. We are both Chefs my wife is soooo much better than me but shes better than most. We specialize in making everything from scratch and with the most love possible. We harvest our own animals and make all our pasta from scratch, and will make you the best meal you’ll ever have.

We are known for our Cooking over an open fire. We cook whole goats, lambs, steers, rabbits, and whole birds. This process is an all-day event. Actually, it’s about a week process when we harvest and hang and prepare the animals for our event. Harvesting an animal is a very sacred time for us. Taking a life is serious business and not just apart of a process. Two 50lb lambs feed over 100 people isn’t that amazing.

Animals are a direct gift from God, and we cherish and honor that life we take to feed ourselves. We never waste any part of the animal we use every part in our menus for our farm dinners. We custom make all of our menus. Cookie cutter menus boring and show no love or passion. If we are going work our asses off we better love what we are cooking.

I’m proud of Do or Dine because we did it with no help or support. We earned it we grew it from scratch like all of our menus. We are Husband and wife and still love each other even more than before. We didn’t even kill each other with all those knives. We treated every job big or small with the same love and compassion. We don’t take shortcuts, and we will never sell out. We do the seemingly impossible events with ease.

We hire staff, and they tell us we’re insane and they will never work for us again. (until next time) This isn’t a job or career; it’s our blood, sweat, and tears. We will never be outworked, out cooked, or be 2nd best without a fight of your life. We are a well-oiled machine with the best talent and passion money can buy. We are a dinner and a show

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Integrity–We always show up and kick ass no matter what. We keep our word and give our clients the best.

True Grit–were tough as nails. We work long and hard hours to make everything from scratch. We are constantly fighting adversity with how we cook and how many people we cook for.

Humor—If you don’t laugh in this business, you’ll surely cry. We have so many crazy stories that we share with our clients as they surround us in the kitchen or by the fire.

Passion—If you’re in a bad mood when you cook, you can taste it. When your happy and full of gratitude your food taste so much better

Fairness–Don’t overcharge clients and get greedy. When we got married and got quotes to have, food catered we realized what a rip off it was — 2.45$ scraping fee for each plate. You need to rent every platter the food comes on. We couldn’t get a free napkin. Fuck off!!!! We are fair, so times to fair, but it always comes back to us as a blessing. We have tons of repeat clients in the last two years, and most of our private clients have become close friends.

Be Humble–Life is constantly changing keep learning from others and bettering your life.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 408 S. Freeman St Oceanside Ca 92054
  • Website: www.DoorDinecatering.com
  • Phone: 646-594-3763
  • Email: info@doordinecatering.com
  • Instagram: doordine catering
  • Facebook: do or dine catering

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