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Business Spotlight: Canapés Catering

Canapes Feature

ML Carroll, founder and owner of Canapés Catering, likes to tell people she attended the school of hard knocks. People who’ve enjoyed her food aren’t likely to believe she’s completely self-taught. She attributes her knack for putting flavors together to her mom, who she grew up watching in the kitchen. Now it’s ML who finds herself in the kitchen, along with her team, who share her eye for detail and pride in their product. “We don’t compromise on detail and quality. We are proud and passionate about our offerings.”

Pride and passion for quality food have fueled the company since it opened in Frederick thirty years ago. Canapés serves both the region and local community through weddings, client catering, and their grab-and-go café.

ML Carroll, founder of canapes

What’s your involvement in Canapés Catering?

I have my hands on everything.

What is a typical day like for you at Canapés?

I check in with the kitchen and assist them if needed, then I retreat to my office to do proposals and reconcile accounts. I help in the cafe during the lunch rush, help load trucks, check inventory, and repair equipment. Plus I’m helping to create “in the now” foods and keep up with trends. And on weekends I’m facilitating and working events.

My brain does not stop! I usually don’t cut out until around 10 pm every night. I have a very patient husband!

What is it like to work for you at Canapés?

We have longevity here. Employees stay for years. They call me “queen” but they see me get in the trenches with them daily. We all work really hard. We do whatever it takes to keep things working smoothly.

What is the single most critical talent you possess in your role as a business owner?

My drive, and my intrinsic talent.

Canapes Steak Food Photography

What is the best part about what you do? Most Challenging?

I love knowing that we’ve affected someone’s big life event in a positive way. I also love working side by side with my employees.

But, this is not an easy business. I think the word caterer scares people because it makes them think it’s going to be expensive and they’ve heard bad things about other caterers. Caterers, in general, have a bad reputation. I consistently hear that Canapes has a great reputation, and I’m proud of that. I have never been ashamed of my food.

What’s something people might not know about Canapés?

I’m always surprised to hear when people don’t know about our cafe, which is in our tasting room. We post about our cafe all the time and have signs on the street, but not everyone knows we’re here! We do a bangin’ business. We get a lot of regulars and enjoy greeting them by name. I keep my office door open so people can say hi.

Where do you see Canapés in the next five years?

Hopefully still doing what we’re doing now! I’m in my 50’s, but I still have it in me. I don’t ever want to close up shop — I’d love to someday leave it as a legacy.

Canapes Cookies Decorations

Can you describe your customers? 

We have a lot of corporate clients, such as Ausherman Development, the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, Lidos, Big Cork, and FMH. Our clients know they can rely on us, and they trust us to come up with menus. We cater a lot of weddings, particularly for couples over 40. Older couples tend to be more passionate about the quality of food served. We also participate in local nonprofit events.

When you’re not running your business, what are you doing?

My husband and I play golf and go on a lot of vacations. In the early years, I worked 100+ hours a week, but now I make time for travel.

What matters most to you in your business?

I like it when everything clicks — when the machine is running well. I get high off of that. I love seeing my employees be happy and watching great food coming out of the kitchen.

Comment (1)

  1. Our community is blessed to have ML and Canapes!

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