Julia Sullivan, the chef/owner of Henrietta Red and a 2018 Food & Wine Best New Chef, is known for big flavors and warm hospitality. It’s these qualities that have enabled her Nashville restaurant to strike a balance between catering to the city’s growing tourist population and connecting with the local community. Henrietta Red has been open since February 2017, and Sullivan is ready for a new challenge. Rather than open another brick-and-mortar space, though, Sullivan is channeling her team and her talent into a different kind of project: a catering company.
“I don’t feel this overwhelming inspiration right now to open another restaurant,” Sullivan told Food & Wine. “But there’s an urge to grow and push ourselves further.” Sullivan sees catering as an opportunity to do just that: create a space for her team to expand their culinary repertoire and take on new roles as collaborators—without being limited to the constraints of a restaurant.
The company, called The Party Line, will offer full-service and drop-off catering for all kinds of events, from corporate functions to weddings. While Henrietta Red is primarily seafood driven with an oyster bar as the focal point of the menu, The Party Line will offer seasonal, contemporary options that cater to each client’s needs.
“I don’t know that we’ll be reinventing the wheel, but we’ll be doing food with our sensibility,” Sullivan said. Which means fig and chai pop tarts for a workplace breakfast, lamb tartare for a black tie reception, and party favors that range from caramel popcorn to almond shortbread. Caitlyn Jarvis, who has been the pastry chef at Henrietta Red since the restaurant opened, is offering a breads and pastries menu that also includes customizable cakes. With filling options that span from honey caramel to red wine ganache, there’s something for everyone.
Sullivan has experience in catering—it’s how she supported herself between restaurant jobs—and she enjoys connecting with people one-on-one during some of the most important events of their lives. Cooking for a baby shower or retirement event is completely different than cooking in a resturant, and Sullivan said she's looking forward to expanding relationships with guests in new ways.