Our Staff - Harvest Moon Catering
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Welcome To Harvest Moon Catering

Hospitality is about creating a sense of place where everyone has a seat at the table. At Harvest Moon Catering we give consistent and thoughtful attention to details. We create your vision with a nod to seamless service, excellent preparation of quality food, for big and small events alike. We believe exceptional service as well as exceptional food should be a given, and train our staff accordingly.

 

At the very heart, we are about people and relationships, starting with the way we care for our staff.  This is where the conversation begins. Our team shares an understanding of the significance of what we are creating for you. Food and wine is what we gather around to celebrate special times.  From boxed lunches to the most elaborate weddings, we understand that we are in the business of stewarding memories.

Executive Team
Mark Hahn

Mark Hahn - President

As the co-founder and president of Harvest Moon Catering, Mark Hahn has a distinguishing quality of being open to possibility. He is constantly generating new ideas, which over the years has resulted in the creation of one of Charlottesville’s consistently top-rated catering companies. Hahn speaks like the good coach, clearly invested in his team, setting the standard for hard work and impeccable delivery. A budding entrepreneur in college, Hahn, together with friends, created a Sunday backyard brunch, providing good fare, libations, and plenty of copies of the New York Times. Later, Hahn took off for San Francisco to dabble in the culinary arena, working in restaurants and also as a private chef. Not ready to hang his hat on a culinary career, Hahn headed back to Charlottesville to team up with business partner, Robert Gustafson, to develop a catering business for sororities. Together they purchased the Blue Moon Diner to provide the kitchen for their growing catering venture, which started to include more and more private events, and would one day become Harvest Moon Catering. Bright, engaging, and full of energy, Hahn is clearly a visionary, whose imagination and commitment behind the scenes ensures your event will be inspired and successful.

Robert Gustafson

Rob Gustafson – Vice President / Director of Operations

Everything about Rob Gustafson exudes youthful energy, from his appealing boyish countenance, to his earnest business philosophy. One doesn’t have to turn around to know he’s approaching by the sound of his jangling keys and cheerful whistling. He cares about meeting the desires of his customers and consistently delivering a great product. As Director of Operations for Harvest Moon Catering, he looks out for his staff, making sure the business works for everyone involved. Gustafson and Mark Hahn, co-owners of Harvest Moon Catering, met when they were undergrads at UVA, and came up with the idea to cook for sorority kitchens. Eventually, they were cooking for 12 houses out of one van, delivering over 3500 meals per week. The catering venture grew over the years, punctuated by a foray into the restaurant business, when Gus and Mark acquired the Blue Moon Diner on Main Street, using the kitchen for both outside catering and inside dining. Gustafson cites hard work, integrity, and luck as the foundation for Harvest Moon’s achievement as a premier player in the Charlottesville catering scene. Now, the days of hard work have paid off, allowing Gustafson room to expand his creativity into the realm of local charitable projects, especially those focused on food, sustainability, and kids; Better Business Challenge, PB&J, and Schoolyard Garden, to name a few. All said, this trait of “overwhelming generosity,” cited by employees at Harvest Moon when describing both Gustafson and Hahn, makes sense.

Kitchen Team
Chef Bryan Kelly

Bryan Kelly - Executive Chef

If the overarching mission at Harvest Moon Catering is to impart a sense of warm and engaging hospitality, then one knows they’re onto something upon meeting executive chef, Bryan Kelly. Friendly and even-tempered are words that come to mind in describing Bryan. Bryan claims he started cooking “out of necessity” at a young age, his budding culinary imagination rallying to assist his widowed father with family meals. The man who would become Bryan’s mentor and give him his first cooking job at a local college, inspired him to pursue a career as a chef, when he was overheard recounting a career fair description of a chef’s job as filled with travel and great pay. Some years later, he would practice with Peter Timmins at the Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program at the Greenbriar Hotel in West Virginia. He would go on to accept the Sous Chef position at the Greenbriar. Following his time in West Virginia, he became the Corporate Chef for Philip Morris USA and then accepted the position of Executive Chef at the University of Virginia. Ultimately, Chef Kelly was drawn to the culture of good people and great food created by Hahn and Gustafson at Harvest Moon, and when the opportunity of Executive Chef at Harvest Moon was offered, he quickly accepted. Bryan creates not only culinary masterpieces, but also a kitchen culture imbued with a lighthearted sense of fun camaraderie.

Chef Mike Perry

Mike Perry - Chef de Cuisine

Mike Perry’s passion for food is undeniable. Overhearing his recollections of food experiences, the moniker “Kitchen Poet” seems appropriate. Perry grew up in a family that celebrated wonderful food including braised fennel fresh from the garden, spaghetti with anchovy dressing, and fried smelts. Referring to himself and his brother as the original latch key kids, Perry began honing his culinary sensibilities by watching cooking shows on TV, while his peers watched cartoons. After high school, Perry moved to Charlottesville and took a cooking job at a local sandwich joint. During that time, he happened to be sitting at the bar at the Blue Moon Diner, when a frazzled Mark Hahn of Harvest Moon Catering appeared, phone to ear, three clipboards in hand, clearly in a jam. Perry offered some word of empathy causing Hahn to turn and ask, “Can you cook, like 30 minutes from now?” Perry began working that day and has been with Harvest Moon intermittently for the next 17 years. Gustafson and Hahn were quick to recognize his talent and encouraged Perry to continue to broaden his experience. Perry took jobs at OXO and Keswick Hall before returning to his home of Colorado to work under a master chef at The Kitchen. Later, Perry helped to open The Red Hen in Lexington, VA, and The Rock Barn, then spent some time at the Ivy Inn before deciding to take the position of Chef de Cuisine at Harvest Moon.

Thomas Bowles

Thomas Bowles - Lead Event Chef

Lead event chef, Thomas Bowles thrives on community. Of note, he first came to Charlottesville as a teen to attend the Quaker influenced Tandem Friends School, which may have helped to shape his egalitarian sensibilities both in and out of the kitchen. During his senior year, Bowles discovered yet another community at the local C&O restaurant, enchanted by the theatrics of fine dining upstairs where food was delivered via a ladder to the kitchen, juxtaposed by the more broadly accessible menu of the downstairs bistro. The C&O would become the fertile ground from which Bowles developed his culinary skills and career. The early days of the C&O provided Bowles with a community of like-minded kitchen artists, who inspired by cooking magazines and classic French cookbooks, began developing relationships with local farmers and foragers. In time, Bowles headed out to San Francisco to work with the innovator of California cuisine, Jeremiah Towers at Stars Restaurant. Bowles, who missed the intimacy of Charlottesville, was invited to return to the C&O as head chef, where he remained for the next eighteen years. Now, as Lead Event Chef at Harvest Moon, Bowles has found the perfect fit allowing him to bring his culinary talent and love of local community to bear, overseeing intimate events in clients’ homes and larger ones in the field. Bowles is in his element, infusing your events with talent, care, service and joy.

Event Team
Kelly Mahanes

Kelly Mahanes - Director of Sales

It is easy to see how Kelly Mahanes arrived at the position of Director of Sales at Harvest Moon Catering. She glows when describing the sense of fulfillment she gets from organizing anything, from mail, to garages, to high attendance gatherings. Kelly is clearly a trusty anchor in the sea of creative ideas and high emotions that attend the planning and execution of events. Though Kelly pursued a college degree in Communications, classroom learning never had the same appeal as the excitement and variety that she found working in restaurants. So she gave restaurants her dedicated focus for fifteen years, feeling at home organizing all the disparate pieces that culminate in the ultimate dining experience. When the restaurant she managed expanded to cater weddings, she eagerly took on the role of event planner. Mid-way through her first wedding event, with the dinner service going out timed precisely as she had planned, Kelly realized that she had found her calling. Originally from Maryland, Kelly moved to Charlottesville to take an event planning position with Harvest Moon and credits Mark Hahn with teaching her the ropes of managing more weddings in one month than she’d managed in one year in her previous job. In this fast-paced and sometimes chaotic business, Kelly conveys a steady command of the process. Always quick to respond to clients, she is an effective delegator, with a broad knowledge of outside resources in the world of events.

Cristina Webster

Cristina Webster - Senior Sales & Catering Coordinator

Cristina Webster is the high priestess of meaningful gatherings, “where all the world’s a stage,” over which she presides with passion and a philosophical bent. She is keenly aware of the universal role food and wine play in bringing people together for important celebrations. Cristina has a unique talent for bringing a client’s vision to life, be it a small backyard wedding or a full-scale corporate event. Cristina began working in restaurants from the age of 15 and filled nearly every position at Duners, in Ivy, where she also studied wine. She went on to manage the quirky Frye’s Spring Beach Club and its ballroom for a time, before finding a home for her talents as event planner for Harvest Moon Catering. Enthusiastic, experienced, and creative, Cristina has an air of wisdom as well, giving one the sense that she is there to serve her clients, casting herself, heart and soul, into the process, to host the most fantastic gathering every single time.

Sally Juliano

Sally Juliano - Sales & Catering Coordinator

How does a radiant and serene Italian gal from Brooklyn and Connecticut end up as an Event Planner for Harvest Moon Catering? Sally Juliano’s thoughts about her role in the catering business parallel her most memorable childhood experiences, and the meditation practice she embarked upon while an undergraduate at VCU, all summed up with one word: connection. Raised primarily by a single father who was a professional chef, Sally brought caprese sandwiches to school, and feasted upon her father’s homemade pasta for dinner. Food was such a focal point that most days began with the family gathered around the table contemplating what they would prepare for dinner. After getting her degree in Hotel and Restaurant management, Sally became interested in the farm-to-table movement, pursuing a graduate degree in Horticulture. Following graduate school, she tried her hand at running organic greenhouses, while simultaneously planning weddings and events for a local inn. Now at Harvest Moon, Sally finds inspiration, and joy in the process of connecting with our clients, building relationships, and helping to shape events that reflect each person’s vision for their event day.

Join The Harvest Moon Catering Team
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We are always looking for enthusiastic folks to join our team. We have part time seasonal positions available.

 

Please contact us at hr@hmcatering.com for additional information or questions.

 

You can complete and submit our online employee application HERE.