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Fire Works Catering Makes a Positive Impact

By S. Mathur

Chef Mark Garofalo is not a Rhode Island native but has made the smallest state in the union his home. He graduated from the famous culinary program at Johnson & Wales University and has worked at such landmarks as Davio's Restaurant in the Biltmore Hotel and the White Horse Tavern in Newport. His career included stops in Nantucket, Washington D.C. and Boston and eventually led to the position of Executive Chef at the Gatehouse Catering Company in Providence.

In 2003, Garofalo opened Fire Works Catering with his wife Stephanie, who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and who serves as business and marketing manager.

Fire Works Catering is a family owned business that serves all of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. It's the kind of catering service you get when a famous chef decides not to rest on his laurels but chooses instead to follow a career path that gives him flexible hours and creative freedom.

The clientele is wide ranging and the menus extensive. They can be broadly divided into three categories: corporate catering, everyday casual, and special occasions.

"We like to describe our menus as 'familiar with a twist'," Garofalo said, "Many times for special events we ask our clients to let us design a menu specifically for them and their event. We can use seasonal ingredients and make the event more customized to each guest."

Because of the vast variety of items on the menus, it can sometimes be necessary for the chef to talk clients through the choices and help them decide on the appropriate dishes for their own event. Garofalo likes to be able to advise clients personally.

"As the chef/owner I try to still meet with all of our clients along with our catering coordinator, Heidi, to talk menu items and overall site design," he said.

The food is delicious and beautifully presented, with a selection of homemade chutneys and pickles. Fire Works even brings along potted herbs to brighten up the buffet table. As well as the full catering service, breakfast, lunch and dinner orders can be dropped off.

Fire Works is a valued member of the community, providing jobs and internships through a partnership with Johnson & Wales University and the Community Kitchen at the Rhode Island Food Bank. The concern for the environment is manifest through extensive composting and recycling. Staff participate in charitable programs, contributing time and food donations to local and national organizations.

"We love Rhode Island and the people in it," Garofalo said, "Having lived here now for 20 years I feel I am a true Rhode Islander. We love the community and like to give back when we can whether by partnering with local arts groups like Trinity Rep and The Wilbury Theater Group and PVD Fest or by working with interns from The Met School and RI Food Bank."

He hopes that Fire Works can continue to make a positive impact in the state, and clients and residents surely agree.

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