The saying, “Colorado Proud” rings true with Heirloom Catering and One Box Project Founder and CEO Michelle Garcia. As a Denver native, she grew up on an urban farm and those childhood years framed her philosophy regarding food sourcing and supporting local food purveyors.
Growing up the oldest of five, Michelle had a lot of responsibilities and started cooking with her mother and grandmother when in the second grade. She was her mother’s prep chef – peeling potatoes, chopping onions, mincing garlic, learning how to read recipes, scaling and basic baking skills. Michelle’s grandmother, Lala, was from Mora, New Mexico and taught her to make scratch-made tortillas, chillies, homemade pinto beans, Spanish rice, all the while Lala would sing in Spanish and they would dance their way across the kitchen. Lala was a singer at El Chapultepec, also lovingly known as “The Pec,” one of the oldest jazz bars in the country. Music, arts and food were the cornerstones of Michelle’s family culture.
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Michelle began her career in greenhouses and managing crops on farms. It was here that Michelle learned about Heirloom plants, companion planting, and how seeds are passed down from generation to generation. Understanding the greater value of pollinators, Heirloom seeds are open-pollinators, meaning they rely on natural pollination from insects or wind. She fell in love with the beautiful vibrant colors, the racing strips and gorgeous blooms. This education grew her first passion for the culinary arts. After growing tomatoes and understanding the undeniable comparison to conventional grown tomatoes, there was no turning back! The obvious transition would be the culinary arts and where the company name came from.
Michelle worked at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts and planned to attend their professional program; instead thought it was a more “adult decision” to study nutrition and become a registered dietitian. After studying nutrition at Metropolitan State University of Denver and working towards an internship to become a registered dietitian at Sky Ridge Medical Center, she realized that change does not occur on a grand governmental level.
A Recipe for Change
Public awareness has grown in recent years about the unethical conditions inherent in the American food system. Michelle set out to create a whole new way of educating and engaging people in food sustainability. She sought to create change in our community by supporting local merchants, farmers, ranchers, and artisan food makers. Thus following her dream of providing high-quality meals one dinner table at a time.
Founded in January of 2014, Heirloom Catering specializes in healthy, flavorful and locally-sourced cuisine. The company’s mission is to purchase local products whenever possible. Heirloom Catering continues to cater small dinner parties, large weddings and celebrations, and corporate events.