Any Style Catering
Words by Jessica Comingore Photographs by Michael Muller
We chatted with cofounder Alice Crow about Any Style Catering, the business she runs with Ann Lowe in Austin, Texas.
Collaborating in the kitchen can be a trying task, but Alice Crow and Ann Lowe of Any Style Catering have seemingly perfected the art of carving out their own unique roles within their two-woman business. Alice and Ann started cooking together to cater a friend’s art opening, and the company was quickly born as a way to fulfill their shared love of food and desire to bring thoughtful, simple design into the dishes and experiences they create together.
Ann and Alice are based in Austin, Texas, where they take advantage of the thriving local movement of foodie culture that Austinites have embraced over the last decade. Their combined genius has graced many plates and tables over the past three years (including those of the Austin Kinfolk dinner), and while Ann and Alice both may have larger personal pursuits ahead beyond Any Style, there’s no question they will both be sharing their creative culinary gifts with willing eaters for years to come. We sat down with Alice to hear a bit more about the inspiration and motivation behind their collective energy in the kitchen.
Where do you draw inspiration from, when coming up with recipes and creating your events? How do you ensure that the food and atmosphere complement each other?
We draw inspiration, almost entirely, from the season. Not only does this influence flavor, but the atmosphere as well. In the summer when the heat is exhausting, we keep the flavors super simple (along with style) and let the color and flavor of the watermelons and tomatoes speak for themselves. In the winter, we love to braise. Dark, warm and comforting are words that summarize not only the food, but the style we go with in the cold months. Having said this, we usually try to bring relief to these rich flavors by adding something crunchy or light in flavor, either in a course of its own or as a component of a dish.
How do you stay informed about local and seasonal produce—do you have a few favorite sources you rely on?
We try to make it to the farmers’ market every week to see what the local farms are peddling. Some weeks we overbuy and have a hard time cooking everything we’ve purchased, and sometimes we just go to look. Also, Ann manages a small grocery store in town, in which she chooses the local products/produce she wants to carry. This has been a good way to stay in tune to what is being locally produced.
What are your must-have tools in the kitchen?
A micro-plane, hand-held mandoline, a good peeler, a good strainer and a sharp knife would be difficult to give up. I also recently invested in larger stand mixer, which makes a world of a difference in the baking/pastry portion of Any Style.
Do your personal aesthetic and lifestyle inform the way you approach cooking and event planning?
Yes, 100 percent. My own style has changed and grown immensely since I started catering and I could not be happier that it happened alongside Ann. She has one of the best styles and eyes for design that I have ever encountered, and I have learned so much from working with her. As for cooking and event planning, this is how I see it—we cook food and create events that we ourselves would want to eat and attend. So, if you know Ann or I, and you like our style and trust our taste, then chances are, you will like what we do.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Well, there are a couple. I love pasta all year ’round, but I feel like I have more of an excuse to eat it in the wintertime. Making it fresh and pairing it with a braised meat is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I also love root vegetables in the winter. All of the natural sugars you can coax out of them while roasting can be so rich, and the combinations are endless.
Did you grow up in the kitchen with a passion for cooking, or was the discovery more recent?
For me, the discovery was more recent. My mother is not a huge fan of being in the kitchen, so I really have no idea where my love came from. In high school, I got my first kitchen job in South Texas working for the dad of one of my best friends. I just kept going from there. Cooking in a few more kitchens, during and after college, led me to realize that I wanted to be making my own food on my own time. So, I did.