Our Company History

Our company, Joel Catering and Special Events, is a full service catering and event planning company. Founded in 1993 by Joel Dondis, our expert and efficient staff have a combined 50 years of experience in the food industry.

From a young age, Joel knew that food was his passion, making a soufflé as his science project when he was just 14 years old. He formalized his education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and worked for some of Europe’s finest restaurants and hotels before returning home to New Orleans. The combination of classical training and southern upbringing defines the food of Joel Catering & Special Events.

In keeping with the constantly evolving food business, we are forever looking for new and innovative ways of preparing and presenting our gourmet food. By using only the finest of ingredients and preparing as much as possible “a la minute” on-site, we never compromise on our food quality. With years of experience, we know how to cater even the largest of events, serving food that is beautiful and delicious.

We have been honored to work with a number of prominent clients, including President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef Wolfgang Puck, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Macy’s, Zurich Financial Services, American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, Veuve Clicquot, Hearst Corporation, Gucci, Microsoft, Dom Perignon, Fox Broadcasting Company, and CBS Broadcast Network.

Leadership

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Joel Dondis

Owner
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Joel Dondis began his culinary sojourn at the age of eleven, serving classic French cuisine to his family and friends in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cultivating his passion and talent through his formidable years, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon graduation, Joel traveled to Europe to expand his knowledge of the culinary arts, fine dining and impeccable service. He worked at the Michelin-rated Schloss Hotel and Restaurant Gargantua in Frankfurt, Germany.

Bringing his practical experiences back home, Joel worked for the Brennan family at Mr. B’s Bistro. His next stop was at Emeril’s where he earned the responsibility and title of Sous Chef. Upon leaving his three-year stint at Emeril’s, Joel founded Joel’s Grand Cuisine, Inc, now called Joel Catering & Special Events (JCSE).

JCSE is widely regarded to be a local and national industry leader and the largest off-premise catering and event planning company in New Orleans. In 2000, Joel founded Joel’s at the Hampton, which is the food and beverage provider for the Hampton Inn and Suites Convention Center.

After Celebrating ten years of Joel Catering & Special Events, Joel unveiled the French-influenced restaurant La Petite Grocery in 2004. Now an institution, La Petite Grocery is under the culinary direction of partner Justin Devillier.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 2006 Restaurateur of the Year, Joel continues to delight locals and tourists with the opening of Sucré, a one-of-a-kind dessert boutique in New Orleans’ historic Garden District. Sucré launched in April 2007. Immediately following Sucré, Joel introduced Grand Isle in June 2007, a casual fresh seafood restaurant along Harrah’s Hotel and Casino Fulton Street development.

Since launching his first entrepreneurial venture in 1993, Joel has become a key player on the New Orleans hospitality and restaurant scene.

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Sarah Hall

President
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A Miami native, Sarah received her degree in political science from Tulane University. She has over ten years of experience working in the hospitality industry, catering countless events. Her ability to cultivate and guide her clients’ vision makes each event an unforgettable experience. She has worked on events for nationally recognized groups, such the Fox Broadcasting Company and the NBA, political figures including current and former Presidents and private events such as the world premiere of the motion picture All the Kings Men.

Sarah is currently the President of both Joel Catering & Event Planning and Joel Catering @ the Hampton Inn & Suites on Convention Center Blvd. She is tasked with maintaining the quality and innovation that both companies are known for while working to grow for the future. She was also the Co-Chair for the Wedding Luncheon, an event in January 2010 during the Special Event Tradeshow which showcases the newest ideas and innovations in the wedding industry to over 700 wedding and event professionals.

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Team

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Evan Benson

Executive Chef, Joel Catering & Special Events
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Evan Benson graduated from The French Culinary Institute in Manhattan and spent the next few years working in NYC kitchens. He moved to New Orleans in 2003and has worked at Indigo, Cafe Degas, and doing disaster catering after hurricane Katrina. He has been the Chef of Joel Catering & Special Events for 7years, producing amazing food for some of the best events our city has seen. He lives in Algiers Point with his wife and 4 year old son.

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Jens Jordan

Chef, Joel Catering and Special Events at the Hampton Suites
Details

Jens was born, raised and educated in Germany. He lived and worked as a chef in Switzerland, Great Britain and Bermuda before coming to the US to run Joel’s hotel catering division. His worldwide expertise helps make each Hampton event unique and something that all guests will remember about their special event.

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Kate Lacour

Director of Sales and Operations
Details

Kate LaCour joined Joel Catering in 2006, after graduating from Louisiana State University, as the production manager. After several years of producing special events, both social and corporate, and perfecting the art of managing events she is now the Director of Sales and Operations. She has had many opportunities to work on cutting edge events that have been important milestones for our city, including movie premiers, national sporting events, and presidential campaigns.

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Bryan Clark

Sous Chef
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Jennifer Greenwood

Pastry Chef

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