About Joel

Experience. Creativity. Innovation. Passion. Rooted in a foundation of traditional culinary arts and hospitality while constantly exploring the cutting edge of new trends. At Joel, we bring all this and more to your special event.



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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.


Founder Joel Dondis has been passionate about food from a young age, even making a soufflé for his class science project when he was just fourteen. After formalizing his education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, he worked for some of Europe’s finest restaurants and hotels before returning home to work at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant as its first Sous Chef. Then in 1993, with just $5000 and a Honda Civic, began to redefine catering in New Orleans.


As the exciting renaissance of culture and tourism exploded in New Orleans over the last decade, Joel Catering also expanded from a one-man show to a team of more than 30 professionals. Over the years, Joel Catering has produced unique culinary experiences for presidents, world-renowned chefs, and Fortune 500 companies, as well as weddings and social events throughout New Orleans.

A New Home

As Joel Catering was named one of New Orleans’ fastest growing businesses and a leader in high end events, it was time to find an event space to call home. Il Mercato, which was designed to reflect the historic beauty of its Magazine Street location, presented a perfect match to the taste and sophistication that Joel Catering embodies.


The celebration of 25 years serving New Orleans brought the opportunity to reimagine Joel Catering: a fresh look and a recommitment to constantly raising the bar for catering and special events. Joel Catering finds inspiration in the thriving local food industry of Southern Louisiana and the influx artists, designers and entertainers, continually infusing new energy and flavor into every event.

Our Values

beets black bowl of noodles
  • Innovation

    A distinctive combination of southern upbringing and classical training defines Joel Catering. Innovation is our passion and it can be found in every aspect of what we do, from menu creation to event design and everything in between. Keeping ahead of the hottest trends and forging new ones by drawing inspiration from the world of design, travel, and culture means our cuisine is continually evolving to bring the very best to every menu we create.

  • Customization

    At Joel Catering, we see each event as an opportunity to build a relationship. Every event is unique, so getting to know you first allows us to execute your vision. Whether you already know exactly what you want or prefer to let us take the lead, the relationship we create together will make your event one of a kind.

  • Service

    Joel Catering’s expert staff has a combined fifty years of experience in the food industry. Carefully selected ingredients provided by trusted partners and prepared by our talented kitchen team create a truly unique dining experience. This means that every element of your special event – the setting, the food, the service – will be delivered seamlessly with style and grace from start to finish.

Our Team

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Joel Dondis, Founder

There's no doubt that I have a passion for all types of cuisine, but there will always be a special place in my heart for a classic soufflé. It started when I was in the sixth grade and took home first place for my science project which explained the scientific process of the soufflé. Ever since, I've taken a special joy in developing recipes and understanding the science behind them.

Sarah Hall, President

Cacio e pepe may only have four ingredients, but learning how to master the dish taught me how to appreciate quality ingredients and attention to detail. In fact, this was the first dish I ever made for my family when I was a teen. Since then, I've found a passion of learning many more classic Italian pasta recipes and have even developed a few of my own.

Katie Schackai, Director of Sales

This is a hard one... but I'm going to have to say pizza! I honestly love it all, but if I had to narrow it down to my "go-to" then Papa John's would definitely win. I even had it delivered late night at my own wedding, served straight from the box!

Annie Hall, Director of Operations

Who doesn't love a good charcuterie board? When I host family gatherings (which is often), there's nothing I love more than experimenting with different meats, cheese, fruits, etc. to create a tasty appetizer which doubles as a beautiful centerpiece. Not only do I have fun doing it, but my guests always enjoy it.

Melanie Mims, Event Specialist

Gumbo is not only a New Orleans Classic, but it's been a staple in my household for as long as I can remember. As kids, we always used to love helping my parents in the kitchen to create such a complex dish. The flavors of the roux, vegetables, chicken & andouille are just as delicious as they are nostalgic.

Joel's Favorite Dish Chocolate Soufflé
Sarah's Favorite Dish Cacio e pepe
Katie's Favorite Dish Pepperoni Pizza
Annie's Favorite Dish Charcuterie Board
Melanie's Favorite Dish Chicken & Andouille Gumbo
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