Cerstin Cheatham, Owner
“I discovered my passion for entertaining in my mom’s kitchen,” reflects Cerstin Cheatham, creator, chef, and owner of Bleu Bite Catering. And those homey roots influence every aspect of Cerstin’s catering from her rustic fare, personalized service, and custom menus to her distinctive presentation of food and décor.
Cerstin grew up in Northern California, but in 1993 she packed two cats and all of her belongings into her little black Subaru and moved to Bend, Oregon. Her early days in Bend were filled with snowboarding, camping, and entertaining. Indeed, at every opportunity she threw parties for friends and family that included creatively themed menus, décor, and activities. Entertaining has always been in this self-taught cook’s blood, so no one was surprised the year Cerstin showed up for a Halloween party dressed as a punk-rock Martha Stewart!
Let the catering begin…
In 2000, Cerstin translated her passion for cooking, creating memorable events, and making people happy into a business—Bleu Bite Catering. In the beginning, Bleu Bite specialized in delivering fresh lunches to hungry working men and women and serving tasty food at local events. But Cerstin had a grander vision in mind, and she quickly transformed the business into a full-service catering company serving weddings, business luncheons, special events, and private parties.
Cerstin’s meticulous nature, hands-on approach, and passion for her work have made Bleu Bite what it is today. Seventeen years after its creation, Cerstin continues to work as chef as well as oversee the business’s day-to-day operations and kitchen management. In her efforts to stay sharp and on the cutting edge of catering, she also regularly attends professional seminars on cuisine, décor and design, and technique.
Not your typical catering company…
The fruit of Cerstin’s labor-of-love is a catering company that stands apart from others. Bleu Bite is socially conscious, donating $30K annually in food and services to shelters, non-profits, and fundraisers, purchasing free range and locally grown meat and produce, using compostable cups and utensils, composting kitchen waste, and recycling. Bleu Bite is also particularly distinctive in its personal approach to event planning. For every occasion Cerstin and her staff work one-on-one with clients to create a unique and memorable menu, plan décor, and customize staffing. With individualized attention to detail as the company’s cornerstone, Bleu Bite has won a reputation for hosting successful events that are fun and have flair.
Bleu Bite’s goal is for clients and their guests to be wowed by flavor and presentation, and this is surely something Cerstin and her staff achieve over and again.
Janie Thornton, Office and Sales Manager
An Oregon girl born and raised Janie moved to the Bend area in 2009. She attended Crook County High School, after graduating began to pursue a degree in Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism. Currently, Janie is working towards obtaining her Oregon broker license. With only the state exam left to take, she’s nearly there!
Janie has been working with Bleu Bite as Office & Sales Manager since 2011. Her pride in delivering friendly, top-notch customer service is an essential element of Bleu Bite’s continuing success. And her knowledge of both technology, marketing and business affairs helps make sure that the office runs smoothly. Janie works hard every day to ensure that Bleu Bite customers are satisfied and to promote the company’s aim of delivering personalized attention and high quality service to all of its clients.
Janie has attended catering convention’s in Las Vegas over the years, where she attended a variety of seminars to continue expanding her knowledge of the catering business. Outside of work she loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading,cooking and art. Her goal is to visit every state in the U.S.—she’s made it to 24 so far!
Liz Boisineau Odell, Operations Manager
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Liz grew up surrounded by 4 boisterous siblings, her parents, and a large extended family. After living in Richmond for more than 2 decades, her high-stress job in the finance department at a car dealership finally convinced her that it was time for a new adventure. So when her sister, who had already moved to Oregon, told her there were always rainbows in Bend, she decided to head west. She settled in Bend in 1995, just in time to celebrate her 25th birthday. Since then, Liz has moved away a couple of times—notably, to Alaska to work as gift-shop girl on the Princess Tours train!—still, she has long since made Central Oregon her home.
Liz’s career in hospitality began more than 20 years ago and encompasses all aspects of catering events and operations, from weddings, corporate events, and social occasions, to cooking, serving, and décor setup. In the 90s she began working for a local caterer and eventually launched her own lunch-delivery company, Liz’s Moveable Feast. In addition to running her own business, Liz worked part-time with Cerstin at Bleu Bite. Four years ago, Cerstin lured her away from her adoring lunch clientele by convincing her to join Bleu Bite full time. Now, Liz helps ensure that Bleu Bite affairs run smoothly, working behind the scenes as Operations Manager and at events as Event Manager and Chef.
Liz keeps up with new trends in catering by attending the annual catering convention in Las Vegas and professional seminars and workshops.
Outside of work, she loves to spend time with family and friends. During the Summer, she relishes sipping sangria and relaxing at the many nearby lakes. And in the Fall, she never misses a harvest season along the Hood River County Fruit Loop.
Liz and Cerstin have been friends since their first days in Bend and colleagues for more than a decade, and Liz wholeheartedly shares Bleu Bite’s goal of delivering personalized attention and the best quality service and food to each and every client, every time.
Karen Holmes, Chef
Born in Portland and raised in Bend, Karen has worked with Bleu Bite since 2013 and has enjoyed a long and successful career as a chef. After college, she moved to London where she attended and graduated from the London Cordon Bleu School of Cookery. Since then, she has lent her culinary talents to numerous high-end, fine-dining hotels, clubs, and resorts in the U.S. and abroad.
Working as executive chef, garde manger (pantry chef), pastry chef, and sous chef, she has helped restaurants like 5-star Fuller’s Restaurant at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel Towers, Crambola Beach Resort in Saint Croix, and Bend Golf and Country Club delight customers and build reputations for excellence. She has served meals to PBS’s Burt Wolf, famed chef Jacques Pepin, and Julia Childs. And, while chef at Bend’s Broken Top, she and her team (in collaboration with Deschutes Brewery) were invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York.
When she’s not planning gourmet menus for weekend getaways with friends and family, Karen enjoys mushroom hunting with her dog, Cowboy. Karen is also a Master Food Preserver and takes several classes a year to maintain that title. Oh, and did we mention she builds a mean gingerbread house? She’s been creating scratch-made gingerbread “Holmes” for over 30 years, crafting some for window displays in Seattle and taking second place in 2003 and 2015 in the Sunriver Gingerbread Village contest.
After spending over 15 years in Seattle (and a year living it up in the U.S. Virgin Islands!), Karen has returned to Bend for good. And the team at Bleu Bite cannot be more pleased.
Biographies Written By: Nimble Ink