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Woman-Owned Catering Business Has Made Long-Standing Memories in Every Dish for Over 20 Years
By Betti Halsell Contributing Writer
Published January 14, 2021

Daria Le Sassier

Food comes to life with chef Daria Le Sassier; her catering business showcases her love, starting from preparation-to-presentation.

The goal for each bite of her cooking is for it to be rememberable. Daria shared her passion and how she came to be the most sought-after catering business in Los Angeles. Her extraordinarily wide pallet of cuisines was feasted upon by President-elect, Joe Biden, which can be seen on the Le Sassier Facebook account. With reliable support and the steady guidance received from her mentor, Le Sassier Catering continues to thrive.

Staying true to her roots, Daria flourished in the Louisiana-style of cooking, but she wanted to expand her knowledge to diverse flavors and techniques, to reach everyone’s pallet. Daria reminisced over her journey and the pathway laid out by her mentor, the late chef Emanuel Thomas, who provided a solid foundation for Daria’s gifts to grow.

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“Starting a business is always some interesting entrepreneurship,” she stated, while looking back on how her journey began. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 65 percent of businesses fail in their first 10 years. Le Sassier Catering has been producing quality and extraordinary flavoring for over 20 years. Daria provided the inside scoop on how she keeps her clients clamoring for more.

In her early 20s, Daria made the decision that she wanted to be her own boss; she had a gift for enchanting people with her cooking. She described the vibrant energy and happiness found at one of her dinner parties; her tantalizing cuisine made long-lived memories.
Breaking bread with friends and family is the formal love language of New Orleans. Daria said, “Coming from New Orleans, Louisiana, food was the biggest part of our whole thing—it’s a heritage that we had …”

Shortrib beef sliders

Daria provided early memories of standing on a step stool to be a part of the culinary action; she joined her Aunt Ruth in the kitchen. Daria spoke highly of her aunt’s cooking, naming her one of the best cooks that she knows of. Her aunt left a strong impact on Daria, fostering her gift for rendering impeccable flavor. Thinking about Aunt Ruth, Daria said, “She cooked so well, that the whole neighborhood loved her food. You could smell her fried chicken from down the block.” Daria said everything Aunt Ruth touched was very tasty.

The Los Angeles native shared her flare for her cooking comes from generational recipes that lay deep in her Louisiana roots. With bountiful memories of warmth surrounding the dinner table every Sunday; those shared laughs and full stomachs launched Daria’s inspiration to master the art of cooking.

Encouragement came from her friends to continue developing her own lane in the culinary arts. Daria knew she had to be “something in the industry of food,” unaware that she was embarking on a 20-year legacy and eventually cooking for one of the most powerful soon-to-be leaders of the world. She started with the support of her sisters: Denise, Demetria, and Donna. Realizing all roads to success are different, the sisters dismantled the foundation, and took joy in finding their own holy grail of passions. However, Daria stayed true to how she felt; cooking made her happy, and she was going to pursue her dream by any means necessary.

Breakfast w/ eggs , bacon , sausage , potatoes & mini waffles

To this day, Daria’s family supports and provides encouragement on her expedition to greatness. Her niece, Donna Burch, supports the business by offering administrative assistance, and another of her sisters is readily available whenever they need an extra pair of hands to render a tri-tip feast to perfection.

“As my passion grew, I couldn’t really afford culinary school,” Daria explained; she created an unconventional way of mastering her gift. She continued, “I found a caterer who was pretty exquisite in what he did.”

Chef Emanuel Thomas is a renowned culinary master, who created out-of-this-world flavor and a presentation of opulence in his execution. He catered to the legends of L.A.; and Chef Thomas became her mentor. Daria said, “When we met, we instantly hit it off.” She mentioned that Chef Thomas’ expertise created an aura of individuality, catering exclusively to the person honored to try it.

Linguine seafood pasta

When Daria joined Thomas’ cooking guild, her fire grew, and she wanted to know more about the art behind different culinary practices. She recalled a phrase he imparted to her when they met, “I don’t have a tutorial; just follow me.” And Daria stated that’s what she did.

In the span of six years, Daria absorbed all that she could from Thomas, before he passed away in May. She mentioned the void that appeared among his clients; Thomas had developed strong ties and had clients who relished in his style of cooking for years. One client, in particular, was extremely loyal to the Thomas legacy; Marilyn Hudson, daughter of the first Black architect in the United States. Hudson and Daria crossed paths and developed a relationship through the Thomas catering circuit.

Knowing that there was no one better suited to sit at the helm, Hudson said to Daria, “Are you ready to do this, because you would be the one.” Knowing the shoe size, she would be looking to fill, Daria was taken back by the thought. Hudson rallied behind her and began to spread the word, and Daria marked that moment as the time her culinary journey truly began.

Staff photo with President-elect Joe Biden (left-to-right): D.k Uzokwu, Achim Airtram, Valenzia Algarin, Daria Lesassier, Cheyenne Overton and Stefan Kell

The doors flung open to a new threshold of catering opportunities; She found herself among the affluent within the collective community. Well-versed in all positions of the kitchen, Daria hit the ground running and took calculated strides to thrive in the catering circle. Thomas not only passed down his knowledge to her, he also passed down his seasoned crew. The loyalty from Thomas’ clientele, found its way to his mentee. Daria saw the same devotion with the clientele as Thomas did, and she continues doing business with them presently.

Daria shared that her style is as limitless as her mind. Although she stays true to the southern notes of flavoring, she is aware of the romance that can come from other styles of cooking. she incorporates that into her menu, stating, “Every ethnicity of food is wonderful.”

Daria mentioned her favorite dish to cook is blackened catfish chowder; she starts with slow- cooking a chowder base and grills catfish to add on top. She then adds sherry, herbs, and spices. The combination of ingredients highlights the catfish, and the chowder picks up the blend of smokiness and creamy notes, creating a new sensation of taste and warmth.

President-elect Joe Biden & Daria Lesassier

Daria reminisced on her favorite moments in her journey; the goodness. When her cuisine was delivered across the country and into the Oval Office. She, and her team, served Le Sassier-style cuisine to President-elect Biden, who was smiling ear-to-ear from the aroma, flavors, and welcoming company.

The diverse and noted chef closed with the remarks of love for her passion, “You have to stay with your food; I talk to the food—it’s a thing.” Daria continued, “From me cooking it, to going to your stomach, it has to say, ‘Oh, my God, this is so wonderful,’ and you remember it. And that’s my job to remember the dish that you received from me. If I can’t do that, then I shouldn’t be cooking,” she stated poignantly.

Learning how to add her own essence under the watchful eye of her mentor, Daria continues to thrive within her catering business, one can explore the legacy of Le Sassier, and share the warmth of her food with friends and family, by dialing 213-361-9934. Visit her Instagram, Facebook page, or yelp for more details.

Categories: A Taste of Soul | Crenshaw & Around | Exclusive | Family | Local | News (Business) | News (Family)
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