This year, Wisconsin Public Television celebrates our 42nd year of fantastic fun at Auction – May 31 through June 4, 2017! Help support WPT as you bid on an array of goods and services donated by businesses and individuals from around Wisconsin and beyond. Preview and pre-bid on items and watch our live stream from anywhere at auction.wpt.org. To bid by phone, dial 800-236-3636.
WPT Auction catering partners fuel hardworking volunteers and WPT employees throughout Auction with delicious, local meals. This year, longtime Auction catering partner Gaylord Catering Service, of Madison, has once again signed up to volunteer time — and, of course, food. We sat down with Dave Chamberlain, Gaylord Catering Service’s owner, president, and general manager (and even one of the chefs!) to learn more about the business and its commitment to Auction.
How has your role with Gaylord Catering Service evolved over the years?
I started in 1968 as a high school student washing dishes. I kept that job part-time, washing dishes throughout college until I graduated from Madison Business College in 1974 with an accounting degree. After graduation, Gaylord Catering offered a full-time job, which I accepted. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a position of ownership in the company — you know, one of those enticements to make sure that you stay and don’t run away [laughs]! In 1983, I purchased the company from Gaylord Matti, the original owner. I purchased with a partner; in 1997 my partner left to pursue other interests. Since then, it’s just been my wife [Pat] and I.
What about Auction motivated Gaylord Catering to donate meals and valuable time?
My kids and my wife and I — and now my grandkids —watch public television a lot. In the early years, WPT carried Badger hockey and basketball, which we loved to watch. [Donating to Auction] just seemed like a way for me to give back. You can always donate money, but this was an opportunity for me and my business to give something back.
What’s your favorite part about being an Auction catering partner?From a business standpoint, you get exposure to a lot of people. If I provide them with good food that they like, maybe they’ll remember that I donated. They’ll take the time to call me and give me an opportunity to provide that food for them. It doesn’t “seal the deal,” but they’re more likely to give me a chance. It’s a way for the community to realize that we’re giving back. And I’m sure the volunteers enjoy it!
Since you’re one of the chefs, we have to ask: What’s the most popular dish?
We do a number of weddings every year, and in the wedding business, chicken is a popular item. We do a Wisconsin Cranberry Chicken, which is chicken breast filled with a dried cranberry, walnut and herb dressing and garnished with a white wine cream sauce. That’s probably one of the most popular items we serve.