In March of 2020, something happened that would forever change our lives. In fact, it would change lives all over the world. This event caused havoc, mayem, distress, and even rethinking how we wanted to live our lives. What we knew would never be the same. From this traumatic event, ideas were born. One of these ideas was SUMMUS Catering Service – A Labor of Love, Joy, & FOOD!
Here’s how it happened from the perspective of the SUMMUS Team: Chef Roman Lazaro, Angel Rodriguez, and myself, Amy Jones.
The First Anniversary of Summus Catering Service
This is the story from Chef Roman Lazaro:
Our First Anniversary – How did Summus Catering Service come about?
I can tell one of the three stories that come together to carry out this magical project.
In my mind I was always able to socialize with the client (even though I’m a little introverted). However, I took the approach with the client to know their opinion regarding the food, the service and the setting (the place). This was the worm that invaded my mind.
While I was a cook, I began creating dishes; starting from the staff meal. I wanted to give the staff a moment of peace, to thank the staff for their service and to tip the kitchen. But beyond that, I wanted to make them forget they were at work; where there is pressure and business from the time they arrive. So, they thought they were at home during lunchtime. This was my way of thinking or what I felt when it was my turn to cook for the staff; even so I had many tasks to do during the service.
It was nice to hear and see how the waiters, cooks, and staff came up and thanked me. Unfortunately, that was not to the liking of my bosses at that time. They did not like me to indulge the staff or spend some time with food. But for me it didn’t matter. In the end, we were a team and it was my way of paying back for all the effort they made as well.
Some time later, I became a chef. My curiosity began as I wanted to be able to do different things. But it all started in the year 2020, when I was looking to make pairing dinners. I was looking to make different dishes with new presentations; leaving the old school ways with respect to putting sprigs of parsley and rosemary on everything.
I wanted to be able to express what I felt in the kitchen. This is not easy when you have an executive chef above you who has his ideas and his ways. But I was able to fill in with my gap and leave my stamp. So much so, that my recipes were requested by chefs from the other units or some wanted to copy them. Even when they copied my recipes, it did not work for them.
In short, the pandemic began and, with that, came the closure of restaurants. These were times of change forcing you to evolve, adapt and, above all, reinvent yourself. So it was, I started the idea of being able to make dinners at home as a private chef. Even with all the sanitary measures, this was the idea I had. Although I needed a team since I could not do this alone.
One day I received an inbox from my friend Angel. He says, “how are you? how are you?” He then asks me, “hey, do you know anything about catering?” And I say yes! Actually, before coming to Mérida, I worked on that segment. It wasn’t much but I still had some knowledge of it. We decided to talk more and we decided to meet to talk more about the subject. It was as if the planets aligned and heard me in the distance. Angel is a dedicated person, passionate about service, and has that spark that makes you smile.
This is how SUMMUS began. We looked for something more than a catering service.
We wanted to:
- make our clients feel as if they were our family
- to have an approach where we have a pleasant conversation with their stories and ours
- to give a hug of warmth that we provide with the food service and a cute smile
The family is an important pillar. What would a family be without festivities? Without the recipes of the grandmother, the mother or the aunt? This is what lasts forever in us … the memory of the flavors.
I started looking for the name. This is something we are always asked, “Why SUMMUS?” SUMMUS means the highest. For us, our service should be on a different level. Hence, the name SUMMUS from the Latin word meaning highest.
But, we must have a third member to our team; one with great knowledge. This is Amy Jones, a woman from another world with ideas that she creates every second. She is dynamic and charismatic; but above all incredible woman. Without her this would not have been possible.
After doing tests, talking, and planning, everything took a step forward. It was something so magical that I could not believe it.
We found suppliers, vendors, and sponsors: people who helped us grow. It was as if everything was destined to be able to create the brand. People believed in us, they saw our professionalism, our dedication, and our love for what we did. They began joining our project.
It is God and it is destiny. The truth is there are many great things that have happened to us. When you do things with love it shows, and people feel it. This is how we come to get help from our suppliers, vendors, and sponsors. Not only do we want to grow, but we also want to help all those who surround us in this project. We want to help local producers, artisans and painters; all those who do things with love.
Starting a business during pandemic is not easy especially when countless businesses closed. Also feeling the tragedy of losing loved ones. But many have told us “you have balls to start a business during a pandemic”. Honestly, it has not been easy.
My professionalism comes first, so I retired from being a restaurant chef for this and other reasons. Even though it was possible for me to continue, I did not want to. So, I left my comfort zone, It was not easy to lose work in those times. But God, my family, and the people who love me were always there. Therefore, I was able to get ahead in those difficult times. I can tell you that I’ve enjoyed the trip; sharing how much or how little I know. But, what I love the most about this trip is connecting with people with their memories through food.
At SUMMUS, I can be me. Not only that, I can give a moment of happiness to those people who visit us to make them feel at home.
Celebrating a year of SUMMUS with total thanks,
Chef Roman Lazaro
My version 🙂 from Angel:
Given advance notice of rumors that many restaurants would not survive, I began to think about the possibility of dedicating myself to another industry. Notably, this would not be the service industry to restaurant patrons since this would be one of the most affected at this time. In this moment, it was a reality. If I resigned myself to thinking about working in another industry, I would have left behind a beautiful chapter in my life.
So, I forced myself to think of more solutions – more options. I couldn’t stand still watching my relationship with the diners who had become my family, vanish in front of me. The only possible way to continue creating that magic with my guests was to have them at home, at my table.
The private catering service was the path to take towards the great dream of having my guests with me; giving them that special and familiar touch. But, I don’t know how to cook. Therefore, the only person that came to mind was the great Chef and friend Roman. There was no one else who had that same connection with the family. There was no one else who had ideals so similar to mine in the form of the service that I love to offer. In my mind, there was no one else to look for. I enjoy treating my guests like my family and offering a magical experience. It was natural to combine my desire with Roman. It was his hands, his creativity and his love for creating magic. Yet something was missing.
Of course we needed “The Wonderful Amy Jones”. Her ideas were so great and special that they came to conquer us. It was the touch that we did not know we needed. Her way of helping us present ourselves with innovative methods. Her life experience being in the service industry shows an infectious spark with a pleasant personality. The combination in this team is extremely enriching and powerful.
We are very fortunate to have each other and each bring a valuable resource to the project.
The idea that began in May 2020, took shape, gave us purpose, and a reason for life in the course of that year. Finally, seeing the light in November 2020. We have reached our first year together and we are ready for many more. Thanks to all the sponsors who have believed in our project, to our friends and our families for supporting us, and, of course, to our guests who have become part of us.
We love our service, our creations and our magic,
We are Summus!
This is the story from Amy Jones:
Our First Anniversary – What really happened (or behind the scenes) . . .
I’m a purposeful entreprenuer since the age of 12. At my age, I’ve done just about everything. But when I moved to Mérida on Christmas Day of 2019, it was my intention to allow the Universe to bring me the information, help me cross paths with those who could help me, and the ones I could help, whatever that looked like.
I had the fortune to meet my husband, Angel Rodriguez, only 4 days after I arrived. Thus, I began the magical journey and want to share the highlights of how I got from there to SUMMUS.
Deciding that Mérida needed some practical, useful, and (of course) purposeful advice, I began my blog and website, Life in Mérida. Writing was a dream I’d had since being very young and for me, the stars lined up to help me help others. I love to write but most of all I love to help others. For 3 months, I focused on writing, creating my blog and acquiring helpful information to relay to people living here or who wanted to live here.
And then, the pandemic began and ripped the beautiful vibrancy of the city away. Slowly, Mérida became a ghost town; deafeningly quiet, depressing, and not at all expected. So, I poured myself into writing, exploring, and researching. The quietness of the city fueled my thirst for knowledge. I was relentless with Life in Mérida because that’s all I had.
Angel was working at La Tratto in Santa Lucia park and when the restaurant closed, I saw a little light go out of his personality. He has this kind of magic; his smile, his aura, and his personality. He is truly a service person but when the ability to serve others was taken away he became a little lost.
One night we began having a serious discussion around work. Because we had no idea how long the pandemic would last, it was time to consider other things. It wasn’t a question of “what if?” It became a question of “how about this?” I asked Angel what he wanted to do if money were no object. What would his passion be? What were the possibilities of what he could create? Because that’s where we were at that time. Nothing was certain or promised. All we could do was hope for the best while trying to create a project that would take the focus off of the outside, unpredictable world.
After some thought and research, he came up with the idea to start a catering company and reached out to his friend Roman Lazaro. They knew each other from the restaurant. They knew each other’s work ethic. It was a great start that would lead to something incredible. Angel and Roman began meeting on a weekly basis. They would chat, laugh, have a beer and then set up their next meeting. I could feel the connection between them and admired their dedication to the project.
After some months, they were still chatting, laughing and having a beer. But (and a big BUT), there was no action. I didn’t speak alot of Spanish at that time. However, I could tell that they needed some help to get to the next step; putting an action plan into place. Respectfully one evening, I asked Angel if they would like some help. And, he said yes!
Again, at my age, I’ve done just about everything. I had a small catering company and planned events in Dallas for a few years. This was a great foundation for me to bring some ideas to Roman and Angel for their feedback and comments. I did what I always do when starting a business; a business plan. I found exactly the niche we needed to fill, the target clients and the specialties we could offer.
This was the catalyst we needed and we began brainstorming on all the things we could do with this incredible knowledge. Our first events were during November of 2020. We were scared, worried and concerned that no one would come while we were still under COVID restrictions. But our events almost sold out. I had built a following through Life in Mérida. Roman had relationships within the restaurant and food service community. Angel had clients that knew him and loved his outstanding service. We created trust within our own groups.
With the feedback we received, we knew we had something special. We took that feeling and, over the course of the next year, spread the news, the joy, and the love of food and connection to anyone and everyone. We infused our location in Montes de Ame (north Mérida) with the same. It’s sheer pleasure for all of us to hear how our location is unique, how our services is outstanding, how our food is exceptional. This is what makes us like no other.
I’ve tested, pushed, and pulled Angel and Roman out of their comfort zones. This works because we all trust each other. It’s our intention to create a memorable event for our guests, every single time. Our guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends. It’s an incredible feeling to witness our guests from Airbnb connect with each other, locals, and other travelers. The common threads that arise during conversations over Chef Roman’s creations are the magic of SUMMUS.
It’s been an emotional and wonderful feeling to watch Chef Roman infuse each dish with love, time after time, and to see how his expression of himself through food has evolved over the past year. The time, attention, and care of the plating of the dishes never ceases to amaze me. Likewise, the advancement of Angel’s professionalism and confidence with owning his own business, the personal attention he gives to each guest, and the entrepreneur mentality is growing day after day. Not everyone can transition from an employee to a business owner, but Roman and Angel have embraced this business with professionalism, courage, and dedication.
Our intention is to continue this magical formula as long as the Universe puts people into our path, into our homes, and into our hearts. We are SUMMUS and we are proud of the hard work, dedication, and love we’ve invested in our first year!
We invite you to our private events every Monday. We promise it will be a night to remember.
Details make memories,
And a special, heartfelt with deep gratitide thank you to all of our sponsors, supporters & family!