Schaefer estimates his company caters far more than 1,000 events each year including hundreds of weddings and 30 large festivals. He estimates that in 2022 he will have served more than 120,000 people.
His robust business began more than 20 years ago, but its roots go all the way back to a hot summer in August of 1986 when they started making “Precious Pecans.” The old family recipe took jumbo pecans shipped in from Albany, Georgia, that the duo coated in egg whites, korintje cinnamon, sugar, and sea salt and baked to a crispy deliciousness to sell at the Dorothy Lane Market in Oakwood.
“While a confection of that type is ubiquitous in today’s world, in 1986, it was considered unique and kinda wild,” said Schaefer. “On August 21, 1986, we wholesaled our first batch of Precious Pecans to the Oakwood DLM. That was the genesis of what would eventually become Brock Masterson’s. In 1988, after almost two years of selling Precious Pecans and doing the occasional catering job out of our home kitchen and gaining popularity, we opened Nanci’s Fancies and Nanci’s Café on Park Ave. in Oakwood. Nanci’s Fancies was a high-end gift and gift basket shoppe and Nanci’s Café was where the catering continued. In 1998, we took the big leap and opened Nanci’s Porches, a full-service restaurant at 2600 Far Hills Ave in Oakwood, where we operated until 2003, when Nanci (Brock Schaefer) retired and sold the restaurant space to what would become C’est Tout.”
In 2000, with the help of an employee, Schaefer created the name Brock Masterson’s Catering & Events as its own entity to carry on with catering and festivals while still executing the duties as executive chef at Nanci’s Porches. The name Brock Masterson’s was derived from a combination of Schaefer’s mother’s maiden name, Brock, and an employee’s mother’s maiden name, Masterson.
“I was trained by two phenomenal chefs: my Mom and Grandma. That’s why everything we serve is delicious and filled with love. The two of them shaped me as a human and as a chef. Along the way, I honed my skills across decades of work in catering and lessons learned. I’ve also made a significant commitment to studying the cuisines of the world to bring back the very best flavors, textures and techniques,” Schaefer said, adding that he’s traveled to 32 countries.
“Many of our dishes are recipes handed down by our families from generations ago, like the crab cakes, Brock’s hash and dill sauce, apple pancakes, banana foster cream pie and Grandma Torkelson’s chocolate chip cookies,” Schaefer said.
One of the earliest catering memories that stands out was his first festival in 1987 when he set up a booth to sell his dishes at The Holiday at Home Festival at Lincoln Park, several years before Fraze came to existence.
“Back then festival food meant hamburgers, corn dogs, funnel cakes and french fries. True to our tradition of thinking outside the box, striving for a higher level of food and bringing something unique, we brought something unheard of to the festival scene. Imagine the look on people’s faces when they saw grilled salmon, big fat reubens, pork chops, portobello mushrooms, and blue lump crab cakes served on salads with Brock’s dill sauce. In fact, I will never forget the look on a fellow vendor’s face when he looked at me and said, ‘You won’t last 3 weeks in this business serving that kind of stuff.’ Well, 36 years later, we have experienced the longest 3 weeks of our life. And we aren’t done yet,” said Schaefer. “We cater for 2 to 2,500, including delivered meals and carry out. We offer everything from hot dogs to Chilean sea bass with beurre blanc sauce, hamburgers to prime rib and beef Wellington.”
Not only do they cater, but they have a thriving box lunch business, serve food downtown at Courthouse Square seasonally and are a staple at local festivals with delicious options delivered hot off the grill. At festivals, the blue lump crab cakes served over three potato hash with dill sauce ($20) would take the prize as most popular. It’s a fantastic, rich savory dish and my personal favorite on the menu as well.
“For catering, we design our meals after collaborating with our clients to ensure we meet their event needs and desires. Some currently popular dishes are smoked meats like brisket, beef and pork ribs, and whole hogs. Others that are often requested are prime rib, wild caught seafood, three potato hash, our five-cheese Parmesan encrusted mac and cheese and our roasted grilled vegetables. We also get lots of catering requests for our banana foster crème pie, sesame encrusted chicken satay with Asian plum sauce, individual beef Wellingtons, Chilean sea bass with beurre blanc and our Bourbon chicken over rice, to name a few,” said Schaefer.
When asked how he would describe his food the answer is as fantastic as the man behind the stove and the delicious food he and his team serve up: “Delicious and satisfying. Food that has complete attention to detail with wide boundaries. Whimsical and hearty. Recognizable cuisine done deliciously with pride and passion. Sometimes bougie, sometimes bucolic.”
Although the cutoff for ordering Thanksgiving may have ended, the December holidays are open for business and year-round they offer carry-out meal specials for other days like Easter, Super Bowl Sunday, Fridays during Lent and Mother’s Day. They also offer a variety of carry-out quiches with a 24-hour notice year round that I have personally taken them up on for many occasions and enjoyed mightily. Follow them on Facebook to see information on specials they offer throughout the year.
This year’s Thanksgiving Dinner for four gives a good sense of the value customers get. The $109 meal that serves four includes oven roasted turkey (white and dark meat, sliced/pulled), giblet gravy, buttermilk mashed potatoes, praline sweet potato casserole, cornbread stuffing, seasoned green beans, cranberry relish and artisan bread. Additions like a quiche ($16), pecan pie, ($14), chocolate crème pie or coconut crème pie for ($19) and charcuterie board ($55) can be added. Specialty and holiday meals do sell out, so it’s important to get your order submitted in advance.
Schaefer credits hiring Traci Tobin in 2011 as an event manager for helping grow the company, handle the demand and stay the course. “Through her and our amazing staff’s hard work and dedication, she helped lead us along a path of growth and success from a small one man and two employee show that did the occasional wedding, a few festivals and served lunch seasonally at Courthouse Square, to what is now a major force in the industry.”
Like all caterers, the next two months are particularly involved with an increased need for catering assistance around the Thanksgiving and the December holidays. As in past years Schaefer says they will offer December holiday meals for carry out with details to be announced soon. The businesses 1,800 square foot showroom at 450 Patterson Road and 3,000 sq. foot commissary kitchen at 446 Patterson Road are going to be filled with activity and the sights and sounds of food cooking from morning to night from here on out.
His business may be busy and complicated, but his vision for the future is simple: “Great food comes from great passion and a yearning to see the look of bliss on someone’s face when they take a bite of it.... We will continue to serve amazing food to Daytonians and beyond for years to come.”
Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water brought to you by contributing writer Alexis Larsen. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.
How to order
What: Brock Masterson’s Catering & Events
Where: 450 Patterson Rd., Dayton
Pick up order: 446 Patterson Road (next to the Brewski Barrel, near the corner of Shroyer and Patterson roads). Pull up to the commissary door and they will bring the meal out to your car.
Call: 937-298-1234 (office), 937-701-8926 (event director, Traci Tobin), 937-475-5935 (Chef Rick Schaefer)
More info: www.brockmastersons.com; www.facebook.com/brockmastersonscatering or www.instagram.com/brockmastersonscatering
Grilling tips from Rick Schaefer, executive chef and owner of Brock Masterson’s Catering & Events
For Rick Schaefer, it’s never too cold to fire up the grill and he’s had decades to fine tune and perfect his cooking methods. Here are his tips in his words for the best grilled steaks and seafood:
For steaks, the important thing is to never cook a cold steak straight out of the refrigerator; let it sit out-covered- until it reaches room temperature. Next, make sure the grill or cast-iron skillet is nice and hot. This will sear in the juices, give you a nice crust and ensure even cooking. Right before cooking you can use your favorite rub, a scant amount of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet or directly on the grill. For a 1 1/4 inch thick steak from room temperature, sear on each side for about 2 minutes and then take it off; you can also quickly sear each peripheral side to add color to every surface and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will ensure a medium rare steak. Wait to salt and pepper your steak until right before you serve it.
For salmon, the important thing is to never cook it until its done, but rather cook it until it’s *almost* done and let it rest before enjoying. This will allow you to enjoy more of the delicious and heart healthy omega 3′s. For best results, use wild caught or non-GMO fed salmon. This is a biggie for me for any seafood.
If you are going to use a cooking oil, I recommend using something heart healthy like organic avocado oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, or organic ghee because other common oils like canola or sunflower oils are highly inflammatory and highly processed. We stay away from those and suggest you do, too.