Northside Planning Council - NPC


Gristle Catering: Tough to forget, easy to remember for inspired events

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By Lauri Lee
Northside News

The cliché “waste not, want not” for Gristle Catering means they deeply respect good food and take great care that nothing goes to waste. This philosophy is so integral to everything they believe in, the business is named after gristle, a piece of meat that is hard to chew. Often overlooked by many cooks, this inexpensive piece of beef with gristle, when simmered for hours, turns into a flavorful and delicious meal.

Gristle Catering and Events Planning is a new Madison company made up of a team with decades of experience. They’ve come together to cater organic, local and seasonally inspired menus. The business is owned by Jennifer Johnson and Beau Williams, who struck out on their own after working in the family-owned Johnson’s Sausage Shoppe and Catering. Their staff includes Lora, who is a chief cook and server, and Nicki, the catering manager and event planner. “Clean eating is emphasized, which is about serving whole food that is unprocessed,” said Williams. “Jennifer is gluten and dairy intolerant, so you’ll find these well-researched menu options as well.”

Gristle Catering is licensed to operate out of FEED Kitchens on North Sherman Avenue. “As we were getting started, it was great not to have the added overhead of building our own commercial kitchen facility,” said Williams. “Plus, being surrounded by people who love food, we can have them taste a new flavor.”

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Photos provided by Gristle Catering

Johnson and Williams are adventure seekers who started down their new entrepreneurial food path in June 2016. As evidence that they’re not afraid of a new venture, Williams shared that they both have pilot licenses and also enjoy skydiving and base-jumping. World travel is the inspiration for many of the menu items. With their love of food, they bring back recipes they’ve not seen offered locally. Johnson brought back recipes from Cairo when she attended school there. Since the nonprofit law-consulting company she owns takes her overseas on a regular basis, she’s always on the lookout for new food inspiration. “We like to record a video of the food experience in order to get our heads back into the experience of eating it for the first time,” said Williams. “When we married last year in Queenstown, New Zealand, we brought back some new recipes from the honeymoon.” You’ll find international mystique woven into many of Gristle’s catering menus and events.

Out-of-the-box thinkers, the pair didn’t want to just offer ordinary catering food and events. Studying the food industry for emerging trends, they decided to couple their adventurous nature with artful food and events to elevate an indoor or outdoor catered event into a memorable experience where food is the show.

Gristle events typically last all day and feature a pig cooked on a spit or brisket grilled low and slow in a mobile earth oven. True to their nature, they create a magical experience where you’re transported to being part of the theme’s culture. “We plan special events and weddings from start to finish,” said Williams. “If it’s a Hawaiian luau, we want you to feel like you’re on a Hawaiian beach. To feel like you’re at a garden in the middle of the winter, we use a large fountain complete with live flowers and butterflies.”

With an edgy and memorable name, Gristle Catering and Events Planning is determined not to be overlooked and are fast becoming top of mind for people who want fun events that are all about good, flavorful food.

For more information, visit or contact them at 571-5001 or

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