Ventura County's Support-Local Program

Main Course California: Catering Sustainable Local Food

Main Course California is an award-wining caterer based in Ventura. Get to know Rachel Main and learn about her company. And try out a new desert RECIPE.

Catering – it’s not only food

“I love listening to our clients excitedly talk about their vision and goals for their special events,” said Executive Chef Rachel Main, Main Course California.  “Then afterwards, the fun really begins for me when we plan, develop and create a delicious menu complimented by a well-planned presentation that actually brings our client’s concept to life.”

“We do every type of event there is,” said Main.  “Our first step is listening to what our clients would like, then we assist them in developing the type of menu, or custom menu that will please or be realistic within their budget.  We also make it a point to match our client’s brand in our food and in our presentation.

“Some of our clients want only organic ingredients or gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan options, others don’t care as long as the food tastes good. We’re a catering company and so we cater — that is we aim to please, always, delivering our very best,” Main adds with a smile.

Chefs Ashley Campos and Chris Padre prepare a salad

Chefs Ashley Campos and Chris Padre prepare a salad with ingredients from Dave Pommer

In a recent wedding for food enthusiasts (see photo to the right), Main Course personalized the couple’s salad to their particular taste as well as to their room décor color palate.

“We’re based in Ventura and we love being here. So we believe in keeping local whenever possible,” said Main.  “We contract with sustainable and certified organic farms and ranchers that use pesticide and hormone free products.  We also get our seafood sourced according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide and our wine is a selection of hand-picked local and imported wines and beers.”

Catering to their staff

Main Course California’s Robert Jacobi strums his guitar

Main Course California’s Robert Jacobi strums his guitar for the staff

In addition to catering to their clients, Main Course caters to its staff.  “Our staff learns about everything — how to present food, how to pronounce an ingredient or a particular ethnic dish, the history of where the ingredients come from, etc.  This way, our staff can knowledgeably answer any questions a guest may have.”

It’s also not unusual to find Main’s business partner Robert Jacobi, former Ojai Valley Inn and Spa Manager and a classically trained guitarist, serenading the kitchen crew when their busy with events.

“Our staff is family,” said Main.  “When Robert plays during busy times, it helps reduce everyone’s stress level and sets a ‘life is good’ mindset.”

Rachel Main talks to the Main Course California

Rachel Main talks to the Main Course California Staff

Main Course California’s history

Main didn’t always plan a career in the food business.  In college, while she was a studying chemistry, she needed more funds than the typical lab jobs paid.  Looking through the want ads, she answered an ad for a line cook, even though, at the time, she didn’t know how to cook.  She met with the Chef, and although she didn’t get that job, her enthusiasm was impressive enough to land her a position as a prep cook.  The rest is history.

“What I found out, is that there’s actually a lot of science and chemistry to cooking,” said Main. “All that emulsifying, dealing with the browning of carbohydrates, etc. I soon discovered I was definitely in my element. In fact, I had so much fun in the kitchen, I never left!”

That job led her to get a BS in Culinary Arts from Nicholls State University and then to other restaurant work as well as being a private chef. Then, in 2008, getting a little antsy, and wanting to take a stab at building her own successful business, just as she was looking for a business partner to back her, she was introduced Robert Jacobi, former Ojai Valley Inn and Spa Manager, who was also looking for a change in his life.

So, just as the market was crashing, the duo opened Main Course California.

“Perfect timing, wasn’t it?  Actually, we didn’t even think about it,” said Main.  “We knew what we wanted and there was no stopping us.  We wound up immediately signing on some regular clients as well as staffing private chefs to place in personal catering positions even before our present kitchen opened.”

Award-winning catering

When asked what inspires their menus, Main responds, “Life.  I love to read cookbooks and magazines.   One of my favorite things to do besides cooking is the research associated with putting on some of the major themed-events we cater.”

Rachel Main accepts award for Caterer of the Year

Rachel Main accepting Main Course California’s award for Caterer of the Year for the Ventura NACE Chapter consisting of all of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties

A perk to the position, Main considers it “her job” to frequent other restaurants and events to “see what’s happening in the world of food outside our doors.”

Main Course California caters intimate, casual gatherings to large formal affairs.  On their client list is also a host of corporate entities requiring the delivery of daily lunches.  Party décor including a full range of employee help, china, linens, silverware, tables, seating and even event production equipment.  “If you want it,” said Main “We’ll deliver.”

Here is a locally-inspired avocado delight: Avocado Ice Cream with Walnut Brittle.

Avocado Ice Cream with Walnut Brittle (Vegan)

Servings: 1 quart (serves about 12)

Avocado Ice Cream with Walnut Brittle (Vegan)

Main Course California's Avocado Ice Cream with Walnut Brittle


    Avocado-Ginger “Ice Cream”:
  • 4 medium size Fuerte or Surprise Avocados
  • 2 tsp Wakaya Organic Ground Ginger
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 – 1 ¼ cup organic coconut milk
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • Up to ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Santa Barbara Walnut Brittle:
  • ¼ cup Rancho La Vina Walnuts, halved and lightly toasted
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp Wakaya Organic Ginger
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tbs baking soda


    Avocado-Ginger “Ice Cream”:
  1. Place avocado, ginger, vanilla, 1-cup coconut milk, xanthan gum, lime juice, agave nectar and salt into high-speed blender such as a Vita-mix.
  2. Blend on high speed until well incorporated (about 1 minute), scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. You may need to add the extra ¼ cup coconut milk depending on the liquidity of the avocados.
  3. Taste, and adjust tartness as needed by adding a little lemon juice.
  4. Churn and freeze the ice cream base in an electric ice-cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Let the ice cream set at least 4 hours in the freezer.
  6. Santa Barbara Walnut Brittle:
  7. In a small bowl, mix the baking soda, vanilla bean, ginger, and salt. Have the butter and cashews at the ready, as once the sugar caramelizes, this recipe must be completed quickly.
  8. Lay a non-stick baking mat, such as a Silpat, onto a cookie sheet.
  9. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over medium flame until the sugar turns to liquid and begins to turn a caramel-brown color, about 10 minutes.
  10. Gently yet quickly stir the sugar with a wooden spoon, ensuring to incorporate the lighter-colored liquid sugar into the darker-colored liquid sugar.
  11. Quickly stir in the butter and walnuts until incorporated.
  12. Working very quickly, vigorously stir in the baking soda/ginger/vanilla/salt mixture. The caramel will bubble and turn a paler brown color. It will also begin to seize.
  13. Working very quickly, scrape the caramel out onto the prepared Silpat, and smooth the caramel out into a ¼ inch layer. Let rest at room temperature at least 1 hour. Once cooled, store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Main Course California / 1363 Donlon St #11, Ventura CA 93003 / (805) 658-8900 / /

Main Course California is a Totally Local VC partner. Click here to check out their directory listing.

Main Course California will be preparing food for the first of this year’s three Totally Local VC’s Dinner At The… dinner series: Dinner At The Garden. It will be held on June 27, 2013 at 5:00pm. To find more information on this and the other dinners in this great series and to purchase tickets, just click here.
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Learn more about author Maryann Ridini Spencer

Maryann Ridini Spencer

About the author

Maryann Ridini Spencer is an award-winning TV/Film producer, writer, host, journalist and President of Ridini Entertainment. She writes and produces print and video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County for and hosts the TV series, “Simply Delicious Living with Maryann” and “Sustainable Ventura.”


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One Comment

  1. Thank you for inspiring future chefs at FTHS Career Speaker Day.

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