Catherine An of Tiato & An Catering. Photo by Westside People
When Catherine An’s parents fled Saigon more than 40 years ago at the end of the Vietnam War, they came to San Francisco with virtually nothing. Her grandmother owned a 20-seat deli that employed most of the family while they lived in a small apartment.
Gradually the deli grew with popular dishes like her mother Helene’s original garlic noodles, which she created as a way to combine spaghetti and Vietnamese flavor.
Today it’s those same garlic noodles that still represent one of the most popular dishes at Tiato & An Catering in Santa Monica as well as the famed Crustacean in Beverly Hills, for which the family is most known. And her mother, Helene An, continues to serve as executive chef.
Tiato Kitchen Bar Garden + Venue, located on Colorado Street in the heart of the studio district, attracts a big lunch crowd and has become one of the most popular spots to hold local events.
“I knew that a lot of people would be eating here every day so I wanted them to have a variety on the menu,” Catherine says.
Guests can relax in an outdoor patio with its rich earth tones and fresh herb gardens that reflect the organic nature of the food.
“I wanted something that was very healthy and fresh but also comforting, a space where people can feel warm, invited and welcomed. But most importantly was to do things sustainably,” Catherine says.
Everything from the tables and chairs to the ingredients in the food are chosen with an eye toward sustainability. It was for its attention to detail that Tiato & An Catering won a grand prize at this year’s Sustainable Quality Awards. For her inspiration, Catherine says she returns to the Tiato leaf, a popular herb in Vietnamese cooking.
“The leaf itself is kind of symbolic of what I wanted this space and this concept to be about, healthy food that tastes good. The herb enhance tastes while at the same time is very high in anti-oxidants,” she says.
Catherine says she’ll never tire of hearing a customer tell her Tiato is their favorite place to eat.
“Making sure that our guests are happy every time is really important. I’m proud that people really love the way the space turned out and they enjoy hosting their events here,” Catherine says. “It’s a lot of hard work but we enjoy what we’re doing.”
Tiato Kitchen Bar Garden + Venue — 2700 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica — Tiato.com — 310-866-5228