Lisa Borda grew up in the country, picking vegetables from her maternal grandmother’s garden and learning to cook alongside her mother.
She was just 16 years old when she began working for well-known Bakersfield caterer Marilyn Curtis. However, after completing her associate degree, Borda headed off to Chico State, thinking her life was moving in a totally different direction. Originally planning to become a kindergarten teacher, it only took her one semester to realize that wasn’t the right path for her.
“I missed cooking and being in that atmosphere,” said Borda, who ended up pursuing a degree in hotel resort management.
After graduating college, she moved to Gualala to train under Swiss chef Rene at the Ocean Song Restaurant in Northern California.
Eventually returning to her roots, she moved back to Bakersfield in 2001 and worked under chef Meir Brown at Cafe Med and chef Robert Dixon at Valentien before opening Bord A Petite in 2004.
When mutual friends introduced her to Enrique Betancourt, a chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, it was a match made in, well, the kitchen.
Two years into their relationship, she needed a chef and he needed a change of venue, so he came to work with her.
A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Borda wants her dishes to be both delicious and beautiful.
“We’re kind of a boutique catering company,” she said. “We design around people’s wants and needs and bring a special flair to it.”
She draws inspiration for her culinary creations from traveling and trying different cuisines. She can build a menu around a certain theme or make suggestions based on what types of food a client wants to serve.
“It’s what draws people to us,” Borda said. “The options are endless and I always like to do new things.”
With a varied clientele, Bord A Petite caters small gatherings, corporate events and everything in between. In fact, their reputation is such that all of their business comes from word of mouth.
“We don’t advertise,” said Borda, who had 20 events scheduled the week we spoke.
She credits her team for her success.
Ann Marie Paul is her lead in the kitchen, assistant Sara Costa oversees the catering and Terri Griffith keeps the business end of things running smoothly. But because they’re a small business, each of them wears many hats.
Attending to every detail, she and her crew have catered events in Napa, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. They even built a kitchen in Ventura where they prepared the food on-site then served 200 guests right on the beach.
“Display is one of my passions,” said Borda. “I like creating unique presentations, (doing things that are) out of the ordinary. I like the business of it, the cooking, the art and creativity. I love serving people and seeing their reactions and getting excited about food and having something they haven’t had before.”
Borda says she gets her work ethic from her mom, who loves to feed people, and her inspiration from her dad, who always took the family to great restaurants, like Mexicali and Wool Growers.
When she’s not working, she loves spending time at home, cooking with Betancourt and hanging out with their fur babies, Bronx and Charlie. ￼