With a flair for food, flowers, and all things stylish, Julia Cole Rosenbaum creates one-of-a-kind parties around the Southeast. She gives four a taste of her talent by stirring up a little magic at her family home.
interview by alice welsh doyle
styled by julia cole rosenbaum
photographs by anna naphtali
Don’t let the sky-high louboutins, the girly party dress, and abundant curls fool you. Julia Cole Rosenbaum knows her way around a kitchen, knows how to fire a shotgun, and knows a thing or two about creating magical memories. Through her company, Julia Cole Styled Catering and Events, the native Charlottean takes her clients’ passions and turns them into unique occasions. “Nothing I do is cookie cutter. I don’t work with preset menus,” says Cole. “I really get to know my clients’ likes and dislikes: what their favorite ingredients and flavors are; what makes them salivate; a quirky food they love.” She loves the idea of taking a favorite late night snack and putting a twist on it for a wedding reception – something that really shows someone’s personality. And even though young, she really enjoys cooking old-fashioned Southern comfort food – with a few surprises. Her mac and cheese, for example, will have some smoked Gouda and bacon in the mix.
Nothing I do is cookie cutter. I don’t work with preset menus,” says Cole. “I really get to know my clients’ likes and dislikes: what their favorite ingredients and flavors are; what makes them salivate; a quirky food they love.
Cole grew up in the kitchen watching her parents cook. “My mother made the sides, and my father was the meat master. He made some of the most mouthwatering meat dishes that you ever put in your mouth,” she says. Her family also owned restaurants, and in later years ran a catering firm, so weekends were often spent in the kitchen with Cole perched on a stool to hang out and absorb. She naturally fell in love with food and cooking, and she was always the one in the kitchen whipping up meals for her friends. She is also humble about her gifts, and admits she is still learning. “I am like a sponge. I take every opportunity to learn from others,” she says when describing her work with Charlotte chef Kent Graham. Her natural abilities were further honed when she worked at Jim ‘n Nicks Barbeque at their flagship Birmingham location.
She is also a natural with floral arranging and tabletop design, which means her firm provides the total package when it comes to parties, and no detail is left to chance. “I really didn’t know I had that talent in me,” admits Cole. “I just started doing it as an extension of cooking.” Her flair with flowers and design resulted in a job creating a tablescape in Lisa Leek’s cookbook, One Hundred Days of Real Food, and she food styles and set designs for Carrie Vitt’s upcoming second cookbook Deliciously Organic.
While she may create beautiful food and settings, Cole is a self-professed tomboy who is “more at home in cowboy boots” than the aforementioned Louboutin stilettos and “doesn’t mind dealing with fish guts” on a boat at the Governor’s Cup fishing tournament in Edisto, South Carolina. She hunts deer and wild game such as quail and duck, rides horses, and fishes, having spent much time in the Alabama Black Belt and at a farm in Williston, South Carolina. This experience makes her comfortable with preparing game dishes, not something all cooks can claim. Her stuffed venison, using meat harvested by her client, caused him to exclaim that it was “the kind of meal that would turn a vegan into a carnivore.”
The four team was fortunate enough to spend time with Cole at her family’s Myers Park home and watch her in action while experiencing her generous personality and charm.
This interview was conducted summer 2013.
assistant: bridget williams and jan wilkinson, chef assistant: kent graham hair: heather lynn paulavage, honey and associates salon / makeup: juliza benedict artistic impressions by juliza / wardrobe: styling linda m. martinez of styled now / clothing provided by sloan boutique, jewelry by kristen morris jewelry / all flowers from mayesh wholesale