Megan has had an eclectic career path leading her to become the General Manager of Abbey Catering in San Diego. From her fun-filled first day on the job to over a decade later, Megan has relished bringing joy through food and events. She discusses Abbey Catering's exceptional team, commitment to the LGBTQI+ community, navigating challenges, and the recent partnership with Wedgewood Weddings.
Megan provides insight into what makes Abbey Catering a beloved local catering service and how our partnership opens new doors while staying true to their roots. Her passion for bringing people together through memorable events shines through as we learn more about her journey and Abbey Catering.
So sit back and enjoy getting to know everyone's friend, Megan Lessert.
Hi Megan, Can you share your journey to becoming the General Manager of Abbey Catering?
Absolutely, I always wanted to be a teacher - I studied English Education and Sociology, and have a Master's degree in Sociology. While in school, I worked in banking and insurance, as well as restaurants and the hospitality industry.
My first day at Abbey Catering is one I will never forget. The owner was throwing a premier opening party and had these red bellhop costumes with hats and white gloves. I was always up for fun and this was a side gig at the time so I just said, yes! I passed out champagne in this ridiculous get-up and had so much fun with it!
From that day on, now over a decade ago, I've continued to have fun for a living and have grown from catering server, to food and beverage captain, wedding coordinator, operations manager, and sales manager. I did get my teaching credential and had the honor of being a teacher and coach. I loved teaching, but I was drawn back into the hospitality industry. I can honestly say I love my job and becoming the General Manager of Abbey Catering is the culmination of all my experiences and favorite parts of what I love all rolled into one. Every day I am learning, teaching, coaching, helping, serving, creating, and building.
Wow, that's an amazing journey! We know you do a lot for your local community, does anything stand out?
The biggest weekend of the year for us is San Diego Pride weekend. In addition to weddings, serving our LGBTQI+ community is very important to me. I’ve worked in the weddings industry when it was not even legal for me to marry my partner. We all have stories and personal journeys that pave the road to where we end up – part of mine was being able to cater the VIP section at the San Diego Pride Festival, which is the largest civic event in the region. It was professionally satisfying but was also a deeply personal way to give back to a community that I’m a part of and to celebrate our wins as a community together with my wife and with my Abbey Catering / Wedgewood Weddings family.
SD Pride is very lucky to have you. Speaking of communities, can you tell us more about your crew?
Our team is, hands down, what separates us from the rest. You cannot find more talented, dedicated, passionate, experienced, professional, intelligent, humorous, and kind people than the team that makes up Abbey Catering. Our wedding coordinators are the best in the business. They have extensive experience and have gone through extraordinary efforts to ensure every event is carried out to its fullest potential. I am so proud of my kitchen team, too. They are an extremely talented team of chefs, with diverse experiences and culinary backgrounds, and together they cook some seriously delicious food. Furthermore, our vendor partners are the best! They are not only experts in their services, but they are awesome to work with. We respect each other, help each other, and come together to deliver the best of the best.
Clearly, your team is extraordinary in providing a personal touch. What's a typical helping hand story for you?
The whole Abbey Catering team went above and beyond for a client was in August 2023. Our client was set on getting married at an all-outdoor venue and Hurricane Hilary had other plans. Within a whirlwind 72 hours, our crew was there every step of the way - working with the fire marshal, rental and tenting companies, preparing wind speed monitors and more.
Despite our best efforts, it was increasingly clear that plans A, B and C weren't going to be feasible so we pivoted again. We found an alternative venue, created a new floorplan, rescheduled locations and arrival times, and made sure the wedding would happen whatever the weather! Needless to say, the hurricane stormed on and Abbey Catering still delivered a spectacular event for our amazing couple.
Your team's passion shows! How do you keep them inspired and passionate about their work?
We bring our authentic selves to work every day, we talk and work through problems, we help each other, and we uplift one another. The coach in me is always concocting fun and entertaining ways to keep our meetings engaging. They know there’s a lesson to be learned when I get my yellow cones, beanbags, ping pong balls, and chopsticks out to name a few. I am a huge proponent of teamwork and in this field, that’s what makes it or breaks it in my opinion.
Zapher, Abbey Catering's Founder is eloquent about how you look after and support the whole team in all circumstances, and we all know we can count on you to find the fun. That said, some events are tougher than others. What's the most challenging event you've catered?
We love a challenge but realistically you have to plan, plan, plan so that you can keep your energy up and deliver ahead of expectations! Let me tell you about a challenging weekend of events, rather than a singular event. Over the course of 3 days, we served over 2,000 guests across multiple events. It required serious logistics planning - what trucks go where and when, evaluating inventory, staffing, and so much more.
It’s weekends like this when I buy everyone coffee, energy drinks, and donut holes and we put in the work to make magic happen. Our warehouse manager is an absolute superhero and she ensured our captains had everything they needed. Our executive chef and kitchen team prepped and packed every little detail from thousands of handmade appetizers to perfectly braised short ribs. Our coordination and captain team planned and led each event by paying close attention to every detail.
It bears repeating that we're a small team that makes big things happen. I love our busy weekends because it’s the most amazing display of teamwork, collaboration, love, dedication, problem-solving, and it’s where we really shine.
We're exhausted just reading that - impressive! Is there a specific event that was a turning point for Abbey Catering's growth?
Rather than hosting an event, we were an EVENT! Merging with Wedgewood Weddings in 2023 was certainly a turning point for Abbey Catering’s growth. Joining the Wedgewood Weddings family has meant that we have an increased capacity to deliver our high quality events. It’s also exciting to think about what this new chapter will look like five or ten years into the future as we continue to build out the sustainability of our already stellar team and services.
Thank you Megan, you've given us an inside look at your journey with Abbey Catering and what makes the team so extraordinary. It's been a delight learning about your diverse experiences leading to your vocation as General Manager and how you keeps Abbey Catering fun yet dedicated.
Megan's Personal Maxim