Food, Memories and Merrymaking

By Michelle Vasquez | Photography by David Teran

‘Tis the season for merrymaking and turning celebrations into fond memories. If you’re planning a special occasion, Monica Nino, Tim McDiarmid, and Adesuwa Elaiho are at the forefront of creating memories with charcuterie boards, catered meals, and pastries to bring out the best in your celebration. Each of their journeys into hospitality resonates with caring about creating moments in people’s lives.

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Monica Nino: Crafting Charcuterie Experiences

Monica considers herself a hometown girl. Though her journalism background took her to many places, she returned to San Antonio and is pursuing her passion project. What started as a fun date night became a hobby, and now it is a full-time business. She and her husband run The Board Couple, specializing in wine and charcuterie pairings.

When they started posting their date night creations online, people began commenting on how beautiful the boards looked and wanted to know if they were for sale. Although she laughed it off, she couldn’t help but wonder,” What if they were?”

Between the love of food, wine, and entertaining, Monica mentions, “Most people can relate to wanting a cozy Saturday night in, enjoying something delicious and having a great experience with family and friends at home; I feel that’s what it’s all about.”

Great experiences warrant great ingredients. Monica’s favorite board items are dark chocolate walnuts, sourced from a chocolatier in Chicago, and pepperoni from Buffalo, New York, which features pieces of fennel. Even the six-nut mix and raisins are made in-house. “You can taste the love and passion in our food. To me, a perfect bite is a triple crème brie on a crostini with some balsamic figs and a drizzle of honey. It’s chef’s kiss delicious.”

Knowing the client’s goals and watching them come to life is Monica’s favorite activity. “I love hearing ‘oohs and aahs’ when people walk into the room and see what you’ve put together. That’s the payoff. You get to be a little sparkle in their event, and that’s what’s meaningful to me.”

There’s no wrong time for charcuterie. Monica has delivered boards for

men getting fitted for boots locally to brides and their attendants getting makeup and hair done. Clients keep the boards made by a local carpenter.

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Tim Mcdiarmid: Bringing Culinary Visions to Life

Tim McDiarmid owns Tim the Girl Catering, The Good Kind Restaurant, and Ivy Hall, an events venue. As a working mother, she valued the flexibility of hospitality. Raised with the original concepts of farm-to-table, Tim grew up in a family that grew and prepared its own food and entertained others. Hospitality has always been a part of her soul.

Regarding special occasions, Tim said, “Our house was the fun gathering spot. I grew up in the remote wilderness of British Columbia, and our home was always filled with dinner parties, celebrations, and a strong sense of community.” After moving to San Antonio, she began offering private shopping and hosting pop-up dinners. The fusion of celebrations with food, art, and fun gradually evolved into a business.

“As for Tim the Girl Catering, it’s about helping clients find their vision,” Tim explains. “My role is to bring that vision to life.” Reflecting on how these visions come to be, Tim emphasizes the significance of food. “Food is the cornerstone of any celebration. It’s what brings people together.”

Planning an event engages all the senses. Not one to skimp on details, Tim emphasizes the visual appeal of dishes, noting, “You first eat with your eyes.” While an event encompasses the location and the culinary experience, color is key to ambiance.

When asked about how to add color to an at-home dining experience, Tim promptly mentions vegetables. She notes their occasional absence. “I’ve attended celebrations where there were no vegetables on the table. Color is often missing. There are countless possibilities with preparing vegetables that are often overlooked.” This close affinity for a colorful table setting evokes nostalgic memories of her past with family and friends.

Tim believes that vegetables have the power to enhance any meal. One of her favorite dishes features Brussels sprouts. They are thinly shaved and quickly sautéed with garlic, olive oil, and lemon zest. The result is a burst of brilliant green color and flavors. Other options for holiday celebrations could include a vibrant green salad, perhaps with roasted pears, candied walnuts, and beets. The potential for creating beautiful salads is unlimited.

Regardless of the budget or menu, Tim’s commitment is to deliver quality. Everything is made from scratch, using the finest ingredients. Clients come to her for her delicious food, presentation, and dedication to bringing their vision to life.

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Adesuwa Elaiho: The Pastry Poet

Photo courtesy of Food Network

Adesuwa Elaiho traveled the world with her military family and landed back in San Antonio after training at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. With four certifications, she now focuses on pastries at her pastry shop, Asukar. Here, she infuses creativity into her craft of creating delicious works of edible art. She remembers a time when she considered pastries as not creative and too rigid. “One minor mistake, like using salt instead of baking powder, can ruin everything.”

Soon, her perspective changed. “When I thought about what I wanted to do,” she explains, “it was to tell people’s stories through food. I aim to be that resource in the community where you can come to me and say, ‘I have this occasion, and this is our story. Can you please communicate that to our guests?'”

Adesuwa’s creative innovations often push boundaries. In strategizing over an upcoming animal-themed event, she said, “We will research animals’ diets and will incorporate some of those elements into unique and beautiful pastries with fillings, frostings, and color.” Such initiatives will not only provide an educational angle about animal diets but also ensure a delightful sensory experience.

Many of her patrons return for her tasty creations annually. Adesuwa shares a story about a breast cancer survivor who celebrates her milestones with a cake each year. “It’s more than just an edible treat; it’s becoming a part of people’s memorable experiences. I take this responsibility seriously.”

Another way Asukar engages guests for a memorable experience is the creation of interactive pastry bars, which include unique serving features like mini blow-torching and spritzes of alcohol. “We aim for that ‘WOW’ factor every time. “To add to that, maintaining relationships is crucial in the business of celebrating special occasions. Adesuwa also ensures that her wedding cake clients receive a complimentary first-anniversary cake, so they don’t have to settle for a year-old frozen cake.

Just in time for the holidays, Asukar offers small format cakes that add a personal touch to gift giving. In addition, Adesuwa invites customers to bring their visions to life with a semi-customizable cake made possible through imported Italian equipment. “You can come in and say, ‘I want this cake and this flavor, but can it be pink, with these sprinkles, a cake topper, and even a printed picture?’ All of that is possible and ready for the holiday season.” Asukar will also have a holiday pie sale soon and offer Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner options.

In a world filled with culinary treats, these artisans remind us of the magic of celebrations and the stories behind every dish. If you want to create your own special memory, explore the culinary artistry of Monica, Tim, and Adesuwa by visiting their websites at,, or

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