The Purple Onion Arrives

Sliced tenderloin with purple onion chutney-type condiment

Everyone loves a purple onion whether it’s the deep purple popping on a salad or the strong taste holding its own with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers.

But this Purple Onion happens to be the name of the Purple Onion Catering Company in Vienna, Virginia. (Tyson’s Corner area, a suburb of Washington, D.C.)

This is a story of a mom-and-pop operation who, through hard work and lean years, made it big. Mom and pop are Margot and Dave Jones who started the Purple Onion Catering Company in 1990 with a simple goal to provide exceptional food and service to the Washington, D.C., area.

Why the “Purple Onion”

I asked Margot how they got the name. She quipped: “My dad suggested it because I like onions and I like purple.”

I first met Margot in 2004 when my husband and I were planning a fundraiser for our son’s school, Siena Academy in Great Falls, Virginia. The theme was Oktoberfest and we had a lean budget. A few years later, we planned another fundraiser with a seated dinner and an Italian theme, and, yes, another lean budget. Each time, the Purple Onion worked within our budget while providing really delicious food. They never treated us like we were second-rate because we didn’t have the big budget for their services.

This fall, the Purple Onion moved from their café-front catering kitchen to a bigger facility with an industrial-sized kitchen, showroom complete with table scapes, and sales offices. I had the pleasure of attending the party for the opening of their new facility in Vienna, Virginia. The Purple Onion theme was well executed in their interior design, even down to the lavender walls and purple and lime green tiles on the elevator floor.

I applaud The Purple Onion for becoming the caterer of choice for both the Arlington and Washington, D.C., Catholic Dioceses. And you just never know where they will show up. To my great surprise, I attended a garden party at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland and guess who provided the menu?

So, to all you small businesses starting up or trying to make it…I say keep at it! The Purple Onion did and is celebrating their success, not to mention making a lot of people happy with their fine food and catering services.

Specialty cakes by Alla Z -- The Purple Onion's newest pastry chef.

On the Menu

Irene Kelley Hill taste tests the Purple Onion Bisque. It even matches her outfit!

After getting a glass of wine, we were treated to tastings while watching the chefs prepare the food before our eyes. Chef Adam L. Gooch created a signature Purple Onion Bisque for the opening. It was warm and exquisite, yet not overpowered with onion. Owner Dave Jones was not sure yet how they would use it and he liked my idea of serving it in a cup with croutons on top for a first course.

“Yes, I like the crunch with the smooth bisque.” I never had anything like it. Unfortunately all the recipes are top-secret so I could only guess at the ingredients.

Enjoy the experience with me!

I have to admit, wearing a little black dress and heeled sandals, all accented with a Nikon camera around my neck, while balancing a glass of red wine in one hand, and a plate in the other, and chatting it up, was not easy. But, you know me, I will do anything for a story.

Chef Gooch's tool box filled with knives and various implements. I hope he didn't mind that I rested my wine glass and plate on top of it.

One of their many pastry offerings made by Alla and Seth.

Chicken salad in a cone

Crab balls

Lollipop petit fours


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