40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Seth Mias

Seth Mias

Age 27: Owner and Executive Chef, Seth Mias Catering

While studying restaurant management at UMass Amherst, Seth Mias never figured he’d one day own a successful, fast-growing catering operation. He assumed he’d gradually forge a solid career in the management side of food service — which he did at first, managing the Northampton Elks Club in Florence about seven years ago.

What happened next was sort of a happy accident in moonlighting.

“They allowed me to do my own catering as well,” said Mias. “I started doing 75 to 100 parties a year — more a side job than anything else. But it took on a life of its own and grew to the point where I stopped managing the Elks and ended up doing catering full-time.”

Nowadays, Leeds-based Seth Mias Catering books about 400 parties a year — weddings, retirement parties, class reunions, corporate events, you name it. Largely by word of mouth, Mias has developed a reputation that placed him second in last year’s Best in the Valley poll in the Valley Advocate.

“It’s been a cool experience,” he said. “I’m able to meet a lot of people, network, and get involved in the community” — efforts that include donating goods and services to many community organizations.

Describing himself as a “hands-on type of guy,” Mias is involved with all facets of catering, from cooking to scheduling to meeting customers. Although he’s not trained as a chef, he’s a constant learner, picking up skills with each new challenge — like the clients who wanted a traditional Chinese buffet for their bar mitzvah.

“I enjoy the cooking most,” he said. “You’re able to learn something every day. But a close second would be meeting the clients and spending time with people. That’s the kind of person I am.”

Mias expects the business to continue growing, and why not? “It kind of started as a hobby, and it turned into a career that I didn’t expect.”

—Joseph Bednar