Chef James Walton of Windows Hill Catering recently moved to the West End from Philadelphia, where he grew up appreciating good food. "One of the biggest food experiences of my life," Walton says, "was eating fresh tomatoes from my father's garden. He would line them up on the windowsill in the sun, and I'd come home from school, head straight to the windowsill, grab a warm, ripe tomato and eat it like an apple." Experiences like these instilled in Walton a philosophy of appreciating local agriculture and eventually provided the inspiration for the name of his catering business. "It's basically just a play on the word ‘windowsill.' I guess I just thought Windows Hill sounded a bit fancier."
After attending The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in the heart of Philadelphia and working in various kitchens, Walton decided to join his passion for cooking with his love for simple, homegrown cuisine. He doesn't have a storage space for his ingredients but instead shows up to catering gigs "straight from the farm." Walton's menus don't require a lot of prep, so all of the cooking takes place on-site, using recipes based on what's local and what's in season. "I try to do as little to the ingredients as possible. It's almost a sin to put a big, thick sauce on something."
Windows Hill caters to both large and small parties for a variety of events and can accommodate special client requests. But if it isn't found locally, Walton will have to make some changes. "If a client wants mango salsa, I'll probably substitute local peaches," at least until Virginia figures out how to grow mangoes. For more information, visit windowshill.com.