alexandra’s table, the quaint café and shop adjacent to the San Gabriel Mission, offers a small but telling glance into the grand scheme of Alexandra Poer’s passion for food and everything to which it’s inextricably linked.
The menu at alexandra’s table shifts along with the seasons. The food, like the place itself, is contemporary Californian with French and Moroccan influences. Carefully curated shelves are stocked with specialty jams, sauces, glasses, and gifts, some locally sourced and some imported. The feeling you get at alexandra’s table is that there’s something more going on here. This is a little window into a larger, ever-growing and changing experiment in being fed.
Poer didn’t set out with a particular plan. Instead she followed her passions to the their logical extents and then took on the next experience, letting her intuition shape the evolution of her career. She’s a formally trained multi-media artist who’s always had a dialed-in palette and an entrepreneurial spirit. As a teenager, Poer would ride her bike to gather up pizza ingredients and then head to friends’ houses to set up build-your-own-pizza bars. Twenty-some-odd years later, that exact concept has saturated fast casual dining.
On breaks from her hostess job at Green Street, the atypical teenage Poer used her pocket money to buy herself an informal education in cheese. As a college student, she slipped away to Dean & Deluca to treat herself to then-exotic fare like goat cheese and green olive tapenade. After a stint in Paris, she returned to Los Angeles and officially entered the kitchen—at Julienne, the San Marino institution—as an assistant baker. From there her career as a pastry chef flourished. Although it was an inspired time for desserts, baking didn’t allow for the kind of improvisation and experimentation Poer craved.
Her career in catering came about as she suddenly had weekends free while working as a private chef for a family. She began catering in the early 2000s and eventually settled into the kitchen that now serves alexandra’s table. While the consistently popular lunch spot is, as she says, one of her children, the more intense passion seems to lie in catering.
Poer explains that catering is a more delicate, intimate thing than the café; catered events are often loaded with emotion—weddings, birthdays, showers—and often in the client’s home. There’s a great deal of trust being employed, and Poer takes particular joy in being let into people’s lives in such a personal way.
Her catering service doesn’t employ any standard menus. She’s guided by the season’s ingredients and by her client’s personalities and lifestyles. Poer is a great reader of people, and consistently creates beautiful, delicious spreads tailored to particular people and events. Because there are no set menus, Poer’s catering process becomes an artistic collaboration between her company and the client. One of the things she loves most about catering as opposed to running a restaurant is all the room for creativity. In catering, each time you have the chance to create a perfect atmosphere, an entire contained project in food and décor that suits the people and the space.
Whenever you don’t have an event on the horizon, you can satiate yourself with Poer’s incredibly delicious café fare at alexandra’s table: 413 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776. They’re open Mon-Fri from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, and you can reach them at (626) 319-8649.