Being warned by Kanye West’s entourage not to look at the rapper is all in a day’s work for Stacy Adler. As owner of Y-Cats Craft Service — a catering business that services film, TV and music video shoots around NYC — Adler regularly encounters A-listers like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Madonna, who’s usually surrounded by 20 people, according to the caterer.
Adler, 50, who lives on Long Island and runs her business out of a large warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, shares these celebrity tales and more in the new book “Food and the City,” by Ina Yalof, out May 31.
By Stacy Adler, as told to Ina Yalof in “Food and the City”
After 10 years doing mostly the business end of restaurant work, I’d had it up to here. A friend of mine is a production manager in the film industry and when I told her I was at a crossroads, she suggested I consider craft service, which is catering for film crews on location shooting a film.
My first job in the biz was for a German film production company that wanted me to feed 50 people. In January. In the middle of Central Park. I arrived to 10 degrees and eight inches of snow on the ground. I didn’t expect to be standing outside for 14 hours, so I hadn’t worn enough layers and I shivered my way through the day. But there was no option for failure because I’d quit my job.
After that shoot, I kept cold calling and slowly got more and more business. After six months, I landed the big one. I was hired by the reality show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and that provided me with my first steady eight months of working.
Eventually, I started getting calls from producers of music videos — mostly from the big rappers with the million dollar budgets, and I suddenly became the music video caterer.
If I’m working on a movie that stars someone very cool, my buddies always want to know the lowdown. “What’s he like?” “Did she talk to you?” Actually, the bigger the celebrity, the nicer they are. It’s all the ass-kissing people around them that are the ones that drive you insane. Like Kanye West. When he walked past us, his people asked us to turn our heads and not look at him. That was bizarre. Mariah Carey routinely shows up hours late. We fed Justin Timberlake before he was anybody and Martha Stewart before she went to jail. George Clooney? A sweetheart, cutie pie, delicious, regular guy.
Most of the day these guys are working. It’s not like they’re just hanging out with us. Or they’re in their trailer. But one time George walked over to grab a hot dog, and people on the street watching started screaming his name. He’s such a superstar. When he’s on the street, you feel his energy all over the place. I’ve seen them all. Jennifer Lopez is a sweet, regular girl. Madonna? Couldn’t get near her. Twenty people surround Madonna every time she steps to the left or the right. Jay-Z, Beyoncé? A beautiful couple. I did a Beyoncé music video. It was a two-day shoot, 16 hours each day. It could take 32 hours on set for a 3-minute video. And that doesn’t include all the prepping and editing off location.
My mother still thinks what I do is insane. All the hours and everything. But when I couldn’t think of a name for my company, she was the one to come up with it. She said, “Why don’t you call it, Y-Cats”? I said, “What’s Y-cats?” And she said, “That’s Stacy backwards!” She said it worked for Oprah, whose production company is called Harpo. So I figured, hey, why not? If it works for Oprah!
From “FOOD AND THE CITY: New York’s Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It” by Ina Yalof, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Ina Yalof