Food & WinePersonalities

2018’s Entertaining Influencer: Paula LeDuc

Story by Riley McDermid; photo by Spencer Brown

Born and raised in the East Bay, Paula LeDuc built her catering empire up from scratch, eventually becoming one of the West Coast’s most coveted planners for high-end events.

From the weddings of tech kings like to Sean Parker to more staid society events, LeDuc says her career arc took a turn after an initial stint as a resource teacher for the visually impaired in the K-7 program with the San Mateo School District in the late 1970s. It was only a sustained push of encouragement from a friend that tempted her into the culinary lane.

Of Italian heritage, she says she was surrounded by great cooks and a love for entertaining and found her true passion. “While studying culinary arts under renowned chef Ken Wolfe, I was simultaneously teaching independent daily living skills for the blind at The Living Skills Center for the Visually Impaired, now the Hatlen Center for the Blind, [and] I enthusiastically accepted the catering offer and the rest, as they say, is history,” she says.

Now, LeDuc is focused on helping rebuild the wine country after its devastating fires last fall. It’s a region she knows well as both a caterer and a resident. She also still regularly contributes to the Hatlen Center and works toward ways to keep the growing income inequality in the Bay as much in balance as possible.

As for her personal heroes? She names them instantly: “Susie Tompkins Buell and Dr. Mimi Halper Silbert, CEO of Delancey Street.”

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