Back in 1997, armed with a passion for great food, a master’s degree in English literature, and a ridiculously affordable lease in Long Island City, Leslie Levin Nilsson began the Sage story. The original Sage American Kitchen was an homage to The Silver Palate, New York’s first gourmet take-out shop. The gals and guys at HBO’s “Sex & The City” and “The Sopranos” discovered the tiny lunch spot and a culinary star was born. With reverence for regional American cooking, sustainable food, and emerging flavors and techniques from around the globe, Nilsson grew the catering branch of Sage into its own distinct event planning company, Bartleby & Sage.
It’s not just about thoughtful food – our mission statement hasn’t changed since those early days, and we continue to seek out local, family-owned farms and businesses, compost our waste, use only biodegradable paper goods and pay the staff far above industry standards to assure they too have sustainable lives. 10% of profits go back to the communities that have supported us, from the Chocolate Factory Theater and Socrates Sculpture Garden in LIC, the Food Bank and the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn, to the International Refugee Committee and St. Jude’s Hospital. Who is Bartleby? He is our tribute to America’s greatest writer, Herman Melville. There is no more astute observer of American culture, no wiser satirist of our uniquely American mix of religion, capitalism and immigrant hopefulness. Bartleby & Sage represents that mix in our dedication to delicious food, loyalty to clients and staff, and whimsical humor when you need a good laugh after a stressful event. We are partners with our clients and cultivate long-lasting relationships that go beyond the catering and into the many aspects of event planning.
Leslie Levin Nilsson
Founder & Creative Director
Leslie Levin Nilsson grew up in the Midwest obsessed with food, so obsessed that in 1997 she left a career as an English professor and Glamour editor to start the Sage brand. The original Sage American Kitchen shop led to a boutique catering company focused on handmade foods and sustainable business practices. Leslie has guided the company, featured on the Today Show, The Food Network, ABC, The New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, and New York magazine, to name a few. She is on the board of local organizations, part of her commitment to community, staff and education.
Ramon Lara hails from the Dominican Republic, graduated from the Culinary Institute of Miami, and worked for very respected institutions, from the Delano Hotel to Great Performances, before joining Bartleby & Sage in 2012. His instinct for the cuisines of the Caribbean, Italy and the Americas, along with his experience cooking for high-end events like the Grammys and award dinners for Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, fashion clients, and NYC mayors, make Ramon the perfect chef for our vast array of clients, from the farm-obsessed to the fashion-focused.
Chef de Cuisine
Jorge Cuzco grew up in Ecuador and came to New York to work as a cook at Café Society, where he met Leslie back in 1995. She recognized Jorge had that rare talent—a great palate—and they have worked together ever since. He is now the chief flavor creator at Bartleby & Sage and oversees the recipes and execution of events alongside Ramon and Leslie. Jorge creatively melds South American flavors with contemporary trends. His favorite pastime is cooking for friends and family on a wood fire when he goes home to Ecuador.
Pastry Chef/Creative Food Development
Hans Baang graduated from the New England Culinary Institute, then started working with Bartleby & Sage creating chic minimalist pastries and cakes, along with savory items developed specifically for our clients. Having grown up in the Philippines, Hans has developed a knack for recipes that merge the flavors of Asia and the Americas, not to mention those hand-iced wedding cakes and completely innovative flavor combinations. His food blog, “The Sugar Hippie” (www.thesugarhippie.com), is dedicated to the art of food, flavors and design.
V.P. Marketing and Sales/Event Planner
Rachael Livingston spent three years developing the sales and corporate partnerships for a tech company that devises applications for corporate event planners. Her non-stop energy, tech savvy and sales smarts have taken B&S into the 21 Century. She has a B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising and completed a culinary entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Institute. Rachael is as passionate about baking as she is about sales growth and is developing many new projects for Bartleby & Sage.
Claire Paterson recently graduated from The New School with a degree in Visual Studies. During her time at school, she became passionate about managing music and art shows throughout Brooklyn. She decided to take her interest in event planning and transform it into a career. Her background in curatorial work and art history brings a unique perspective to the team. Her creative spirit and take on style are a great asset to Bartleby & Sage.
Senior Designer & Planner
Paul Moreno came to Bartleby & Sage as a freelance stylist who has worked on projects for The Martha Stewart Show, and MSLO, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, T magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Best Made, Estee Lauder, David’s Bridal and others. He brings a calm, creative beauty to the weddings and events he has produced with Bartleby & Sage. He works with clients to develop a stunning visual design then pulls together all the elements from florals to lighting to build-out. He knows his way around philosophy too, as he studied at the Gallatin School at NYU.
Warm Up Labs
Our very own Hans Baang
Kathi Littwin Photography
Marisa and John at Redfield Photo
LISEO & CO.
Kate Edwards Weddings