Picture a wooded grove somewhere high above the Monterey Bay. As you walk into the clearing hung with old-fashioned string lights, you hear the sound of a banjo playing, accompanied by harmonica. On rustic tables decorated with fresh lavender, a delicious dinner is waiting, and you are greeted by name as you take your seat and sip a refreshing drink while savoring the sound of laughter and the aroma of the nearby woods.
All this has been conjured by Wylder Space—a new event planning company that seeks to not just organize your party or celebration—but also to make everyone feel at home and well taken care of.
“Our mission is to create experiences for our clients,” says Wylder Space co-founder Molly Bravo. “We want them to walk away saying, ‘Holy cow! What a great party!’”
Based in Santa Cruz and serving the entire Central Coast and beyond, Wylder Space is a collaboration between Bravo and Brian Munn, two chefs who joined forces this year to make Wylder Space not just a party planning business, but a lifestyle brand.
Based in Santa Cruz and serving the entire Central Coast and beyond, the two chefs joined forces this year to make Wylder Space not just a party planning business, but a lifestyle brand.
“Our mission is to create experiences for our clients,” says Bravo. “We want them to walk away saying, ‘Holy cow! What a great party!’”
The business partners have known each other for 10 years through the Santa Cruz food scene, Bravo heading Organicopia catering and Munn working at numerous restaurants and at New Leaf Market. Both knew it was time for a change and working together has given their enterprise a unique vision and philosophy. Organicopia merged with Munn’s nano brewery, Wylder Brewing, to become Wylder Space.
But Wylder Space is about much more than catering, Bravo emphasizes.
“We’re passionate about what we do,” she says. “We just like entertaining.” And that passion extends to every detail of their event planning, from the floral design to the music to the food, handling all the rentals and vendors needed. The Wylder team is working with numerous venues around the Monterey Bay area, both indoors and outside.
Bravo describes Wylder Space as “a platform to hold all of our creativity and the creativity of others, from musicians to floral designers, calligraphers, photographers, videographers, stage designers and home decorators. We bring the best of the best together and showcase our work for our clients.”
Above all, she says, Wylder Space is designed to create a feeling of community, bringing people together with food, drink, music and common interests in the natural world.
That kind of care and commitment applies whether the team is planning an intimate anniversary celebration, a wedding for 200-plus people, a corporate retreat, or a 40th birthday party with family and friends.
Both Bravo and Munn attended culinary school in San Francisco and share a common vision for the food they prepare—fresh, authentic, unpretentious, unfussy. In addition, “Brian is a self-taught homebrewer who has truly perfected his craft with small batch beer,” says Bravo, noting that Munn shares his brews as gifts for their clients.
“Our whole mission is to provide for the community and to be a lifestyle as well,” says Munn, who says that Wylder Space can handle anything from small, intimate parties to large public events. Their specialty is being able to create events not just in homes and traditional venues, but also in parks, forests, rural lands and other natural settings.
To that end, Wylder Space is acquiring a food truck so that Bravo and Munn will have a mobile kitchen, giving them more flexibility for their work, and also a way for them to participate in community events and host fun pop-ups. They’re hoping to have it on the road by this fall.
“We want to promote joy of life, fun, and an active lifestyle that is enhanced by great company, real food and delicious beer,” says Bravo. “We have designed a business model based around our lifestyle. We love all things outdoorsy, rustic, old-fashioned, down to earth and unpretentious.”
In the next few years, the Wylder team also hopes to buy property that they can develop as their own venue, which may be a place for them to grow more of the quality produce that they use in their menus.
They are sticklers for making meals from scratch—just like grandma would have made, but better, with the best of local produce and meats, all completely organic and fresh. They grow some of their own vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. The ingredients they don’t grow themselves are sourced from favorite farms such as Serendipity, Happy Boy and Rodini.
Bravo and Munn begin the process with each client by sitting down and getting to know them, getting a sense of their style and preferences, and then creating a menu that takes all of that into account. Every menu is handcrafted and tailored to the client, and based on seasonal and local ingredients. “We’re much more adaptable than what a traditional catering company would do for you,” says Munn.
The result is a thoughtful and tasteful event that captures the client’s vision, whether it’s at home or in a wonderful venue, tucked away in the woods or near the beach.
Another component of Wylder Space is giving back to the community. For 2018 and beyond, they are donating their time to the Homeless Garden Project, Coastal Cleanup, and Dig Days with the mountain bikers of Santa Cruz—all projects that are near and dear to their hearts.
Bravo and Munn are also sharing their philosophy through their blog “Wylder Adventures,” which encourages everyone to follow their bliss and to make a living doing what they love.
“We have found a way to live authentically, to do what excites us and inspires us, and hopefully we are able to spread the inspiration to others who are in search of a similar path,” says Bravo.
Kathryn McKenzie, who grew up in Santa Cruz and now lives on a Christmas
tree farm in north Monterey County, writes about sustainable living,
home design and health for numerous publications and websites.