Port Orchard caterer sets sail aboard new passenger-only ferry

In the catering business, success is all about two things — eating and talking.

First, you get people eating your food. Then, hopefully, people start talking about your food.

But above all else, says Port Orchard resident Lina Buschke, make sure you’re always talking about your own food.

“I’m a go-getter. You have to be,” Buschke said, explaining that as owner of Purple Fig Catering, she’s gotten a lot of jobs by word of mouth — much of it her own.

Including her latest venture, which is stocking the new Kingston-Seattle passenger-only ferry runs, officially launched yesterday by Aqua Express, with sandwiches and other quick gourmet bites.

She landed that job, she said, by chasing down — literally — Aqua Express General Manager Brian Grantham.

“He spoke at a Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce meeting, and I ran after him and told him about my food,” she said, adding that after a quick trip to Seattle to offer Grantham a taste test, she got the job.

Which, of course, means the real work is just beginning for Buschke and her staff of six. Not only do they need to make sure there’s enough food for up to 300 hungry riders morning and night, they first need to make sure those riders know how good her food is.

Last week, while Aqua Express offered free trips hoping to hook plenty of future riders, Buschke climbed aboard and handed out free samples, hoping to get riders hooked on her food.

She made plenty of her consistent winners, like focaccia sandwiches, curry chicken kabobs, and her secret weapon, figs wrapped in bacon.

“Aqua Express wanted to have all different types of snack items on board,” Buschke said, explaining that not only will she have traditional fare like scones and pastries, she will throw in a smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese baguette and even some sushi, as well.

But while Buschke is making sure ferry riders will have plenty to chose from, her business is proof that sometimes all you need is one crowd favorite to ensure success.

“I started out selling salsa at the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market,” she said, explaining that Linetta’s Roasted Salsa became such a big hit that by the time she began her catering business out of the Storybook Wedding Chapel downtown, she already had a solid fan base and list of contacts in place.

Describing herself as “a full-blooded Mexican,” Buschke says she specializes in “Northwest cuisine with an international twist,” though the name she chose for her business hardly reveals the kind of fare offered.

But then again, Buschke says, she didn’t choose the name. She gives God credit for that.

“I prayed about it, and He showed it to me in the Bible,” she said, explaining that she was reading a passage about a fig tree, then decided to add purple, her favorite color, to the name to make it “catchier.”

“My husband hated the name, and a lot of people did not like it,” she said, but she had made up her mind.

And at least for her latest gig, the name seems a perfect fit, she said.

“The first time I walked on one of the boats, I saw that all the interior was purple.”

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