Chopping it Up with Chef Judy!
Happy Holidays Luvs!
This week I'm spotlighting a few restaurateurs in North Carolina that I've had a chance to enjoy in my travels this month. Today's blog is about restaurateur Chef Judy owner of Let Me Cater To You restaurant in Fayetteville, NC. You may remember her from the Food Network's Chopped series Military Salute episode! A retired military cook and former corporate caterer, Chef Judy's love of food is about sharing experiences with her family and community. A mother of a beautiful teenage girl she enjoys catering for her successful 2 restaurant locations with a full staff. I had an opportunity to chat with Chef Judy about food, family, and her faith.
Here's how it all went down.......
How long has Let Me Cater To You been open?
Chef Judy: "This location in Fayetteville has been open for 2 years and the Spring Lake location has been open for 4 years. The first couple of years I catered out of recreation centers, rented church kitchens, and cooked from home but I wanted to be professional of course."
What was the transition like for you from being a military and corporate caterer to owning your own restaurant?
Chef Judy: "It was a challenge because food service is one of the most stressful industries because within the first 2 years most restaurants shut down. Most people don't realize you have to have portion control, food costs in check, and not too much overhead so the day to day operations can go forward."
Would you like to expand to more locations?
Chef Judy: "I actually do not want more locations because my dream was never to be a restaurateur I love catering but it just so happened that this is the pathway God has me on where this is a season. I want to travel and have my own cooking show I'm working on so I don't want to put my hands in too many places. I want to become a motivational speaker and do a couple more competition food shows like I did with Chopped."
What is your favorite food?
Chef Judy: "I love pizza all different kinds and chicken I can eat everyday!"
Tell me about your personal chef services you offer?
Chef Judy: "The personal chef services there are two different entities to that. One is for the busy family where I have clients that are very busy but still want to eat good so I go in and prepare meals that are refrigerated or frozen. That way they can just pop it in the oven or microwave. The other is let's say its your anniversary I will decorate your table, prepare, and serve the meal. We set the ambiance! So its very personal so that goes over very well for Valentine's Day."
What do you like to do for fun?
Chef Judy: " I love going out to eat and hanging out with my girlfriends. I cater to people all the time but I love being catered to so I love going out to eat. I love going to the spa so I treat myself and I remember seeing it on tv thinking I can't wait to be in a position to do that! I spend a lot of time with my 14 year old daughter, Destiny, and now that she's a teenager she don't want to spend a lot of time with me of course more so with her friends. When I get a chance I love to play basketball to stay active, I love serving at my church, and I love volunteering in my community. A large part of my down time is helping people because I feel like that's what I'm here to do."
Any words of encouragement for those interested in working professionally in food service?
Chef Judy: "Absolutely! Anything culinary make sure you have a heart and love for it. If you don't love it don't do it. One of my motto's is "I speak life through food" so when you taste my food you can tell I put love into it. Always keep that drive going because there will be times you don't feel like doing it but find encouragement in yourself. One of the times for me was when I lost my father to a rare throat cancer but I had to cater a wedding in a few days but I found something within that said I love what I do so I did the wedding and then went back to South Carolina. Last year I lost my mother in a tragic car accident and I was at a wedding they were just about to eat when I got the news So I had to go back in and make it happen without causing a scene but because of the love I have for what I do I still had to push through. I also have lost 2 babies in the midst of being a business owner as well. It takes a lot of faith and its about God getting the glory out of my testimony, so remember to dream big."
Chef Judy is a strong woman of faith, encouragement, and joy. Her gifts expanded beyond her kitchen walls and now investing in her community by offering employment, volunteerism, and of course great food! It was indeed a pleasure to hear this powerful woman speak about her story.
If your in the Fayetteville or Spring Lake area make sure you stop in to see Chef Judy and her staff at Let Me Cater To You!
Until next time ladies and gentleman this is The Lux Blog!
When celebrities come to town I do offer personal chef services and their staff will contact me. - Chef Judy