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Around The Word with Ladyfingers Catering
February 1, 2017

While it is true that we were enjoying unseasonably warm weather through most of January, the executive staff from Ladyfingers Catering fled to the even warmer temps of the Cayman Islands all in the name of continuing education. Owner Deborah Lowery explains, “About 15 years ago, I started to plan one culinary trip a year for my staff within the United States. Now, we pride ourselves on being well-versed when it comes to multi-ethnic cuisine, so it made sense to expand our travel internationally.”

Plus, she says, it is a nice way to reward the hard-working executive staff of Ladyfingers, a complete catering service that can plan, design and execute any request from a gourmet box lunch delivery to a black-tie reception or even an outdoor cookout. Lowery says it is important to stay updated on the latest food, product and presentation trends in order to maximize their offerings and services, and so she looks to travel opportunities as a fun way to do just that. “This March,” she explains, “we are attending the International Restaurant and Food Show in Manhattan. There will be every vendor you could ever imagine in this industry.”

The staff from Ladyfingers have traveled together to trade shows in Las Vegas. They’ve taken cooking classes in Hell’s Kitchen as well as Cajun cooking classes in New Orleans. “We take cooking classes everywhere we go,” Lowery explains, “but when it comes to preparing international cuisine, I think it is important to actually travel to these places.” During January 12 through the 16, Lowery, along with Executive Chef Danilo Criollo, Marketing Director Donna Brown, Garmage Chef Robert Brooks, Wedding and Event Coordinator Laura Rich and Bar and Beverage Manager Jason Spencer, attended the Ninth Annual Cayman Cookout, hosted by Food Network’s Eric Ripert and sponsored by “Food & Wine” Magazine. The event featured top chefs from around the world including Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Jose Andres, Terrance Brennan, Daniel Humm, Tim Love, Roland Passot and Christina Tosi. Their island adventure started with an Around the World lunch event on Friday followed by a dinner on the beach at Royal Palms Barefoot BBQ. On Saturday, the group drove to Rum Point and enjoyed a Beach Bash lunch by Moet Chandon champagne. If that doesn’t sound dreamy enough, each event was paired with wine or tequila tastings. Not a bad way to stay educated in your field of expertise!

The Cayman Islands are considered the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” with the cuisines as diverse and eclectic as the residents themselves. Consisting of only a modest 101 square miles, the Islands are home to over 200 restaurants making it the ultimate culinary trip. “Each trip we take is always an entirely different experience,” Lowery shares. “One up-and-coming trend that we noticed while in the Cayman Islands is that people are starting to prefer individual servings. For example, instead of a slice of cake, you would have 20 options of individual bite-sized servings. It allows the customer to have much more variety than just serving themselves a helping in a large chafing dish.” Upon their return from the Cayman Islands, Lowery says she received a Request for Proposal specifically for an “around the world” theme presented in small individual plates and glasses. It sounds like Ladyfingers Catering will be uniquely qualified for that client. VT

Feeding the 7,000

Article from Todays Woman Magazine by Marie Bradby (photos by Melissa Donald) April 2010

Deborah Lowery and the Ladyfingers staff cater many parties including the Barnstable Brown party.






















 

“We go from ‘Thunder Over Louisville,’ to Derby non-stop,” said DeborahLowery, owner of Ladyfingers Catering, whose 20-year-old business does $2 million in annual sales. “We do the Barnstable Brown party, the Grand Derby Celebration. Corporate parties. Everything.”

For Derby, her staff swells from 40 to 150 and for Thunder alone, they prepare meals for 7,000 people for various clients, ranging from small private parties of 150, to 3,500 for E.on on the Belvedere, 1,500 for the police department, and thousands more for the Kentucky Derby Festival village on top of Witherspoon garage. All on one day.

Over the course of two weeks, her staff will have prepared 1,500 pounds of beef tenderloin that is lightly smoked and charcoal-grilled and carved by chefs into filets, stirred up 50 gallons of bourbon peppercorn sauce, made 100 pans of corn pudding, and baked 15,000 assorted dessert bars and cookies. All from scratch.

“It’s insane,” said Deborah. “A lot of coffee. A lot of insomnia, not a lot of sleep. You’re running on adrenaline. It’s one party after another. The numbers on these parties are in the hundreds and thousands. There’s the food prep, the packing of the equipment, setting up, breaking down, unloading, washing, and putting away.”

By the time it’s 9 a.m. on Derby Day, her staff will have stayed up all night, disassembled everything from the celebrity parties the night before, trucked it all back to her facility, unpacked equipment, put away left-over food, and washed dishes. (They will unload a semi-tractor trailer full of cooking and serving items on Monday.)

So on Derby morning, she is walking around in work pants, a food-stained apron, and her long brown hair pulled back in a Scrunchie, exhausted. “No one would even know I was the owner,” Deborah said. “I even have special Barnstable Brown muddy tennis shoes. The last two years, it rained and we had mud and water everywhere.”

“She’s excellent,” said Willie Barnstable, who with her twin celebrity daughters Patricia and Priscilla, host the glitzy affair (from $900 per ticket, up to $20,000 per table) to benefit diabetes-obesity research. This year, Lowery hopes to provide a “Kentucky Proud” menu for the gala, dishes made entirely from ingredients grown locally. “We are working on a special menu and she is going out of her way to make everything happen,” Willie said. “We have people (coming) from all over the world, and I thought they might appreciate the Kentucky menu.”

If Derby events weren’t enough for Deborah, the weekend between the two weeks of pre-Derby festivities is one of the busiest wedding days of the year, she said. So her staff will be busy with that as well as regular business clients who simply want continental breakfast for their staff. “We never turn down business,” she said. “You never know whether that small box lunch will turn into something larger.” Deborah got in the food business while still in college studying art for three years at Jefferson Community College and the University of Louisville. She took time off to accept a management training position at a restaurant chain and never finished her degree. “I learned everything, from ordering, keeping books, waiting tables, bartending, hosting, to cooking,” she said. After years of putting in long hours, she decided to open her own business.

A divorcee with four children ranging in age from 9 to 22, she started her business with two other women, providing lunches and slowly built up its client list. Being in the food industry came naturally to her. She spent her early years on Long Island in New York with two sets of Italian grandparents who were restaurant owners and bakers. Her family moved to Louisville more than 30 years ago when her father became a track veterinarian at Churchill Downs.

“I decided that if I was going to work 80 hours a week, I would do it for myself. It also gave me the ability to make my own hours because my two oldest were young at the time. With a very limited budget to start a business, catering is ideal,” she said. “You don’t have to hire a staff until you book a party, don’t have to buy the food, don’t have to do the menu until you start working on the event. There were three ladies including me; we did it all. The first year in business, we did about $68,000 in business and now we do $2 million in sales.”

Deborah, dressed in black, her long dark hair flowing down her back, gave a tour of her 7,200-square-foot industrial facility off Old Henry Road that houses her business office and kitchen which features: a gourmet-to-go department, bakery, hot and cold foods kitchens, numerous ovens, walk-in refrigerators, a room full of linens and serving items, and massive grills. There are awards on the walls. The staff was hopping. In the bakery, they had just shipped out 550 chocolate-dipped cherries and were finishing up pans full of miniature chocolate-cherry cupcakes, “Oh, My God” chocolate chip bars, and cornbread. The chefs were hand-stirring huge pans of beef and spices, while a long counter full of women were rolling the meatballs. A cook was finishing a cheese torte shaped and decorated like a “single barrel” Four Roses Bourbon bottle. In order to get to this point, Deborah says she deliberately took baby steps. “I added on staff and service as we became more learned,” she said. “We started out with little house parties, then offered wedding receptions, then stepped out in the corporate world. I’m a big believer in being confident in what you are doing. I’d rather turn down an event, than do it improperly. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have taken on a Barnstable Brown party. That’s where a lot of people go wrong. You see restaurants trying to do catering that aren’t caterers.

“It’s not just making food,” she said, it’s the planning, the resources for products, serving and tableware; it’s the presentation, the waiters, the bartenders, the chefs. It’s having “a staff that I trust at these types of events who are professional.” And there is the equipment. On Thunder day, “I even bring ovens on site. I can heat up macaroni and cheese for 3,500 people with convection ovens. We actually set up kitchens on site.” Organizing a celebrity Derby party takes four to five months of planning and nonstop meetings. For instance, she’s met with the bartender who came up with the signature drink (A “Barnstable” — a pear Grey Goose martini), the electricians, the decorators, the rental vendors, the entertainers. “All these things have to come together.” Article from Todays Woman Magazine 2010 http://www.iamtodayswoman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=286&Itemid=206

Ladyfingers Catering visits the Big Apple for Culinary Training from Chef Gordon Ramey's London Restaurant. Chef de Cuisine Josh Emett teaches cooking classes to Ladyfingers Culinary Team.

A group of 11 Ladyfingers Culinary and Service Staff experience a Culinary Dream Trip. Chef Gordon Ramsey's London Restaurant, Tavern on the Green, Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, and Mario Batalis' Spotted Pig-all to keep their edge as Louisville's fine dining caterer.

The trip included a cooking class, lunch, and tour of Chef Gordon Ramsey's London Restaurant, cocktails and appetizers at Tavern on the Green followed by a tour, and dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill.They toured authentic Italian restaurants and bakeries in little Italy as well as the gourmet pub, the Spotted Pig, in Greenwich Village. And no trip would be complete without a visit to Chelsea's Market and the Food Network. "This was a hands on culinary trip, a chance for my staff to see and experience five star dining and cuisine." Deborah Lowery, owner of Ladyfingers Catering comments. "There are exciting new menu items on the horizon. We will be taking local and client favorites and adding new flair and twist to keep things fresh."

Ladyfingers Catering is the official caterer for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the Barnstable Brown Derby Party, Pre-Grand Gala VIP Reception, and the Ad Fed Louie Awards 2009.



Ladyfingers Catering ranked 2nd Largest Caterer in Louisville...May 2009 Business First
The right ingredients: Ladyfingers owner Deborah Lowery likes the taste of success

Published: April 27, 2009


For the fifth year in a row, Deborah Lowery has landed an invitation to the prestigious Barnstable-Brown Gala held on Derby Eve.To continue reading, go to:
http://louisville.bizjournals.com/louisville/stories/2009/04/27/story14.html?surround="etf

Look who came back to our grills at the Barnstable Brown Derby Party.

Great Article On Kentucky Proud Products by Ladyfingers Catering http://www.kyra.org/docs/KRJ/MayJune2009.pdf

GLI 2009 inc.redible Awards Nominee

Winner of the March of dimes Signature Chefs Auction...
Ladyfingers Catering - Best Food Presentation Award
Congrats Chef Martin Baugh
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ladyfingers Catering Inc.
Has Been Named
BEST OF LOUISVILLE CATERER
WLKY A-LIST
***********************************************************
Ladyfingers Catering is now the in-house caterer for the
Kentucky Center for the Arts
www.kentuckycenter.org
********************************************
Thanks Louisville for voting
Ladyfingers Catering
Top 3 Caterers in Louisville
(2008 Leo's People Choice Awards)
***********************************
NOW OPENED
Gingerwoods in Prospect/Louisville
Looking for a new venue with Great personality....
check out www.mygingerwoods.com

Ladyfingers Gourmet Buttery Buns are NOW .......From the courier-journal Louisville KY April 4, 2008

Three top hostesses take us behind the scenes at their Derby parties

How do some of the best-known women in the city entertain at Kentucky Derby time? We asked Tricia Barnstable Brown, Lori Kommor and Yolanda Buford Demaree to share their tried 'n' true tips.

While the scopes of their parties vary vastly, all three hostesses have a similar strategy: Invite an eclectic list of guests and let the magic happen organically.

Here, these notable women share their formulas for putting on the perfect Derby Party.

Tricia Barnstable Brown

On May 2, Tricia Barnstable Brown and her sister, Priscilla Barnstable, will be hostesses for their 20th annual Barnstable Brown Party benefiting diabetes research at the University of Kentucky and the University of Lousville......

Menu:
Barnstable Brown doesn't have to decide what she's serving "because we have everything on the menu." She uses Ladyfingers Fine Catering and serves buffet-style. "Last year, the (Indianapolis) Colts and (New England) Patriots ate double servings," Barnstable says, laughing at the memory

Menu
Spring Mix Salad with bourbon poached pears, caramelized walnuts and Stilton herb vinaigrette dressing

Hickory Smoked & Grilled Beef Tenderloin served with Henry Baines & Bourbon Peppercorn Sauce

Peach Chutney Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast stuffed with smoked ham and gruyere cheese w/ butter caper sauce & Dijon

Bow tie Pasta w/Sun-dried Tomatoes, artichoke hearts, baby spinach, grilled jumbo shrimp tossed in a roasted garlic olive oil sauce topped w/imported Romano and Parmesan cheeses

Grilled Asparagus, Kentucky Corn Pudding, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spinach "Phunque" Casserole

Gourmet Desserts
Thanks Kentucky Shakespeare Festival for another GREAT year!!!!
Keeping the Kentucky Galas and Derby Parties Fresh and Exciting Year after Year

Ladyfinger Catering Inc. Attends National Catersource Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada

Food, Events, Decor, and Party ideas are what Ladyfingers Catering employees found in Las Vegas February 24 - 26 at The Catersource Conference & Trade show 2008. They attended four days of non stop classes and seminars on catering, party and event planning. Over 4,000 caterers from all 50 states and other countries attended the largest catering convention in North America.



The newly combined show is the biggest, most comprehensive educational experience for catering and event professionals in the world. Among the highlights of the show were Colin Cowie, from Chic and Extraordinary Weddings, and The Hearty Boys, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh. The conference was held at The Las Vegas Hilton and Convention Center. Attendees were Owner Deborah Lowery, CEO Corrie Pennington, CFO Theresa Bentley, Marketing Director Donna Brown, Bakery Manager Lisa Davis, Supervisor Linda Lewis, Server Supervisor Cuita Robinson, and Special Bakery Assistant Kim Jones.

 

 


Ladyfingers Catering provided service and dinner for the Patrick Henry Hughes and Family fundraiser for the Visually Impaired Preschool Service at the Hughes "Extreme Makeover" Home March 2, 2008
Derby Party Powerhouse


Look for the wonderful write-up about us in the Courier Journal,

 

Deborah Lowery, like some children, dreamed of being a lion tamer when she grew up. The difference was she actually owned a lion. That was in the 1970s, when her veterinarian father, Nicholas Salvatore, was given a sick cub named Sahiba for his daughter to nurse back to health.


Today, Lowery owns Ladyfingers Catering and is taming a different type of beast - the challenge of feeding thousands of hungry Kentucky Derby guests at high-profile events across the city. The key to running her growing business, she said, is the same as it was for training her lion: patience and persistence.

Lowery will oversee catering for about 14,000 guests over the two-week Derby period. Her events include Thunder Over Louisville - where Ladyfingers had the contract to provide services for the corporate tents of UPS, Humana, Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and other firms over the weekend- as well as the Derby eve gathering of the rich and famous at the Barnstable Brown party.

Ladyfingers' big-name clients also include the Grand Gala's VIP Reception on Derby eve at the Muhammad Ali Center and the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival held each fall in and around Bardstown.

"Deborah and Ladyfingers are a great friend" of the Kentucky Derby Festival, said Mark Shallcross, spokesman for festival. "She goes out of her way to help us any way she can. She helps to feed the police who are working details associated with the festival events. She works closely with vendors provides great pricing and consistently goes the extra mile."

After starting in 1989 with four women working in a 600-square-foot kitchen, Ladyfingers now has a full-time staff of about 25 and will employ up to 150 on Derby eve. The company is the second-largest caterer in Louisville, based on food volume, Lowery said, and its growth was behind its move about two months ago into a new 7,200-square-foot building.

"Their staff is incredible," said Lourie Keene, corporate events team leader for LG&E, which was expecting about 3,200 guests at its Thunder tent on Saturday. "You don't have to worry about anything when you use them." The Bourbon Festival has awarded all of its catered events to Ladyfingers, said Pam Gover, executive director. "Every year we just get rave reviews" for the meals, she said. "Everything is just unbelievable. I can't ever imagine doing the festival without her."

Lowery said Ladyfingers strives to provide fine-restaurant service when feeding guests at remote locations. "I have purchased the type of equipment that allows us to do the large off-site galas and, hopefully, put out a product that is four-star dining." At the Bourbon Festival, for example, "we-re in a parking lot under a tent with crystal chandeliers and fine china serving 1,500 people."

High-profile events keep Ladyfingers busy this time of year, but "they are not big money-makers themselves," Lowery said. "Where the payoff comes in is in the marketing end of it."

Big events provide "the opportunity to showcase your services." Guests then remember Ladyfingers "the next time they have their corporate Christmas party or their daughter's wedding or whatever it may be."

 

 

Lowery, originally from Long Island, N.Y., never attended culinary school, but it was natural for her to find a career in food service, she said. Here grandparents, all European immigrants, included one couple who operated Italian bakeries for 45 years in New York. Her other grandfather was a maitre d' at some of the finest restaurants in New York, while the grandmother was a cook in a children's shelter, she said......

The Louisville chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners recognized Lowery's success recently with one of two "Owners of Distinction" awards........

Reporter Bill Worke can be reached at (502)582-4248


Deborah Lowery, Owner of Ladyfingers Catering, has been named
2007 Woman of Distinction
by the Louisville Chapter of NAWBO!

Thank you to all our customers that have stood by us all these years and help make this honor possible!Congratulations Deborah!

Ladyfingers Catering donates for Hats for Hope from 2003 - Present.....





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