A native of Columbus, Ohio, Catherine has been in the Hospitality Industry for most of her life. Being the eldest in a very large family, she has been cooking since she was old enough to reach the stove. She credits her Mother for her “Italian” way of teaching her to cook and her Father for his country American style of cooking. Her Father could throw everything but the kitchen sink in a pot and it always tasted wonderful. Her Mother was more old school and liked her food fresh, clean and simple. Catherine, when cooking the family dinner, would often question her Mother on quantities of an ingredient or how long to cook a dish and her Mother’s stock answer was always “enough” or “until it’s done”.
In college she studied English while working in the hospitality field in one way or another the entire time. Her background includes owning and operating a Country French Restaurant in Michigan, which was included as one of the top ten restaurants for the five years it was in operation. Her chef was from CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and she often observed very carefully his techniques.
When she moved to Chicago she held a food service management position for a leading prestigious department store company for seven years. She then moved on and became Director of Catering at Wheaton College, which was awarded the number one food service operation for food and management against all colleges across the country.
Catherine holds a degree, with honors, in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Chicago. She also has a long and loyal staff and credits each of them for bringing their talents to the table and adding the crème de la crème to any event.
Sixteen summers, throughout all of these other careers, kept her busy on stage as emcee for the Chef’s Demo next to Buckingham Fountain at the “Taste of Chicago”. She introduced and interacted with seven different local and celebrity Chefs’ every day for each season. Most of the cooking demonstrations were taped and aired on Chicago Cable 23 throughout the season for several years. She found herself in total awe of the amazing talent she had the honor of being on stage with and this is where Catherine decided she wanted to focus her creative energy….in the culinary world, behind the scenes, in the kitchen. So, she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, Chicago, left the corporate world, purchased a catering company and the rest is history.
Looking back she has the utmost respect for all the very talented chefs she has learned from. Some of her recipes have been published in a couple of cookbooks. She also started an entertainment book, along with three other friends and was approached by Bulfinch Press out of New York for possible publication. The book is on the back burner, but not out of the picture….. Her first year as owner of her catering company she created and donated a gingerbread house to Lovell’s of Lake Forest to be auctioned off, along with many other donations from top Chefs in the Chicago area. Proceeds benefited the “Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.”
- Owned and operated, with silent business partners, a Country French restaurant in Michigan. Restaurant was rated in the top ten for the five years it was in operation.
- Recipes published in two cookbooks Best Recipes of Michigan Inns and Pot-Luck for 33,000.
- Background in corporate management –nominated as top associate of the year in one of her operations.
- Director of Catering for Wheaton College – named the #1 college in the country the first year I was there for food quality, service, selection (to include vegan and vegetarian choices)
- Left corporate world to pursue a culinary degree and purchased a catering company (blind faith)
- Graduated from Le Cordon Bleu at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, with honors
- Started an entertainment/food/Champagne book with two very good friends. Approached by Bulfinch Press out of New York for possible publication
- Designed and created a gingerbread house donated to Lovells of Lake Forest and auctioned off with proceeds benefiting The Infant Welfare Society in Chicago.
- Emcee for Chefs Demo, on Chicago’s gorgeous lake front, sponsored by Dominick’s and later Mariano’s at the Taste of Chicago for 16 consecutive years. Had the great pleasure of being on stage with some of the country’s most well known chefs; Emeril Lagassee, Michael Chiarello, Mario Batalli, Giada de Laurentis, Martha Stewart’s team of professionals, to name a few, along with the many great chefs’ which make Chicago what it is today. Several cherished autographed cookbooks by both local and celebrity chefs
- Met with the owners of a Lexus Dealership in 2005 to negotiate a catering agreement and assist in picking out kitchen equipment for a kitchen being built in their new addition of the dealership for the exclusive use by Heller Catering. We are celebrating our 11th year relationship catering to their clients every Saturday (for 500).
- Featured Chef of the Month with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley for recipes; Asian Pear & Sweet Ginger Coffee Cake; Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake using the Napa Valley Company products
- Designed a specialty drink “Passion & Grace” for a Breast Cancer Awareness fashion show with Lake Forest Bank and entered it in a contest with Chilled Magazine in conjunction with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. Nominated as one of the semi-finalists
- Many great North Shore and Chicago clients including Ragdale “A Novel Affair”, Lake Forest Symphony, The Chicago Bulls, Lake Forest Bank & Trust, Wintrust, Crab Tree Farm