Award-winning Kentucky-born chef Mavis Linnemann-Clark is one of those people who is earning a living doing what she loves. She founded The Delish Dish, a catering company that provides gourmet food and global flavors to events in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. In 2013, she launched an artisan jam line, Made by Mavis.
Although she has a degree in journalism, she fell in love with cooking while living on her own near the famed Italian Market in Philadelphia. In 2008, she moved to Chicago and enrolled in Kendall College, where she trained under the personal chef program. She is classically trained in French technique and participated in a Mexican Master Class with renowned Mexican chefs.
Making a move
A few years ago, she moved back to Northern Kentucky to be with her family. She started a food blog but she discovered that catering excited her the most. Being a restaurant on wheels, the challenges never run short, like dealing with unpredictable weather and having to carry everything that would be stored in a stand-alone restaurant.
This year, Linnemann-Clark was named SBA Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year.
In 2016, Linnemann-Clark took over a 5,000 sq. ft. kitchen on Covington’s Madison Avenue and opened Kickstart Kitchen. The space helps food entrepreneurs launch or grow their small businesses. In addition to its storage space and commercial kitchen equipment, Kickstart Kitchen offers complimentary assistance with business planning.
Adjusting to the times
Linnemann-Clark’s Delish Dish catering has been growing 20% each year, but along came the global pandemic, and large gatherings were prohibited.
“COVID has been devastating,” she said. “My job is to host parties where people get together and when you can’t get together, pretty much everything that we had was cancelled.”
Linnemann-Clark takes pride in the fact that she and her staff are “insanely detail-oriented” and very hands-on. “We walk everyone through their wedding process. We’re there to make sure everything goes as it’s supposed to.”
But how can they be “hands-on” during the pandemic? How does a catering company operate during COVID? “We’re re-approaching events and looking at combining virtual events with live events,” Linnemann-Clark said. “Weddings aren’t going to look like they did three months ago, at least for the next six to nine months. Having to walk our brides through what this new world is going to look like, when we don’t even know, is tough.”
But Linnemann-Clark is not to be deterred. Delish Dish is working with clients, putting together food boxes for people who would normally have attended the events in person. They can pick up the boxes, which contain their little dinner by the bite and possibly some items provided by the gala or event. And they can still get dressed up and attend the occasion via Zoom, all from the comfort and safety of their home.
“We want to bring that fine dining experience to your event,” Linnemann-Clark said. In person or virtual. Delish Dish will get it done.