Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacia Epps.
Hi Stacia, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’m a woman from a small water town in Maryland called Havre de Grace. The population is pretty small and the local business has been there for years. I realized I wanted to be a chef at the age of nine, watching the PBS channel late at night with Emeril, Iron Chef Japan, and Julia Child’s programs.
However, growing up I didn’t see a lot of African American or female chefs to look up to in my area…or anywhere really. So after taking food class with Ms. Sumers in high school, and purposely failing at the local community college. I mustered up the courage to tell my parents that I want to be a chef. At first, they questioned the lifestyle and its strenuous work.
But, they knew my love for the culture and food so they quickly got on board. While going to culinary school at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. I had a quick externship in France and fell in love with the cuisine and their determination to eat well. That’s what created my company! I came home, worked for a lot of headline restaurants and country clubs in Pa and MD to really gain some experience.
But, in 2014 I had enough! I was tired of not seeing a diverse atmosphere, as far as businesses in my community. My next-door neighbor, who has a flourishing candle business introduce me to the HdG farmers market. They wanted to bring in a food vendor to the market and I needed a new start. I believe in quality and fresh ingredients, so being at the farmers’ market every Saturday morning was a dream.
We weren’t even known as “Maison Intimate Catering” everyone called us “The Pink People” due to our obnoxiously pink tent (we found on sale) that we cooked under. Our signature breakfast sandwich the “Hog Wild” became so popular, they were lined with people waiting for 45 minutes.
This was a great opportunity however I didn’t want to be known as a breakfast cook, I was a highly skilled chef with the vision of doing Intimate and private dinners. So, that’s what I did. Along, the way I realize that I couldn’t do it alone, and along came Sarah Bartee.
She was the answer to all my prayers, now my co-owner and operations manager. After renting a kitchen for six years in a church, We finally signed a lease to a building in Aberdeen, Maryland that we can call our home. We are expected to open in the fall.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not at all! Which I don’t feel like it should be. I feel like when things are easy, they have less meaning. But if you go to adversities, you remember the hard times so the good times are even sweeter. We had loads of struggles, first for me moving back home from Philadelphia.
Being fired from a kitchen locally because I was a female with a strong mindset. Being told that I was too ethnic to ever become a real chef. Dealing with people stealing your ideas. Going through sexual harassment just because I’m just as skilled as the other male employees.
You were kicked out, of a kitchen, we were renting and I had to rent another smaller space two continue working. If it had not been for our friend Carl owner of Concord Point Coffee in HdG by allowing us to host pop-ups to continue to make money… I don’t know if we would still be in business.
The list goes on, but at the end of the day, you have to know who you are, what you want to represent, and what you’re striving for… So get there!
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
What we do is bring an experience of high-level fine dining to our client’s events. We specialize in Intimate parties because we want to focus on small details. What sets us apart is that we allow our customers to customize and create their own menus, according to their palate.
I’ve studied and continue to learn about different cuisines and techniques so that I keep my clients entertained as well as satisfied. We provide all the table decor, glassware, and flatware to ensure that they feel the experience as soon as they take their set.
We will bring certain scents, to heighten their senses. We just have fun! We’re even hosting an Instagram Live Chat every Tuesday at 7 pm called “Live with Maison”. On this platform, we discuss culinary trends, culture, and current events while breaking bread on the @justcallmevhef.co page.
What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Not to sweat the small stuff.
You’re going to have bad days, but your response is what matters most.
- Email: Maisoncatering22@yahoo.com
- Website: www.maisonintimatecatering.biz
- Instagram: @chefsavori_sweet and @maisoncatering
- Facebook: Maison Intimate Catering