Endive Fine Catering

March 1, 2019

In the midst of the busy wedding season, Chef Drew Ihrig from Endive Fine Catering gave us the pleasure of interviewing him for our Vendor Spotlight. We met at his restaurant in Atlanta where he and his team were getting ready for a tasting that evening. We learned so much more about Chef Drew and his background and are beyond excited to share his fascinating story with you!

DS: Where are you from?

DI: I was born in Connecticut, but my dad was in the Navy at the time, so I moved to Pennsylvania at 6 months old. I then moved to Atlanta at age 12 when my father relocated again.

DS: What is the most recent show you have binge watched on Netflix?

DI: Chef’s Table. I’m definitely addicted to it.

DS: If you could move anywhere in the world, where would you go?

DI: The Southern coastal region of Europe, like Spain, France, or Italy.

DS: What is the best compliment you have ever received?

DI: That’s a tough one. Taking care of people is very important to me, so that moment you know when you’ve exceeded your clients’ expectations is the best compliment I could receive.

DS: Do you have any pets?

DI: I have two dogs, a Boxer Beagle mix girl that is 30 pounds. Then, instead of having house security, we have a 165 pound Bull Mastiff named George. They play together all the time!

DS: What is the last book you have read?

DI: I’m really big in to spy novels, Steven Hunter specifically.

DS: What advice would you give your younger self?

DI: Take a gap year between high school and college. I was not ready to go straight in to college, so I think for some people, you need that year to allow yourself to mature to be responsible enough to be on your own.

DS: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

DI: Throughout my life, I have had many mentors, but I have had one super serious mentor that I worked with for 9 years. Her advice to me as a restaurant owner was to “take my blinders off.” You can’t only be focused on one thing at a time, but to look for all of the opportunities around you.

DS: What is the most worn item in your wardrobe?

DI: Probably my boots!

DS: Do you have kids?

DI: We have two girls and a boy. My oldest daughter, Krishni, is 17 and has been working with me since she was 13. She is in the IB program and is interested in culinary hospitality as a career. She is actually interested in going to culinary school in the cutest little town in Spain. My youngest daughter, Saama, is a 5th grader and wants to be an actress. My son, Ian, is a 10th grader and he just started catering with me. He probably won’t do culinary for a living; my family is more into engineering and he is more than likely going to take that route. He is number one in his class and is already taking AP Calculus as a 10th grader!

It was so special to hear Chef Drew talk about his kids and their accomplishments. We could definitely tell that he was so proud to be their father, as he should be!

DS: Who are you listening to right now?

DI: I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music, nobody specifically though. I like the ambiance and not a lot of commercial.

DS: What is the one sport you wish you could play?

DI: Surfing. I grew up playing sports, but I’m not a natural athlete.

DS: Who is your role model?

DI: In the industry, my role model would be Thomas Keller. I connect with him so much and relate to his background and his philosophy. He is self-taught and I’m a self-taught chef. He cares so much about his product and his people, and overall guest experience and employee experience.

DS: What is your favorite way to de-stress?

DI: Movies or books.

DS: What is the last country you visited?

DI: Over the last summer, I visited Holland and Belgium. I’ve traveled extensively because of my wife. She and her family are from Sri Lanka and we go every other summer because it’s so far away. When we go, we pick a different city for our layover flight to explore.

Chef Drew then shared with us even more about his family and how his wife’s family has been in the government in Sri Lanka. His mother-in-law was actually the first female governor in Sri Lanka!

DS: What is your favorite country that you have visited?

DI: That’s another tough one. I have been to 19 countries, but I would have to say Sri Lanka.

DS: What is the best gift you have ever received?

DI: My simple answer is my life itself because I sit before you guys feeling so truly fortune with so many opportunities now, and I had the best childhood and have the most fantastic parents. I’ve been blessed with fairly decent intellect and I’m 6’4, blue eyes, blonde hair, Chef Drew laughs.

DS: What is your favorite thing about yourself?

DI: My height. I love being tall!

DS: How did you get into catering?

DI: I have been in the restaurant business since 1992. After 4 years, my wife and I started catering for extra money and that is how I feel in love with the business. The first event I did was for 500 people at the Chamber of Commerce in Forsyth. In 2002, I was introduced to a local boutique catering company that was looking to sell their business by the end of the year. I ended up buying the business from her on January 1st, 2003 and it’s been Endive ever since.

 

CHEF DREW’S FAVORITES

DS: Animal?

DI: Dog

DS: Smell?

DI: Wood burning fire, rosemary, or gardenia when it’s blooming

DS: Band?

DI: Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd

DS: Movie?

DI: August Rush, Avatar, Indiana Jones

DS: Hobby?

DI: Woodworking. I’ve built everything in this restaurant. I grew up with a father that was a mechanical engineer and we had a farm with a wood shop, so I grew up learning how to woodwork.

DS: Drink?

DI: Sapphire and Tonic

DS: Food?

DI: Cereal, peanut butter and jelly, or cashew nuts

We were very surprised to hear Chef Drew’s favorite foods, but he explained that he works around high-end food all day long, so he enjoys more of a simple meal for himself.

CHEF DREW’S THIS OR THAT?

DS: Android or iPhone?

DI: Android

DS: Twitter or Instagram?

DI: Neither

DS: Coffee or tea?

DI: Super coffee, but I do drink sweet tea.

DS: Sweet or savory?

DI: Both at the same time, mixed together like chocolate covered cashews.

DS: Scary film or happy ending?

DI: Happy

DS: Introvert or extrovert?

DI: Definitely an introvert, but I’m an introvert having to constantly be an extrovert.

LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS

DS: How long have you been in business?

DI: 26 years total. I have been with Endive for 16 years at the end of 2018.

DS: How many events do you usually host per year?

DI: We typically have 450 events annually on average, so about 8 per week, but we have had anywhere from 1 to 20 events per week. 60% of our business is from weddings.

DS: Who is your ideal client?

DI: My ideal client is the one where I feel so fortune to have their business and they feel so fortunate to have me taking care of them.

DS: What is your favorite part of the wedding day?

DI: Just after the cake cutting. That is when all the pressure is off and that is when you know you’ve been successful. That’s the moment I can reflect. I also love father of the bride speeches.

DS: What is your most commonly asked question by brides?

DI: Can we bring our own alcohol?

DS: What is your average budget for most clients? Minimum budget?

DI: We do have a minimum of $1,000. The average cost per person is $60, but it ranges anywhere from $40-$200 per person.

DS: What is the most stressful part of your job?

DI: Everything that we do is super stressful. The most stressful part for me is being afraid that the client is not going to be happy. I have a fear of failure and do not want to let anybody down in my life.

DS: Where is Endive in 5 years?

DI: Exactly where we are right now. Three years ago, I stopped the growth of Endive because we had maxed out and were already maintaining historical numbers. To go to the next level, we would have to relocate. One of the things that is different about us is that we don’t pressure you to book; we courtesy hold the date once we have the tasting.

DS: What is your one piece of advice for brides? Grooms?

DI: The wedding can be whatever you want it to be, but there is a lot of pressure from parents and friends. Start planning as early as possible and start thinking about the timeline you want.

We ended our interview with Chef Drew as he had to go host his scheduled tasting for that evening, but we could have spoken to him for many more hours! We were so intrigued by his background, family history, and core values. Thank you to Chef Drew and Endive Fine Catering for sharing your story with us. -DS

Check out Endive’s website here!

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