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Personal Chef & Caterer Creates Dream Kitchen in Dayton

A new catering company will soon accommodate anyone's culinary needs.

Kate's Catering is set to open on Sixth Avenue in Dayton and its owner, Katelyn Banks, prides herself on the ability to adapt to each customer's specific needs.

“It’s based on convenience and customization,” said Banks. “I’ve worked for a number of catering companies in the area and actually got my start in Lexington and then worked my way up here, and what I wanted to do to set myself apart is that you don’t come into my space and pick from a menu. I strive to come up with a unique menu.  If I’ve catered for you before, you’re not going to see the same food twice unless you request it, because food is exciting and food is enjoyable and you should be able to experience that every single time.”

Kate’s Catering is a catering company that specialize in small to medium-sized events like birthday parties, wedding receptions, retirement parties, client luncheons, cocktail parties, and corporate and private events. 

Another big component of the business is personal chef service.

“Clients will contract with us to either get meal delivery or meal preparation, maybe some cooking instructions, and what sets us apart is that we’re able to customize for that client,” Banks said. “We sit down with them one-on-one, get to know their needs, get to know their schedule, maybe what kind of equipment they have to work with, and based on that information, we’re able to come back here and prep some things for them, maybe get some freezer-friendly meals for them, taking into consideration their gluten allergies, or maybe they have two small kids or something like that, and then we’re able to deliver their meals either weekly or monthly based on their needs.”

Also in the business plan is an option for people in the neighborhood, or people on their way to work to stop in for carry-out orders for lunch or dinner, Monday through Friday.  

“There are a lot of different things going on here specifically but what we like to call ourselves is that we are a boutique caterer, so if you have a need, we do our best to accommodate that, because we have the space and the knowledge to do it,” she said. “It’s not just the chicken dish that you have seen 10 times over at every other catering.  We strive to recreate the menu and recreate the classics or put a spin on them to come up with something different and unique every time we cater. It forces us to be super creative and utilize what is whole and what is in season, and also it’s exciting for the guests as well because they’re getting a product that they can’t get anywhere else.”

Kate’s also strives to be as accommodating as possible with the different budgets individuals and families have to work with. During the consultations, Banks her staff will identify all the factors, including budget to form the most ideal and affordable food options to any client they meet with.

“I have personal chef clients that are very budget conscious who have five kids that they need to feed but they don’t have time to cook because they have five kids, so we work with those clients and we also have clients that want to have filet mignon and cavier every night, so we take the gamut. During those consultations, when we sit down with the client, we offer up the opportunity to build a relationship. They then feel comfortable enough to tell me what their needs and concerns with us and tell me what their budget is. If it’s $12 a meal, it’s $12 a meal.  We work with that because we have the knowledge and buying power to make that happen for that client.”

Kate’s Catering employs part-time and seasonal workers for servers and bartenders at events during the heavier months of the business cycle and cuts back during the slower times, typically in the later summer months.  Along with herself, Banks also has other full-time workers in the kitchen and the front-of-house. 

A native of Anderson Township in Ohio, Banks graduated from the University of Kentucky in three years and then earned another degree from the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. While studying in her second semester there, she started Kate’s Catering out of a rented kitchen. She later purchased the building on Sixth Avenue in Dayton in January where she was able to build her dream business in a space that was a blank slate.

“When we bought it, it was four walls and a roof,” Banks said. “It was really advantageous because we were able to put in everything we needed from the ground up. There wasn’t a lot of demolition involved.”

It was also key for Kate’s Catering to find a spot that had its own parking. Banks was able to have the parking lot to her new building repaved and now has multiple usable parking spaces adjacent to the building. 

“It was a major investment but it was one that I had saved up for and worked for and planned for very appropriately,” she said.

She specializes in turning favorite meals people having into the same meal, only in a sneaky healthy version.  

“What I personally specialize in is taking dishes that people love to eat and flipping them in ways we’re I’m replacing ingredients or introducing new techniques to make them a little more figure-friendly, better for their bodies, better for their families or maybe to suit some dietary restrictions that they have.  Show me your grandmother’s lasagna recipe, and I will do it in a more figure-friendly version.”

It was important to her that her location be a central one so that not only can it become easier to deliver meals to her clients, but also so that people can easily access her kitchen by having a nearby interstate option. Not only that, but the City of Dayton and its government made the set up for Banks a user-friendly one.

“There were many things that went in to us choosing this space. One was the location. We have clients all over the area. I really needed a central location that was convenient to downtown Cincinnati where many of our clients are, but also five minutes from any other city to where I can get to those other clients. The other factor was the City of Dayton which has been incredibly helpful with this process, both supportive and with some financial endeavors that we have been going through with the red tape of bureaucracy. It’s been a really great resource to be able to call them up with a question because they’re obviously much more in tune with the necessities of working with this community whereas I am more in tune with the other side of the river.”

So no matter who walks in the door of Kate’s Kitchen they are likely to leave satisfied knowing that their event, their family, or just themselves will be treated to quality, healthy and affordable food.

“I think our single mission in establishing this space is to ensure we’re accommodating every single client that walks in our doors.  We don’t use the word no.  Instead we ask, can we get back to you on that?  I have talented staff around me that support me and have talents and expertise that we brought in to be able to accommodate for all of those different clients,” Banks said. 

Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor