Elizabeth Heiskell starts her mornings at 5 a.m. with practicing yoga and cooking breakfast for her two children before school. While owning her own business and being a cookbook author, she juggles the responsibility of being a mom of three children, a wife to her husband, and being her own boss.
“I head to the kitchen, we start working on menus, dealing with a lot of clients, and start cooking usually from about 9:30am to 3:30 in the afternoon,” Heiskell said.
Heiskell founded Elizabeth Heiskell Catering Company in Oxford, Mississippi over 20 years ago. Her catering company specializes in Southern Comfort cooking and is well-known for her infamous Bloody Mary mix, made with home-grown tomatoes from their own Woodson Ridge Farms.
She began her catering career in high school, assisting her mom’s friend in Memphis who owned a catering company, and continued helping throughout college.
“You know it’s funny, [catering] is the only thing I have ever done,” Heiskell said. It’s the reason that all this [Elizabeth Heiskell Catering] got started, and it’s really where I find a tremendous amount of satisfaction.”
Elizabeth Heiskell Catering does just about anything and everything you can think of when it comes to food preparation.
“Catering really is the bread and butter of what we do here,” Heiskell said. “It mean it is my most favorite thing. We service all types of clients. We do big, wonderful, over-the-top weddings, we do small intimate weddings, we do dinners at the Chancellor’s home at the University, we do lots of tailgating and sporting events, we do private dinner parties, and engagement parties. There’s absolutely nothing that we won’t do. We love every facet of it.”
The wide variety of work and constant change is one of Heiskell’s very favorite parts of what she does.
“That’s the reason honestly, that I have been in the catering business for so long, because it’s different every day,” she said.
“If I had to go to a job and do the same thing every single day, I think I would be just absolutely miserable,” Heiskell said. “But with this, if it’s a different week, if it’s a different party, it’s a different client, and it’s just incredibly exciting and keeps me engaged.”
Heiskell has always loved cooking and she says the first thing she ever cooked was popovers.
“I begged my mom to go and buy me the popover pans. I don’t even know where we found them, but I guess maybe they were very popular in the 80’s. So, we bought the popover pans, I made the popovers and the strawberry butter, and it was just so satisfying,” she said.
Heiskell attended the Culinary Institute in New York before returning home to Mississippi to begin her first business, “Instead of Flowers”.
Culture Shock of NYC coming from the Mississippi Delta
“I could do it out of my kitchen,” Heiskell said. “So basically, if somebody died or had a baby then I would take food. It was just a great way for me to be creative, and be in the kitchen, and then that very quickly turned into catering, almost immediately, so that’s really how it started about 24 years ago.”
In addition to catering, Heiskell writes cookbooks has written four cookbooks, with her fourth one debuting in October.
“It’s called “Come On Over”, and it’s a book about celebrating everyday,” Heiskell said. “Whether it’s a weeknight or even making school lunches for your kids, making that special. We cannot wait for that.”
Heiskell is also planning to appear on theToday Show as a guest chef and she is helping with the launch of the new Food Network Application. Despite these big plans, she says her small town business is her priority.
“It’s just like one big family and we really do feel the love and support,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have so many friends that are in this small town that rely on you to help with their weddings, or their children’s birthday parties, or that want us to do fun cooking classes and things.”
Heiskell’s aspiration of one day having her own cooking show