Feeding the Finest

Linda Crowe’s Gala Guest List Reads Like a Who’s Who

Linda R. Crowe is one of those women who has come full circle in her life. Born and bred in Paducah, Linda graduated from Lone Oak High School where, as a student, she helped out in the cafeteria for class credit. Little did she know that 40 years later, she’d be creating dining experiences for hundreds of people in scores of settings . . . and happily, without a hair net!

feedingFinestNow she’s more into networking.

An association of more than 20 years with Ro Morse and later, John Harris of Whaler’s Catch, has allowed Linda to survey the local social scene from a unique viewpoint. Her gastronomical guest list reads like a Who’s Who of the river city. She’s wined and dined CEOs and celebrities, governors and judges, doctors and lawyers, senators and socialites. And she does it with the greatest of ease . . . or so it seems.

“Catering requires many, many hours of planning and preparation,” Linda comments. “My face may be the one you see, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes. I’m blessed to have a great team that works hard on every event. I couldn’t do it without them!”

Even with thorough planning and an ace staff, there are sometimes last-minute butterflies. “There always seem to be moments at every gathering when I have this vague fear that I’ve forgotten something,” Linda admits. “It was certainly more noticeable at first. In fact, just recently at a wedding reception for 500 people, I actually noticed that I was quite calm. I guess experience is finally paying off.”

Experience? Linda’s had lots of it and not just when it comes to cuisine. During her multi-layered career she’s worked for Sunshine Dairy, Heublein Distillers, Citizens Bank, PBS Chemicals, Adrian’s, Leroy and Lita’s, Dairyette, and Bill’s Restaurant, which is where she actually got her first taste of food service. “Bill’s was this little mom-and-pop restaurant on the north side,” Linda remembers. “That was actually the first time I had waited tables. During that time, I met so many Paducah people and their children; many of whom I’ve eventually served again at Whaler’s.”

But it was not her desire to spend hours in the kitchen that initially brought her to the doors of the original Whaler’s Catch. It was actually her desire to spend her after hours at the restaurant on 13th Street. “My friend, Felicia, and I would stop in at Whaler’s after work, and one night as I was having conversation with a server, I asked if she thought I would like working there. So she introduced me to the owner, Ro Morse.” There were no positions open at that time, but Ro took Linda’s application, and when the restaurant opened its “front room” as it came to be called, Ro needed to add staff and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I can never say enough wonderful things about Ro Morse,” Linda says. “She was wonderful to work for and she literally gave me the beginnings of what has become a very gratifying career.”

Fast forward about 15 years and we find Linda serving as part of the backbone of the wait staff at the new Whaler’s Catch Restaurant on Paducah’s historic riverfront. This girl now knows her shrimp from her scallops! Linda had often assisted both Ro and Tommy Amidon, Whaler’s chef, when catering events to the point where current owner John Harris began to see a recipe for success.

So seven years ago, John handed Linda a calendar and a calling card, and the establishment’s new Director of Catering burst from the kitchen followed by a trail of smoke that even now can’t catch up to this evermoving, ever-scheduling, ever- effervescent queen of catering. Dinner for ten at the home of the hosts? No problem. A wedding reception for 450 on two floors at the Carson Center? A piece of cake. An annual dinner under a tent in minus 13 degree temperatures? Well, maybe not so easy.

Yes, many will remember the infamous Chamber of Commerce dinner under the tent on the cold concrete in front of the floodwall. But those who were in attendance will also remember that the food delivered by woolen-mittened servers from Linda Crowe’s staff was piping hot and oh so welcome.

“That was probably the biggest challenge of my career,” Linda recalls. “We cooked everything at the restaurant and brought it over in hot boxes. At the end of the evening, I had two people making coffee as fast as they could and bringing it over in coolers, and we were literally making one pot at a time to get out to the guests. I think I still have a little frost bite on my fingertips from that evening!” she adds with a grin.

Proof positive that as one client recently commented after a large wedding reception, “If you have Linda Crowe doing the catering, that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.”