Meet Becky Satterfield, owner of Satterfield’s Restaurant. Becky opened Satterfield’s in Cahaba Heights Village in 2005 and has been serving up fresh, local fare in a relaxed atmosphere ever since. Here she shares a bit about her history, what inspires her and the secrets of her success.
Where did you grow up? And if not from here, what brought you to Birmingham?
I was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, married my husband and moved to Houston, Texas. After 20 years, my husband and I both wanted to move back to Alabama to raise our daughter, so we decided to move to Mountain Brook, Ala.
When did you first discover your passion for cooking?
Probably at the early age of 4 as I was always with my mother, aunt and grandmother, usually centralized in the kitchen listening to family stories. Sometimes I’d color in my coloring book, and other times I’d help prep in some way, stand in a chair to wash dishes or stir something just to be involved in some minimal aspect of cooking or helping. This intrinsically induced contentment and happiness for me always.
How did you get your start in the restaurant business?
I’ve always loved cooking for friends and family. After moving to Mountain Brook from Houston’s amazing culinary scene, I yearned for more choices. While being so impressed and grateful for what Frank Stitt had brought to our city, a fleeting thought would come and go periodically that maybe I should try to do that over by my neighborhood. Approaching an empty nest was around the corner, and I realized that I should go another direction, find a hobby or get busy with a project while my daughter was away at college. Culinard had just opened in Birmingham, and their ads were running frequently to the point I had re-occurring thoughts of possibly opening a restaurant. I toured, enrolled, learned so much, and the rest is history.
I opened Satterfield’s in Cahaba Heights in 2005, just as the farm-to-table movement was emerging. My childhood and adulthood experience with “farm-to-table” wasn’t just a movement; it was a way of life. I wanted Satterfield’s to be a reflection of that experience in a neighborhood setting.
Tell us about the biggest roadblock you’ve overcome.
Specifically, I’m not really sure because there are so many components to owning and operating a business such as your employees, your purveyors, and your customers. Commonality and congruency is key.
Do you have a favorite cooking memory or kitchen disaster story you’d like to share?
In general, I think the challenges of attempting new recipes and mastering new techniques are always good for the soul.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My mama and daddy always told me to work hard and stay determined because I could do whatever I set my mind to do.
What upcoming local event are you most looking forward to?
I love the holidays! I put the Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving, start decorating, switch the CDs to Christmas music, and we’re off! It’s such a joyous time at St. Paul’s Cathedral and a fun time to get out to deliver homemade holiday cookies to friends and family, or to enjoy Birmingham’s terrific arts and culture scene. I’m looking forward to attending the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” I also love going to watch an old movie like “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Alabama Theatre with the family. Mostly, I love making plans with my daughter for our lobster Christmas meal every year. We prepare traditional Thanksgiving and our traditional lobster Christmas.
When you’re not in the kitchen cooking, what is your favorite thing to do to relax?
When I’m not in the kitchen, I love traveling. I like to think of myself as a culinary tourist wherever I go. I’m Southern, and I’ve never met a stranger, so I love talking to people to learn about different cultures and their flavor migration. I’m fascinated with the craft and the dedication chefs express through their culinary creations, whether it’s an authentic home cook or an award-winning restaurant. History, art, science and nature also stimulate my heart so much that I am quite certain I will never, ever become a bored person because I have always had so many interests.
Can you give our readers a great wine suggestion paired with a simple appetizer?
I believe one of the simplest and most delightful suggestions would be a dozen Beausoleil oysters with your favorite champagne. Enjoy life!
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to London with Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. I’m enjoying a fellow Les Dames’ cookbook: Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree & Cynthia Graubart.
Favorite vacation spot?
I love Big Sky, Mont.; Nantucket, Mass.; and New York City, but I also enjoy many other places in the United States and Europe.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I abhor poisonous snakes.
Name three things you can’t live without excluding friends, family and God.
My schnauzers and grand yorkies, my garden and my favorite recipes/cookbooks. At present, I am over the moon for Spicy Tomato Jam from The Food Network Kitchen. I love putting my touch on each recipe, but sometimes there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
Thanks for sharing, Becky! And thanks to Beth Hontzas for today’s beautiful photos!