Kristen Winston is at the top of her game. She was the preferred caterer for the opening of Nordstrom and courageously takes on high profile events like the Symphony Ball. What makes her special is obvious from her interview—she is a savvy business woman, crazy about attention to details. Not only does she keep it together when things get heated up in the kitchen, she understands the high stakes when it comes to Nashville’s important events.
It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Kristen Winston.
Where did you grow up?
I’m definitely home grown. We moved to Williamson County from Florida when I was 2, and I grew up in the Brentwood area.
What motivated you to stay here, rather than move to another city?
I love Nashville and always knew that it was where I wanted to start a business. No pun intended, but Nashville has good taste and an appreciation for high quality.
You have the reputation as one of the most creative and competent caterers in Nashville. Tell us how you got in the business.
I have always had a love for cooking and entertaining. I cooked and entertained in college, and right after, threw an engagement party for a dear friend. I had an elaborate menu planned and enjoyed the process of planning, cooking, and executing. A guest asked if I had thought about catering and a light bulb went on. I began working for a caterer and we went into business together for a short time. After parting ways, I started Kristen Winston Catering, and 9 years later, here I am!
Were you a natural born cook? If not, tell us about your mentor.
I was definitely born with the cooking gene, as I used to make elaborate buffets for my Barbie dolls when I was a child. I cut up grass for salads and used little pieces of pea gravel for rolls. They really were exactly the right size and shape. Later, I would say there were people whom I considered my mentors in cooking and in business. My mother, who was a wonderful cook and consummate host, and my father, who is a successful businessman, have influenced me in the two most important areas for my business. Some of my mentors are people I have not met, like Martha Stewart or Thomas Keller. But they have taught and inspired me.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given, either personally or for your profession?
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” That has been drilled into my head – have a direction and stay focused.
I am a bit of a germ freak. I always have sanitizer within arm’s reach. My staff will attest to this obsession and I can drive them crazy at times, but I can tell you that we have a spotless kitchen!
What books can be found on your bedside table?
Currently, Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.
Event you love most in Nashville?
My family Christmas Eve brunch.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? (If not Saturday, on your day off.)
A night out with my husband – a great bottle of wine and a nice dinner that I have not prepared!
What is your “must-have” purchase for fall/ winter 2011.
Not quite the fashion must-have, but this year for me…maternity clothes!
Do you have a quick easy recipe you can share with our readers?
The Barefoot Contessa makes a delicious Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. I make a variation of it for parties and it’s delicious.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Nashville?
There are so many fabulous places to eat in Nashville, so that is a tough one! I usually like to go eat food that is different from what we do. I love to have sushi at Virago, roasted chicken at City House, or pizza and a Caesar at Porta Via.
Favorite vacation spot?
Family vacation – Hilton Head is our spot
Getaway with husband – Blackberry Farm
Do you have a playlist for a dinner party or a great workout that you can share with our readers?
No, but I must say catering is one of the most effective forms of keeping in shape.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God)
- My dedicated, talented, and hard-working team at KWC!
For more behind the scenes photos of this shoot, see photographer Ashley Hylbert’s blog: click here.