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Brazos Excellence: Highlighting two black business owners that cooked up their own success

Catering Angels is a catering business in the Bryan-College Station area that was started to honor a legacy of lessons passed on to two women.

BRYAN, Texas — As February marks the start to Black History Month, two black business owners cooked up their own success as they hope to grow within the Bryan-College Station area.

You may have heard the phrase "the key to success just takes all the right ingredients." For Bryan native Cathy Johnson, she is taking ingredients and skills that she's learned from her late mother and grandmother to start her own catering business.

In 2016, she created Catering Angels to cater to a diverse range of palates in the Brazos Valley.

"The Catering Angels came from motivation from my grandmother and my mother,” said Johnson.

As a little girl, she was always in the kitchen as her mother cooked, being a part of what was cooking on the stovetop.

“So ever since I was five years old my grandmother used to stand me on a little stool and teach me how to cook," said Johnson.

Growing up in what she describes as the country, cooking became a passion for her, "It's just the love of cooking, it’s just the love in it that's all,” Johnson said.

Even her grandmother saw her success at a young age. "You know exactly what to put in there so yeah, it's just the love of cooking and she said you didn't want to be outside and play, but you wanted to cook.”

Her cooking partner, Ms. Sheila Lair, is her the southern upbringing. She stated, "I can look at a dish and know how to do it."

The two became united in 2020 when Johnson needed someone to help her in a taste testing event. However, she desired a cook that could bring a different spin to her Texas southern style of cooking. 

Ms. Lair, being a Louisiana native came to mind because of a mutual business class the two were already in at the time. Ironic right? They then became Catering Angels together that same year. 

As a child, Lair shared how she was learned life skills and how to cook at an early age, similar to Johnson. 

"When other kids were out playing with dolls and balls, we had to get in the kitchen and go from there. My grandfather then had a garden. There was no such thing as H-E-B," explained Lair. "We had to learn how to shuck peas, do this, how to go out they raised the chickens I mean it's like everything they brought in the house we had to learn how to do."

Their experiences eventually spilled over into Catering Angels. However, a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic truly defined what their mission was: To not only honor her late mother and grandmother, but for Lair specifically, to overcome her battle with breast cancer in the process.

"It gave me a chance to reflect on what I wanted to do from that moment on and I loved cooking," said Lair.

They're using meals to bring people together like their families did before they started Catering Angels, and cooking up a catering experience that feeds your soul.

"I just want to make them proud, explained Lair. "My mom, my grandmother, and like she said her mom and grandmother I want to do what I know they would do, you know. To make everybody happy."

While Johnson and Lair hope to open their own buffet-style restaurant in the Bryan-College Station area in the future, those who are eager to get a taste of food for your soul can experience Catering Angel's cooking on February 4th at the McFerrin Center at Texas A&M from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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