June 17, 10am–12pmWhere
Blackfork Commons 12 W. Main St., Shelby, Ohio 44875
On Saturday, June 17, the featured chef at the Shelby Farmers Market will be Ed Pickens’ Catering and Event Center. The featured chefs for this series are typically local chefs who conduct a demonstration using products and produce from local farmers markets and growers. These demonstrations are sponsored by the Hazel Grove Farm Bureau Community Council and the Richland County Farm Bureau.
Pickens is one of the premier caterers in Richland County and beyond. His demonstrations are like a magic act — he and his assistant come in a truck or van. They open the doors and they keep pulling things out: grills, work tables, pots and pans, and food items. Somehow the grills are lighted, and the food is masterfully cooked while Pickens educates and entertains the crowd with his stories. Before you know it, the meat, vegetables, and a dessert have been cooked and are ready to be sampled. After all, it must be magic if he can grill a radish and it tastes good.
He first explored his interest in cooking starting through cooking part-time at Shakey’s Pizza. He then moved on to Lum’s Restaurant in Mansfield. He did some catering and decided that he would like that as his job. He went to conferences and to classes regarding catering in order to improve his skills. He continued working and catering through the restaurants’ kitchens at the Surrey Inn in Ashland, Short Ribs in Mansfield, and Schmidt’s in Columbus.
Pickens then opened his own catering kitchen and has been serving Mansfield for the past 20 years. Six and a half years ago he moved his catering business and opened a restaurant at his current address. Ed Pickens’ Cafe on Main became a popular lunch spot; but after four years the kitchen was closed to focus on the growing catering business. They cater for a variety of events and can manage 2-3 events at one time, depending on the size of the parties. They also use other venues to cater for events. Pickens caters 40 weddings a year either at the banquet site or as far away as Columbus. He has had as many as 1,300 people to serve at one event. When asked how he can plan for this, he smiles and says that it is merely a math problem starting with 50 people and multiplying and dividing to get the answer. He also reports that no matter the size of the event, the customer can customize the menu.
Pickens also formulates his own recipes. He can put the flavors together in his head and then formulate the recipe together. He feels that people jump into changes. He reports that whether it is in his business or in his cooking, it is best to work hard, take time to evaluate, and then use creativity to manage whatever the results and changes are.
When asked about using totally local produce and products, he responded that locally for him is within 100 miles. He reports this is for several reasons: the quantities needed for a large event, the length of the growing season and the availability of the product, and the licensing and rules for the producers issued by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Ed’s catering business is located at 28 N. Main, Mansfield. Contact him via www.cafeonmain.net or 419-522-7699.