I have loved to cook my entire life - I credit that to my grandmother and mother. They both put great effort into the meals they prepared each and every night for our family. There was always a meal schedule for the week hanging on the refrigerator at my house. Once I turned 16, one of my weekly chores was to grocery shop. My mother will tell you that eating was interesting in the beginning; she just cooked whatever I brought home from the store, whether it was what she ask for or not.
In 2001, I volunteered to be the lead in bringing back traditional Wednesday Night Dinners at Daphne United Methodist Church. What used to be a strong tradition in churches across the country, DUMC Wednesday Night Dinners had been inactive for about ten years. In December 2001, the first week cooking at the church again, I and a few other volunteers fed about 65 people. Over the next seven years, the ministry grew in many ways through fellowship with the numerous volunteers and the number of people in the community we were able to reach out to. My business partner Cheryl joined me along the way to give me relief every other week, as it had become quite an undertaking for what was a volunteer job. By the spring of 2008, the Dinner was reaching out to more than 275 people weekly.
The old house, now home to the Sugar Kettle Café in Daphne, had been for sale for many years. For some reason, though, I was always drawn to it. With it’s high-traffic location, it had been such an eye sore for the City of Daphne, but I always felt it had so much character. There had been a lot of talk of tearing it down to build fast food chains or even a drug store, and that thought broke my heart. From what I was told, the home was built in 1937 as a hurricane shelter by the Hurley family. It was passed back and forth between the Hurley’s and the Tuveson family for about 70 years, before being sold mostly for the land located behind it. We purchased the home in August of 2008 and began repairing and renovating the structure immediately. As it turned out, the structure had great potential! My original business partner and I had been stay-at-home moms for 15 years, so it became a fun and challenging project for the both of us. With the help of many family members and friends, we completed the transformation in January 2009, and it is now listed as a Baldwin County Historic Landmark.
The café was started as a hobby. While it has grown by leaps and bounds, for the most part it remains my hobby and avenue to do what I love most. COOK!! I continue to look at it as ministry work. I pray every day that the Sugar Kettle blesses someone’s life in a special way, and that goes for my employees and my customers, as well.
Many of the recipes here at the Sugar Kettle are the recipes that myself and my business partner grew up eating, although a few have been altered over the years. I like to call it “southern cooking with a modern flair.” I love to piddle with recipes - it is what makes me happy. My mother tells people that you can always count on me to change a recipe; it is what I do.
Thank you to my original business partner, Kathi Wiggins (who has since retired) and my current business partner, Cheryl Reed, for all the love, energy, and effort that has been poured into this wonderful business to make is such a rewarding adventure every day. We truly have amazing customers and employees that make coming to work a true joy.
Hope to see you soon.