Interview with Deb Cantrell, the Executive Chef, Owner, and Mom Behind Savor Culinary Services

Those of us over here at Shop Small Fort Worth are all about preserving our community’s character through local businesses. We care about their stories, their trials, and their successes. We love the concept of creating for and buying from one another, and we love to support others seeking to do the same. So that is what this blog series is all about — championing local businesses. Telling their stories, and maybe, encouraging others to start one of their own!
We are so excited to get the opportunity to have the talented Chef Deb Cantrell of Savor Culinary Services join our Shop Small Fort Worth community as a monthly blog writer!  Each month, she will be sharing healthy recipes and kitchen hacks, in addition to educating us on the importance of eating healthy. 
In this very special Mother’s Day interview, we’ll learn how Chef Deb’s children influenced her culinary pursuits, and we’ll explore the challenges and successes she faces day to day as a ‘mompreneur’. Chef Deb has also shared a delicious recipe with us below, which might make for a wonderful Mother’s Day Brunch!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

I grew up in a small town near Waco, Texas and migrated up to Fort Worth about 20 years ago. Since then, I have really fallen in love with all that this city has to offer! It has that small-town charm with all the big city perks, like great shopping and of course lots of amazing food.

I started my business, Savor Culinary Services, here in Fort Worth in 2002. Savor is a personal chef company that specializes in serving those in the DFW area with unique dietary needs.

Our whole mission is to help people enjoy the food they love without compromising on taste or their health.

Most people don’t know this, but we do breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner! We also deliver our customers’ meals right to their fridge. The customization really depends on what kind of service a family is wanting. We tailor our food to you and your lifestyle completely!

What made you want to start your business?

I wanted to start my own business because at the time I had just been through a divorce and had my 18-month old son to care for. I worked for several years as a physical therapist, and while I loved helping people heal, I realized that my real passion was helping people heal through food.

One day I read an article about becoming a personal chef and that’s when I got the idea to start my own personal chef business with the hopes of being able to spend more time with my child without having to put him in daycare.

How has being a mom influenced your business?

Being a mom is the whole reason why I started Savor. At just age 4, my son was diagnosed with Autism, as well as ADHD and a bunch of other health issues. Doctors told me that he wouldn’t even be able to tie his own shoes.

I did not want to accept that. So I started educating myself on how I could help him. That’s when I decided I would try changing his diet – I cut out gluten and other foods, and before I knew it, my son was healthy again. I think it had a lot to do with his diet. This whole experience really inspired me to start helping other families.

To pursue my goal of helping people heal through food and feeding those with special dietary needs, I went to culinary school and started Savor!

What have been your biggest struggles in being a mom and an entrepreneur?

My biggest struggle has definitely been battling feelings of guilt when the two clash. Being a business owner means that I have deadlines to keep and meetings to attend, and sometimes that forces me to sacrifice going to one of my son’s rugby games or my daughter’s theater performances.

I had to accept the fact that I’m not always going to be able to attend 100% of my kids’ activities and just do the best I can while always trying to put them first.

What makes Savor’s food different?

At Savor, we not only care about where our food comes from and the ingredients we use, but we care about how it’s prepared and how it’s going to affect our clients’ health. We work with a variety of people who have different dietary needs, like those who struggle with candida, diabetes, Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., and we customize all their meals to promote their optimal health.

For us, our meals are much more than just going to the farmer’s market and making a meal and delivering it. It’s about giving someone a better quality of life and helping contribute to their overall well-being.

Did you first learn to cook from your mom?

Yes, I actually learned how to cook from both my mom and grandmother. My grandmother was an amazing cook who made everything from scratch. We would always make bread together in this pretty mint-colored bread bowl that my grandmother received as a wedding present over 70 years ago.

I also have fond memories making gravy with my mom for chicken fried steak.

Thinking on the past year, what has been one of your biggest successes?

I have been blessed with many recent successes, including winning “Best Catering” from Fort Worth Texas Magazine, but nothing compares to having my son graduate from high school next month!

I am so happy that he made it through those tough teen years. Despite what doctors told us over 14 years ago, he has overcome health challenges and became a straight A student, made the football team, and has enlisted in the Army, which he will join after graduation.

When you aren’t busy with your business what do you like to do with your kids?

I love to travel and experience new places and foods with my kids and husband. We also like sitting on the couch and binge-watching Netflix!

Where do you find the drive and motivation each day?

This sounds a little cliché, but what drives me is wanting to give my family something more. There are also lessons that I want my kids to learn, especially my daughter. I want her to know that you don’t have to work for anyone if you don’t want to and that you can still be an awesome wife and mother, even while you are pursuing your dreams and providing for your family.

What is your favorite food to enjoy on Mother’s Day?

Nothing beats breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. For me, that usually involves gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes topped with fresh fruit and a coconut nectar syrup. Also, some type of quiche! But I’m not your typical “eggs and veggies in a pie shell” kind of gal. I like unconventional quiches, like this sweet potato below.


Sweet Potato Mother’s Day Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (You may substitute coconut milk or almond milk, in the same amount)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 red tomato for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. You can use a mandolin to speed up the process and get even slices, otherwise, you can use a knife.
  2. Coat a pie dish with cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Cut the sweet potato rounds in half and fill around the edges of the pie dish; round side facing up. Once the entire dish is filled, coat one more time with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat up to 375°. 2. For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
  3. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Add sliced tomatoes on the top for the about the last 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into 4 wedges.

We find Chef Deb to be such an inspiration — especially to all of us mompreneurs! We can’t wait to try out this delicious quiche recipe. Make sure to give us your feedback after you try it out. And be sure to check back each month to find new recipes and discover the new pointers she will be bringing to our tables.

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