It’s all a matter of taste whether or not you like something. For “the food lady,” she has all the right ingredients to keep you coming back.
Crittenden’s “A Matter of Taste” Catering recently opened a café in Harker Heights with a limited European menu infused with a Southeastern flair.
Owner Connie Crittenden is known for her desserts with specialties like chocolate mousse cake, three-layer red velvet cake and “drunken” peach cobbler. But she is also known for her savory dishes, such as Southern fried chicken, home-style meatloaf, braised beef shanks and four-cheese macaroni.
“Our café shows customers our style and presentation abilities and lets them taste our food. This fulfills the need for individual tastings, and we can share our food on a more regular basis.”
Crittenden, a former Army spouse, is well-known at Fort Hood, where she has catered multiple holiday receptions, promotion and pinning ceremonies, and organization events.
She learned to cook at age 11 and started cooking professionally at 19. Growing up in rural North Carolina, she learned hospitality revolves around food. Relocating with the Army, she developed more knowledge and a stronger skill set.
“The moves allowed me to be highly adaptable, learn additional flavor profiles, how to enhance ingredients, and develop my personality in the kitchen,” Crittenden said.
When she moved to Germany, Crittenden decided she would not cater while overseas. But that didn’t last long.
“Once people tasted my food, I was back in it again and had to ship my equipment from North Carolina,” she said. “I seem to always wear the ‘food lady’ moniker. I’ve never been Mrs. Crittenden or even Connie. I’ve always been called the ‘food lady’ wherever I have gone.”
After Nancy Schulte of Harker Heights visited the café for the first time, she decided to have her birthday party there.
“The food is absolutely delicious, and the owner is so friendly and nice,” she said. “The place is exceptionally clean, and the presentation is fabulous.”
The café employs eight workers, and the catering service has an additional 25 employees. Crittenden works an average of 80 hours a week while trying to balance career and family.
“I have learned to sleep on Saturdays and Sundays. I take my 8 year-old to school, pick him up and help him with his homework,” she said. “I usually have about four hours of work after he goes to bed. If I am in bed by midnight and back up by 5 a.m., that’s a good day.”
The café averages 24 customers daily and has already been used by smaller military units, the Girl Scouts and businesses for small meeting events.
“I don’t sell food I wouldn’t eat myself. We’re part of the community and these are my neighbors,” Crittenden said. “When you come in (the café), I will find myself saying, ‘Make yourself at home,’ like I would in my own house. I want people to be comfortable.”