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Ellsworth Caterers ready to hit the kitchen again

By Staff | Dec 3, 2010

(Chronicle photo by Jennifer Wabnitz) Pictured from the left are Chris Kaye, Mason Ellsworth and Sylvia Ellsworth, telling each other ‘I love You’ in sign language.

Pots boiling, cookies baking, timers dinging and then, the phone call. Sylvia Ellsworth’s catering kitchen was busy preparing for several different events in July 2008 when she received the call that abruptly changed her plans.

Sylvia was informed that her son, Mason, had been in a car accident.

The accident left him with a severe brain injury. Mason was in a coma for almost six months and lived at the hospital for a year.

The community of Shepherdstown rallied around the family and helped in many ways: putting on fund raisers and visiting, and a whole crew of volunteers built Mason his own accessible apartment when the Ellsworths finally brought him home.

Through daily therapy and a lot of support Mason is slowly regaining some control and skills. His voice is getting louder. He proudly sings John Denver’s “Country Roads” to his music-loving family.

Sylvia took on the role of primary caregiver for the last two years.

“Every cough, every murmur made me jump up and check on him,” she said.

Mason’s health has improved so much that Sylvia now has confidence Mason and his caregiver will be alright when she goes back to work as a caterer.

That confidence gave Sylvia the peace of mind she needed to be able to say to her customers: “I’m back!”

Sylvia ran a catering business for 21 years. She and her business partner, Chris Kaye, operate out of the Historic Shepherdstown Train Station. They have a full-size commercial kitchen. The train station can seat up to 100 people for a meal.

“Customers love to have parties at the quaint train station,” Kaye said.

Not only do they cater at the train station, but they deliver meals, too. They have done business lunches at office buildings, sac lunches on tour buses, even a bar-b-que down at the river when a canoe trip came floating by.

Sylvia’s first party that she catered was in 1989. Since then she has done the Peace Talks in 2000 and the grand openings of the visitor’s center, The Ben Franklin, the Shenandoah Health Center and many other large gatherings.

Supportive husband, Brian, describes the food as “delicious and wholesome. I have enjoyed being the taste tester for new recipes.”

Kaye boasts a huge repertoire. A variety of recipes are used for their main courses, soups and bread. She has also baked and iced wedding cakes, trays of holiday cookies and plenty of other sweet treats.

Lawrence Cumbo, the new owner of the Opera House, has requested a supply fresh sandwiches and a cauldron of hot soup for his moviegoers, Sylvia said.

Sylvia’s passion for food and service is obvious as customers listen to her description of a menu item: “Fresh artisan crusty loaf, sliced in half and stuffed with a variety of meats. Then you cut the loaf in wedges … mmmm!”

They use as many local organic suppliers as they can. One of their specialties is local smoked trout. They also buy local goat cheese, beef and chicken. They grow all their own herbs, and they buy fresh flowers.

Sylvia and her team have catered weddings, bridal showers, business lunches and even an intimate dinner for two. An initial consultation reveals all the skills that Sylvia and her team have to offer. Then Sylvia goes to the venue to research the details, dishes, parking and accommodations.

“Even the smallest detail can add to the success of an event.”

Sylvia enjoys bringing her grill to parties and dances the cha-cha as she describes “sizzling up something fun for the customers.”

Sylvia is ready to get back in her kitchen with the pots boiling, cookies baking and the timers dinging.

Ellsworth Caterers can be reached at 304-876-9900.