Food & Drink » Three-Course Spiel

Catherine Rabb, instructor/restaurant owner



Between the double shifts she's pulling as an associate instructor at Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts, the wine classes she teaches at CPCC and the successful restaurant, Fenwick's, she owns with her husband, Catherine Rabb is a busy woman. She sat down with Creative Loafing during one of her few breaks -- a daily lunch cooked and served by her culinary students at J&W.

Creative Loafing: Which job do you enjoy the most?

Catherine Rabb: Right now I am really enjoying the tension between the two. I always get ramped up with my students and they keep me going. Sometimes after a long day of teaching, I love nothing more than to get in the kitchen at Fenwick's and start cooking. Sometimes there's a beauty to being able to do something and not teach it.

What has made Fenwick's such a long-lasting staple in Charlotte?

It was already supposed to open in 1980, but renovations took so long that the two guys who owned it sold it to us in 1984. We didn't want to change the sign so we just opened up as Fenwick's. We got real lucky. We were young and we did the whole thing without any real long-term planning or demographics. We got lucky with the neighborhoods surrounding us. Our regulars will come see us in an ice storm.

What attracted you to teaching?

We had just closed Catherine's, another restaurant we ran from '86 to '96, and I had a decision to make. I was looking for something to do and Bill Bullock called me and told me I should think about teaching. I couldn't see myself as a teacher, but I have learned since that when you are teaching people something you love, it helps a great deal. It did take a while to make that switch. The hardest part is letting people make mistakes, because it's necessary in the classroom but never in a restaurant.

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