Grandma wears the chef’s apron

Q&A with Yvonne Rogers, owner of Grandma’s Catering

Grandma wears the chef’s apron
Grandma’s Catering, which Yvonne Rogers recently started, is open for business.

By Beverly Lomosad

Yvonne Rogers, who recently retired after 25 years as a bus driver for the Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) plying the Bonanza School and Savanna School bus routes, is steering in a new direction. She hits the kitchen on a chef’s apron to start a catering business, drawing on her experience baking and cooking with her grandmother from when she was little, and with her mother, who had owned and operated a restaurant in Bonanza. Talk about food, and Rogers hearkens back to a time in her life when a fellowship around the table with family and friends was the main form of socializing. “I like the social aspect of food – food brings people together,” she said. At Grandma’s Catering, you too have a seat at the table.

What made you decide to start a catering business?
I’ve always really enjoyed cooking. I started baking and cooking with my grandma when I was little. And my mom actually owned a restaurant in Bonanza, just up the road from where we currently live, which she called Grandma’s Kitchen. We did some catering there too. Mom opened the restaurant in 1998 and ran it for about 10 years until she experienced some health issues and had to shut down the business. I helped her with the restaurant in between my bus runs and on evenings. I was a bus driver for the PWPSD for 25 years for the Bonanza School and Savanna School bus routes. I retired at the end of August 2023. After my retirement, I thought I would try to do something different.

Is Grandma’s Catering, as a business name, your way of paying homage to Grandma’s Kitchen of your mom?
I am a grandma myself. We have seven grandchildren, and I have a whole bunch of kids out in the Silver Valley area who call me grandma.

When did you start the business?
I started the business only recently. I thought I would start with small events like office meetings. So, I first reached out to Saddle Hills County. The County got back to me with a few questions – how much notice I need, how many people I’m comfortable catering for, where would my food preparation take place, my food menu (I’m open to suggestions as well) – then decided to give me a try. My first catering service at the County was for a Council meeting in September. The County has also booked me for seven dates in November and December, including the Christmas Event it is hosting for the public on Wednesday, December 6, at the County Administration Building.

I am also cooking for the Harvest Dine and Dance at the Blueberry Hall on Saturday, October 28, put on by the Blueberry Mountain Goodwill Society as a fundraiser for its playground project.

An oil-and-gas company in Dawson Creek, after learning I have started a catering business, also reached out to see if I would be interested to provide the meals for its safety-training meetings. I said yes, and the company booked me for three dates in November. So, I’m slowly getting my foot in the door.

So, how far do you go in terms of your ideal business catchment area?
In today’s gas prices, it makes sense for me to focus mainly on areas within reasonable distance. Not that I am completely against taking on an event that requires a bit of a drive. As I said, I have dates booked in Dawson Creek. Everything depends on what somebody wants.

What is it about the food business that you like?
I like the social aspect of food – food brings people together. Eating around the table was the main form of socializing when I was growing up. In a way, it also helps to keep my own family connected. Our family and extended families gather and eat together during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I like trying out new recipes, and I enjoy cooking for family or friends and having a meal together.

What kind of support system do you have in place so that you are ready to take on a big event anytime an opportunity arises?
I have family members – from my husband, to my daughter-in-law, to my granddaughter – I can call on whenever I need extra hands. On one occasion, my brother, who lives in Savanna, helped me with prepping just because he wasn’t working that day. If an event involves only about 10-20 people, to me, that’s just like cooking supper. I also have a couple of my good friends whom I have worked in the past, and they said they are available for hire if I need help.

What is the long-term plan?
To be honest, I am not thinking that far ahead. I guess my attitude is I take the business as it comes. At this point, the plan is to have a business that keeps me occupied and busy. At this point, there is no plan to, as an example, acquire a food truck, or anything like that, in an attempt to aggressively grow the business.

Contact

  • Location: Bonanza
  • Phone: (780) 864-5077
  • E-mail: byrogers@telusplanet.net