Monday, April 11, 2011

Jerry Edwards - Chef's Expression

From humble beginnings, Jerry Edwards has successfully grown his catering business to one of the most successful in the region while still maintaining those key principles that helped him climb his way to the top.  In 2010, Chef’s Expressions earned the prestigious “Caterer of the Year” award from the Restaurant Association of Maryland and the “Event of the Year” from the National Association of Catering Executives.
How it all started - Jerry had worked in the food business, but found himself selling alarms. He wasn’t particularly thrilled about his profession and knew he wanted to find passion in a career. In 1982, he had the opportunity to purchase a sandwich shop.  With a mere $2,ooo in hand, Jerry purchased what would become Gourmet by Chef’s Express. The sandwich shop drew customers from the above office complex, but there wasn’t enough to sustain the business. He knew he needed to create a delivery business and expand his market reach in the area in order to build his customer base.
Jerry put an ad in the Towson Times seeking attractive women to wear old fashioned cigar trays and walk around Towson selling his sandwiches at lunch time. The delivery business grew with just Jerry, a staff of two part-time employees and Towson students making deliveries. He started to build a reputation in the area, and within two years opened Gourmet Shop in Timonium.
In 1985, one of Jerry’s customers asked if he would cater her son’s Christening - and at $6/person, a catering business had been born. Years later, the same woman would ask Jerry of Chef’s Expressions to cater her son’s graduation from the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
In 1991, Jerry realized he needed to create a steady flow of catering customers and hired his first salespeople.  By 1995, Chef’s Expressions was was growing to be more than Jerry could handle alone, and brought on business partner, Vito Piazza. Four years later, the catering business started to take off and Jerry Edwards, Executive Chef John Walsh, and the Event Design Consultants were instrumental for setting the standards for the catering industry.
Jerry is active in many charities for children’s issues and adult diseases. Among those is Meals on Wheels where he spearheads a Chef’s Dinner that has raised over $40,000 in the past five years. Jerry hosts a fundraiser for St. Vincent’s Center which has raised $70,000 to date; but his favorite time is when he goes to the center to work and play with the children. As a Chef he teaches at Baltimore City Schools for the “Days of Taste” program, which directs children toward healthy eating and food preparation. Each year, Chef’s Expressions donates food, labor and personal time to the following Charities and non-profit organizations: Cystic Fibrosis, Healthcare for the Homeless, March of Dimes, Meals on Wheels, and many others.
Jerry is active in various local and regional organizations, and sits on the board of The American Institute of Wine and Food; The National Academy Foundation where he hires culinary interns from the Academy to work in his company; National Association of Catering Executives, where he is one of eight people to be inducted into their Hall of Fame, and the Food Editor for Catersource Magazine. Jerry’s achievements are impressive and endless. His honors include being recognized by Special Events Magazine as a top 20 industry leader to watch; by Catering Magazine as Wedding Caterer of the Year 2000; by The Academy of Tourism and Travel as Caterer of the Year 2000 and nominated as Industry Leader of the Year 2004.  He was the first Catering member of the Year for NACE in 1992 and 1993.  In 2004, he won the Nation’s Capitol “Iron Chef” competition and also won the Baltimore NACE Iron Chef competition.     He has won over 30 industry competitions including three ACF Gold Medals and the prestigious “Best Chef” for the Meals on Wheels Culinary Extravaganza.
His recipes and accomplishments have been seen in the following National Magazines: Food Arts, Special Events, Catering Magazine, Catersource, Culinary Trends, Restaurants and Institutions, Restaurant Hospitality and Chef.
Jerry lives in Baltimore with his wife Julie Brown-Edwards and his two daughters Amanda and Stephanie. He recently completed a 1 year stint as host of "Talk Cuisine", a radio program that focuses on the pleasures of entertaining and cooking.
Jerry Edwards is a successful entrepreneur because he continually watched the trends and he knew that by filling a niche for high end catering in an area where there was a need to fill was a recipe for success.
I had the pleasure of meeting jerry and Julie Edwards and was thrilled to do a large scale landscaping project for them at their lovely home in Timonium, Maryland.

Submitted by: Sharon Seborg

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