In the midst of the busy wedding season, Chef Drew Ihrig from Endive Fine Catering gave us the pleasure of interviewing him for our Vendor Spotlight. We met at his restaurant in Atlanta where he and his team were getting ready for a tasting that evening. We learned so much more about Chef Drew and his background and are beyond excited to share his fascinating story with you!
DI: I was born in Connecticut, but my dad was in the Navy at the time, so I moved to Pennsylvania at 6 months old. I then moved to Atlanta at age 12 when my father relocated again.
DI: Chef’s Table. I’m definitely addicted to it.
DI: The Southern coastal region of Europe, like Spain, France, or Italy.
DI: That’s a tough one. Taking care of people is very important to me, so that moment you know when you’ve exceeded your clients’ expectations is the best compliment I could receive.
DI: I have two dogs, a Boxer Beagle mix girl that is 30 pounds. Then, instead of having house security, we have a 165 pound Bull Mastiff named George. They play together all the time!
DI: I’m really big in to spy novels, Steven Hunter specifically.
DI: Take a gap year between high school and college. I was not ready to go straight in to college, so I think for some people, you need that year to allow yourself to mature to be responsible enough to be on your own.
DI: Throughout my life, I have had many mentors, but I have had one super serious mentor that I worked with for 9 years. Her advice to me as a restaurant owner was to “take my blinders off.” You can’t only be focused on one thing at a time, but to look for all of the opportunities around you.
DI: Probably my boots!
DI: We have two girls and a boy. My oldest daughter, Krishni, is 17 and has been working with me since she was 13. She is in the IB program and is interested in culinary hospitality as a career. She is actually interested in going to culinary school in the cutest little town in Spain. My youngest daughter, Saama, is a 5th grader and wants to be an actress. My son, Ian, is a 10th grader and he just started catering with me. He probably won’t do culinary for a living; my family is more into engineering and he is more than likely going to take that route. He is number one in his class and is already taking AP Calculus as a 10th grader!
DI: I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music, nobody specifically though. I like the ambiance and not a lot of commercial.
DI: Surfing. I grew up playing sports, but I’m not a natural athlete.
DI: In the industry, my role model would be Thomas Keller. I connect with him so much and relate to his background and his philosophy. He is self-taught and I’m a self-taught chef. He cares so much about his product and his people, and overall guest experience and employee experience.
DI: Movies or books.
DI: Over the last summer, I visited Holland and Belgium. I’ve traveled extensively because of my wife. She and her family are from Sri Lanka and we go every other summer because it’s so far away. When we go, we pick a different city for our layover flight to explore.
DI: That’s another tough one. I have been to 19 countries, but I would have to say Sri Lanka.
DI: My simple answer is my life itself because I sit before you guys feeling so truly fortune with so many opportunities now, and I had the best childhood and have the most fantastic parents. I’ve been blessed with fairly decent intellect and I’m 6’4, blue eyes, blonde hair, Chef Drew laughs.
DI: My height. I love being tall!
DI: I have been in the restaurant business since 1992. After 4 years, my wife and I started catering for extra money and that is how I feel in love with the business. The first event I did was for 500 people at the Chamber of Commerce in Forsyth. In 2002, I was introduced to a local boutique catering company that was looking to sell their business by the end of the year. I ended up buying the business from her on January 1st, 2003 and it’s been Endive ever since.
CHEF DREW’S FAVORITES
DI: Wood burning fire, rosemary, or gardenia when it’s blooming
DI: Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd
DI: August Rush, Avatar, Indiana Jones
DI: Woodworking. I’ve built everything in this restaurant. I grew up with a father that was a mechanical engineer and we had a farm with a wood shop, so I grew up learning how to woodwork.
DI: Sapphire and Tonic
DI: Cereal, peanut butter and jelly, or cashew nuts
CHEF DREW’S THIS OR THAT?
DI: Super coffee, but I do drink sweet tea.
DI: Both at the same time, mixed together like chocolate covered cashews.
DI: Definitely an introvert, but I’m an introvert having to constantly be an extrovert.
LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
DI: 26 years total. I have been with Endive for 16 years at the end of 2018.
DI: We typically have 450 events annually on average, so about 8 per week, but we have had anywhere from 1 to 20 events per week. 60% of our business is from weddings.
DI: My ideal client is the one where I feel so fortune to have their business and they feel so fortunate to have me taking care of them.
DI: Just after the cake cutting. That is when all the pressure is off and that is when you know you’ve been successful. That’s the moment I can reflect. I also love father of the bride speeches.
DI: Can we bring our own alcohol?
DI: We do have a minimum of $1,000. The average cost per person is $60, but it ranges anywhere from $40-$200 per person.
DI: Everything that we do is super stressful. The most stressful part for me is being afraid that the client is not going to be happy. I have a fear of failure and do not want to let anybody down in my life.
DI: Exactly where we are right now. Three years ago, I stopped the growth of Endive because we had maxed out and were already maintaining historical numbers. To go to the next level, we would have to relocate. One of the things that is different about us is that we don’t pressure you to book; we courtesy hold the date once we have the tasting.
DI: The wedding can be whatever you want it to be, but there is a lot of pressure from parents and friends. Start planning as early as possible and start thinking about the timeline you want.
Check out Endive’s website here!