Durham Catering Co.’s ‘Resident Solutionist’ Adds Flavor to the Bull City

Durham Catering Co.’s ‘Resident Solutionist’ Adds Flavor to the Bull City

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Sarah Parker
Photo by Briana Brough.

Sarah Parker was born in Andrews, Texas, but spent most of her life in Los Angeles and Sacramento. She moved to Durham 10 years ago and has been working for Durham Catering Co. for two. She lives in historic Hope Valley with daughters Haley, 13, and Hannah, 11, who both attend Duke School, and Lexie, 3, who attends Lakewood Avenue Children’s School.

To squeeze in a workout, a cup or two of strong Bean Traders coffee and a moment alone with the newspaper, Sarah begins her day at 5 a.m. After she completes her morning routine and gets daughters Haley, Hannah and Lexie to school, she’s off to Durham Catering Co., which longtime friend and employer Tom Ferguson sold to her earlier this year.

“Knowing [my team is] waiting for me is the biggest motivator I can imagine,” Sarah says. “I don’t feel like [the work we do] is work at all, but rather a passion project for our staff.”

“No two clients, events or visions are alike, and rightfully so,” Sarah says of her constantly evolving tasks. “It’s invigorating to know I’m able to approach a new set of challenges each and every day.”

Before moving to Durham, Sarah started her career in sales at California-based Fortune 100 company, Vision Service Plan. Accountability, reputation, work ethic and authenticity are among the takeaways Sarah learned during that time; she held fast to those values after moving to North Carolina to manage media relations for friends Jim and Teresa Anile’s downtown restaurant, Revolution.

“That introduction to [Durham’s] local food scene helped prime me to truly respect the difference an independently owned business can make in a burgeoning community,” Sarah says.

To that point, Sarah does her best to support other locally owned businesses, frequenting spots like Nana’s bar for a deliciously curated cocktail with her close-knit group of fellow female leaders (which includes Scratch Bakery chef/owner Phoebe Lawless, Grace Beason of Grace Leisure Events, Mynt Boutique owner Whitney Brown Sandor and Rachael Price of Tre Bella, among others). She also proudly supports the Durham Living Wage Project, providing a sustainable living wage and unlimited vacation days for her crew members.

“They work when they feel it’s necessary and take their own time off when they feel it’s necessary, too,” Sarah says. “I’m focused on producing great results, not counting the hours for staff and micro-managing. I trust my team’s judgment, tenacity, work ethic and awareness.”

Her company culture, Sarah says, is one of mutual love and respect.

“The love I feel for our local economy, both on a macro Durham scale and a micro Durham Catering scale, cannot be overstated.”

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Laura Zolman Kirk
Associate Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned North Carolinian who can't get enough of this buzzing community.