Indulge Catering owners share their roots, how they powered through the pandemic and their plans for the future
By Marie Muir | Photography by Nikki Whitt Belch
Queen Precious-Jewel Zabriskie stepped up to the stove at an early age, enthusiastically accepting the responsibility of cooking for her six younger siblings in the Bronx while her mother studied to become a physician’s assistant. Queen Precious-Jewel moved to the Bull City in 2002 to pursue her own passion for medicine and mechanical engineering at Durham Technical Community College. She met and fell in love with Durham native Jacqueline “Jay” White, and the couple exchanged vows in 2012. But she soon realized that cooking for two just didn’t satisfy in the same way as cooking for a crowd.
“[ Jay] is the biggest supporter of my life,” Queen Precious-Jewel says. “So I said to her, ‘I want to start a catering company,’ and she said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ No hesitations.”
In 2014, the life partners became business partners with the establishment of Indulge Catering LLC. Queen Precious-Jewel worked a full-time corporate job while Jay studied medical laboratory technology at Miller-Motte College during their first three years of business. In 2019, the pair hired a business coach and launched their own Indulgent Essential Spices line. As a wellness-oriented person and a practicing Muslim, Queen Precious-Jewel uses Indulge Catering as a platform to share healthy-yet-flavorful cuisine with her community. “Just because I’m in North Carolina doesn’t mean I have to have fatback in my green beans,” she says.
So, how does a catering business survive in a pandemic? “A lot of tears and prayers,” Queen Precious-Jewel says. The duo didn’t expect that this past year would bring them positive mindsets and business shifts, like setting up automated ordering systems, hiring new staff and expanding their virtual cooking show, “Cooking at Home With Queen & Jay.”
After seven years of cooking in commissary kitchens, Queen Precious- Jewel and Jay announced that they will open a second, exclusively Indulge Catering kitchen in Franklinton, North Carolina, which will allow them to host signature events as well as produce and package products, including three new barbecue sauces expected to launch by 2022, in-house.
“We’re a successful catering company that is surviving and thriving based upon faith and hard work and having gratitude and being humble and thankful for everybody who put a fork in their mouth,” Queen Precious- Jewel says.