Photos by Joe Martinez
As Black History Month continues, we’re excited to share our next story in this series to elevate Black creators and business owners in St. Louis. This time, we headed north to Ferguson, Missouri, to meet the Chef and Owner of Cathy’s Kitchen, Cathy Jenkins. Whether you’ve been to Cathy’s Kitchen yet or not, you’ll now know her as the smiling face buzzing around the restaurant and making sure that the food is delicious as always.
Meet Cathy Jenkins
“We’ve been in St. Louis for 31 years, all of them in North County. Back then, the family looked up the best places to move and Ferguson was in the top three for being a diverse, growing community. But now everyone knows Ferguson for one thing, I call it ground zero sometimes. It really opened the nation’s eyes. A lot of things changed since then. I tell my kids this all the time, just be ready. You never know what life will bring, but just be ready.
Cathy’s Kitchen started because I was cooking at home and selling food out of our house. We would have a line of cars wrapped through the neighborhood. When it was time to open, I found the space and met with the landlords. It was a local family, invested in Ferguson. They even helped us get on our feet, they didn’t charge us rent until we were ready and set up for success. You have to support the people around you.
I’ve lived a lifetime of miracles. Met all sorts of people. Joe Biden, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, who my mother was most excited about. When Nancy Pelosi visited and ate here, she asked me to tell her three of my goals. I told her I want to meet Lebron James, I love what he does off the court for the Black community. I want to cook with Snoop Dogg, that just sounds fun. And I want to meet Ellen, I love her show. And Shaq, when he’s here to DJ for Mardi Gras, I hope he comes in.
At the end of the day, it’s food. Food has led to all of this. I’ve lived a full life, but you’ll know we’ve made it when it’s just my family here and they say, ‘Cathy’s on the beach.’ If you come to Cathy’s Kitchen and you can only get one thing, you’ve got to get the Shrimp & Grits. Well, and the Banana Pudding Cake, too.”