Caterer relaxes when she is in the kitchen

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Sep 26, 2012 - 01:26 PM

Photo: Helen Ward’s talent for producing outstanding foods is known from Virginia Beach to Richmond. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Helen Ward’s talent for producing outstanding foods is known from Virginia Beach to Richmond. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Photo: A specialty of Helen Ward's, below, is crab cakes served with Tomato Gastrique. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

A specialty of Helen Ward's, below, is crab cakes served with Tomato Gastrique. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

When asked if she had ever regretted pursuing her career as a caterer, Helen Ward, owner of The Table at Wilton, quickly replied, "I enjoy being in the kitchen. I feel relaxed there. Being behind a desk is not for me." And that is exactly why this energetic and enthusiastic 30-year-old is finding her business to be such a success after a year’s run.

A Middlesex native, whose family has been established in the county for eons, Helen says she been cooking for 15 years but professionally for only 10 of those years. "I began cooking at home. Every Sunday we have the family gathering at our house for around 14 people for dinner after church. Today my mom, sister and I are referred to as ‘the dream team.’ Good food has always been a big part of our family. My mother and Nanny are excellent cooks. My first cooking job was at Taylor’s Restaurant in Deltaville."

Helen attended Johnson & Wales University, where she obtained an associate’s degree in the culinary arts, finishing her degree in Charleston, S.C. She went to work for The Terrapin Restaurant in Virginia Beach as the garnish cook. Within two years she moved up to sous chef "with a lot of men under me. It was exciting. It was at this time I decided it was time to do what I had wanted to do. So I moved back to Middlesex—and it was great to be home—and started my catering business."

Although Helen says she has been cooking for only 15 years, it really has been a little longer. She cooked as a child: "I had a child’s kitchen set with which I was always making and baking mud pies and putting on cooking shows. I was always watching the cooking shows on TV."