The first food that chef Debbie Lowery, chief executive of Running Wild Catering, ever made was chocolate chip cookies when she was a teenager. Today, her aunts like to tease her that — versus thoughtfully adding and blending one ingredient at a time — Lowery threw everything in a bowl and stirred.
“It still turned out OK,” Lowery, 58, said.
Lowery could say the same of the twists and turns her life and career have taken.
The following is an edited transcript of a recent conversation with The Oklahoman from her offices at 3830 N Maney.
Q: Tell us about your childhood.
A: The oldest of three, I have a younger sister and brother. Our father was a homebuilder and our mother helped run his business from an office in our home. My mom’s mom, “Mimi,” lived with us. She moved in, to help my mom, who’s an only child, take care of me — and stayed. We were lake people. Mimi had a place at Fort Cobb and my parents, at Eufaula.
So, I spent most of my weekends growing up at the lake, water skiing and learning how to cook. At age 14, I started helping out behind the counter at a diner on Fort Cobb. And when I was at my parents’ lake place, my aunts on my father’s side (He’s one of eight siblings) taught me how to cook country dishes in large quantities, so that everything was ready at the same time.
Q: So, did you set out to become a chef?
A: No. Growing up, my mom would let me help post and extend bills, and do other accounting chores, for my dad’s business.
So I thought I wanted to be an accountant, and pursued secretarial accounting at Southwestern. But after two years, I didn’t want to stay in school. I wanted to be a homebuilder. But because I was a girl, my father pushed me toward interior decorating, which I did for two years before working as a contract builder for five years. We were rocking along pretty good until the oil bust, when I started waiting tables, at a barbecue place and Eddy’s Steakhouse, just to survive.
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