Executive Q&A: Bethany caterer follows recipe for success

Debbie Lowery, chief executive of Running Wild Catering, was a homebuilder before starting over from scratch.
by Paula Burkes Published: August 9, 2014
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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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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Position: Running Wild Catering chief executive.

Website: runningwildcatering.com.

Birth date: June 23, 1956.

Home: On an acreage near Northwest Expressway and the Kilpatrick Turnpike.

Business partners: Teresa Walters and Tom Deutsch.

Pets: Copper, a female Boston Terrier and Sable, a male cocker spaniel.

Education: A 1974 graduate of Putnam City High School, she initially pursued accounting at Southwestern Oklahoma State University before earning her certification as a chef in 1998.

Community involvement: She serves on the boards of the Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Society of Event and Wedding Professionals of Oklahoma, and is a member of the Edmond and Greater Oklahoma City chambers.

For fun: Hanging out with friends, weekends at her place on Lake of the Arbuckles, golf (“My uncle taught me when I was 14, and now it’s my silly attempt at exercise.”); Tuesday night dinners out with her extended family, who all live within a mile of her; grilling out at home; and travel. A favorite destination is Alaska, to which she recently took her third cruise with family and friends.

Favorite food: Tex-Mex.

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