Planning for mealtime can be an endless challenge. But Ryan Crow is ready to come to the rescue.
The owner of Crow’s Catering in Amherst says food is more than mere sustenance. The chef and his team of seven take pride in creating dishes from scratch that are beautiful, delicious and good for you.
“We start with the best possible products — raw vegetables and proteins — and let them speak for themselves by taking their natural flavors, enhancing them and cooking them properly,” he says.
In addition to a robust catering service that includes themed options for backyard barbecues, Italian buffets and brunches, Crow creates chef-inspired dinners that can be ordered and picked up from his kitchen. On Friday evenings at 6 p.m., he posts the menu for the following week on the company’s Facebook page, and also notifies the 2,000 customers who’ve requested to be on his email list. Those wishing to purchase meals — which include a protein, starch and vegetable — can email their order, along with the day they’d like to pick it up, by 10 a.m. Monday.
Favorite fare includes beef lasagna, smothered chicken and pork cutlet dinners. Sides, including green beans, cabbage and noodles, and mac and cheese, are also available along with desserts featuring pineapple upside down cake and seasonal homemade ice cream and pies.
“You won’t find us doing a lot of crazy stuff,” Crow says. “We’re not into foams or different steams or smokes. Our main focus is taking traditional comfort food, which is what everyone wants, and making it a little bit healthier.”
A native of Alpena, Michigan, the chef credits his grandmother with not only teaching him how to cook, but also introducing him to the culinary concepts he never strays from.
Crow went on to earn an associate degree in culinary arts and occupational studies from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Upon graduating, he accepted a position at Cameron Mitchell Restaurant in Columbus, quickly moved up the ladder to sous-chef, and helped launch the firm’s dining establishments around the country, before moving to Cleveland to work with Michael Symon and become the chef de tournant at Lolita in Tremont.
“Working with Michael Symon and his chefs really opened up everything for me,” Crow says. “I went from knowing how to cook to really finessing and building layers of flavors. Michael introduced me to great ideas I never would have thought of.”
It was in 2013, while serving as head chef at Bonbon Bakery and Cafe in Ohio City, that the desire to start his own company sparked. Small catering jobs he was asked to orchestrate bloomed into wedding-reception dinners for 300 people. Ten years later, Crow’s Catering became a reality.
“As we scouted locations, the building we’re in became available in Amherst,” Crow says. “The town reminds me a lot of Chelsea, Michigan, where I spent a lot of my childhood. It’s a small town but close enough to highways and big cities.”
The chef also appreciates the support he’s received for his business.
“When I came here, I walked around town, knocking on doors and handing out flyers for my company,” he recalls. “The community welcomed me with open arms. We take pride in making great food for good people. My customers love it because they can just stop by, lift the lid and dinner’s done.”