What does a Mt. Airy catering firm do when no one is allowed to gather in large groups or to stand closer than six feet from each other?
What does a Mt. Airy catering firm do when no one is allowed to gather in large groups or to stand closer than six feet from each other? In the case of Herb (great name for a chef) Scott, whose firm, Herb Scott Catering, has been at 6531 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy since 2006, the answer is that he provided meals to churches and other non-profits like Whosoever Gospel Mission in Germantown at his cost or, in several cases, gave the food away for free. “We wanted to do our part in feeding those who were in desperate need of nutritious food," said Scott, 56, who eventually was forced to lay off some employees.
“Take-out meals were a wonderful filler since we had little to no catering events. We stopped performing full-service events and realized the extent of that change when our first full-service events in over a year were booked this spring, and we began coordinating again with the venues where we cater and with our equipment vendors and event staff. And we now are able to perform pop-up barbecues on Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays when we are not catering.”
Scott definitely started at the bottom in the food business. For several years he waited on tables and checked coats for his dad's restaurant, Colony Park Inn, at Germantown Avenue and School House Lane, until the restaurant closed in 1984. The following day, Herb answered an ad from The Commissary, owned by former long-time Chestnut Hill resident Steve Poses, who helped usher in the city's Restaurant Renaissance in the late 1960s, and got a catering job.
“I think my dad, Herbert Augustus Scott, was the greatest guy in the world,” said Scott, “and Steve Poses reminded me very much of my dad. He was always warm, knowledgeable and helpful. I got the greatest education from him about every aspect of the catering business. Poses' assistant, Don Falconio, also taught me a great deal about the 'front of the house.' One thing he taught me is that honest work is never demeaning. He was a vice president of the company, but at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday he'd get down on his hands and knees to clean the floors. He taught the value of hard work by setting a good example.”
Twenty-five years ago, Herb's dad unexpectedly died, which had a life-transforming effect upon him. “I was ashamed because I was not living the way my dad had taught me,” revealed Herb candidly. “I got back to my religious roots. I got back to being honest and doing the right thing. As a result, I'm much happier now and can be of more service to people.”
In 1999 Scott went into business for himself. He moved back to Mt. Airy and began soliciting individuals and companies for catering services.He started handing out flyers on the street and going door-to-door to hand them out. His business was then called Your Personal Chef.
“Many people in Chestnut Hill would not open their doors when they saw my face,” recalls Herb, “and many people would lock their car doors as soon as I approached them, although I was well dressed. It hurt very badly because it was so obviously racial, and I had never experienced that before. I had nothing but rejection for weeks, and I was on the verge of giving up.
“I prayed for guidance, though, and then I went home and found a call on my machine. It was from a Chestnut Hill woman who said she wanted me to cook weekly meals for her family. I was so thrilled that I began making the meals for her right away (four dinners a week for four people each).”
One thing led to another, though, and Herb eventually wound up catering events for hundreds of people for major companies and schools like PECO, Germantown Friends School, Drexel University, Arcadia University, Banana Republic, Verizon and many more.
In July of 1998,Herb, who says the best advice he ever received was to “put God first in everything you do,” was married to a teacher at the Faith Tabernacle Baptist School, Laurie, who is a major asset in the business. The Scotts have three children — Lily, 20, Royal, 19, and Ian, 16 — who work in the business when they are needed.
For more information: 215-842-1609 or herbscottcatering.com. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org