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A Cook/Book Who Changed My Life Vol. II

17 Mar

my tribute to a wonderful woman who changed my life and continues to affect it

I’ve written about a few of the cooks who influenced me, from my grandmothers to friends  and family members to Patricia Wells to Suzanne Goin …. Today I’d like to tell you about the cook and her book who influenced me the most — in cooking, certainly, but also in life. 

One of my closest friends growing up was Marty Roos. We spent tons of time together; consequently, I was at his house a lot. It was a warm and fun place to be. I loved his two older sisters, Dorothy and Stephanie (who could make me laugh like no other) as well as his parents. Mr. Roos, Stephen, was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and had a dry sharp wit that could knock you flat. Mrs. Roos, Fern, was a caterer so she was usually in the kitchen cooking for her family and/or cooking for one of her many clients/parties. 

fern 1

Fern Roos with her children Stephanie, Dorothy and Marty

Fern Roos started her catering business in 1973 with her best friend, Renee Bennett. In the years leading up to 1973,  Fern and Renee made sandwiches and food for their temple as well as their many friends. Renee’s father, Pop, suggested they start a catering business… and so they did. They called their company fernee’s and turned it into one of the most successful catering businesses in our area of Southeast Texas which is called The Golden Triangle, formed by the towns of Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange. For well over 25 years, fernee’s was the go-to for gatherings small and large, sometimes very large, in our part of Texas. 

I doubt Mrs. Roos thinks of herself as an early progressive feminist. Yet back in the 70s, when women were fighting for equality, for good jobs and for the rights men had, Fern and Renee started their own business without anyone’s approval.  Against the typical odds that kill a majority of restaurants and catering companies, they created a business that thrived for almost 30 years. They were so successful that later in their career they would be asked to speak to college students on how to start and run a successful business. 

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