What Does Success Look Like To You? – Angela Hepler-Lee

What Does Success Look Like To You? – Angela Hepler-Lee

Angela Hepler-Lee is a celebrated chef and entrepreneur, known for her innovative contributions to the culinary world. With roots in Michigan and a vibrant career in Chicago’s West Loop, Angela has masterfully blended urban sophistication with rustic charm in her venture, White Horse Farm Catering. Specializing in farm-to-table wedding cuisine in Southwest Michigan, Angela has catered over 500 weddings, drawing from her 25 years of high-end culinary experience and deep familial ties to farming. Her commitment to quality, local sourcing, and unforgettable dining experiences has established her as a distinguished figure in the hospitality industry.

Angela Hepler-Lee: From Chicago’s Culinary Scene to Michigan’s Premier Wedding Catering

Angela, transitioning from a bustling city like Chicago to the serene landscapes of Southwest Michigan is quite the leap. What spurred this significant life change?

Indeed, it was a major shift. After two and a half decades in the dynamic Chicago food scene, I felt a deep pull towards my roots in Michigan. The rich agricultural landscape here, coupled with my familial connections to farming, beckoned me back. It was time to blend my urban culinary experience with the rustic charm and bounty of Southwest Michigan. 

With an impressive roster of restaurants in Chicago, what inspired you to venture into wedding catering in Michigan?

Wedding catering seemed like a natural progression for me. The opportunity to create memorable, gourmet experiences for such special occasions was irresistible. Leveraging my background in high-end dining and my passion for farm-to-table cuisine, White Horse Farm Catering was born. It’s all about bringing city sophistication to the table, infused with the fresh, local flavors of Michigan.

Your farm-to-table approach is quite renowned. How do you ensure this philosophy shines through in your catering services?

Our farm-to-table ethos is at the heart of everything we do at White Horse Farm Catering. We meticulously source our ingredients from local farms and markets, like Fruit Acres and Jollay Orchards, ensuring only the freshest, most flavorful produce makes it to our dishes. This not only supports our local farming community but also allows us to offer an authentic taste of Michigan’s agricultural heritage.

Having catered over 500 weddings, what sets White Horse Farm Catering apart in the competitive world of wedding cuisine?

Our distinction lies in our unparalleled commitment to quality and service. My team and I bring a wealth of experience from the demanding Chicago dining scene, ensuring each wedding we cater is nothing short of spectacular. We partner with world class venues, such as the Blue Dress Barn, MIllcreek Barns Wilde, and Sundance and The Secret Garden, and exceed expectations, making us the go-to choice for discerning families seeking exceptional wedding cuisine in Southwest Michigan.

Juggling the roles of a business owner and a mother is no small feat. How do you strike a balance between these demanding roles?

Balancing these roles requires a blend of discipline, flexibility, and, most importantly, a supportive team. My approach is to integrate these aspects of my life in a way that one enriches the other. Homeschooling my children while managing White Horse Farm Catering allows me to impart lessons and examples of hard work, creativity, and entrepreneurship firsthand.

In your view, how important is personal well-being in achieving professional success, especially in the high-stress hospitality industry?

It’s absolutely crucial. Personal well-being is the foundation upon which professional success is built. Regular meditation, for me, is a way to maintain mental clarity and resilience. It’s about nurturing the mind and spirit to sustain the energy and creativity needed to excel in the hospitality world. Living fully in each moment, assures face to face positive decision making. 

For those aspiring to carve out a career in hospitality, what pearls of wisdom can you offer based on your extensive experience?

 My advice would be to find your passion within the vast realm of hospitality and pursue it with unwavering determination. Seek mentorship, be open to learning, and remember that every setback is a step forward in disguise. The journey is as rewarding as the destination, so embrace every moment with enthusiasm and an open heart.

Finally, what does success look like to you?

To me, success isn’t just about running a profitable business or being recognized in the industry. It’s about the smiles and the heartfelt thank-yous we receive from couples and their families after a wedding. It is always about an attitude of, how can I serve? When clients tell us that our food and service made their special day even more memorable, that’s the real win. Success is in those moments where our passion for great food and service genuinely contributes to the joy of others. It’s about making a positive impact, one event at a time.

Key Takeaways

  • Angela Hepler-Lee seamlessly transitioned from Chicago’s dynamic culinary scene to founding White Horse Farm Catering in Michigan, marrying urban sophistication with local farm-to-table freshness to create bespoke wedding cuisine experiences.
  • Her dedication to sourcing ingredients from local farms and markets underscores her commitment to supporting the local economy and providing authentic, high-quality culinary experiences.
  • Success for Angela is defined not by profits but by the positive impact and lasting memories she creates for couples and their families through her catering services, emphasizing the importance of passion and personal connection in her work.