Photo by Kirsten Stalnaker - Front left to right, Rylee, Lorinne and Keith Birdwell
Tucked away in one of the more quiet corners of Lewis County in the town of Toledo, you will find an unobtrusive building with a sign that reads 'The Crowded Kitchen Catering Co.' This would be the kitchen for one of this area's dedicated food caterers; owned and operated by the Birdwell family who all come from a long line of passionate cooks and chefs. Lorinne Birdwell spoke about some of the things they have to offer our community in catering.
Not sure what to expect, possibly something akin to a kitchen atmosphere, but it is more like the kitchen from mom's or grandma's house around the holidays.
The sweet smell of freshly baked cookies and pumpkin goodies filled the air. The scene was right away welcoming and homey. As you walk in, there is a cozy dining area before you get to the kitchen. Lorinne and daughter Rylee sitting comfortably at a banquet table while still busily attending to tasks about the place.
Looking into the kitchen itself, you could find master chef and husband Keith with a lobster apron on busily tending to the freshly baked pumpkins coming out of the oven. In this well lit and immaculate kitchen was a bustle of activity as family members, who all help out around or work in the kitchen, attended to this or that. This definitely was a crowded kitchen in the best way possible.
Lorinne and Rylee got right to the heart of their business. They cater on the weekends, and once a week they do take out from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. The take out menu is a completely different cuisine each week. At the start of each week, you can find the menu for that week posted on their website. What they do at The Crowded Kitchen is make things that you may not find in this area. Italian, Thai, you name it.
"A lot of people in this area do not get the chance to try some of the things we make," says Lorinne. They specialize in homemade, around the world dishes that can satisfy your wondering and curious taste buds. You never know what you may try only to discover that you love it. "People don't know they like Thai food until they have had our Thai," says Rylee. This is a family fully confident in their ability to deliver the best of the best in delicious food.
Keith would pop in and out of the kitchen and join the conversation from time to time. I learned that he was a fishing guide before dedicating full time five years ago to the daily creation of delicious foods.
"I come from a long line of cooks," he said. "Everyone in our family loved and still loves to cook. We are a family of foodies! I learned to cook over an open fire with my father at age 12 and have been cooking ever since." And having a good time of it from the looks of it. Keith explained that everything they make is fresh from scratch. The spices, sauce, dough, and even the pumpkins are fresh. "We don't like to use things from out of a can."
Currently they are catering two to three events on the weekends. Such events include, weddings, reunions, celebrations of life, corporate, business, anything. They do it all. When asked what her favorite part of it all was, Lorinne stated it was getting to know her clients, "I'll spend months in planning with them before the presentation. You really get to know them during that time." And speaking of presentation, this is also one of Lorinne's favorite parts of the business. She puts her all into things not only tasting just right, but looking fabulous as well.
The folks at The Crowded Kitchen really want to do what they love, and offer good and wholesome food to their community which is also their home. And that is just what we all need, to feed the heart and soul of our community.