Regina Brown was always whipping up meals for friends and family when they would stop by her place.
But when her family and friends started offering to pay her to make dishes for them, she realized that her passion for food could turn into something more.
“That’s when I started thinking this could be a nice side hustle,” she said.
Brown eventually began promoting her catering services and named that side hustle The Fine Feather, an old term for good health and wealth.
“That is the vibe I bring whenever I’m cooking and catering,” Brown explained. “Homestyle food that fulfills the soul while being refined.”
Brown doesn’t use salt in her dishes, instead incorporating herbs for flavor. She made that decision after witnessing many people in her community suffer from diabetes.
“I want to provide meals that are still flavorful but low in salt intake. I love using natural herbs and learning about the benefits they offer.”
Born and raised in Garfield, Brown worked in administration for Family Resources and UPMC until 2020 when she resigned to pursue catering full time as well as to be a teacher to her then 10-year-old daughter.
She is one of the new graduates of Catapult Greater Pittsburgh’s culinary program, Catapult Culinary, a 12-month business incubation program for minority food-based entrepreneurs. The program provides technical training and support, networking opportunities, access to commercial kitchen space, and more.
Catapult was exactly what Brown needed to overcome the challenges she was facing getting The Fine Feather off the ground — from learning how to work without the 9 to 5 structure to finding resources for her small business.
Through the program, she was connected to Roxanne Easley of Roxanne’s Catering, a more established Pittsburgh-based catering company, who is now mentoring her.
“My goal is to expand, get a great team together, and to provide the best service,” Brown explained. “I want to get people to see that upscale or fine dining doesn’t have to be a French bistro, it can be the food they grew up eating, just with a little more detail and love in it.”
That attention to detail was exemplified at ELDI’s July mixer, which was catered by The Fine Feather. Brown prepared a diverse spread that included a fruit and desert display, pasta in martini glasses, salmon sliders, savory meatballs, creamy mac and cheese, shrimp cocktail shooters, and more.
As Brown continues to grow her business, Catapult has widened her perspective, getting her to think beyond events alone. With connections to big players in the Pittsburgh food scene like Giant Foods, Catapult Culinary is helping businesses get their food on grocery store shelves.
“That helped me recognize that somewhere on this life journey I stopped being ambitious, and it taught me to start dreaming big again,” Brown said.