When you walk through the door at Cooper Street 20/20, you’re greeted by the friendly and spunky Kathy Katz, who describes her typical day as “drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and then freak out.”
More specifically, Katz spends her days preparing grab-and-go food items ranging from lasagna to pimento cheese with the help of Chef Stephen Sciara. The duo prepares five to seven new batches of food daily, using locally sourced ingredients when possible, before packing and freezing individual dishes.
Before opening Cooper Street 20/20, Katz spent 25 years running 20/20 Diner at the Southern College of Optometry near downtown Memphis. “I finally just woke up one day and said, I’m never cooking another chicken sandwich for a college student as long as I live,” she said.
Originally, she intended to use her space at 800 S. Cooper St. to prepare the 70 or so dishes she makes for the weekly farmers market, which she has been attending for eight years. But she decided to open the doors to customers, as well.
From the looks of her kitchen, you’d never expect that Katz puts out as much food as she does. The place is organized and spic and span and runs precisely to Katz’ specifications. “I know that one pound of cheese makes 26 pimento cheeses,” she said. “I know how many pushes it takes to seal the dish.”
One of her customer’s favorite dishes is from a now closed restaurant on Madison Avenue called Harry’s On Teur. Her version of the Chicken Newport uses roasted chicken thigh and mushrooms sautéed in spices and lemon juice. She then mixes feta cheese into mixture, before placing it in its packaging to cool.
“It’s just like your mothers kitchen,” she said, as she sprinkled shredded mozzarella over the Chicken Newport. “Except I make you pay before you leave.” --- Alex Gillespie
What is your most popular dish?
“Hot tamale pie or shrimp and grits right now. I’ve had to make it four weeks in a row.”
Are most of your recipes ones you’ve made forever or that you’ve picked up over the years?
“There’s a lot of forever’s, like my European chicken salad, which is a no mayonnaise chicken salad I’ve been making for 30 years.”
Editor’s note: In the spirit of mentoring, Memphis magazine’s editors worked with journalism students at the University of Memphis to produce this story on culinary entrepreneurs. Student journalists who wrote stories for both print and online versions of Contemporary Media publications include Brady Boswell, Eric Bourgeois, Candice Briggie, Christine Cabrera, Callie Compton, Zoe Dickey, Alexandria Gillespie, Sara Harrison, Destiny Johnson, Kitaen Jones, Connor McKenzie, Robbie Porter, Michael Robinson, and Josh Tucker.
Source: Memphis Magazine
Cooper Street 20/20