400 Words will become a regular feature on EatDrinkTalk. These are pithy snapshots of local food and drink personalities pared down to quick-reading essentials.
At noon last Monday I received this text from Susan Hershberg that read, “Well, Pepe Raventos has cancelled his appearance at the wine dinner tonight…the show will go on without him!!”
Raventos was the special guest for a Raventos i Blanc wine dinner set for six hours later at Hershberg’s Wiltshire On Market restaurant. They’d be pouring the hard to get and hard to make biodynamic wine bearing his name, yet the charismatic Spaniard, the man of the hour, cancelled that morning.
And, well, why not? With a full moon scheduled for that night, the first such on a summer solstice in 50 years, something weird is bound to happen, right?
Curveballs like these are de rigueur in Hershberg’s line of work. Not only can restaurant customers and catering clients be fickle and flighty, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. The last time I experienced a Wiltshire Pantry catering, it was in an open field at Foxhollow Farm, just outside of Prospect. The day had been sunny and forecasters predicted marginal chances for rain. Yet that afternoon, with a table set for 100 people guests nearly ready, a one-cloud storm blew in out of nowhere and drenched the catering site.
I happened to be there to do a story, and I assumed the soaking caused a crisis. Amused by my concern, Hershberg just grinned.
“What are you gonna do? Cry about it?” Hershberg said with a shrug. “This isn’t the first time that’s happened and it probably won’t be the last. Just dry everything off and start over.”
As Hershberg walked away slowly, as if she had all the time in the world, she said over her shoulder, “At least we hadn’t put out any napkins yet. That might have been trouble.”
That’s cool under pressure, calm under fire, and it’s why her Wiltshire Pantry catering business has grown to become a premier Louisville caterer. In addition Wiltshire on Market, the firm also operates Wiltshire at the Speed Art Museum, a café and high-end catering business in what’s arguably the city’s premier venue.
She originally didn’t want the Speed’s business due to the difficult application process. But when the Speed pursued her for the position, she knew she had the leverage to have it constructed the way she wanted.
“We wanted a professional catering kitchen, and that’s what we wound up with,” she said, smiling confidently when I spoke with her about it in the spring. “I’m so glad we’re here, so glad we got this. Sometimes, when I walk through this museum and look around, it’s hard to believe we’re here.”