“Catered cuisine should be held to the same standards as restaurant cuisine.
I don’t accept that it’s all right for catered food to be mediocre.”
Barbara Friedel McKnight was called to the profession at the early age of four. She began learning basic cooking skills from her grandmother, an organic hobby gardener and renowned home cook. Barbara continued her interest in all things culinary throughout her school years, and completed an undergraduate degree in German at the University of Texas at Austin. She then moved to Southern Germany to pursue a three-year culinary apprenticeship. She graduated with honors from the Baden-Wuerttemberg School of Hotel and Restaurant management.
She then spent a year and a half at the Savoy, the prestigious five-star Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. Barbara was then offered a position as sous-chef at the highly-esteemed catering firm of Jackson and Company in Houston, Texas. After several years, she ventured out to start her own catering company, Catering by Culinaire, recently rebranded as CULINAIRE – Inspired Cuisine and Events.
CULINAIRE quickly gained a reputation as one of Houston’s premier caterers, and in a 2006 expansion, the company acquired the historic Hofheinz House as an event venue.
In 2007, the Houston Business Journal recognized CULINAIRE as one of Houston’s fastest-growing women-owned businesses, a distinction repeated for four successive years.
In 2010 Culture Map chose CULINAIRE as one of the top six high-end caterers in Houston.
Also in 2010, Barbara was invited by First lady Michelle Obama to attend the launch of her initiative, “Chefs Move to Schools”, at the White House.
In 2011, Barbara McKnight was chosen as one of ten recipients of the prestigious “Women on the Move” award from Texas Executive Women.
Chef McKnight is active in the community with several organizations, which include:
- Recipe for Success, Advisory Board Member, 2009-present
- EO Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Learning Co-Chair, 2012
- Les Dames d’Escoffier International
- Chaine des Rotisseurs
- Diverseworks Art Space Board Member 2003 – 2009
- Lawndale Art Center Board Member 2009 – present
- Houston Symphony
- Friends of Nursing at St Lukes Episcopal Hospital
- Houston Children’s Charities
- University of Houston