When COVID-19 restrictions forced Foster’s Catering to close only one week after opening, Owner Brady Foster took it hard.
“It was probably one of the hardest things in my life, buying a restaurant and it immediately closing,” he says. “It was a dream I’ve always had. I almost didn’t know how to take that.”
Foster grew up in Gary, Indiana, and says he’s always worked in the culinary industry, working his way up from washing dishes to cooking. He worked in a fish market for a long time as well.
Foster moved to Indianapolis 15 years ago as a way to stay out of trouble.
“I was trying to get away from some things, some dangerous stuff – trying to set up my life,” he says.
He found a church, met his wife, and landed a job in the food industry. Foster worked at Cici’s Pizza for 12 years, including 10 as general manager. Eventually he realized it was time to make a change.
“I just got burnt out and wanted to do something different,” Foster says. “Somebody told me about Ivy Tech culinary school and I decided to make that leap. With my wife’s blessing, I quit a paying job to pursue that dream of cooking.”
Foster says it’s one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He enrolled in the two-year program and excelled, winning a cooking competition and earning himself an invitation to Paris, France.
“Out of the 200 to 300 people that were in the program, only eight got selected,” he says. “When I got there they voted me top student out of the eight, and that was kind of the day when I thought, ‘I think I can do this.’”
Upon graduation, Foster worked as a sous-chef at Circle City Soups. He was promoted to head chef, and worked in that position for a year and a half before deciding to take another step toward his dream of owning his own restaurant. He approached Circle City Soups Owners Cindy and Roger Hawkins with a business offer.
“I love Ivy Tech and I love working in the school and with the students, and decided to see if there was a possibility that they wanted to sell it,” he says.
The Ivy Tech Circle City Soups location became Foster’s Catering in March of 2020. A week later, the pandemic hit. Between March and August, Foster wasn’t allowed into his own restaurant.
Foster describes that period as heart-wrenching. He credits his wife Stephanie, his four kids, and his faith with helping him through such a tough time in his life.
When Foster was allowed to open his doors again last August, he got right to work doing what he does best – cooking food.
“As an American, and as an African-American, I want to provide food that black, white, Hispanic – anybody could enjoy,” he says.
Foster says he uses what he learned at Ivy Tech as well as at fish market settings, barbecue eateries, and restaurants like Cici’s, Rally’s and McDonald’s. The food and sauces are made fresh from scratch.
“I try to run it almost like a food truck,” Foster says, adding that the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Foster’s Catering does business both with students and with customers from outside of Ivy Tech. Foster says none of it would be possible without the help of his employees, Charlie and Felipe.
Foster says his focus now is on providing people with good food, and making them happy. He wants people of all backgrounds to come in, taste something good and feel like they belong.
“For years I felt like I didn’t belong,” he says. “And now I have my own place.”