A trio of friends, a small shop-deli on Broadway and Oak and a dream of entrepreneurship before age 30 all led to the founding of one of Vancouver’s largest catering companies; Culinary Capers.
One of the original founders, Debra Lykkemark, has led the company through travel, adventure and drama. Highlights include:
- catering at Canada Olympic House at numerous Olympics
- working with car companies such as Jaguar and Bentley
- pushing industry limits by becoming the very first BC catering company to have a liquor license
Sauntering into a Vancouver café in this season’s coral heels and toting a coral purse, the always trendy Culinary Capers CEO sat down with Carley Bakker to share her journey.
Love, marriage and a catering company. In the beginning…
From the start, Debra’s business grew at a rapid rate. In the first five years, two additions increased reach and scope. These included:
- a delivery truck
- Debra’s husband for marketing, accounting and operations
As a couple, they have been together for 35 years. Debra says they have one great relationship. “As long as you can do it and you have fun doing it together, then you’ve really got a companion in life and work,” she says.
Starting with the Torino Olympics, Debra has had the chance to cater for some world-class events. Culinary Capers worked out of a log cabin in the middle of the Torino Village. Debra worked to forge relationships with the Olympic community so that in 2008, she was off to Beijing for the Summer Olympics.
In Beijing, Debra made her move into becoming an international catering company. After the Olympics, Culinary Capers set up a permanent location in China. Now in China, they cater:
- thousands of meals a week for school children
- pretty snazzy car company events, for the likes of Jaguar and Bentley
Leading the liquor license crusade for catering companies
2013 ended a year of hectic negotiations. Debra spearheaded the campaign to allow not just herself, but also other BC caterers, to handle and deliver alcohol to their events.
Debra saw the exceptional need for this license when a Wine and Foods of BC event took place. Canada’s premiers were in attendance. They very nearly went wine-less due to a misinformed courier.
The new license means that catering companies can take care of all the details including alcohol and take charge of all aspects of customer service.
Sacrifices for success?
When asked what sacrifices she has made for her outstanding success, Debra paused. “I can’t think of any,” she said. She emphasized the importance of delegation for entrepreneurs. She also highlighted that she and her husband have made life and business decisions that make them happy.
This woman has customized just the right recipe.