If you could change your career to one in a completely unrelated field, what would you choose? It seems like a daunting proposition, but for Claudia Davis, owner of Spiced Just Right and The Naked Canvas, the change has been entirely positive.
After a successful corporate career in pharmaceutical sales for 12 years where Davis developed skills to run her own business, she decided to venture into a different profession after company downsizing and a career audit.
Spurning calls from pharmaceutical sales recruiters, Davis opted to put her love of cooking to use and wager her skills into catering after the recommendation of family. “I researched it for about three months or so before I gave it a shot,” Davis says. “I started [Spiced Just Right], and it kept growing and growing.”
Her love of cooking started very early and was based on masterful engineering executed by her mother. When Davis was 7, her mother came home and talked ad nauseam about a coworker, regaling how good this woman’s 3-year-old daughter was at cooking. This was the lie. Davis’ mother knew her own daughter’s competitive nature and knew she wouldn’t be able to sit idly by after hearing about a 3-year-old cooking prodigy. The first meal Davis learned to make from her mom was bacon, eggs and toast, but she quickly graduated to making the family’s Thanksgiving meal.
Open since 2011, Spiced Just Right in Maryland Heights, Missouri, provides catering options for in-home, private and corporate events, weddings and more. It currently operates as the preferred catering for Barnett on Washington and Bluffs on Broadway event venues and also has a corporate sponsorship with local corporate companies, where it provides waitstaff to ensure everything is cleaned up and put away after lunch.
Spiced Just Right is an ideal catering option for anyone who likes great food. “My base style is probably Southern because of my roots [here], but I can do anything,” Davis says. “For example, I [recently] had a client who wanted Korean food for her wedding, and I’ve done Caribbean cuisine, Jamaican cuisine and more – and my recipes are always authentic.”
Some of her more popular dishes include Asiago-stuffed chicken with a sweet pepper cream sauce and Greek-style chicken topped with a Greek sauce. Classic Southern mainstays are often requested ¬– smoked fried chicken, collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese and peach cobbler. While certainly popular, these are just a small sampling of the capabilities Davis possesses and the delectable treats Spiced Just Right provides.
Adding to her repertoire of success, Davis recently started The Naked Canvas, a paint, sip and dine studio, which will host its grand opening on Sat., Jan. 27. What separates The Naked Canvas from similar popular painting events is the total experience offered: Davis often focuses on a food tie-in and themes the food and drinks to match the painting. “It’s an educational opportunity,” Davis says. “We want to do stuff that’s unique and not just the most obvious.” For example, an upcoming Mardi Gras night will feature mask painting and decorating, festive drinks like Hurricanes and Sazeracs, and French-Creole eats and desserts.
Furthermore, the painting medium can change. Instead of always painting on canvas, Davis says they’re also looking at options to include sugar-cookie painting and wine-bottle decorations, for example.
To book an event with The Naked Canvas, only two weeks’ notice is required so that an artist can be contracted. It’s available any day of the week and can be held at other locations, not just their own event space in Maryland Heights.
The Naked Canvas, 18 Fee Fee Road, Maryland Heights, Missouri, 314.403.1020, nakedcanvasstudios.org
Spiced Just Right, 14 Fee Fee Road, Maryland Heights, Missouri, 314.266.8884, spicedjustright.com