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Larry Fite, with cousin Susan Lovelace and daughter Eliza Fite, presents one of his dishes, roasted asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, at the Carnegie's anniversary dinner.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Larry Fite, with cousin Susan Lovelace and daughter Eliza Fite, presents one of his dishes, roasted asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, at the Carnegie's anniversary dinner.

FOOD-FITE
Decatur man leaves lumber life behind to pursue new career - a catering business
Ideas for your own Southern buffet menu

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com 340-2446

Larry Fite gave up lumber to labor in the kitchen. The Decatur man, 45, was an owner or employee of the family-owned Gobble-Fite Lumber Co. for most of his life, but he "retired" several months ago to pursue a new career in food as a personal chef and caterer.

"That was a pretty good change, but it's something I've developed a passion for over the years and wanted to explore," he said.

So he formed his business, Food-Fite Inc., and got started.

He attributes his interest in food to his dad, the late Roy Fite.

"My dad always had a love of cooking, and I learned from him and started fooling around with it. It's something I really enjoy," Fite said.

"When Julia Child was in her heyday, Dad took some of those methods and put his spin on it," Fite recalled. "He cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for our immediate family, and later he began to prepare our meals on a weekly basis."

The younger Fite also began cooking for his family a good bit, and also for dinners and fundraisers at his church, St. John's Episcopal. That led to an interest in serving other groups, from supper clubs to local events.

He is remodeling and adding kitchen equipment to a building next to Sonic on Sixth Avenue as a base for his catering business, and for the time being, he is licensed as a personal chef to prepare food at other sites.

Fite's largest booking so far, other than church dinners, was the Carnegie Visual Arts Center's fourth anniversary celebration three-station buffet for 125 people Friday night.

"They requested a Southern flair," Fite said. So he prepared such dishes as cajun black-eyed pea dip with sweet potato chips; polenta bites topped with country ham and onion jam; Bananas Foster miniature tarts and Gentleman Jack's pecan tarts

His daughter, Eliza, 17, the middle of his three children, helped Friday night, along with his first cousin, Susan Lovelace of Gobble-Fite. His wife is his biggest supporter and came up with the name "Food-Fite," but she won't be helping cook.

"This has changed my schedule around and given me a lot of time to be with Ellie, 11, and Eliza," he said. Son William is a student at the University of Mississippi.

Fite has a general studies degree from Athens State University.

"I've studied a little on my own for years, just trial and error, but the last couple of months I've been going over to the Viking culinary school in Greenwood, Miss., as well as watching some out-of-town chefs," he said.

He's still learning and borrowing from others, so he prefers not to share recipes he's using now. He plans to have a varied choice of menus as a caterer.

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