Jill started Catering Works in 1989 and is the CEO and owner of Catering Works, Inc. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 1987 with her Culinary Arts degree and pursued further studies at The Culinary Institute of America in Food Styling and Healthy Cooking. Jill's recipes have won local and national awards. In January 2002, Jill was awarded $10,000 for the grand prize in the Bacardi Recipe Challenge, for her Tropico Napoleon.
She also she took first place in the Kikkoman-USA contest in December 2002, for her delicious Pork Chop with Cranberry Apple Compote recipe. Jill was also a finalist in Rich's Food. Winning is sweet competition for a decadent White Chocolate Banana Creme Tart. Jill has also appeared on the Food Networks' "Food Fight" as a locally recognized chef and judge.
2012, In the US Foods Next Top Product competition, Jill was one of 3 finalists nationwide, for her signature recipe "Mini Baklava Cheesecake".
Jill joined Chef Richard Carter in Cooking for a Classic Chef Competition Series, in April 2017, taking the win against 7 other local chefs.
Inspired by nostalgic flavors, Jill sought to create an iconic snack that became one of the best-selling recipes at Catering Works, artisan small batch popcorn. In 2020, when Jill and her sister were looking for ways to navigate through the pandemic, they decided to package popcorn and develop an e-commerce business. Ella’s Popcorn was born. Jill took the corn to new heights because of her appearance on HSN and the team’s tenacity and commitment to success.
Jill and her team were awarded the food service contract at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2021. Collaborating on Special Events and Operating the NCMA Café.
Jill has a passion for helping the local community through donations of food and service, including Interfaith Food Shuttle and many other charitable organizations.
Jill's passion for cooking started in her grandmother's kitchen. Grandma made everything from scratch, and Jill was fascinated with her Leg of Lamb and her homemade chocolate iced cookies.
She and her sister, Lorin Laxton, grew up in Fairport, New York, in a close family that remains so today. Jill's commitment to quality has rendered Catering Works as one of the top special event businesses in North Carolina. Jill has been recognized as one of the top woman business owners to KNOW 2023 in America and has been seen as an expert in the community in cooking, catering, and events. In her spare time, which there is very little of, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and her adorable dogs.