Don and Catherine Raab were in their first year of marriage when the Fenwick Restaurant was put up for sale on Providence Street in Myers Park.
They made a bid and won, surprising themselves.
“Now what do we do?” Remember Don Rap the couple ask.
Money has been tight, Raab told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday. He said they couldn’t change the name of the restaurant if they wanted to.
“Catherine knows how to cook,” he said. “That was a good thing, because I didn’t do it.”
That was 1984, and American Cuisine is still going strong.
Don Rapp was in the restaurant as usual on Thursday as the lunch crowd started.
Don Rapp said, “Staying busy” is how he bears the loss of the woman he met in Charlotte, fell in love with and married. He said he was from New Orleans, and she was from Cleveland.
Katherine Jane Rabe died on December 8 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 64 years old.
Raab said he and his family have received an outpouring of support from many people whose lives have been affected. He wants them to know that he is thanking them.
Catherine Raab, a certified bartender, has taught hospitality and wine classes at Central Piedmont Community College, and in 2004, joined the faculty at Johnson and Wales University.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she taught the first classes at the university’s new campus in Charlotte, according to her obituary. She was a first teacher specializing in wine and other beverages.
Rap owned two other restaurants in Charlotte, Katherine and Fenwick in Cotswold, and a great catering service.
For years, she wrote an “On Wine” column for the Observer and was a regular on WCNC’s “Charlotte Today”.
When journalists needed a culinary expert, they often turned to rap.
I offered the advice in a 2003 article titled “Which fork first? Take a stab at our test and sharpen your table manners.”
She was also “an ardent and early supporter” of the annual Soup Sunday fundraiser for Hospice and Palliative Care.
And she did all that while juggling the demands of busy Fenwick, always smiling, positive and energetic, friends, students, and colleagues recalled in online acclaim.
“The beautiful soul that everyone loved,” I read an online greeting this week. “He was always smiling and leaving you feeling warm”
One of the many publications said: “The most compassionate and compassionate person I have had the pleasure of working, learning, and being friends with.”
Lord teach what you love, and show it, former friends, colleagues, clients, and students.
Charlotte-based culinary expert Heidi Bellotto, who’s known her rap since opening Fenwick, described her friend’s enthusiasm as infectious.
“Katherine loved her work, the restaurant, and the Fenwick family of staff and customers alike,” Bilotto posted on her website, HeidiBillottoFood.com.
The right person
Charlotte Dillard Richardson was among the many culinary students who were inspired by Rap.
On the honors web page, Richardson said that Rapp taught the first wine education classes he took. Prior to that, as Observer columnist on Wine, Raab answered a question from him asking for advice on starting wine as a student/enthusiast.
“I asked the right person!” Richardson Books. “I will never forget Katherine’s kindness, sense of humor and ability to share her wonderful food and wine.”
“It was simply the best,” Richardson told The Observer on Thursday.
Rap wrote her long column not for the experts but for the rest of us.
She wrote in a conversational, sometimes self-aggressive, but authoritative manner, with advice a novice might not have known.
“Choose a Thanksgiving wine that doesn’t eclipse food,” advised the headline in her November 16, 2011 column.
She started her column on January 11, 2012, “It’s easy to get into a rut with anything.” “January is a great time to get out and try new things.”
In a Tuesday column in Unpretentious Palate, the online publication that covers the city’s food and drink scene, former editor of Rabb’s Observer, Kathleen Purvis, called her a leader among Charlotte’s female chefs, who “was the least expert winemaker I’ve ever known,” Who worked tirelessly but always with a smile.
“A loss doesn’t leave a gap – it leaves a completely empty bowl in my heart,” wrote Purvis, the longtime award-winning food writer.
‘A very important teacher’
This is how Brion Cepheus felt.
During his studies at Johnson and Wales, Cefus told The Observer, Rapp changed his vision of who and what he could be.
Cephus believes he will work as a line cook and eventually manage a cooking team, he said. Cephus said he now advises for the wine and special events program through his personal brand, “The Certified Wino.”
“She was a very important milestone for me as a budding wine professional, and her death was a loss not only to me, but to the entire Charlotte restaurant scene,” he said in a Facebook message.
Also, Rabb bore him two sons, a stepson, a sister and two brothers, according to her obituary.
A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. January 8 at St Stephen’s United Methodist Church, 6800 Sardis Road in Charlotte. The service will be broadcast live at www.ststephenumc.net.