- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

ASHLAND, W.Va. (AP) - Following four decades of being in the catering business, Bernice Doty says her signature creation is the carved watermelon.

“Weddings are done in every theme imaginable,” Doty said. “Watermelon carvings can add to the theme’s decorations.”

Doty, 69, of Ashland, creates carved watermelons for events catered by the 21 Club at the Frederick in Huntington.

“Once catering gets in your blood it’s hard to stop, and I still get lots of requests for the carved watermelons for weddings,” she said.

Doty grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

“I met my husband Peter when he was stationed at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in upstate New York in Cortland,” she said.

Doty said before his military service, Peter had taken chef courses with the Culinary Institute of America.

“He wanted to be a chef,” she said. “When he got out of the military he got a job as a chef for Saga Foods.”

A few years later, Doty said she and her husband started to cater events for Ashland Oil.

“We were in Memphis, (Tennessee), Virginia, Kentucky and various other places around the East Coast of the country,” Doty said. “After transferring all over the place, we decided to come back to Ashland to be near our two daughters.”

Doty’s daughters had graduated from college in the Tri-State and decided to remain in the area.

“One daughter graduated from Marshall and the other from Morehead State University,” she said. “They planted roots in the Tri-State area, so we wanted to do the same.”

Peter Doty got a job with Rocco’s Restaurant, and before long the couple began catering services for the business.

“One night we made Rocco an offer to purchase the catering business and immediately got into many weddings,” Bernice Doty said.

So in 1994, the couple started Four Seasons Catering.

“It’s much harder work than most people think,” she said. “Most of it is nights and weekends. Also, forget about holidays off.”

Bernice Doty said watermelon carving for weddings came from a combination of her drawings and the desire to have something different.

“I had heard of various fruit carvings, so I decided to take one of my drawings and see if I could carve it into a watermelon,” she said.

Doty said she scoops out the inside to make watermelon balls to go with an assorted fruit and cheese platter, and then she begins to carve her creation from the bottom up. Once her carved picture is done, she inserts a candle to reflect the melon’s red inside for a beautiful and unique wedding creation that is displayed with other foods.

“From the very first one, people just really love them,” she said. “I have always been amazed at how they impress so many people.”

Today, Bernice and Peter Doty consider themselves semi-retired.

“We no longer have Four Seasons Catering, but we still do some events for the 21 Club at the Frederick in Huntington,” she said.

Bernice Doty also teaches classes in napkin folding for special occasions and holiday events.

“If you frequently host dinner parties, you should have a couple cool napkin folds in your arsenal,” she said.

Doty said she isn’t currently teaching watermelon carving.

“It’s become my signature creation for wedding receptions, and I am still doing them, but maybe someday I might pass what I have learned along,” she said. “There are many step-by-step videos online, and fruit carving for catered events continues to grow in popularity.”

Doty said although she and her husband still enjoy catering sometimes, the couple prefers to spend time with their three grandchildren.

“We are not doing every weekend, like we did when we had Four Seasons Catering, but we still love meeting new people and helping to make happy days for them on special occasions,” she said. “But today our motto is that our children are our rainbows and our grandchildren are our pots of gold.”

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com


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