Jennie C. Benedict

Born: March 25, 1860

Died: July 24, 1928

In the 1890s Jennie C. Benedict started building her business as a cook and caterer and wrote a column for the Courier - Journal focused on recipes, menus, and household tips.("The Household" 1896)

Benedict wanted to start her own workshop for catering, but had no money. She made an agreement with a carpenter to build a workshop/kitchen in the backyard of her parents' property on Third Street in Old Louisville. She asked the contractor if she could pay him from her profits and he agreed. With chairs, stove, and other kitchen equipment donated by a friend, Jennie Benedict got to work and by April 1, 1894, she had paid back the carpenter in full.(Benedict 1928) In just a few years her catering business became so successful that she outgrew the workshop and opened for business at 412 Fourth Avenue.

In 1901 Benedict became the first woman to be invited onto the Louisville Board of Trade.("First" 1901)

She developed a reputation throughout the South for her catering. In 1923 Benedict catered a society event in St. Louis and people of that city tried to lure her to move her business there. She considered the offer, but the outpouring from Louisville and its Retail Merchant Association convinced her to stay. ("Women" 1924)

In addition to her cooking and business skills, Jennie C. Benedict wrote The Blue Ribbon Cook Book which sold four editions. She described her work in her 1928 autobiography The Road to Dream Acre.

Our faithful old Sarah Jones, one of the very best cooks to be found, left my Mother's kitchen, and came to work with me. I paid her $7.00 a week, and John, my boy of all trades, I paid $6.00 a week. We three went to work in earnest, our motto being, "We are in to make good."

In olden times, we seeded raisins (for the seedless ones were unknown), and skinned or blanched the almonds by hand, until I almost ran from them in my sleep... The decorative candy department of our establishment has always been the most interesting and attractive of all the departments, for it is here the artist originates and executes those rare, artistic, ingenious designs and decorations that adorn the wedding and birthday cakes, that have made our name synonymous with art, in the minds of those who are familiar with our creations...

Early in the year 1900, Madame P___, who had conducted a catering business in this city for more than forty years, called on me and offered to sell her business for $4,500.00. After much thought and serious consideration, I accepted her proposition, and a partnership, consisting of Miss Salome E. Kerr, Mr. Charles Scribner and myself, was formed and we were ready for business under the firm name of Jennie C. Benedict and Company. We felt it would be best to have a man associated with us, for business reasons... (Benedict 1928)

Jennie Benedict died of pneumonia at the age of 66 on July 24, 1928. ("Miss Benedict" 1928)


Benedict, Jennie C. "The Household." Courier - Journal February 11, 1896, 5.
Benedict, Jennie C. The Road to Dream Acre.. Standard Printing Co., Louisville, Ky.: 1928.
"Benedict's Restaurant, 554 S. 4th., circa 1924." P_03242, R. G. Potter Collection, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
Coady, Jean Howerton. "Miss Jennie Catered the City and Vice Versa." Courier - Journal March 14, 1979, C25.
"First Woman Member of Board of Trade." Courier - Journal March 28, 1901.
"Miss Benedict Rites Thursday." Courier - Journal July 26, 1928, 20.
Platt, Pam. "Tributes to Louisville." Courier - Journal March 21, 2004, D4.
"War Work of Women: To Enroll Servants Here." Courier - Journal July 4, 1918.
"Women Who Carry On." Courier - Journal October 3, 1924, 2.