Lisa Murphy-Jones came to work in food preparation at the Carroll Convention Center in September, working with its first full-time chef, Greg Epperson. Now, she is the chef at the site and learning the ropes when it comes to cooking for a crowd.
A Nebraska native, Murphy-Jones has been living in Paducah for the last 25 years. Her first career was as a physician's assistant, having worked in surgery. Now, she is ready to advance her culinary career -- what she calls her second profession -- taking over the convention center kitchen as chef on Oct. 21.
Prior to working at the convention center, Murphy-Jones worked at Max's Brick Oven Cafe and the Paducah Country Club after graduating from the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in 2003 in culinary arts.
"Savories is one thing that I have gotten into," she said. "Also, desserts and pastries and that kind of thing.
"I do a lot of smoking (meats) and canning and that type of thing. I like smoking turkey, a ham or something like that."
Murphy-Jones said learning to cook for hundreds of people at one sitting is what she is learning now.
"There's always something you can learn," she said. "Cooking for 200, 400 or even 500 people is totally different.
"It's just been an enriching experience for me. In any situation, you can learn."
Murphy-Jones said she worked with a lot of buffets and receptions while she was working at the Paducah Country Club, which provided practice for this position. While not native to western Kentucky, Murphy-Jones said she has enjoyed living in this area and looks forward to her new position at the convention center.
"This has been a wonderful group to work with," she said. "Everyone has their place, and I really enjoy working with VenuWorks (the management team for Carroll Convention Center). They are a good group of people."
Scott Schoenike, the senior executive director of VenuWorks and the executive director for the Ford Center and Victory Theater in Evansville, Indiana, said the management company decided to make some changes in the kitchen structure with a new chef.
"We have high standards and expectations, and it wasn't quite getting where we wanted to," he said. "We expect quality food on time with control over inventory.
"The nice thing is that we filled the position right away. She doesn't quite have all the training that the other chef had, so we decided to support her more with the Evansville chef, Ishmael Aguillera, two hours away and kind of guide and train her up. The business should grow with her experience."