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Heritage Ball creates 40-year legacy of fine cuisine

For four decades, the Heritage Ball has emphasized the importance of historic preservation in the community and underscored the efforts of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County.

And as the longest running black-tie event in the county, the gala boasts many longstanding traditions—one of those being the family behind the food. For nearly 40 years, a member of the Nashville-based Kates family has served guests at the annual Heritage Ball.

Charles Kates founded Kates Catering in 1970 and established a loyal contingent of clients that included the Heritage Ball and the Swan Ball, among other high-profile benefits. Daughter Dani Kates took over the business in 2002,  and says the Heritage Ball is one of the most anticipated annual events for her company.

“I’m not sure we’ve ever missed a year. It’s a tradition now,” said Dani Kates, who will be in the kitchen cooking at the Heritage Ball. “People in Franklin are really nice and laid back. My family has loved working with everyone at the Foundation. They’re just good folks.”

In July, Heritage Ball committee members gathered to taste Kates’ suggested menu for the evening of Saturday, Sept. 21.
The chef will showcase the agricultural bounty of Middle Tennessee through a farm-to-fork menu that incorporates products from the likes of Noble Springs Dairy and Bloomsbury Farm, among others. Hank Delvin of Delvin Farms in College Grove, Tenn. helped coordinate the various farmers who will contribute to the Ball meals, as well as helped plan parts of the menu.
“The great thing about the menu this year is that every facet of each dish is coming from a local farmer,” she said. “We’ve haven’t been able to locally source the meat until Bear Creek Farms came along. It’s wonderful because sourcing everything locally really ties in with the Heritage Foundation’s mission.”

Guests can expect a variety of hors d’oeuvres to start the evening. Options will include smoked gouda pimento cheese corncake with tomato chutney, tomato basil bites from Allenbrooke Farms, and a Delvin Farms fried okra cake with spicy remoulade.

Course offerings will include a roasted baby beets salad, dry-aged angus filet from Bear Creek Farms in Leiper’s Fork, and a sorghum cake with Hatcher Dairy Farms cinnamon crème fraiche.

Ball guests have also come to expect to see the face of Don Flowers, owner of the Black Flower company and another staple at the Ball. Since 2008, the business has provided an army of white-gloved waiters and bartenders who ensure the behind-the-scenes operations flow smoothly at the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park.

Flowers says he was told to expect more than 700 people at the 2013 Ball. It will mark the sixth year for Black Flower’s Ball participation, and he says he understands the effect a wait staff can have on the party.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I know that the only way you can work is as a family. My staff has experience, but I look for a good work ethic and honesty before I look at that,” Flowers said. “A night can hinge on the serving staff. I can’t imagine something more important.”

For more information on the Ball, visit or call Torrey Barnhill at 615-591-8500, ext. 20.

All proceeds from the Heritage Ball benefit the work of the Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural heritage of Franklin and Williamson County and to promote the ongoing economic revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation.

Posted on: 9/11/2013


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