Mother-son duo Ibby and Wiley Morris joined their myriad talents two decades ago in Party Waitin’ to Happen, a custom catering company in Oxford.
Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Q: What is Party Waitin’ to Happen, and what was the inspiration behind opening?
IBBY: We are from Macon, Mississippi, and parties were the norm at the Morris House; hence the name Party Waitin’ to Happen. Wiley always loved to cook, and I gave him his first cookbook when he was 8. After Wiley graduated from college, he attended culinary school in San Francisco, where he worked at a restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf and later went to Colorado to work in a Snowmass restaurant. When I went to culinary school, my professor asked me what I would like to do. I answered, “Cater.” After asking Wiley to join me, he stated he would only move to Oxford, so we started catering in 2000.
Q: What do each of you do in the business?
IBBY: Although Wiley and I have both been to culinary school, I consider him a chef and me a cook. He loves to create with whatever is available; I say, “Where’s my recipe?” Wiley’s palate is vastly superior to mine. I do presentation, people and events. Wiley’s the chef and owner and does the bulk of the food preparation. We both do menu design.
Q: Do you ever get to enjoy an event or are you forever just controlling the chaos?
IBBY: The joy is in serving your clients and their guests, and it is satisfying and fun. It is said that one of the many reasons people go into the food service industry is that they receive instant feedback for their efforts. My favorite compliments come from two different sources. One, a child — they don’t lie; when they say they love your food, it is sincere. Two, the father of a bride who is paying a lot of money for your services for a special event.
WILEY: After the rush is over, and before the clean-up begins, I enjoy it.
Q: What’s an unusual event you’ve catered?
WILEY: Being flown to Miami, Florida, to simply do Southern fried chicken and familiar Southern dishes.
Q: What’s your favorite dish to prepare?
IBBY: Wiley and I both do a lot of delicious jams and sauces that we incorporate in our catering. Wiley’s scrumptious strawberry and habanero jam is perfect in the classic cheese ring or over brie cheese. Every summer, we enjoy making green tomato pickles, pickled okra, and assorted jams and jellies.
WILEY: I love lots of different seafood dishes and raw oysters. I also enjoy cooking Cajun dishes and Italian cuisine.
Q: What has the past year been like for you?
IBBY: 2020/2021 has been difficult for the food service industry around the globe. Fun times around food, family and friends will return. Remember Jesus’ first miracle was performed so a wedding would be wonderful. In May 2020, one of our weddings went from 100+ guests to 11 guests. We loved doing every aspect of this wedding and real-ized how much we really love what we do!