About Dish T’Pass

Our Story

Dish T’Pass is a catering company and cooking school that primarily serves Chattanooga’s corporate & non profit communities. Since we opened opened our doors in December 2012, it’s been an exhilarating rollercoaster ride where no two days are alike. Spreading our foodlove philosophy to the Chattanooga community and beyond, we don’t just make and sell food; Just like at the family dinnertable, we share an expression of love through food and form lasting connections with our clients.

While winning several community awards, including Best of the Best Caterer as well as Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, and crossing that crucial 5-year mark have all been exciting milestones, our favorite part of being a small business is creating jobs and investing in the community.

We know that our key to success has been putting together an amazing team that believes in our foodlove philosophy and is willing to step out of their individual areas of expertise to get a task done, no matter what it may be. Working together, we are able to dazzle our friends, family, and clients, with a delicious array of food made from scratch using quality ingredients and our tried-and-true recipes.

Our Philosophy & Mission

All people come together over food. We all have food love stories, some incredibly mundane – such as sandwiches for lunch or a muffin for breakfast – others amazingly decadent, such as canapes at a wedding or creme brulee for an anniversary dessert. Favorite foods that remind us of our favorite people, places, and events. These magical moments connect and unify us.

Foodlove is the physical, spiritual, and emotional sustenance that we provide one another at the core of our humanity. Foodlove connects, nourishes, and feeds us.

Our mission is to inspire and connect ourselves, our customers, and our communities with one another by growing a business that embodies and shares our philosophy of Foodlove.

We are committed to delighting our customers, serving our communities, exceeding the expectations of our shareholders and co-workers, and creating value for ourselves and each person we touch.

Our Name

Dinner on the grounds, a covered dish supper, a dish to pass (dish t’pass). These words evoke the quaint notion of a grand shared meal, cooked from scratch, made with love, compiled of comfort foods and legendary specialties. When asked to bring a dish t’pass, one rummages through a food-splattered collection of passed down recipe cards to pull out their very favorite, a tried and true delight that has garnered more than its fair share of compliments, the occasional prize ribbon and, perhaps the highest of accolades, a request for a copy of said recipe to be shared.

Serving a dish t’pass says, “I am offering the best of who I am. This food represents me, but it also represents my family and my family’s family, our values, our traditions, where we are in life right now and where we’ve been.” Sharing in a dish t’pass meal becomes an exchange of food love, history and thought. A dish t’pass is storytelling through food. And this food love storytelling turns strangers into friends, friends into family. It creates community.

And while a dish t’pass may not rid the world of all calamity, we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that magic happens around food. There’s a taste of the sacred in a shared meal. And a single meal can, indeed, change the world.

Our commitment to you, our clients and students, is that each forkful of deliciousness we prepare (or teach you to prepare) will come from an arsenal of well-worn recipe cards found worthy of serving for years around our own table to our family and friends.

Our Founder

Dish T’Pass owner, Amanda Varnell, is a dinner table specialist, founding her first food-centric business, CookingLIVE, in 2006, teaching cooking classes in the Greater Chattanooga area, and speaking on the topic of the dinner table. A Californian by birth and a Chattanoogan by choice, she was born in the Bay Area of California but has lived in Chattanooga since the late ‘80’s. She has loved watching the progression of this fabulous city over the past 30 years and is particularly happy to be participating in Chattanooga’s growing economy and food culture by establishing her small business, Dish T’Pass, in Downtown Chattanooga in December 2012.

Opening Dish T’Pass is a second career for Amanda. For nearly 20 years she was a full-time mom and homeschool headmaster to four of the most brilliant and talented kiddos on the planet. Jack, Luke, Sophia, and Sam now range in age from 16 to 24. Jack has graduated from college and is living/working in Washington, D.C.; Luke is in college; Sophia is working as an au pair in France; and Sam is in high school.


Amanda’s fascination with food began as a young child as she watched her grandmother make homemade candies and cookies each Christmas for gifting. Beginning her own recipe and cookbook collection at the young age of 8, she treasures church and community collection cookbooks above all others. Amanda’s culinary career spans nearly 3 decades. Her foodlove story is best summed up by these highlights:

  • First Job: Coffee Shop Hostess, circa 1984 ~ Greeting & seating customers and working the cash register, she was intrigued by the reality that a person’s entire attitude & outlook could change after having their belly filled, however modest the food.
  • College Job: Shoney’s Restaurant, Waitress, 1985-87 ~ Here Amanda learned that service with a smile translated to warm fuzzies and tips. Calling regulars by name and making good on special requests translated into loyalty and even bigger tips.
  • Best Job Ever: HomeMaker & Mom ~ 25 years & counting on the front-line of meal planning on a budget, short order specialty cooking and creating memories that weave the life fabric of the Varnell Family.
  • Most Challenging/Rewarding Job: Home School Head Master, 2000-2012 ~ Setting the course for 4 lives, empowering them to take charge of their learning, both academic and life skills, stretched Amanda’s multi-tasking abilities. Transitioning all 4 students to traditional school successfully in 2012 was counted as a win. Launching 3 of her 4 children, with the oldest officially “off the payroll”, is the equivalent of a “gold watch.”
  • Part-time Job/Fun Side Hustle: Pampered Chef Sales Consultant January, 2006-Jan, 2007 ~ A perfect marriage of Amanda’s love of cooking, cooking products and the dinner table. Discovered that demonstrating cooking skills in front of others was her secret talent.
  • Perfect Transition to Second Chapter Job: CookingLIVE, 2006-2012 ~ Founded a home-based business with the intent of “bringing life to the dinner table.” In addition to teaching hundreds of cooking classes at live venues, Amanda also honed her TV and Radio skills, appearing monthly on WRCB’s 3+You and occasionally on Talk Radio.
  • Dream Job: Owner/Operator/FoodLOVE Evangelist of Dish T’Pass, November 2012-present ~ A brick & mortar extension of her life to date located in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Traveling, meeting new people, drinking fine wine & strong cocktails, trying new foods, laughing, having meaningful conversations, yoga, and investing in others are all ways she likes to spend her time when not working or spending time with her family. Amanda is currently in a long-term relationship with a handsome entrepreneur that shares her love of life and can talk her off a cliff when her tendency to overschedule has her in a panic.



Office Hours: M–F 9AM–4PM


Chattanooga Workspace

302 W 6th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402