Local caterer lives childhood dream

Daniel's Dining staff
Daniel’s Dining offers a buffet menu featuring a variety of foods.
Photo courtesy of Daniel's Dining

Daniel Mitchell first had the idea to start a catering business came to him when he was young—too young, in fact, to legally start a business.  

As the oldest boy of five children being raised by a single mother, Mitchell had been pressed into service in the kitchen at a young age. But what started out of necessity became a dream at age 10.  

Daniel Mitchell displays a customized dish of steak, lobster, a baked potato and asparagus. 

“He always expressed how he has had a desire to hang around the kitchen and watch his mother and his grandmother prepare meals, and that’s where he became passionate about cooking,” said Cynthia Mitchell, Daniel’s wife. She said he later went on to mimic his mother and grandmother’s cooking, which led to him learning how to cook Southern-style meals after his mother granted him full access to her kitchen. 

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Today, the Mitchells operate an independent food catering business, Daniel’s Dining, that has been serving residents and local businesses in and around Gainesville for the last six years. Daniel brings 40 years of Southern cooking experience to the business.  

“His signature dish is a Southern-style macaroni and cheese, to the point where everyone raves about it,” Cynthia said.  

Daniel also said his other favorite Southern-style cooking additions are collard greens, field peas with snaps, corn bread from scratch and baked chicken. 

“And, oven roasted chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken,” Daniel said. “And barbecue ribs and pot roast.” 

Cynthia said the business not only focuses on Southern-style cooking but cooking that is made to suit anyone’s taste. 

Cynthia Mitchell

“When we established Daniel’s Dining in [2017], we laid out the menu and we wanted it to be tailored to not just Southern-style cooking but just an all-around service to everyone,” Cynthia said. “We don’t specialize in a lot of different cultures, but we do specialize in just the American food culture, or the Southern-style culture. So, what we do is combine the taste and the flavor and we just stretch it out across the board.” 

Cynthia said the purpose of launching the business was to make events more personal and to provide their clients with an event that they could remember while providing professional, high-quality service. 

“The entire staff is polite, very professional, and they always make sure you’re taken care of,” customer Tawania Reese said in a review posted to the company’s website. “And what can I say about those smiles?”  

The menu is broken up into tiers, from the smallest tier to the largest. The lowest tier is the budget friendly tier that comes with one entrée and two accompaniments, while the second tier comes with two entrees and two accompaniments. The third tier features three entrées and three accompaniments.  

“We also customize our menus to tailor and fit each client, but we still use the same southern taste,” Cynthia said.  

Cynthia said the business has taken off since it first launched, with the couple serving many large organizations, including UF, the city of Gainesville, the Gainesville Police Department, Santa Fe College and many doctors’ offices within the Gainesville area. 

Daniel’s Dining, which is active on social media, also travels to areas such as Jacksonville, Ocala, Palm Coast and Alachua, along with many other neighboring cities. 

Daniel’s Dining staff at a catered event.

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Jim (James) Galloway

It’s so refreshing to read a story of hard work and success! Congratulations to the family.

Toya McCracken

Such an awesome story! I had the pleasure of speaking with Mrs. Cynthia and her professionalism is amazing. I pray this company, much success and exposure. Blessings!