DIVA meets badass businesswomen Carolyn Linton-Canfield to find out what “Gaylena”, Illinois, has to offer lez/bi visitors

Carolyn and Angela Linton-Canfield have been a couple for 22 years and, along with their (now 25-year-old) twins, lived in Chicago, Illinois and Oakland, California before settling in Illinois’ Midwest in 2008. 

Soon after the move, the pair recognised a gap in the local market and decided to set up their own high-end catering and private chef business, the wonderfully named Life’s A Feast (lifesafeastllc.com). 

Galena Main Street

Now, almost 10 years later, Carolyn and Angela are at the top of their game, creating one-of-a-kind foodie experiences for locals and visitors alike in “historic, eclectic” Galena; the oldest town in the state of Illinois. 

Here, Carolyn – one half of the fun-loving duo – chats to DIVA about Life’s A Feast, why they’d encourage anyone from the LGBTQI community to visit the Galena, and how both she and Angela remain outspoken activists against a sometimes conservative but beloved Midwestern backdrop.

DIVA: How did Life’s A Feast come to be? What drew you both into the industry?

CAROLYN LINTON-CANFIELD: It was Angela who literally “pulled” me into the business. She was working for a private chef in San Francisco, originally as a server, but was quickly asked to help in the kitchen. Soon enough, she was running her own events. She realised then that she was being sent out to clients as lead chef to do all the work, but would then take the cheque back to her employer. “Well, this is dumb,” she thought. “Clearly I’m good enough to do this on my own!” And that’s exactly what she did.

As for myself, I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 30 years – from dishwasher to management. I fought Angela tooth and nail over doing the catering and private chef business for years, but in the end, it turned out to be the most challenging but lucrative area in the industry. Now, we both love the challenge of pulling off events. There’s an incredible rush in “making shit happen”. You really have to defy all logic to make the magic – we’re adrenaline junkies, both of us.

You cater weddings too – do you specialise in LGBTQI-friendly events?

We have catered several LGBTQI receptions and all of them came to us because they knew we were “friendly”, but we never felt we needed to advertise that we are an LGBTQI-friendly business. I mean, hello, we’re hardly shy or demure! Over the last 21 years, we’ve made it our goal to be our authentic selves and assume most people know we’re a couple. If you’re uncomfortable with that, move along. Saying that, we’re always a little extra emotional when we are part of an LGBTQI event. It’s a special gift to be able to celebrate our community’s freedom to be. 

Galena at dusk. Image: Dice Sales

What’s been the best “experience” that you’ve curated over the years? 

Honestly? We create a custom experience for every client. The planning starts out as Life’s A Feast but by the time we leave, our clients have become our friends and it’s Angela and Carolyn who say goodnight – usually with hugs! We’ve forged more friendships through our business than most would in a lifetime. 

How do Galenians party? 

Galenians love to celebrate! There’s a phrase here coined by a good friend of ours, “Find your fun”. From goat yoga [No, really!] to wineries, historical homes to farm-to-table dinners, and handcrafted bourbons and beers to kayaking, skiing and zip-lining – there’s always something happening! 

Read the full interview in the September 2019 issue of DIVA, out soon in print here, digitally here and via the links below

For more, visit lifesafeastllc.com or, if you’re thinking of planning a trip to Galena, Illinois, check out enjoyillinois.com/amazing-for-all #amazingforall

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.

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