Chris Kaminski is a new caterer on the Rim Country dining scene. He came to the area in April and has shared his 20 years of culinary skills with about 20 different clients so far.
He will now be sharing those skills with the 300 people expected to attend A Taste of Rim Country March 7 at the Payson Public Library.
Kaminski is also the in-house caterer for Majestic Mountain Inn, where his wife Rhonda is the new general manager.
“With Chris and the catering service now available, we hope to host more events at Majestic,” Rhonda said.
Kaminski started his culinary training as a Boy Scout, but adds his grandmothers and mother were all good cooks. His grandfather was in the industry, working in a corporate cafeteria, where the family would sometimes go to help during holidays.
His formal training was at Johnson County Community College in Kansas City, Kan. From there he worked in such places as the Plaza III Steakhouse and Fedora’s in Kansas City, Mo. He also worked at the Warwick Hotel in Denver and he also works regularly providing the food for Randy Meyer Racing.
Kaminski has always done some catering on the side, but only entered the field professionally last April when he came to the Rim Country.
He is no stranger to cooking competitions either. He and his wife have participated in numerous barbecue contests in Kansas City, Mo. and won several.
Kaminski likes doing barbecue, but he also enjoys making steaks and tacos (tacos are also one of his favorite foods to eat). His wife says he makes a very good steak au poivre and povotica bread. The bread is a filled Croatian rolled style — it takes all day to make eight loaves because the yeast dough must rise twice.
He said he enjoys doing Cajun food too; putting together such things as dirty rice, shrimp Creole and étouffée, gumbo and jambalaya. Some of the most difficult dishes he has made are tureens and pâtés.
As for the hardest parts of the catering business: the paperwork is time consuming and putting parties together. Since his business is so new, he has not developed any standard menus.
“My recipes are all on computer and so I just pull together what I think would be good for the different events,” Kaminski said.
Talking about success in the kitchen, he said one of the key elements is having good, sharp knives.
“Sharp knives are safer than dull ones,” he said.
Good cookware is essential, but surprisingly only a couple of pans are all that you need.
“You need a sauté pan — one that can go in a 500-degree oven and a stockpot.”
If your family is small — just two of you — a four- to eight-quart stockpot is sufficient. With a bigger family, a larger stockpot would be needed.
Anyone interested in going into the culinary field professionally should further their education: either formally or working under a good chef in the field.
“If he is good, you can learn all you need from him,” Kaminski said.
He added it is also important for novices in the field to move around in the culinary job market.
“It’s hard work and long hours and the pay isn’t the best,” he said.
“At least not until you become a (lead) chef,” added Rhonda.
Kaminski said he thinks it would be cool to do a cookbook some day and has a friend he’d like to write with.
As for the future, he would like to make his catering business a go and has invested in it. The Kaminskis live in Heber-Overgaard and their property has a separate building with a full, commercial kitchen.
They can make all the dishes for a catering job and transport them at all the proper temperatures within a four-hour range. The vehicles they use to transport to jobs are all self-contained. So, it is not necessary to have a kitchen available when they cater.
They have not decided exactly what they will share at A Taste of Rim Country, but are considering preparing two desserts and two appetizers, and may feature something with duck.
Tickets to the 2009 A Taste of Rim Country are $30 and are available at the Payson Public Library, which is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
A limited number of tickets will be sold and half of the cost is tax deductible.
For more information, call Bessie Tucker, coordinator for A Taste of Rim Country, at (928) 474-9260.