In this edition of our Employee Highlights, get to know our talented pastry chef, Kim!
What is your culinary and educational background and how did it lead you to Chef & the Farmer?
I went to Lenoir Community College and graduated from the culinary program there in December 2005. I worked at the Kinston Country Club for several years, which is actually where I met my husband. While I was working there, a member of the country club actually told me about Ben & Vivian opening this restaurant. I ended up calling Ben three times before finally getting a job here. When I first called, he said the restaurant would be ready in December and to call him back then. When I did, he said the opening had been pushed back to January and to call back again. I did, and he told me that it was once again being pushed back, this time to April. They did have a function in April 2006 prior to opening and Ben and Vivian asked if I would help them. So after several months, I finally got an interview! Because the kitchen wasn’t ready at the restaurant, I actually had to go to Vivian’s house to cook and do the interview. I was hired in April, as their first employee and we opened in June 2006. For the first couple months, I helped get the restaurant ready for the opening along with learning all the recipes so that I would be able to train other employees later. I became the pastry chef by chance. Vivian and I were talking one day and she admitted that she really didn’t like to bake, so she said that I would be the pastry chef. I’ve been through it all here. It was scary, because we didn’t know if the restaurant was actually going to make it. I was young though, so it was a good time to take a chance.
What do you find most rewarding about being the pastry chef here at Chef & the Farmer?
I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned more here than I ever did out of the culinary program. I didn’t know what rhubarb was until I came here. Vivian is awesome and pairs things that you normally wouldn’t expect. She’s been so motivational to me to strive to look up things (although I don’t always have time).
What do you find most challenging?
Coming up with new desserts is tough sometimes. Vivian plays a huge part in that though. I picture an idea and she and I will brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. That’s how a new dessert is born here.
What is your favorite (or least favorite) dessert here?
I don’t know if I have a favorite. The ingredients are so interesting to work with. The 10-layer chocolate cake is awesome, but it sometimes a pain to assemble. I have a sweet tooth, so I like most desserts. I don’t care for coconut though, and can’t say that I look forward to creating desserts with coconut.
That’s such a great talent to have though! I’ve eaten some of our coconut desserts and I know how amazing they are – it’s amazing to know that you don’t even really care for that ingredient.
When you aren’t at work, how do you like to spend your time?
I spend most of the time that I’m not here with my family. I have a husband and two children at home that I love to spend quality time with. I also like to hang out with my best friend, Joy, whenever we have time. My family and I go to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, so we’re always on the go.
Are you originally from Kinston?
No. I was born in Florida, lived in Texas until I was 9, and then moved to NC. I’ve lived in Kinston, Southern Pines, and Rocky Mount (for only 2 weeks). We moved around quite a bit when I was younger so we never really stayed settled in one school until I was in the 6th grade, but even then we moved around Deep Run a few times. My family and I are masters at moving now!