For my second spotlight piece, trying to highlight others that inspire, I would like to share my new friend and personal chef, Kacee Klamm.
I first met Kacee in her home, as she hosted a group of old and new friends on New Year’s Day for board games and food. She served quite a spread of Hoppin’ John, collard greens, cornbread, queso, and so much more. I couldn’t stop eating or playing games, and our friendship has continued with food, conversation, and more board games. One of the biggest inspirations is that Kacee has shifted careers gracefully and has found something she is really passionate about – she went from working at a biomedical research company with diabetic pigs to working for herself as a personal chef. She has a long history of interest in food – starting at age 6 learning to make gravy with her grandmother and watching cooking shows as a child.
It’s not easy to completely switch gears and start your own business, and I really admire people who find their way – especially when it’s a very different way than when they started. As Kacee puts it, “If you are able to do what you love, I say do it.” And so she is with Café Tejas.
L: How did you become a personal chef?
K: I have no formal chef schooling, however I have been cooking most of my life and have always gotten joy from it. Becoming a personal chef was a natural progression to turning cooking for people into a career.
L: What was the moment you knew you wanted to do something different (switch careers)?
K: I think I’ve always know that I wanted to cook for people. My husband and I lived in Missouri right out of college and there I worked in biomedical research. The job I had in Missouri would have required a Ph.D. and 10 years of experience in the DC area. I didn’t want to so many steps backwards and it wasn’t a career I would have enjoyed for 20+ years.
L: What are you working on right now?
K: I’ve taken a personal nutrition class and am working on learning more in-depth how food fuels our bodies. It’s important to me to be able to offer healthy choices to my clients with some indulgences thrown in (in moderation!) if they so desire.
I am also just trying to build up a solid client base. Things are progressing by word-of-mouth right now, which I think is great!
L: What’s something we (i.e. public) should all know about you?
K: I’m an avid reader. I have read 52 books last year, and I actually have several going right now:
- Priscilla, Elvis, and Me by Michael Edwards (I have this weird interest in Elvis right now. He was an odd dude.)
- In The Woods by Tana French (for a new “creepy book” book club I’m starting)
- The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (bought on a whim from an NPR interview with the author…it’s so good!)
- When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (reading with Mike in addition to participating in a small group at our church)
- The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (reading the whole Chronicles of Narnia with Mike)
L: What’s something most people don’t know about you (that you’d like to share publicly)?
K: I had a horse-related accident when I was thirteen that left my arms paralyzed for a few months. It took months of physical and occupational therapy to regain use. The older I get, the more thankful I am that I am 100% healed.
L: What inspires you?
K: I try to cook according to the season. Also, it’s really fun when people describe a favorite dish to me and I try to recreate it with just their description. Trying to make “copycat” recipes of some of my favorite restaurant meals is a favorite as well.
L: What has been your most recent act of kindness that either you gave or received?
K: Moving to the DC area has done more to open my mind and notice how loving and welcoming people can be than anything else in my life. I think it has something to do with the “melting pot” that is this area, but the people here are extraordinary. It’s so nice to be a part of a vast community of people to have open arms. I mean, even people who you don’t know i.e., wait staff at restaurants, postal workers, people in the grocery stores, etc.
L: June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month – would you share a recipe of yours with us (involving fresh fruits and veggies)? Would you tell us what your favorite fruit and vegetable is and why?
K: Smokey Mango Salsa
3 ripe mangos, diced (see photos)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large lime, juiced (about ¼ cup lime juice)
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
In a serving bowl, combine the prepared mango, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Drizzle with the juice of one lime and mix well. Season to taste with salt. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer.
Favorite fruit: Probably berries, but I might just be saying that because they are in season right now. I also love all tropical fruits, especially mango and pineapple.
Favorite Veggie: Leeks, hands down, but I love a lot of vegetables. (Except for carrots, celery, and fennel.)
Want to continue to see what Kacee is up to? You can follow her on social media:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cafetejas
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/cafe_tejas
And check out her cooking skills yourself! New clients can get 20% off their first “cook-date.” Please contact Kacee through her Café Tejas website.