Just over two years ago, 35-year-old Kathy Bullerman, of Kuisine by Kathy, made the move from her tiny hometown in Minnesota to Tucson and decided it was time to re-connect with something she loved—cooking.
In Minnesota, Bullerman grew up surrounded by food in her parents’ grocery store, and soon took up the family tradition of cooking.
“I just liked to create things, and I loved to eat,” she said.
But after years of peeling potatoes and dish duty she went to college and decided she would not take part in the family business.
Instead, Bullerman worked for a real estate group and then a financial company. Neither seemed satisfying.
“I didn’t like sitting in a cube and all that good stuff. I just wanted to be more independent,” she said.
A friend, now significant other, of hers had already moved out to Tucson years before.
“We’re from the same town in Minnesota, but he had moved out here a few years prior and I said, ‘You know what, I will not move back to Minnesota because I will freeze to death.’ I don’t have kids or anything and I thought I better figure out what I want to be when I grow up so I just plunged in and moved out. I was sick of the winters there.”
But still, Bullerman did not want to deal with the “terrible hours” and pay of restaurant chefs, nor with the “headache” of owning a business.
“A friend of mine while we were in school worked at a place called Perkins, kind of like a Cocos here, and I remember he would come back and just reek of bacon, and sausage,” she said. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh I don’t want to do that!’”
So taking only the good parts of the industry, Bullerman chose her own dishes to make and hours to work, and become a personal chef.
“I grew up kind of a heavy child, and when I got to be an adult I did the yo-yo dieting. I chose to be a personal chef because I just wanted to show people that you can still eat good tasting food without all the fat and calories.”
After working for her certifications with the Culinary Business Academy, Safe Serve, and the United States Personal Chef Association, she started Kuisine by Kathy. Now she cooks and freezes weeks worth of meals for families, caters events, and teaches others to cook.
Bullerman asks people how much they spend going out in a week. If they go out three or more times she tells them that for the same amount of money she can fill a freezer for three weeks. “You would get healthy meals, everything is prepared and customized to your liking, and you don’t have to go out and wait in line to eat at a restaurant.”
But for many, the term “personal chef” signifies a service that is financially out of their reach. “That is a little bit of a problem with my marketing that I have to get the point across,” Bullerman said. Oprah has a personal chef, so people think they can’t afford it. I just have average clients. I don’t have Oprah. Nobody like that.”
Most of her 16 current clients are either families with too many working hours and too little time at home, or elderly couples who no longer have the mobility to shop and cook. Bullerman likes the positive impact she has on her clients’ lives.
One client was not sure she wanted Bullerman’s services.
“She was a little bit skeptical about having me cook meals, but after the first time she called me and said that I was the difference between them having to go to assisted living,” Bullerman said.
Another client recently called her to say that after two months of her meal service and no other changes, she and her husband started losing weight.
All of the menus Bullerman creates for clients are individualized for dietary needs and taste, and are based off of a questionnaire and computer program that holds more than 4,200 recipes.
Most of Bullerman’s recipes are drawn from her family cookbook. Many of her clients crave comfort food, like pot roast, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots—her most popular dish.
For now, Bullerman is happy with her move and career. Tucson may be much larger than her hometown, but she says the people are quite close. “Tucson is a small, big town,” she said.
Her cooking is also here to stay. Today she fills her free time with her craft: reading about, or watching shows about cooking, and trying out new recipes from her favorite chefs like the Barefoot Contessa.
“I’ve been around food my whole life—I’m what you call a true foodie,” she said.
Read some of Bullerman’s recipes in the Explorer twice a month. For her services call 850-4356 or visit her online at www.kuisinebykathy.com.