Christopher Dutka has been cooking since he was 14. His love of the kitchen came from watching as his grandmother transformed fresh food from her garden into legendary meals. He was captivated by what went on there.
Today, with help from UCEDC, Christopher’s Kitchen is captivating customers and budding chefs alike.
The hallmark of the Morganville-based meal service and catering company is healthy, organic, fresh food. “I’m really more about quality than anything,” Dutka says. He even maintains special menus for diabetics, those on gluten-free diets and vegans.
But there can be a big gap between knowing what you want to do and being able to do it. Dutka needed a financial partner when the second mortgage he took on his home proved not to be enough to realize his dream. “I spent a lot of time looking at options,” Dutka recalls. “A friend mentioned UCEDC to me.” He worked with UCEDC loan officer Mark Leichtling and obtained a $30,000 micro loan.
“They were very supportive and really wanted to help me be successful,” Dutka says. And, even though the new location is up and running, “they still call me to keep in touch, see how things are going.”
Obtaining a loan is never easy – especially in the restaurant industry, Dutka says. But while he was clearly getting nowhere with banks, UCEDC seemed to want to find a way to help. “Yes, I had to get a lot of paperwork together, but it was definitely worth it.”
Today, that $30,000 is helping feed a growing business. In addition to his catering business -- which serves up everything from intimate meals for two, brunch for a handful, or a full wedding – Dutka recently added cooking classes for amateur chefs.
Dutka is impressed with the ongoing support he’s received from UCEDC. “They believe in my vision and the success of my business,” he says. “They’re always here for me and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Learn more about Christopher’s Kitchen, including a schedule of cooking classes at www.christopherskitchen.com