Jan’s twenty-plus years in the corporate world working long days, nights and weekends as a senior exec for a Fortune 500 firm were, in a nutshell, both financially rewarding and creatively stifling.
During those days she cooked for friends and family and read cookbooks for relaxation. Her financial success afforded her the luxury of good tools, lots of travel, high-end restaurant dining experiences and the ability to acquire quality ingredients when she cooked at home.
As much as she enjoyed the life that her former career offered, there came a point when she knew it was time for her to pursue something more. Something for which she has a true passion.
It was around this time that she met Chris. Both passionate about food, wine, spirits and each having spent years “on the road” while “working for the man”, there was an instant kinship between the two of them – both well-traveled and hungry for a life change.
So, it was only natural for them to leave the Seattle area, where Chris had been born and raised, and where Jan had spent most of the previous 15 years, and head straight for Las Vegas. While living there, Jan attended culinary school where she graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
The pair then made their way to Jan’s hometown of Fergus Falls, MN where in the summer of 2012, they launched what later would become Sweet & Savory Kitchen.
After a two-year stint near Santa Cruz, CA where they moved after Chris took a promotion with his employer in 2014, the couple returned to Fergus Falls, in June of 2016 where they continue to build upon the success of prior endeavors, as Sweet & Savory Kitchen.
Chris, who serves as the company’s CTT — Chief Taste Tester, and Jan both enjoy the warm weather and sunshine that California’s beautiful Central Coast offers, but longed for the sense of community they had experienced in Minnesota.
Chris and Jan have enjoyed helping to build a following at the local farmer’s market, where Jan is back on as a market board member, and while they will miss living in an area where local, organic, fresh ingredients are abundant year-round, they are pleased with the food renaissance that appears to be happening in and around Fergus Falls. After all, anyone can grow produce in warm weather and sunshine. It takes a determined Minnesotan to farm in such a short season.
The couple enjoys the camaraderie amongst the market vendors and looks forward to another successful season in 2016. The pair enjoy showcasing the products of their fellow vendors both in their freshly baked goods offered for sale at the market, as well as incorporating them into the many meals they are serving to clients.
Jan grew up in the small town in west central MN. She describes her early years as very “leave it to beaver”. Dinner was on the table at 5:30 during the week and Sunday supper was always something special. She learned to make her way around the kitchen at a very early age, thanks to the patience of her mother who never tired of letting her kids experiment with recipes.
As the youngest of five, by a number of years, Chris essentially grew up an only child with a father who always planted a huge garden and loved to bake bread (and make his famous chili) every Saturday. His mom was a great cook and always had a plan for dessert each night. This might explain Chris’ love of sweets.
When they are not at a client’s home cooking for their special day, you can find them testing recipes or dabbling in their kitchen together. Jan might be in front of her computer doing web design for small business clients, writing and editing for blogs and magazines, handcrafting a lovely piece of jewelry or upcycling a discarded item into something useful. Chris might be found cooking (the books), scheduling their next client meeting, or making sure that things are stocked and the van is perfectly loaded with all their wares for the next market day. If it’s a day off, you will likely find him in front of the grill cooking up a perfectly med-rare steak. His passion for sports, especially baseball, football and golf keeps the rare downtime filled with lots of games. He’s even taught Jan to love football, and is still working on getting her interested in baseball. He’s given up trying to make her a golfer. She’s bad. Really. Really. Bad.
As relative newlyweds, Chris and Jan bring a passion for food, and a deep enjoyment of working together, to their business. There’s a lot of fun and laughter that accompany all that good food they are making.
Creativity abounds for the two of them, but never in a more expansive way than in their kitchen.
“We hope to bring a little sweet and savory into your life.” — Chris and Jan