About The KaTom Blog

The KaTom Blog is a go-to source for food-enthusiasts and professionals of all levels to find culinary inspiration. Here you’ll find extensive guides, articles, and lists that will help you navigate through today’s foodservice technology and trends. You are in the right place if you are looking for helpful tips and tricks, new recipe ideas, and advice from leading industry professionals. Have a question or interesting topic to share? Be sure to send us an email at blog@katom.com Happy reading!

About the Authors

Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time is kind of an anomaly in my life. If I know there is a chance I might have some, I promptly fill it with music festivals, farmers’ markets, and endless cooking. I also have a bad habit of binge-watching Netflix.

What is the name of your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?

A little hole-in-the-wall place called Celito Lindo in Miami. The incredibly authentic Cuban food is simply mouthwatering. When I was a little girl, I’d beg my dad to make the trek down there just so I could stuff my face with roast pork and plantains. I was such a weird little kid.

What is your go-to recipe in the kitchen?

My one-pot pasta recipe is a weeknight standby. It’s great because you toss everything in one pot, there is hardly any prep, and it’s delicious. I’m all about using every dish in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s nice to not spend an hour cleaning up.

What is your funniest kitchen disaster or mishap?

That would be the first time I cooked dinner for my boyfriend’s parents in our new home. I decided to impress everyone with the immersion blender I just bought at KaTom before I even had a chance to try it out. Apparently you’re supposed to actually immerse the blender before you turn it on. There was red sauce everywhere – all over the kitchen, all over my silk blouse, and, worst of all, all over my boyfriend’s father. Sad.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Peanut butter straight from the jar. Utensils are entirely optional.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Stories like this: “Oh, you have to try this incredible recipe I just made last night. It’s based on this incredibly rare ingredient that you can only get by climbing this ridiculously challenging mountain in a corner of Outer Mongolia.” Really, folks?

What is the best meal you ever ate?

A Bedouin feast that was served on the ground in the middle of the desert. We sat on the ground and ate everything with our hands from a shared plate. It was an incredible experience.

Where do you draw your inspiration from when working in the kitchen?

I really admire cooks who are real about their process. People who use real ingredients and recipes that are accessible to anyone. I love it when a well-respected chef admits that things don’t always go perfectly. What truly makes a chef is the ability to adapt recipes to ingredients, situations, and tastes.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Teleportation. So that I could travel to the ends of the earth and still be home in time for cocktail hour.

Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy hiking, camping, swimming, and outdoor activities. I also like traveling, even when that just means hopping in the car on a Saturday and going someplace new.

What is the name of your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?

JD’s Smokehouse in Rutherford College, N.C. It’s authentic North Carolina barbecue, which means low-and-slow cooking over real logs. It also means pulled pork, though they also offer delicious brisket and chicken, and have incredible sides. My favorite part of it is that they have all the Carolina sauces – Eastern North Carolina’s vinegar-based, Lexington’s tomato and vinegar, and even the mustard sauce of the South Carolina lowlands – on every table.

What is your go-to recipe?

Probably the macaroni and cheese recipe handed down through my wife’s family. If I’m asked to bring a dish to a meal, that’s likely to be it.

What food that you make are you most proud of?

Not to pigeon-hole myself, but pork barbecue. There’s something very empowering about spending all day cooking meat over a fire and coming up with something as delicious as a well-smoked pork shoulder.

What is your guilty pleasure?

When it comes to food, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about enjoying what they like. Everyone has to die of something and I’d rather mine be having eaten too much delicious food.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Ice crunching and other small, repetitive noises like that. It just grates on my nerves.

What is the best meal you ever ate?

I’m no good at comparative analysis, so that’s hard to say. If I were to create a perfect meal, it would involve pulled pork, pimento cheese, livermush (a North Carolina favorite), collard greens, pinto beans, peanut butter pie, and Cheerwine.

Where do you draw your inspiration from in the kitchen?

I really enjoy cooking, but I can’t say I have any real inspiration. My motivation is to make something edible, but that’s about as far as it goes.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Invisibility. Some people say things like the ability to shoot spiders out of their eyes or the ability to have infinite money. Those people should realize that they could become invisible and throw spiders at people if they feel that need or become a disappearing street performer and earn lots of money.

Lyndsay Gower

Lyndsay Gower

A University of Tennessee graduate with a degree in advertising, she coordinates KaTom’s marketing efforts. When she’s not doing that, she can typically be found sharing a meal with friends, cruising Knoxville’s craft beer joints, or floating down one of East Tennessee’s numerous rivers. Her life’s goal is to visit every U.S. national park and she likes giving pets opposite-gender names.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to do pretty much anything on the water – tubing, canoeing, boating, swimming, all of the things. I also like hiking and traveling, going to the movies, and reading.

What is the name of your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?

The Tomato Head in Knoxville. I love that they source a lot of their ingredients locally, they offer a great variety of foods, and the atmosphere is really cool and easy-going.

What is your go-to recipe?

My grandma’s mac-and-cheese. It’s so good and I know it will come out right each time.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Coconut cream pie and bad television.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Generalizing.

What is the best meal you ever ate?

Street food in Bangkok. There are all these little stalls all along the road. It’s great to just walk through and see all the vendors making the food and using recipes that have been in their families for years. And the food is so good.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

The ability to know exactly what I want to know, when I want to know it. It would be like having Google in my brain. I wouldn’t just know everything about everything all the time; I would be able to think, “Hmm, I’d like to know that,” and it would come up in my brain.

What food that you make are you most proud of?

I make really good fried chicken, but it’s not deep fried. It’s pan fried in olive oil, with bread crumbs and chili powder as the breading. I dip the chicken in ranch dressing, then bread it. It’s delicious.

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