The smell of garlic wafted through the kitchen as chef Christopher Moore chopped parsley. He used deliberate, quick chops, eyes focused on the work in front of him.
Normally he listens to jazz music while he’s cooking, whether it’s in one of the commercial kitchens he’s worked at in the past or working for his own business Chef Chris Catering LLC, but Monday all that could be heard was his chopping and a steak sizzling as he placed it on a cast iron skillet.
Jazz music is slow, there’s thought in it, similar to the cooking he’s bringing to peoples’ doors.
“I just want to bring something different to Port Huron,” he said. “A different palate.”
Moore, who was born and raised in Detroit and moved to Port Huron in 2015, started Chef Chris Catering, a meal prep and catering business, during the pandemic. He cooks everything right in his Port Huron kitchen.
He said the business was born out of passion and necessity. He figured if he would risk working in the industry for someone else, he might as well do it for himself.
Prepped meals are typically $10 each and include honey garlic chicken, Cajun shrimp, Swedish meat balls, Brussel sprouts, asparagus and red skin potatoes. Everything’s from scratch, including homemade sauces and secret homemade seasonings, and Moore tries to emphasize clean, affordable eating.
“I wouldn’t put something on your plate that I wouldn’t eat,” he said.
Catering prices depend on the number of meals and type of food, but Moore usually cooks items like salmon, steak, asparagus and lamb chops.
He started catering 10-person events, but it quickly grew to 30-person and then recently an event with 100 guests where he made barbecue, ribs, steak and macaroni and cheese.
He woke up at 6 a.m. and started prepping by 7 a.m. For the event. He didn’t stop cooking until 4 p.m. and then had to drive an hour to it.
Moore said he doesn’t have a “grandmother taught me” story and he didn’t start cooking until high school, when he had to choose between an automotive or culinary class.
“I didn’t know how to cook, I just added sugar to everything I cooked,” he said. “Like I was freestyling.”
He remembers the first thing he cooked on his own was a lava cake for an assignment and that skill helped lead him to doing more work at a fine dining restaurant later.
Moore started as a dishwasher, but when he told the restaurant he knew how to make lava cakes he was granted that responsibility and then “just kept climbing,” he said.
That’s when he knew he had found his passion. After working in a restaurant all day, he would go home and read books, watch videos, learn how to cook things he didn’t know how to.
He said he gets a special feeling when he hears food cooking and in a busy kitchen, “it’s a different fire you get.”
To see the look on someone’s face when they’re trying the food, watch them take photos because they think it looks that good, and be able to bring people together with food, it makes it worthwhile.
“This is why I do it,” he said. “It’s probably the best feeling in the world.”
Moore said he’s invested a “pretty penny” in his new business, over $10,000 including a bigger vehicle to help carry meals.
His goal is to have two trucks for his business and a website where people can order their meals to have shipped to them. He wants to hire more people and maybe one day get a brick-and-mortar, but for now he wants to be solely responsible for what he produces.
Randy Maiers, CEO of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and a self-described “foodie” said the foundation used Moore’s business to cater a private event as a local, new and emerging food entrepreneur in the area.
The foundation told Moore to use his imagination for the event and the chef made mini brioche lobster rolls, rosemary and thyme butter-based steak bites prepared with sweet potatoes, butter poached crab over a garlic cream sauce and melted mozzarella caprese crostinis.
“It was really high-end, gourmet, creative,” Maiers said. “He really has a flair for it.”
He said if people like seafood, if they want “super high quality” and creative food, “Chris is worth trying.”
People can contact Moore at [email protected] and (313) 518-0075.