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Plum City couple intend to cater to many tastes

PC couple intend to cater to many tastes

By Bill Kirk

PLUM CITY, Wis.--An early 1990s graduate of culinary school who took a break from related jobs in recent years is now back in the kitchen.

Kris Almsted has not only taken a head chef's position at a senior living facility in Red Wing, but started a catering business, joined by his wife, Sheri. The couple is licensed to operate Annabell's Catering from Molly's On Main in Plum City.

"I've been cooking since I was 10-years-old," Almsted said Wednesday about how he chose the career he's resumed following employment at Red Wing Shoe Company and Smead Manufacturing.

The son of Lloyd and Darlene Almsted, who has a brother Kevin (one of the catering service's occasional staffers) and a sister Peggy (of Cannon Falls, Minn.), said he developed a love for preparing food while still at home. The local native met his spouse in 1992, when they were students at Plum City High School. After graduating from there in '93, he married her in '94 and both furthered their educations in Eau Claire: he in a two-year culinary program at Chippewa Valley Technical College and she in a two-year cosmetology program at the former ProAct.

His first year in college was spent in food science classes, restaurant management, meat cutting and the like, he said. His second year was more hands-on, ordering food and working in a restaurant on campus.

"People from the college came in when they took their breaks," he said.

The culmination of the program was a grand cuisine event at Fanny Hill Dinner Theatre in Eau Claire, when the prospective graduates served a 13-course meal to approximately 150 people. He remembers being somewhat nervous at the time, though a repeat would come more easily for him today.

"It's more like fun to me...I have a passion for it," he said of cooking.

Almsted said his first job was at The Pickle Factory in Pepin, then operated by original owners Wayne and Carol Nelson. He next cooked at the former Holiday Inn Convention Center in downtown Eau Claire before going to the shoe and manufacturing companies.

Meantime, his mate said she was a beautician for five years, in Eau Claire and Durand, then worked at Unipatch, a medical supply house in Wabasha, Minn. But she eventually wanted to focus on time at home, caring for the couple's two daughters, Adrianna, age eight, and Kampbell, two.

Last May, Almsted was hired for head chef's duty by Ebenezer at Fairview Red Wing, a senior living community housing 68 residents, he said. The residents get a continental breakfast, lunch and supper; he estimated he and the staff make around 60 meals a day.

"We talked about it for quite awhile," he said of the catering venture, explaining "the more we looked into it, the more we saw a need for it."

They finally put their idea into a business format and officially created Annabell's Catering last fall, he said (the service's name is a combination of parts of the first names of their daughters). She said it's ideally suited to them because he has a head for the business numbers while she likes the organizing and decorating. Both enjoy cooking.

Read more in the print version of the Pierce County Herald April 9.