Glass doors frost as they’re opened to reveal, inside, an assortment of fresh and frozen meals. These coolers rest in Chef Tim Mulderink and his wife Shelley’s Hixson, TN kitchen storefront, where they shield a rotating variety of meals – American comfort foods prepared with a healthy twist.
Chef Mulderink sells everything from salads to pimento cheese to pizza. Each meal is sold frozen and comes with thawing and heating instructions. You can also order online and have meals delivered to your front door.
Six years ago, Chef Tim Mulderink began the meal and catering service in a church kitchen.
“Our incubator was the church kitchen we were operating out of on Bonny Oaks,” Mulderink says. “It was wonderful with helping us grow, but it was difficult to attract customers without having a street presence.”
Mulderink, or Chef Tim, as he calls himself, turned to farmers' markets to reach out to new customers.
“The Chattanooga community supports farmers' markets in a huge way,” Mulderink says. “It allows me to touch the customer and talk to them about what our brand and product is all about.”
“We moved out to Hixson a little over a year ago,” Mulderink says. “In the process, we have developed an entirely new clientele.”
This expanded storefront has given Mulderink's business an opportunity for growth, with the brick and mortar presence he lacked in the beginning.
And Mulderink’s business continues to grow. In March, The Chef and His Wife began stocking their line of pimento cheese products in Chattanooga area Food City Stores.
“The third arm to our business is our partnership with Food City Stores,” Mulderink says. “That started back in November 2016 when I approached the store manager and he put me in touch with someone from corporate. We’re up to 20 stores at this point.”
This partnership has been huge for Mulderink and his business. The business has a handful of popular items, such as chicken pot pies, but Mulderink was surprised when a different item entirely gained traction in their new partnership.
Their now-famous pimento cheese has been selling at record speeds in the Food City locations.
“We’re learning how to turn what was a smaller production into a bigger production,” Mulderink says.
“Food City has told me that they’re very excited with our products’ performance so far,” Mulderink says. “We have stocked 3,500 units.”
Though humble beginnings have given way to growth, Mulderink still sees the value in small, local business.
“When we’re at Food City doing samplings, my tag line is, ‘Care for a sample of locally made pimento cheese?’ When I say locally made, you can see their eyes light up. People in town really want to support local business,” Mulderink says.
Tim and his six person staff aren’t slowing down any time soon.
“Our goal is to eventually open up a satellite storefront that will be fed from production at this kitchen,” Mulderink says. “Ideally, it would be somewhere on the Northshore, or East Brainerd/Ooltewah area.”