Miss Kim Cabbagestalk comes by her prowess in the kitchen honestly, she hails from a family of southern cooks with roots in both Virginia and South Carolina. Kim's mom and dad, Andre and Zur Cabbagestalk are great cooks themselves. Andre's father owned "Sonny's BBQ Pit" in Newark during the 60's and Zur's mother's prodigious roster of home-style dishes and desserts are what inspired young Kim to try her hand in the kitchen in the first place.
After high school, Kim went down south to stay with Grammy and helped her churn out an amazing array of dishes. "On Sundays she would start cooking at the crack of dawn just cause 'you never know who might stop by.' We're talking roasts, hams, chicken, cornbread, grits, biscuits, field peas and okra ... tons of fabulous food. All for one day!"
Her father Zur is convinced it was that experience that prepared Kim for turning out meals for an entire restaurant of people. "She always cooked for armies. She's used to it!"
Andre remembers the time Kim hosted one of their yearly family reunions in her backyard some years ago. "We expected 75 people based on the RSVPs," says Mom. "Then over 200 people showed up ... and KIM STILL HAD LEFTOVERS!"
It turned out to be excellent practice because when living in Easton, Pennsylvania, Kim was tapped by the city to cater their annual community bash, the Chocolate Lovers Soirée. Her assignment? To provide a smorgasbord of luscious chocolate desserts for ... 500 people!
"I cooked and baked non-stop for three days, making everything out of my tiny kitchen. I probably baked about 25 chocolate cakes and pies like Chocolate Praline Caramel Cake and Crushed Oreo Ice cream Pie, not to mention custards, puddings, cookies and lots of my homemade ice cream."
Once Miss Kim added cakes to the ice-creams the original "In The Mix" was born, a popular behind-the-scenes dessert business providing fresh, designer ice-cream, cakes and pies to many of the fine restaurants and cafes in the Easton area. Then, a 2007 move back to New Jersey to be closer to Mom and Dad spawned Kim's "pop up" dessert cafe that operated within a Union County restaurant.
After a couple of years it was clear that "In The Mix" needed a home of its own, so she slapped a "Kim's" onto the name and, with Mom and Dad's help, launched the current "Kim's In The Mix" on the corner of Irving and West Main Streets in Rahway.
"We started as a dessert cafe but then customers started asking me to fix them real meals, too, and I just couldn't say 'no'," laughs Kim. That's when she began to draw on her days with Grammy, and together with her mom and dad, the family crafted a food menu that brought to mind those groaning Sunday dinner tables in South Carolina when "you never knew who was going to stop by!"
Ideas for the dishes may have originated down south, but Miss Kim gives everything she makes a twist of her own. "Having my own place allows me the freedom to be spontaneous, sometimes I get an idea to make something totally new and I just do it. Then Mom lets people know its on the menu tonight!"
When asked what drives her to work as hard she does, Miss Kim searches for an answer. Stumped, she finally shrugs and says, "I guess it boils down to this ... I love feeding people. That's all it really is ... I just LOVE feeding people."
Although they've recently joined the ranks of restaurateurs, Miss Andre & Zur Cabbagestalk spent 50 years of their marriage owning and running a thriving photography house in Cliffwood, New Jersey. Zur Studios primarily catered to the fashion and advertising world but they also handled weddings, events and shows as well. While Zur handled all the actual photography, Andre was in charge of everything else.
Zur Photography Studios
A self-described "people person", she excelled at planning shoots, project managing and all out wrangling of the various personalities that entered their studio. "Over the years we worked with everyone ," recalls Zur, "millionaires and poor people, crazy people and sane people - and Andre's job was choregraphing everything so it all went smoothly."
"Yep, that was me. I made sure everything went smoothly without any bumps," says Andre. "I made it all fit and come out fine."
Nowadays, while Andre does her people wrangling at the restaurant, Zur continues to shoot. "I never go anywhere without my cameras." He eschews the digital revolution, preferring instead to grab a camera from his impressive collection of Hasselblads, Nikons and Mamiya RBs. Many of those photos are on display at the restaurant, in his The Vanishing South collection or at his online gallery, www.zurgallery.com.
"We call it The Bomb Shelter," says Andre. "Sometimes he goes into that dark room of his and doesn't come out until 10 - 20 hours later!"