Meet Mitzi Coaker, the recipe developer and licensed caterer behind MCatering LLC, a Chicago-based food service company. But it’s not just any catering company. Coaker serves up ethnic foods in general, but the Haitian-American entrepreneur’s specialty is, well…Haitian cuisine! Read on to find out how she’s bringing Haitian-American cuisine to Chicago and surrounding areas.
Kreyolicious: How did your passion for cooking begin?
Mitzi Coaker: My passion for cooking begin in Haiti when I tasted a pate. The flavors exploded in my mouth and to this day I’ve been trying to recreate that taste.
Kreyolicious: What made you start your catering business?
Mitzi Coaker: I started my catering business because it gave me the opportunity and luxury to serve great food and not feel pressured to perform every day if I own a restaurant right now. Also as a caterer, my events will be a showcase in itself especially since I’m introducing an unknown cuisine (Haitian) to the Chicagoland area.
Kreyolicious: What’s the best meal you had growing up?
Mitzi Coaker: The best meal I had growing up was sauce poi rouge avec du riz blanc [rice and beans with white bean dip] and of course Haitian chicken and sauce.
Kreyolicious: Any ideas on how great cooks can take their cooking to the next level?
Mitzi Coaker: Never stop learning. Do your research on your cuisine. Watch great chefs learn from their techniques. Take advice you don’t know it all. Do a survey on your market audience.
Kreyolicious: How do you stay on top of your game?
Mitzi Coaker: Keep your business relevant. Broaden your horizons. Try a new venue. Reach a new market. Best of all practice on making your dishes the best it can be.
Kreyolicious: What’s the Haitian-American community like in Chicago?
Mitzi Coaker: The Haitian-American community is pretty segregated. It’s mostly on the east side of Chicago and far north almost Evanston. Nothing in the Metropolitan Chicago Area, that’s where my passion is.
Kreyolicious: Some people are probably thinking…a Haitian dude Jean-Baptiste du Sable founded Chicago and all. That city should be receptive to a little Haitian food. What are your thoughts?
Mitzi Coaker: Most people have not had Haitian food. They compare it to Jamaican food, don’t like that. We don’t even have a Haitian restaurant in Chicago. The only one is in Evanston.
Kreyolicious: In your food adventures in Chicago, what do you note about other people of African descent….are they embracing Haitian cuisine…what do they think of the dishes…
Mitzi Coaker: I’m known for my rice, so my immediate circle is aware of it. On a larger scale, choices are so many that it would take much capital to be on the map.
Kreyolicious: What challenges do you come across with your clientele?
Mitzi Coaker: Challenges with my clienteles. Consistency…Money.
Kreyolicious: Do you go to Haiti often?
Mitzi Coaker: I’ve been to Haiti seven times in six years with my church on missions trip. I’ve been inspired each time to showcase Haitian cuisine to the Chicagoland area. I would bring spices, bread, essence and coffee. I would share them with my friends and families. Unfortunately the best thing Haiti has that I can’t bring are the mangoes. Last time I was there I bought three of the pots that you would see the ladies cooking on the streets.
Kreyolicious: Looking back at your career and business…who gave you the best advice ever?
Mitzi Coaker: The best advice that I’ve gotten was from my mom. She said she used to cook for free. but I’m cooking and getting paid for it. I see it as each generation is breaking a barrier. Also clean up as you cook.
Kreyolicious: What’s next for you?
Mitzi Coaker: What’s next for me? In five years I plan on having at least one paid employee and a small i
CLICK HERE to visit the M Catering LLC website and to learn more about Haitian American cuisine fusion!