A Cut Above Extraordinary
Writer / Janelle Morrison
The Carmel community continues to produce incredible talents of all backgrounds and artists of all mediums. Amy von Eiff, co-owner and Executive Chef of A Cut Above Catering, is no exception to this list of successes.
“It all began in my own personal kitchen,” von Eiff recalled, “I lost my job due to downsizing when the economy took a downturn in 2008. I had worked at the Carmel Care Center in the marketing department and my job was to go to the area doctors, wine and dine them and make sure that they were happy and content. I was constantly bringing them food and making food in their commercial kitchens. We would have big chili cook offs as a give back to the community.”
She paused and reflected thoughtfully, “That’s where I learned to cook for 300 plus people. When I lost my job and I gained a great opportunity to do what I love to do and what I went to school for. I was meant to be in the culinary arts.”
von Eiff attended Ivy Tech for her degree in Culinary Arts. She also received formal training in Florence, Italy.
“There I learned more traditional home cooking methods rather than the typical French cuisine that we learn here in culinary school. I was able to shop from the street markets and cook in people’s homes.
“Everyone was so welcoming and I obtained some really great recipes from the area’s mom and pop restaurants. That’s what I grew up with. My grandmother ran a restaurant. At age 14, I would watch her prepare and cook her food and she would just shine with her food. Culinary arts have been in my blood for years. When my family moved from Buffalo, New York to Texas, my mother would make pizzas for all of my dad’s construction workers. She called it the Buffalo Nickel Pizza. It was all organic and straight from the farm. I learned the farm to table concept from her and I grew up with that my whole life. We were the typical Italian family. We sat down every Sunday and ate for four hours. It was big and it was loud and there was wine involved. It was just tradition. We would literally discuss what we would have for Thanksgiving the next year while we were eating our Thanksgiving meal. Food is always a priority for us. I knew it was my calling.”
She became a personal chef and honed in on the recipes that she wanted to make her signature for example her soups, which are on the menu at area locations like SoHo Cafe in Carmel. Her goal is to offer a convenience and service to her clients. Many of which have welcomed her into their homes for private catering services which led to hiring von Eiff for their corporate catering needs resulting in her need to rent a commercial kitchen and take her career to the next level.
“I rented my first kitchen that was located on 5th street in downtown Carmel,” von Eiff said. “Everything was coming together and I felt that I was being guided along. I started with that small commercial kitchen and slowly built my business. I brought another chef on and then my husband, Dave, came on board with us as my co-owner and he does all of our marketing and oversees the deliveries and events. We partnered with a lot of local businesses to compliment our clients’ needs. We try to pull from the community and make the best event possible.”
von Eiff’s reputation continued to grow and soon they needed more space. Her staff grew to nine employees and they decided that they wanted to offer instructional cooking in the new space that were moving into because they had been doing the classes in people’s personal kitchens and they had became very popular but they were limited on how many people they could instruct per class.
Their new location at 12955 Old Meridian St #104 allows them the space they need for cooking and to host instructional classes. von Eiff expressed her need to give back to the community that has supported her growth.
“I feel that there is a large demographic that are interested in learning cooking techniques and that the art of food has become even more glamorized with the Food Network and its celebrity chefs,” she said. “Plus, I wanted to give back to the community and this is how I can do that.”
A Cut Above Catering is developing plans to offer classes geared specifically to high school age students who are passionate about the culinary arts. The will offer these classes at a reduced, student rate.
von Eiff and her husband are proud to be a preferred vendor of the Center of Performing Arts in Carmel. This was a feat that was not easily obtained but one that they are truly excited about.
“It was a process,” she explained. “We honestly just ‘wowed’ them during the tasting and we are able to bring them excellent customer service. We also do a lot of food service for the talent and we consider that a great blessing. Willie Nelson and Gladys Knight are some of the most recent names that have enjoyed the edible bliss of von Eiff’s talents.
“If you had asked me if I would be doing this 10 years ago, this would not have been in my top five things. It has and continues to be, an incredible experience. For me, I enjoy creating food and now the event planning part of our services. This allows my staff to step up and showcase their talents as well. Our clients expect a higher quality of food and we appreciate and want to provide them that.”
In addition to celebrating their open house that occurred this past month, the von Eiffs celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary. On their “off-time”, they enjoy spending quality time with their children.
For more information on A Cut Above Catering’s holiday services, menu and instructional cooking classes visit acutabovecatering.com.