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I'm a stay at home mom who runs a catering business on the side. Though I am 36, I've loved to cook at least 26 of those years. My culinary adventure truly started in 2000, the year I met my husband. We moved from Nebraska (where I lived my whole life) to Hatteras, NC, which is a tiny island that juts off the state. My husband, Donnie, was a charter fisherman there. Because his days were consumed with fishing and sleep, I decided to "kill time" by delving into as many cookbooks as possible. After all, how many chances does a girl from Nebraska get to prepare fresh seafood whenever she desires? In 2002 started a culinary apprenticeship and learned more in such a short time than ever imagined.

We moved back to Nebraska in 2005 to have our son Jackson. When he was just two months old, I started my catering business. What I have learned is that I have to be willing to change with the times. I originally prepared lunches for pharmaceutical reps, who serve lunch to medical staff. Times change and laws are more restrictive, so I don't do that as often as I once did.

A new door opened for us when we bought our first home from Mick McDowell in St. Paul in 2007. He just happened to be opening a winery just north of town and he and his wife Loretta were looking for a caterer that might be able to prepare meals for parties and such. The relationship was a good one and we went from just servicing Christmas parties and small meetings, to regular service each month. However, my heart lies with my gourmet, four course meals so I began serving them at Stolley House in Stolley State Park, Grand Island, NE. It was a great success, but after just five months the Historical Society found a clause in their contract with the city that stated "no one must use the Stolley House for private gain." So again, I had to find a new venue. Every time change happens, whether I like it or not, I always look for the silver lining. I am happy this change took me to where I am now, which is serving four course meals at Moonlight Ridge Vineyard on hwy 281 just north of Grand Island. Karen and Daren Placke are two of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with and they have a gorgeous facility that sets the mood for the perfect dining experience. They finished the construction of their pavilion which holds groups of 300 plus and is perfect for weddings and large gatherings in the summer months. They have asked me to stay on as their resident chef for weddings and private parties. Check out the Upcoming Events page to see the upcoming dinners I offer there.

I still cook for anyone who will hire me, of course. I am always researching new recipes and challenging myself as much as possible. In the beginning I said that I wouldn't do weddings until I knew it "was right", but I feel that I'm ready now. When my newest son Henry was just two months old, I catered a 200 person wedding with three food stations (so it was actually for 600 people) and I made all the food myself. I really enjoy the education aspect of food as well. There aren't enough people cooking out there anymore and because of it, we're much more unhealthy than we used to be.

One of my goals is to show people that cooking can be enjoyable and even easy. I have been very blessed this year because in addition to having enough work, I have started appearing regularly on NTV's Good Life. It's a local talk show that features Nebraska talent. They actually feature many cooks from all over Nebraska. I just love it and was fortunate to recently share the experience with my son. Check out the "NTV Good Life Cooking Segments" page to see him.

As with anything in my life, prayer is the one constant that gets me through. God has blessed me with a strong desire to create beautiful, great tasting food. As long as I am able I'll keep creating in hope that I can quench that thirst. I thank my many clients, friends and family for giving me the opportunity to cook for them. It's a gift I love to share.

The Trade West article published December 23, 2009 by Jane Ryan

Enjoying a full plate

For Chef Megan Yutesler of Meg’s Catering, cooking is a prayerful act.

Megan Yutesler of St. Paul immediately declared herself a cook, not a chef. Considering the high level of her offerings through Meg’s Catering, including gourmet multi-course meals served at the Miletta Vista Winery and privately, I naturally think chef.
I’ll admit it, I’m from that old school that declares if you look like a duck, waddle like a duck and quack like a duck, you’re probably a duck. But it doesn’t really matter what Megan is called as long as she keeps cooking.
Yutesler started cooking at 10 an din spite of many missteps in the kitchen Megan still claims, “I’ve always loved cooking.” That love has sustained her through demanding training at the Culinary Institute of America, the other CIA, and with other culinary experts. Megan has a great story and here are a few highlights:
Daughter of Emil and Kathy Ripp of Cairo, she graduated from Centura High in 1995. Megan attended university in Omaha but eventually quit trying to fight her way past obstacles presented in a male dominated field. Instead, she waited tables and was so successful that she became the restaurant’s co-manager at just 21. Within months business at the previously underutilized Omaha eating establishment doubled under her energetic care.
About that time she met and hired Donnie Yutesler, a displaced fisherman, “because he was really cute.” They worked together long enough to zing each other’s heart strings and before Donnie returned to the sea to resume his fishing career. Their separation was enough to make Megan realize how much she missed him so she decided to follow her heart to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Donnie. You can guess what happened next.
You’re right. After she and Donnie married, Megan worked a few jobs long enough to decided what to do professionally. Eventually she told her boss she loved food, wanted to be a chef and agreed to do whatever necessary to make that happen. That proclamation led Yutesler to study and apprentice under seven CIA chefs “where I got to work in all phases of cooking,” a rare experience for anyone. Luckily for the Yuteslers, she also worked with fish and fishermen and Donnie brought fresh fish home for Megan’s nighttime practice sessions (which she appreciated very much).
After six years in North Carolina, the couple moved back to Nebraska in 2005 while awaiting the birth of their first child, Jackson. Initially they lived with Megan’s parents but moved to St. Paul when they bought a home and started Meg’s Catering in 2006 when Jackson was just two months old.
Yutesler is accomplished in the science of foods yet continues to experiment with new food combinations and to personalize recipes. In addition to catering for private affairs, Megan is also the chef/cook at St. Paul’s Miletta Vista Winery where meals fit for royalty are served several nights each week. For the upcoming menus, schedules and to make reservations check out Miletta’s website:
When asked what she likes most about catering, she said, “The creative aspect of cooking. I’ve always been artistic and love pleasing people” with food which keeps Megan grounded. She unabashedly shared that cooking is a spiritual act and her cooking efforts combined with her prayers makes finished products magic.
Determined to be with their baby full time, Meg’s Catering has been the answer to this busy mother’s dreams. Because of the rhythm of catering, Megan takes Jackson (sometimes with a helper) along to prepare and deliver delicious meals without missing a moment of their son’s life. Her goals for the next five years includes maintaining the best of both worlds - time to mother her child mixed with time to create dishes she loves sharing. Megan shared, “I’m so blessed. I get to stay home with my son and do what I love, too.”
You know I recommend foods that taste delicious to me, right? Well, Megan gave me a piece of pumpkin cheesecake that was to die for and now I won’t make it through the holidays without getting some to share with my family. For a mouthwatering meal or for something sweet contact Megan in St. Paul at 308-390-3888 and please tell her I sent you. And no surprise here, one of her favorite movies is “Julie and Julia.”

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