GTPulse: Local Catering Company Rises ‘From The Ashes’
All of our lives have been changed in some way this year. For Kristy VerSnyder, 2020 was going to be a year enjoying a busy but exciting summer season with her farm to table catering company Island Thyme. The Leelanau county-based company serves weddings and events in lower northern Michigan and is Kristy’s pride and joy.
“I mean, the first time I talked to a planner about COVID becoming very real in our life was the first part of March, and it was for our first wedding of the season, which was about Memorial Day weekend. So It would have been nine events that one weekend and April 1 was the day that they all decided to postpone, and rightfully so. And I figured like, okay, this is going to claim May and June of my life and then we’re just going to bounce back. But then all of a sudden September cancellations and all of August canceled and all of July canceled and postponed.”
After seven years of fine-tuning Island Thyme Kristy has finally gotten into a groove. She’s connected and built relationships with local farmers to provide the fresh ingredients that go into the food she serves, she has a catering staff that she is happy to work next to, and she’s found Matt Fitzke-Loll, a chef that keeps her inspired to go further.
“Matt is my chef partner for Island Thyme. He joined me last year. I kept telling my husband that I can’t lose him, and if I don’t have a job for him I’m going to lose him. He’s the best partner I’ve ever had in my seven years of catering.”
The pressure to figure out a game plan was weighing heavily on Kristy. She and her husband reached out to her husband’s brother in North Carolina who owns Fresh Wood Fired Pizza. He has brick and mortars now but had used a food truck to sell his pizza before.
“He wasn’t really utilizing it anymore for festivals or anything. I thought this was a loaner for the season. We go there to pick it up and he’s like, ‘No I bought it’”
The 1953 Ford F-600 is attached to a wood-fired stove. Kristy is calling the pizza truck From The Ashes. The name serves two purposes; a catchy name for wood-fired pizza, but also, a declaration of perseverance in tough times. What she thought would be a summertime gig is now something she and Chef Matt have put a lot of care and thought into.
They took a month to perfect a dough recipe that would be best suited for a wood-fired oven, and a red wine tomato sauce for the pizzas. From a BBQ chicken pizza variation called Ring of Fire, to keeping it simple with sauce, cheese and pepperoni with The Rusty Engine, the offered combinations have something for everyone.
From The Ashes will be located at Plant Masters in Suttons Bay for the rest of the warm weather season.
“With the exception of rain, of course, we’ll be here Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 to 7:30. This is our second week here and we’re test running the lunch shift. If it doesn’t work out we’d be looking at opening at two.”
Any changes to their hours will be posted to their social media accounts.
From The Ashes has been a practical way for Kristy to continue to do what she loves most – giving guests a great experience. Island Thyme was born out of her passion for planning parties and cooking. From The Ashes was born out of resiliency and circumstance, but the idea is the same – good local people deserve good local food. From the S.A. Sachs quote that embodies the name of the truck, “hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams.”
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