Cookin' with Kim: A Mom's Culinary Journey from Chef to Entrepreneur
In Cypress, a local chef is gaining a following for her delicious, home-cooked meals that make mealtime easier for busy families, while also inviting foodies of all ages to her kitchen for fun and fellowship.
Growing up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Cypress-based chef Kim Liberta's culinary journey began as a child in her family's liquor/wine business. Despite her parents' long hours at Liberta’s Spirit Shoppe, Kim found joy in the kitchen, a place where she could play, experiment, and discover her passion for cooking. Guided by supportive parents and a high school culinary arts teacher, Kim's kitchen dreams were encouraged and nurtured.
Her foray into the hospitality industry began at age 16 in a local country club snack shop. Eager for a well-rounded education, Kim's 'hands-on' approach led her to unique environments, including a stint at a dude ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, assisting the main chef amidst the Rocky Mountains. Graduating with a Culinary Arts Degree from Johnson and Wales University in the early '90s, Kim ventured into diverse cities and small towns nationwide, from Wolfgang Puck Café in Las Vegas to Fog City Diner Concept in San Francisco and Chicago to refine her craft and propel her career.
By the age of 30, Kim achieved her goal of becoming an Executive Chef, overseeing three concepts in Lake Forest, Illinois. However, her culinary journey took a turn when she resigned at 8 months pregnant, embracing the opportunity to be a full-time mom to her daughter Lucynda. As she navigated the challenges of being a home cook, Kim developed KIM JAMS, experimenting with unconventional flavor combinations to make jams that she would sell at a local farmers market.
On becoming a home cook for her family, Kim recalled that "there was no prep cook, no cleaning crew, and it took me about a year to adjust to the tricks of this vastly different trade. Preparing 21 meals a week plus snacks for a family was overwhelming, even for the best of cooks."
Relocating to Cypress, Texas, Kim joined the local MOMS Club, sparking the inception of 'Cookin’ with Kim.' Recognizing the struggle of preparing healthy meals amidst busy schedules, Kim's business evolved from home kitchen classes to providing freezer meals. 'Cookin' with Kim' became synonymous with community, laughter, and shared culinary experiences.
"By the end of each class, no matter if folks came alone or with a group, everyone acted as if they had known each other for years. They were laughing, talking, and cookin' up yummy food to feed themselves and their families. I am a firm believer that food truly does bring people together," said Kim.
Embracing challenges, Kim juggled motherhood with her business, eventually going full-time with hot meals, freezer meals, and expanding into teaching summer camps, adult classes, and catering. But the journey wasn't without its ups and downs, including a divorce, which led Kim to take a position with CFISD's administrative staff café, ensuring a schedule that aligned with Lucy's school hours.
"God placed me [in CFISD] for a reason that first year with the 'All girls' house. The women there where the rocks I needed to transition my life," said Kim.
In 2023, Kim reflects on her growth, remaining a proud mom and continuously amazed and inspired by the people she meets who contribute to her business's growth. 'Cookin' with Kim' offers classes at the Cookin' with Kim Kitchen and travels to homes and businesses, catering to age groups ranging from 5 to 90. Kim's love for cooking and its impact on others drives her business, with plans for expansion and new ventures, including a bigger kitchen and the introduction of Kim's Granola Bites. As Kim's journey continues, she looks forward to adding new members to her team and making mealtime easier for those she encounters.
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.