‘I cannot imagine a life outside the food/hospitality industry’

‘I cannot imagine a life outside the food/hospitality industry’


Kimberly Mayone, 45

Culinary arts adjunct instructor

Southern Maine Community College, South Portland


Since her early 20s, chef Kimberly Mayone, a longtime recipe developer and self-described food lover, has worn many hats in the food and hospitality industry.

For the past seven years, Mayone has been working as a culinary arts adjunct instructor at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, where she teaches students how to become industry experts ­– from preparing a gourmet, four-course meal to efficiently running a full-service restaurant.

Inside the college’s Culinary Arts Dining Room, which is open to the public three days a week, students “set the dining room, wait on the guests, learn about the menu, service, and professionalism, and other things that we incorporate into running a dining room,” said Mayone, 45.

Her classes are intended to make students “feel more confident in their ability to put ingredients together and think about food critically,” she said. “It’s getting these culinarians comfortable talking about food and the techniques they’ve learned. A lot of culinary school is rigorous,” added Mayone. Instruction includes learning how to braise meats, and sautee and blanch vegetables.

Mayone, who lives in South Portland with her husband, Mark, and three children, teaches an introduction to culinary arts course, as well as a dining room course at Southern Maine Community College. Mayone earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1992, and has since held several positions in the industry, from a creative chef for Odwalla to restaurant manager for a variety of upscale hotels in Portland and Boston.

While the culinary arts class meets once a week for 16 weeks, the dining room class runs four days a week. According to Mayone, her courses at SMCC attract a mix of students, including older adults looking to start a second career, and younger adults who aspire to become chefs, bakery owners, dieticians, and more.

“The majority want to cook in a kitchen here in Portland, on a cruise ship, or in a hotel,” she said.

Mayone is the co-author of three cookbooks, including bestseller, “The Everyday Low-Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook,” and “The Big Book of Low-Carb.” She also owns a South Portland-based recipe development company, WOW Delicious, which works with media outlets and food manufacturers to develop recipes to their specifications. She is a regular contributor to Hannaford’s Fresh magazine, and is the editor of an online food blog, Flavorista.com.

“I’ve always loved cooking and eating good food,” said Mayone, who aspired to be a chef at a young age.

Mayone spoke with Maine Women about what she enjoys most about her career as a recipe developer and culinary arts instructor, and what it takes to be successful in the food/hospitality industry.

Q: What inspired you to get into the food industry? Is there a mentor or individual who was helpful to you?

A: I have loved cooking as long as I can remember. My first job as a teenager was at the Great Lost Bear in Portland. At 16, working in a kitchen was a real thrill. When I went to college, I loved the cooking classes so much I became a teaching assistant. My mom worked full time but still managed to put a homemade meal on the table almost every night, stressing the importance of real food and sitting around a table together. One of our favorites was linguine with white clam sauce, a recipe I still make today. Both of my parents encouraged my passion for cooking, although my dad was certainly skeptical when I told him I was going to Italy for an undetermined amount of time following my college graduation. Professionally, Pamela Fischer, Kitty Broihier and Lise Stern have mentored me in the world of recipe development and food writing. Chef Tony Poulin, one of my colleagues at SMCC, always gives me sound and smart advice with regard to my work as a culinary educator.

Q: What does it take to be successful?

A: In the restaurant business, you have to be prepared to work on your feet for really long hours, in a very hot kitchen. You will be expected to work nights, weekends and holidays. There is a hierarchy in kitchens with the executive chef or chef/owner at the top. It is really important to respect the person/people in charge. Cooking is like any craft – it takes practice. Even though the culinary arts are steeped in tradition, there are always new techniques to learn and ingredients to taste. To succeed in this business, you must be passionate about food and hospitality. Celebrity chefs who make six figures are the exception, not the rule. It would be really hard to work in the restaurant business full time if you did not love it.

Q: What is your favorite recipe, or have you developed your own recipe? What makes it unique?

A: When I cook at home, I rarely use recipes unless I am baking or canning. I love to make homemade pickles, as well as jams and dessert sauces. My family’s favorite meal is grilled steak tips, rice and broccoli. I love simple foods prepared exceptionally well. For example, a beautiful piece of haddock needs little adornment, but it cannot be overcooked. We are so lucky in Maine with all the fresh seafood, interesting food producers and farmers. Schlotterbeck & Foss, a specialty food manufacturer in Portland, makes some of the best mustard around. I especially love the Sweet Bourbon Mustard.

Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do? What would you be doing if you weren’t developing recipes and teaching culinary arts?

A: Variety! My recipes assignments always vary so my work is never dull. Of course, if I can’t get a recipe quite right, my family will complain about the same meal three nights in a row, but luckily my neighbors and parents are always willing to be taste tasters. Teaching is awesome, too, whether it is at SMCC or in group/private classes. I love that moment when something read in a book or recipe makes sense to a student. I cannot imagine a life outside of the food/hospitality industry. If I weren’t a chef, maybe I would be working in a hotel as restaurant manager or in a fine dining restaurant as a sommelier.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: That’s hard to say. Definitely cooking.

Kimberly Mayone, a self-described food lover and recipe developer from South Portland, is a culinary arts adjunct instructor at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Her courses teach aspiring chefs, restaurant managers, and more, how to run a dining room and prepare a four-course meal. Courtesy photo

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