TRAVERSE CITY — When chef Kristin Karam was a child, she helped her grandmother pick the array of vegetables that grew in the garden of her suburban Detroit home.
Karam then watched in awe as her grandmother transformed the bounty into a family feast every Sunday.
Those Sunday dinners inspired Karam and paved the way for what she does today: celebrate diversity with food and fresh ethnic cuisine as the owner of K2 Edibles based in Traverse City.
“I was really inspired by my grandmother, who lived behind the city airport yet had this beautiful rooftop garden where she grew things like mint, tomatoes, peppers and squash,” said Karam, who is Lebanese. “The food part of my culture made a huge impact on me.”
Her grandmother would spend the day cooking. When she was unable to continue the tradition, Karam’s mom and aunt took over.
“There was this entertainment with food,” she said.
Since then, Karam has tried to focus on her clients' traditions when planning a menu.
“It makes for great parties and starts a lot of conversations,” she said. “I always try to bring something from the past into today.”
Karam typically includes at least one traditional dish and it always winds up being a talking point, she said.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Polish, German or Italian," she said. "I love including something that has meaning to them or their mom or aunt."
Karam recalled a wedding that she catered for an organic farmer with Indian roots. The woman also wanted to use the food she grew.
“So she brought me potatoes, garlic, ginger and herbs and I made samosas, and a couple of curries,” she said. “The feel of that wedding was so fun because she brought a part of her to it with her heritage and the food."