About Us

Our Beginning

In 1984 Chef Paul Baker left his job as Vice President and Head Chef at a prominent catering company on the North Shore. During his time there he catered for many high profile clients such as Marshall Field, Ray Krok, and former President Reagan.  He was finally ready to make a break, so with a new idea and lots of energy, he founded Fresh Appetizers by Chef Paul in 1984.  It began as an appetizer manufacturing company that sold freshly made appetizers to caterers, food services, and private individuals.  In 1995 when the business moved into a building that previously housed an A&W, and Chef Paul's daughter returned from culinary school, the business was expanded to include a small carryout restaurant and full service catering company.  As the catering division of the business became more and more successful the manufacturing and carryout restaurant were phased out.  For the last 10 years we have been exclusively catering for hundreds of satisfied clients and continue to grow, constantly improving and expanding our services, always focusing on personal service first.

Our Training

Chef Paul Baker grew up running snack shops for his family in Lake Forest, IL.  After several non food jobs he landed back in the culinary industry at a catering company in Evanston, IL.  There he trained under a culinary Olympian for 4 years before taking over his position as Head Chef.  The rest of his story is explained above.  He still shows up every day and can often be found in the kitchen at any special event making sure everything is perfect!

Chef Ginger Matovich, Chef Paul's daughter, got started in the field as a small child, often tagging along to the kitchen to help eat the fruits of his labor.   From this she developed a love of the party, of cooking, and of creating something from nothing that she couldn't shake.  While growing up she worked in the family business and at several local restaurants and hotels from 1984 until leaving for college in 1991.  She studied art and hotel/restaurant management in Boston then returned home in 1993 to complete an American Culinary Federation sponsored apprenticeship program at Harold's restaurant at the The Grand Milwaukee Hotel in Milwaukee, WI.  She won several scholarships and culinary awards during that time.  She completed the apprenticeship program as an ACF certified cook in 1995 and began working full time at Chef Paul Catering.  She currently is the Catering Director and assists clients in menu planning, venue selection, rental selection, as well as arranging staffing and timelines for all events.

Our Mission

We run a family business, not a big business.  As we continue to grow we are always most conscious of our relationships with our customers.  It is more important to us to make your event a complete success and to exceed your expectations than to make a dollar.  We've found this philosophy to be very successful as almost all of our business in the last ten years has come from word of mouth.  We continue to grow but only when we listen to you, our customer.  When we follow up on an event we ask what went wrong and what we could have done better to serve you, then we listen, then we change our services to make them better for you. 

We run a responsible business as well, not because it's trendy, it's just smart, and always has been.  We are open by appointment only so we do not have to keep our staff or utilities running when there are no customers or kitchen staff present.  We use low voltage lighting in our showroom to reduce electricity usage and keep those lights off when there are no clients present.  We have switched to an on demand hot water heater and a high efficiency dish machine.  We have switched from paper proposals created in word and printed out each time a change was made to a computer based system where all notes and event changes are digitally recorded and only printed when absolutely necessary.  We have been using recyclable packaging since it became available in the 90's and are now offering compostable and biodegradable disposables to our customers.  We use our food waste in the summer as compost for our home gardens.  We use recyclable paper, recycled ink, cake boxes made from recycled cardboard, and recycle all of our aluminum waste.  We use suppliers that seek out the most local vendor to reduce emissions.  And we keep looking for new ways to be more responsible AND save money over the long run.

Contact Information and Hours

Address:  3900 Washington Street, Suite H, Gurnee, IL  60031

Phone:  847-623-8750

Email:  ginger@freshappetizers.com

OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

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