When Michael Horn says he took the long road to earn his degree in culinary arts at OTC, he’s not exaggerating.
Horn, a Jefferson City resident, traveled the 130-mile trip from the state capital to Springfield every Monday at 4:30 a.m., spent four or five days in classes and then drove home to share the weekend with his wife and three boys.
He did it for two years.
Now, he is a line cook at Sapphire’s Restaurant at the DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City and embarking on starting his own catering business.
“I enjoyed it. I was dedicated to driving it for two years. I didn’t mind,” said Horn, 43, who stayed with his father-in-law in Republic while going to school at OTC from 2010 to 2012.
Horn’s start at a catering service got a big shot in the arm recently when he catered Sen. Bob Dixon’s inaugural reception.
“One of Sen. Dixon’s assistants works with my wife, Stephanie, part-time and knew that I graduated from OTC. She asked if I would do it. I was nervous but I cooked it at my house for about 25 people. I did lunch at hors d’oeuvres.
Sen. Dixon was impressed with the food and Horns story.
“I enjoyed him and his family. The food was excellent and I was moved by his story and perseverance. We had a lot of compliments from the legislative staff who said Mike’s food was better than they got in some Greek restaurants,” Sen. Dixon said.
Horns offerings included gyros, wild rice, stuffed mushrooms, spinach and artichoke dip, stuffed peppers and baklava. Horn said he excels in pastry and baking.
“I’m still getting calls about the food from people at the capitol,” he said. He has an April event for 300 guests coming up.
Horn was a factory worker when he decided to change careers and study culinary arts. His only experience at cooking was helping his mother in the kitchen.
But Horn said the chefs at OTC taught him the skills and gave him the discipline he needed to be qualified to work in a restaurant kitchen.
“They set high standards and challenged me to make my dishes better. All of them help me to high standards. Coming into my position at the restaurant here, I almost felt over-qualified compared to others,” he said.
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