Mitch Maier recently went from gourmet meals at home to award-winning gourmet sauces sold at stores, an evolution that is just the next step on a culinary journey about 50 years in the making.
Maier, the owner of local Prairie du Sac business Out of the Kitchen, found his passion for cooking in the 1960s at the Dorf Haus. Maier helped his parents out in the kitchen at the Wisconsin staple, with his father showing him techniques he still uses to this day.
A veteran of the United States Army, Maier used his GI Bill to attend school for hotel restaurant cookery at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, and earned a bachelor’s of science degree in vocational technical teacher education from Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota.
“I’ve worked all over,” Maier said. “I started at the Dorf Haus with my parents, but I’ve cooked at hotels, casinos, cruise ships, and I got my degree so that I could be a (culinary) teacher.”
In 2003, Maier started Out of the Kitchen, a personal chef and catering service.
“After 30 years in the culinary industry, I noticed a growing trend,” Maier said in a prepared statement. “People were becoming much busier, with less time to cook and enjoy family meals.”
Maier bet he could provide the quality meals that he served in restaurants to people at home for a reasonable price, and has proven successful at a job that he loves.
“I cook for real people, who live real lives,” Maier continued. “(They’re) busy people who want to eat balanced meals, but don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to prepare them after a long, hard day. I understand that, and that’s why I love serving people as their personal home chef.”
Maier, a member of the American Culinary Federation and the United States Personal Chef Association, as well as the founding president of the Black Hills chapter of Professional Chefs of South Dakota, is no stranger to diversifying his interests.
In early 2018, Maier began to research the ingredient black garlic after hearing about it from a friend. What he found online piqued his interest, and he started experimenting with the sweet yet savory ingredient in his cooking.
“It’s got a really different flavor from (white) garlic,” Maier said. “It’s made in a special machine that looks like a crock pot, and uses humidity and heat for 288 hours to change it.”
Once the black garlic is finished, it resembles white garlic but looks burnt.
“The garlic isn’t burnt, it’s from the humidity process,” Maier said. “It has a sweeter flavor. And it’s very healthy for you.”
Deciding to branch out once again, Maier looked for additional ways to use black garlic and other healthy ingredients. After heavy research and extensive tinkering, Maier created Mitch Maier’s Black Garlic Sauce & Marinade, Mitch Maier’s Black Garlic BBQ Sauce, and Mitch Maier’s Black Garlic Ketchup.
“I started earlier this year with sauces,” Maier said. “I’d work all night, waking my wife up to try it just one more time after another change. I needed someone else to make sure I had the taste right.”
Maier uses organic black garlic in all of his sauces, and uses as much locally sourced ingredients as possible. His sauces all carry the Something Special from Wisconsin logo.
“I use black garlic from Hillsboro,” Maier said. “I use honey from Mt. Horeb, it’s bottled in Mineral Point. Things like cinnamon aren’t made around here, but I try to use Wisconsin ingredients as much as I can.”
“It’s all healthy for you,” Maier said. “I researched the health benefits of everything. There’s no artificial things that people can’t pronounce, no high fructose corn syrup. I use sugar in the ketchup, but that’s not processed, and I use honey as a sweetener in the marinade and BBQ sauce.”
Success came quickly after creating the different sauces, with Maier winning two awards already for his creations.
“I began bottling the ketchup Aug. 8, and on Aug. 9 it won an award,” Maier said. “The sauce I started in May, and the barbecue sauce in June. The garlic sauce won an International Flavor Award.”
The ketchup won a fourth place ribbon in the Wisconsin State Fair Grand Champion Eats & Treats competition, while the sauce and marinade won a third place ribbon in the condiments-marinade category of the International Flavor Awards.
He hopes to continue his success with new creations, including a hot sauce and a sweet and sour sauce. Maier is also trying to get his sauces into more stores.
“I’m working with Festival,” Maier said. “They’re going to get back to me. I’ve been in contact with Whole Foods, and Capital Foods in Madison. The goal is to get the sauces into as many stores as I can.”
Maier’s sauces can currently be found at the Sauk Prairie Market in Prairie du Sac, Piggly Wiggly in Sauk City, McFarlanes Retail in Sauk City, Wyttenback Meats in Prairie du Sac, and Hy-Vee on Whitney Way in Madison.