LIMA — It all started when he blew out his shoulder.
Dana Motter, who is from Waynesfield, earned a degree at Rhodes State but ended up working in a warehouse. When he hurt himself, he had plenty of time to think.
"It was that lightbulb moment of, 'I don't want to be a laborer all day, every day,'" Motter said. "If you'd have told me I was going to do food when I was in high school, I'd have laughed at you."
But he decided to attend the Columbus Culinary Institute, earning a degree in its 20-month program.
"Chef's a word that I don't like to use. I don't have enough experience," Motter said. "I think it's one you earn."
While in school, he worked for a restaurant in Granville and later, a caterer.
Motter was in cold prep, desserts and salads, at the restaurant. He thought it would be a nice, easy start.
"It's nonstop from the word go," he said, explaining everyone gets either a salad or a dessert. "It's nuts. ... That's the weird thing about this industry. It's so stressful, but it's such an adrenaline rush when you're done with it."
Motter prefers the pace of catering — still very busy, but more able to be planned out. Working in food now for four years, ideas for different dishes just come to him.
"Recipes start clicking," he said.
He's been at Ann Ross Catering, owned by Sara Klopfenstein, for about a year and a half. He wanted to be near his hometown, and it's been a great fit, he said.
"You're not dreading coming in to work. I don't ever think it's work," Motter said.
His challenge is to try to introduce people to different flavors. If a client hires a caterer, the client usually opts for the tried-and-true types of menu items. But the events are varied, from meals for daycare centers to backstage food for the recent Larry the Cable Guy show in Lima.
His pet peeve? Overdone pork. Pork can be removed from the oven 10 degrees before it's officially done, as it will continue to cook outside the oven.
"My thing with food is cooking it properly. Any recipe is good if it's done right," Motter said.
Today, he shares a chicken recipe that he said takes only 20 minutes to prepare.
"It's so simple. There's no hours and hours of cooking it, but it brings out the flavors," he said.
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