Kever’s Kitchen gives students a taste of the gourmet life

Kever’s Kitchen gives students a taste of the gourmet life

Kever’s Kitchen gives students a taste of the gourmet life
May 31
10:30 2018

Food is a basic human need, but for college students, that basic need can be a little more complicated. There are times when finding a balanced meal seems nearly impossible, and others when it seems like prices at the grocery store will never stop going up.

With his meal prep and catering business called Kever’s Kitchen, business marketing senior Mark Jones makes it a little easier for students at UNT to get a meal that won’t destroy their bank accounts and is actually, well, good.

Jones’ interest in cooking began at a young age. He learned to cook by watching Food Network and following the trial and error process when trying out recipes for himself.

“My father was a horrible cook, so to survive, one of us had to learn,” Jones said.

His cooking style was influenced by his two favorite chefs on Food Network, Mario Batali and Emeril.

“Most of my dishes are a mix between Italian and Cajun food,” Jones said.

Among those dishes, his pasta is a favorite among his customers. Jones is proud of this feat because he worked hard to make a pasta that differentiated from others.

“It has evolved so much,” Jones said. “I try to be so humble [about it], but it is just good.”

Although he has some signature dishes, Jones strives to be versatile with the meals he makes.

“I try to cook everything,” Jones said. “I meet so many people and they ask me, ‘Hey, can you make this?’ and any suggestion I get, I just get in the lab and try to see if I can make it.”

Jones estimates he has about 300 customers who order food from him. He built a clientele of that size by establishing a presence online.

“Social media is a big thing for me,” Jones said. “Honestly, that’s how I sell most of my food.”

Jones’ friend Billy White, 22, also sees his social media presence as a big part of his success.

“Every Sunday he just sends out a tweet and gets an overwhelming response, and people buy his food,” White said.

White acknowledges that in general, social media has become a vital business platform for those just starting out.

“I think it’s a good deal, especially in today’s time,” White said. “You see a lot of young kids with these DIY businesses, and it’s really good to utilize social media to make money off of it.”

Kever’s Kitchen is currently Jones’ primary form of income, and he plans to continue to support himself with cooking in the future.

“I would love to have my own restaurant,” Jones said. “I’ve been thinking about taking out a loan to get a food truck here in Denton.”

Making several meals a week for customers requires cooking appliances, which has the potential to be very costly. This has not been the case for Jones, who has acquired much of his equipment from friends or family.

“A lot of people around me don’t like to cook, so when I get presents, instead of clothes or shoes I get food stuff,” Jones said. “I have not personally had to splurge on too much.”

Criminal justice junior Mariah Wright, a friend of Jones’ for two years, witnesses the impact Kever’s Kitchen has on Jones.

“[Cooking] is a big part of his life,” Wright said.

Wright’s friendship with Jones has also allowed her to sample his dishes.

“[The] Hennessy wings are my favorite,” Wright said.

A significant aspect of Kever’s Kitchen is meal preparation. The practice, which cuts down the time it takes to cook a meal and makes it easier to make healthy food choices, was a need Jones noticed was not being fulfilled in the UNT community.

“A lot of people out here can’t get good food, especially [busy] college students,” Jones said.

Although White has not been inspired to become a chef himself, he has focused more on his own cooking since becoming friends with Jones.

“I see how he prepares his food and how he seasons it, and I look at it like, ‘I need to figure out how to do that,'” White said. “It definitely made me want to hone my skills.”

When cooking, Jones considers the ingredients he is using and the overall health of the meal. To achieve this, he purchases a lot of the vegetables he uses from a nearby Mexican market and frequents two local meat markets, as well as getting produce from grocery stores like Kroger.

“I try to make sure everything I have in here is fresh,” Jones said. “Certain things just will not be healthy, but for the most part I try to make sure that everything I have is better for you and isn’t too saturated with bad stuff.”

It is also important to him to keep the cost of his food affordable.

“I try to keep [prices] low because I know this is a college town and not everybody has the funds for $15 or $20 plates,” Jones said. “I just try to make it good, cost-efficient food.”

At times it is difficult for Jones to manage the demands of his business with other aspects of his life, such as school and socializing.

“I can’t [cook] every day how I want to, but I make it fit around everything for the most part,” Jones said. “I choose the hours I have. There are some things I just can’t do, like I can’t go out some nights because I’m in here cooking people and feeding the people of Denton.”

For other aspiring chefs, Jones recommends cooking as often as possible and emphasizes the importance of practice.

“Everything takes practice,” Jones said. “It will not be the easiest thing, but you really want to cook all the time if you have the time.”

Featured Image: Mark Jones stands in the kitchen of his Denton apartment where he runs Kever’s Kitchen. Anna Engelland

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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