WOMEN WANT out of the kitchen and into the business world, right? Right, Like Rebecca Klemm.
There she is, for all her cheerfully girlish looks, a professor of statistics and management science at Georgetown's School of Business Administration in the winter. Off to England to teach marketing and business policy at Oxford in the summer.
In her case, though, mastering advanced business techniques has led back to the kitchen. When she's not lecturing, Klemm is likely to be cooking. And she educates her students on the rewards and hazards of independent business by telling them about the catering service she runs on the side. They've already heard a lot about recipes in her illustrations of statistical principles.
The catering is a natural outgrowth of a lifelong interest. What else would you expect from the kind of girl who had a Mixmaster in her luggage when she first arrived at college? Rebecca Klemm didn't become the doughnut queen of Miami University by winning a beauty contest. She did it by baking a lot of doughnuts.
The doughnuts raised money for the United Way, but other work with food helped put the doughnut queen through school. In addition to waiting on tables to cover the part of her expenses at Miami, Temple and Iowa State that her family couldn't meet, she made birthday cakes. Although she was entirely self-taught as a cook, her food creations kept winning prizes at state fairs.
They also kept winning friends for her. Pretty soon the people who came to her frequent parties or bought her birthday cakes for their own celebrations were asking for hors d'oeuvres, too.
By the time she was through graduate school and working for the Department of Energy, Klemm had a regular clientele that kept expanding. Wherever she is, she's likely to be feeding people more than information.
Last summer, for example, Gourmets Oxford, a group of chefs from the Oxford colleges, had their sense of Americana enriched via her homemade bagels, known as Bec's Bagel Bonanzas. Anxious students confronting their oral exams went fortified with her breakfast defense: a homemade english muffin, egg and canadian bacon concoction.
Klemm still doesn't cater seated dinners, but she is constantly experimenting with new varieties of finger food and buffet dishes that can be eaten comfortably with only a plate and a fork.
Surrounded by students in her professorial role, Klemm has a ready supply of waiters and other assistants for Klemmenthyme, as she calls her catering business. And she has built up an impressive personal supply of china, glassware, linens, baskets, forks and table decorations to go with what she cooks.
As for the cooking process itself, she likes to keep it simple. Often she takes a toaster oven and an electric frying pan with her to the site of a party to finish cooking on location. There's a small refrigerator in her office where she can store partially prepared dishes in advance of campus gatherings.
A typical Klemm reception for 30 or 40 people, costing about $6 a person exclusive of liquor, is likely to include raw vegetables with a low-calorie dip. But there are richer items in the repertoire as well. Nobody turns down Rebecca Klemm's stuffed mushrooms or her shrimp mousse.
As she explains to her students of business policy, a small enterprise doesn't have to standardize the way a big one does. There is something different about every party she gives. And she is ready to custom-tailor her menus to anybody's taste. You want beef wellington or Vietnamese spring rolls or cre me brulee', that's what you get. If you want a lesson in how to turn a profit while pleasing customers and having a good time yourself, Klemm can take care of that, too.
Here are some of her specialties. SOY CHICKEN WINGS (6 servings) 12 chicken wings 1/2 cup soy sauce 1 bunch scallions, minced 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon ginger
Cut off wing tips and discard or save for stock. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken wings. Add wings, making sure each one is well-coated with the mixture. If necessary, add more soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. CHEESE-STUFFED MUSHROOMS (12 servings) 3 dozen bite-sized mushrooms 6 tablespoons butter 1 bunch scallions, minced 1 onion, minced 1/4 cup cream sherry 1 1/2 cups jarlsberg cheese, grated 1/2 cup bread crumbs 1/2 cup minced parsley 2 to 3 tablespoons cream
Mince mushroom stems, setting aside caps. Saute' stems in butter with scallions and onion until soft. Add sherry, cheese, bread crumbs and parsley, mixing well. Add cream and fill mushroom caps. Mushroom caps may be refrigerated, covered, overnight before baking. Bake in 350-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes and serve with toothpicks. SEAFOOD MELANGE (6 servings) 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon flour 1 cup milk 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce 1 onion, minced 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 1/2 cup chopped celery 1/2 cup mayonnaise 3 cups partly-cooked rice 1 cup crab meat 1 pound cooked shrimp
Melt butter and stir in flour. Add milk and worcestershire sauce and stir over low heat until thickened. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in baking dish and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.