Flying Trout Catering circles around Midland in the Great Lakes Bay area

Erik Swenson is hungry to provide a quality dining experience in the Midland region.

His hard work paid off with Flying Trout Catering, including a mobile military field kitchen.

Swenson served in the United States Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003. After being discharged, he aspired to work as a paramedic, but found that was not a career option. Instead, he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon and trained as a chef.

“I love to cook,” Swenson said. “I want to put smiles on people’s faces through food.”

Flying Trout Catering was started 15 years ago when Swenson was living in Florida. He explained that the name was inspired by childhood memories of fishing at a friend’s cabin on the Au Sable River and seeing flying fish while serving with the Marines. Today, the name is meant to be a topic of conversation when people gather to eat.

Returning to his hometown of Midland a few years ago, Swenson’s idea was to bring a big city experience to a relatively small town through catering. With the help of his brother, sister, mentor in Chicago and Sanford businessman Scott Lasky, Swenson started Flying Trout Catering in Sanford in October 2021.

Flying Trout Catering offers full-service catering — including buffets and plated meals — and private dining experiences where Swenson and his team will cook a four- or five-course meal at a customer’s home and clean up afterwards.

“It’s a fun environment and an experience where you don’t have to go out to a nice place in town and you can be comfortable in your own home,” Swenson said.

The key to providing quality food in the restaurant business, Swenson said, is using techniques and sauces to preserve food and incorporating fresh ingredients from the community.

“I want to get more involved as we mature to use different farmers and local sources,” he said. “I think it’s imperative to get this high quality product.”

Before an event, Swenson sits down with customers to customize a menu. While there are favorite dishes, including a sweet tea-braised short rib and beef tenderloin with half a red wine glaze over garlic mashed potatoes, Swenson will shape his offerings. around a customer’s favorite tastes.

“Your lasting impression on your event is your memory for 20 years on the road,” Swenson said.

Last year, Swenson began offering the services of Flying Trout Catering as auction prizes for local fundraisers. He said he raised nearly $20,000 for nonprofits including the Humane Society of Midland County, Midland’s Open Door and Cancer Services of Midland. Plus, he shifted gears slightly and sold 150,000 cookies over the holidays.

“I’m so hungry. I think that’s what you have to be as an entrepreneur starting a business, especially after a pandemic,” Swenson said. “It’s about thinking outside the box. I did everything the wrong way to learn how to do it with ease of use now.

Swenson added to his catering business by beginning to supply lunches from a military field kitchen in June. He purchased the military field kitchen—along with a box truck—from a friend in Tennessee. The van truck, which is equipped with three refrigerators, a warming unit, grilling units and a generator, helped Swenson provide his services up to two hours away.

The Field Kitchen, which generally operates Tuesday through Friday, is located at 1223 E. Saginaw Road in Sanford. Swenson also takes her to community events.

Cathy Peterson-Hennig from Midland started coming to Flying Trout Catering right after they moved to Sanford and has been with the business ever since. She’s tried almost everything on the menu, but prefers the chicken quesadilla and flank steak tacos.

“It’s all good,” Peterson-Hennig said. “It’s personalized. They are always fun to deal with. This is an amazing place to come and eat.

For more information on Flying Trout Catering, visit https://www.flyingtroutcatering.com/ or call 386-846-2852.

Swenson plans to continue offering lunches in the field kitchen during the colder months. The fall/winter menu includes sandwiches, rice bowls and etoufs.

Flying Trout Catering’s military field kitchen can then be seen at Aces in the Sky at 10am on Saturday 1 October at Barstow Airport. The event will provide free flights to 50 veterans. Swenson will provide items from its fall/winter menu with a portion of proceeds to help veterans.

“It’s just an opportunity to bring the community together to hopefully give back to veterans,” Swenson said.

In addition to bringing happiness to people through food, Swenson hopes he will provide his children with a living example of how dreams are achieved through hard work and determination.

“It’s rewarding, the fact that I have returning guests and people calling me asking if I’m open, to have this passion for what I do, to put on a production and be part of the people’s special day,” Swenson said.

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