• Laurel Contributor

Living the Life Intended

by Luke Osteen





If you’re one of those people who believes that fate somehow delivers upon the promises of childhood, no matter how circuitous the path, no matter how many twists in the tale, you could use Kimmy Vos as your primary evidence.

Just consider her arrival in the kitchen of The Ugly Dog Pub in Highlands. This peripatetic crucible, where plates are spinning at warp speed and servers pirouette in and out laden with perilously perched trays, is where she’s chosen to display her art.

Think of it – In a few short years, The Ugly Dog has become a Highlands institution. Kimmy is a performance artist in the most public arena in town.

But here’s where fate comes in – It turns out that Kimmy’s been preparing for this show her entire life.

“I guess I always knew I liked to make pretty dishes, even if they weren’t food or even edible – as a kid, I would pick and cut up all my grandmother’s flowers in the yard until I had a bowl of beautiful ‘plant murder,’” she says. “So when i was 18, I moved to Charlotte to attend Johnson & Wales University, one of the premier culinary schools in the world. Throughout my time there I maintained a 4.0 GPA and was on the Dean’s List. I suppose I’ve always pushed myself to be a bit of an overachiever.”

After a rigorous education at Johnson & Wales, Kimmy was recruited by a company called Compass Group, where, at 22, she became an executive chef, responsible for high-end, high-pressure event catering. This post-grad gauntlet made her an ideal candidate for marketing associate for Sysco Foods in Orlando.

The consequent position gave her valuable insight into the dynamics of upper level kitchen management and a workload that consumed her life. Facing physical and mental burnout, she did what she’d done so long ago when she was decimating her grandmother’s garden – she turned to art.

“Art has always been my life, be it culinary, visual, tattoo – any kind really – so I decided that I was now in my 30’s and it was time to pursue more of my passions while i still had time. So over the course of the next few years i worked for myself. I tattooed in a couple good shops in Central Florida (Check out the ink on display on the above portrait). I also started my own jewelry business and worked on visual arts.”

Once again, fortune turned in an unexpected way and sent her on a new path. Realizing how much she missed her family in Highlands, Kimmy made the trek back up the Mountain to work on her art in a community that embraces artists.

“I planned on to just keep working on my art when I came back, and travel to conventions to sell my art. But when I got to town I was asked if I wanted to work at The Ugly Dog,” she says. “I wasn’t sure at first, wasn’t sure if I was ready to jump back into that lifestyle – but the owners are amazing, genuinely some of the best people you could meet. And me and all my crazy ideas and looks (again, reference those tats), well, I was accepted with open arms.”

So, with all the inevitability of those old MGM musicals, Kim had to go away from her home and family to discover her potential, and then had to return to show everyone what she’d learned.

“There is a great staff, and I get to make great food, I’m working modernizing some aspects of the menus and bringing a bit more gastro pub-style dishes to the specials. I know we have so many awesome things to bring to this town, and I can’t wait to feed everyone!”

So, is fate kind, does she favor those who embrace their dreams and stay true to their vision?

Well, consider these photos of Kimmy’s creations, and look at the confident pose that she’s affected in her kitchen – her kitchen.

Better yet, visit The Ugly Dog and let her show you what she’s learned.

The Laurel Magazine

Laurel Magazine is a monthly magazine guiding you where to shop, play, dine, and stay in Highlands NC and Cashiers NC.

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