By Bridney C.
It is a pleasure to interview Mike Laster for the Sweet Scoop.
The high-spirited, 25-year-old businessman is the owner of his food delivery service, Fargo's Kitchen. Hailing from New London, Connecticut, Mike comes from a long line of cooks on both sides of his family, considering cooking to be "natural" for him.
He enjoys traveling to the south, has family in Georgia and Florida, and enjoys eating when he goes to visit. While he enjoys Southern Cuisine and the flavors that are popular down South, he has yet to incorporate Southern-style cooking into his dishes.
The most popular feature dish, The Royal is one of his popular platters on the menu. Featuring crab legs, shrimp, corn, and red potatoes, The Royal is a flavorful dish ideal for seafood lovers.
The crab legs are flavorful and the pieces of jumbo shrimp are little bombs of buttery, flavorful goodness. Although the shrimp may be a little too salty for some folks, it is not overpowering, and is still tasty.
The corn is as thick as an adult man's wrist and is juicy. The red potatoes, resembling miniature rocks are perfect for dipping into any of the three sauces: garlic butter, old bay, and cajun.
The garlic butter sauce goes best with the red potatoes and compliments the starchy flavor. The toppings all work together nicely, especially the spicy cajun sauce that is packed with a spicy kick, goes perfectly with the shrimp and crab legs.
We learned more about Fargo's Kitchen's other menu dishes and other cool fun facts in this edition of Q&A. Mike Laster discusses the inspiration behind starting his business, his favorite type of dish to make, and future plans he has in store for his business.
Bridney C: When did cooking come into your life? Who taught you how to cook and what made you choose to make seafood?
Michael Laster: When I was about 17 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her being a single mother, going through treatment, forced me to step up. I learned how to cook for myself, and my younger brother. At the time, I knew how to make basic things like eggs and Ramen noodles. However, I knew that my lack of cooking experience wouldn’t help on days that my mom was unable to cook. Furthermore, I slowly learned how to make things like whole chickens and pasta dishes. Coming from a household of seafood lovers, I eventually learned how to cook seafood on my own and I enjoyed how many dishes you can create with seafood.
BC: What made you decide to start your own business? How did you come up with the name, "Fargo's Kitchen?" Who is Fargo? Also, how did you handle adversity and doubt when you initially started?
ML: I travel a lot and I have some favorite restaurants in the South. During a recent visit, I realized that there were no local places in CT that offered a seafood-boil type of platter at an affordable price. While there are a few seafood boil restaurants in CT, they are far from the Southeastern area and they are overpriced. From there, I was inspired to create platters that combined flavors that I love and prices that customers would be able to afford.
The name, "Fargo’s Kitchen" derives from a personal nickname that represents overcoming adversity. My Instagram name has been “so.fargo,”and is a shorter way for me to express to keep going no matter what. I have so much further to go in my journey of life and it is important to me that I stay motivated to go far.
In the early stages of creating "Fargo’s Kitchen," I had a lot of doubts. I am a trained photographer and hadn’t cooked seafood for anyone besides my family before. Therefore, I was afraid that people weren’t going to buy my plates. Generally speaking, I don’t think people support local businesses enough in this area and I honestly did not expect people to support my business as much as they have so far. I’ve had this idea for a very long time but my self-doubt has hindered me from creating this business sooner. Thankfully, I have a lot of support from my mother Sharon Fort-Morton, my father Nate Laster, my stepdad LaRance "Dude" Morton, and my girlfriend Isenia Ramos. All four of them have helped a lot with several different aspects of my business and they keep me motivated.
BC: Are the dishes you make original? If so, where did you get the inspiration creative names such as "The Kingdom" and "The Royal?"
ML: My dishes are original. My stepdad has helped me a lot with developing the dishes and the flavors of the sauces. He is a cook himself so he has helped tremendously with the entire cooking process and has given me a lot of advice on how to execute my vision effectively. My family has also helped inspire some of the names that are both creative and fit with what each particular dish includes.
BC: What is your favorite type of dish to make? How long does it take to prepare and cook that dish?
ML: Outside of the dishes I currently make, I do enjoy making pasta dishes. My favorite so far has been Cajun Shrimp Alfredo. It does take me a little longer to make because I make the alfredo sauce from scratch. This particular dish usually takes me about 25-30 minutes to make and it is truly the perfect balance between spicy and creamy. Not only is it one of my favorite dishes to make, but it is also one of my favorites to eat.
BC: Why is The Royal the most popular item on your menu? What do people typically say about it?
ML: People have typically The Royal is great for the portion size, is amazing for the price, and all of the sauces are packed with flavor. For the past two weeks, I have been selling out of boxes of seafood so I am assuming people are enjoying the platters.
BC: Even though you're just getting started, what else is in store for you? Are there any other types of dishes you would love to add to your menu and make in the future?
ML: Even though I am just getting started, I strongly believe that there is so much more in store for me. With that being said, I hope to one day have my own restaurant, selling other types of food besides seafood. I would also love to be able to cater to large numbers of people - whether it’s for weddings, parties, or any other events. I want to be able to interact with my customers and see their faces when they experience one of my dishes. In the future, I do plan to add various sides to my dishes, possibly expand to pasta dishes and meats as well.
BC: If you could be any type of sea creature, which kind would you be? Why?
ML: If I could be any type of sea creature, I would be a Great White shark. They are considered the King of the sea because they are incredibly fast underwater, allowing them to hunt more efficiently. As they eat more, they grow rapidly. This is the kind of approach I connect with - speed, efficiency, and growth.