For the past two years, Jim Huff has been to a
number of dinner parties, but he has not been
attending them - he is making them possible.
Huff, 54, is the Traveling Culinary Artist, a
one-man, in-home customized personal chef service
based in Briarwood that has served the five boroughs
over the last two years. Chef Jim, who is certified
by the American Personal Chef Institute and
Association, meets with his clients, discusses their
specific dietary needs and requests and then arrives
at their house, often when the clients are at work,
to spend about six to seven hours in their kitchen.
The result is an abundance of nutritious food that
can last from 30 to 60 days and provide 10 to 20
meals, depending on the number of people served.
"A lot of people do not want to go to restaurants
and stand in line or take food out every night,"
said Huff. "I think there is a homey aspect my
customers look forward to. I'm sure a lot of my
clients enjoy eating out, but not five nights a
week. From me, they get good quality food."
As Thanksgiving nears, Huff finds himself especially
busy, currently booked to prepare five dishes for
three different clients between Nov. 20 and Nov. 24.
While his customers purchase and cook their own
turkeys, Huff prepares the side dishes, which
include steamed vegetables, a variety of potato
dishes, wild rice pilaf and pumpkin walnut bread.
Huff has a full repertoire of dishes that combine
classic Thanksgiving motifs, such as chestnut and
cranberry cornbread stuffing, candied sweet
potatoes, garlic mashed Yukon gold potatoes, sausage
and fennel stuffing and more.
This is the chef's second year in business during
the holiday season, following his 17 years working
in retail at Toys 'R' Us, and Thanksgiving 2004 will
be the kick-off for his most booked months.
"In the late fall and winter up until March is the
busiest time of year," he said. "Summer is slow -
people go away on vacation and eat out more."
That time of year is perfect for warming up with
comfort foods, which Huff said have seen a
resurgence in popularity since he started Traveling
Culinary Artist. Traditional American foods that
were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, such as
meatloaf and stews, are among the most frequent
requests he gets from customers. Though many of
these foods that were popular in the mid-20th
century came to be criticized as being unhealthy,
recipes have been adapted to create healthier
versions of the meals, he said.
"Meat is now leaner than it was then," he said.
"What used to be fatty can now be adapted to make
healthier and tastier food."
Huff's basic plan costs $325 and provides four
servings of five entrees, which provides about ten
meals for four people or twenty meals for two. The
chef purchases the food, prepares it with his own
equipment in his clients' kitchens and cleans up
One of the benefits of the service, said Huff, is
that customers know exactly what they are getting
because they are asked for preparation instructions.
"If you have food concerns - lower sugar, less fat,
if you have allergies - and are at a restaurant, if
you ask for something less, how do you know you are
really getting what you asked for? I tailor to
requests," he said.
Chef Jim, who typically gets customers through word
of mouth or people searching the internet for
personal chefs, said that one of the best aspects of
his service is that he feels it helps people.
"Most people do not have time to do much preparation
for nutritious meals for their family," he said. "My
service helps them plan ahead and, within minutes of
them getting home (after work), they can have a
delicious and healthy meal."
To learn more about Chef Jim's services or for
contact information, write to