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SIMPLY THE BEST MAGAZINE - JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2003

O N  T H E  T A B L E

Simply The Best Magazine - On The Table - Dinner is Served   Grilled Salmon by Chef Brian Boots
Grilled Salmon by Chef Brian Boots

DINNER IS SERVED


IT'S 6:30. Traffic is stalled. I'm sick of take-out Tetrazzini and I'm too tired to cook. I need a personal chef. Years ago what every working couple longed to afford, my husband and I included, was a housekeeper. One who comes once a week. Lets herself in. Leaves the house all shiny and smelling great. Our wish list grew to include a lawn service. Then, the quick oil-change car-care service. Finally, we slipped into the habit of eating out and ordering in. Filling up on fast food loaded with salt, fat, preservatives and who-knows-what. But, it's the twenty first century now. It's time to get in shape, eat healthy and spend some quality time. Maybe it's time for a personal chef.

The current great breakthrough in personal services is the personal chef. One who brings all their own pots and pans, spoons and spatulas, fresh fish, meat and vegetables and takes over your kitchen. When they leave about five hours later there are twenty to twenty five servings of great tasting, healthy food in the refrigerator. The kitchen is clean. Directions for heating and eating are posted on the refrigerator door, ready when you are. Candy Wallace, founder of the American Personal Chef Association, says, "There are currently an estimated 72,000 customers being served by approximately 6,000 personal chefs." Entrepreneur magazine reports that the personal chef industry is one of the twelve fastest growing businesses in the country. Wallace predicts that in the next five years the market will grow to 300,000 customers and nearly 25,000 personal chefs. I don't want to wait five years. I want one tomorrow! There are several reasons to hire a personal chef, I explain to my husband. One is the need to eat healthier. Boca Raton resident Barbara Smith hired a personal chef to help her stay on her diet. "I need to lose weight, but if I do the cooking, I taste too much. And," she adds, "I don't have the discipline to cook only those things that are on my diet." Most personal chefs are professionally trained and are very versatile. They come to your home and spend about an hour learning your likes and dislikes, any medical conditions requiring special dietary attention, seasoning preferences, etc.

Another reason to hire a personal chef is to reduce life's inherent stresses. "We used to live on TGI Fridays and Applebees take-out," says Heather Pacconi, mother of three in Palm Beach County. "Then we found out we were going to have our third child. Juggling a six- and a two-year-old made preparing good and healthy meals challenge enough," she sighs. "Adding a newborn to the mix made a personal chef my only hope of sanity." Since her mother and grandmother departed after the baby's birth, Pacconi has depended on Ira Michaelson of Your Personal Gourmet. "Chef Ira comes in once a week and leaves the most wonderful dinners -


Recipe by Ira Michaelson, YourPersonalGourmet.com Chicken Sushi by Chef Ira Michaelson

- imaginable," Pacconi says. "This week he made penne with chicken and a sunset-pink vodka cream sauce, beef stroganoff, honey mustard pork tenderloin and amaretto chicken. It makes me hungry just talking about it. Not only did I not have to cook it or clean up after it, he did all the grocery shopping, too." Those are good reasons to hire a personal chef, but I'm also bored with what I know how to cook. Laura and Rob Blackwood in Brevard County hired Barbara Walker of Front Door Food to expand their culinary horizons. "Barbara makes an awesome corn casserole," Rob beams. "It's an old Southern recipe from her family. But, she also has introduced us to Moroccan lemon chicken, tilapia on angel hair pasta with a citrus cream sauce, soups from Spain, fricassees from France and tamarind relish from Thailand. Laura and I really look forward to dinner these days." This concept is brilliant.

Another reason to hire a personal chef, I tell my husband, is quality time. If I could have back the hour each day I spend going to the grocery store, fish market, green grocer or specialty store - plus the hour and a half to prepare each meal and clean up the mess, I'd have an extra 20 hours each week.

Say no more. Where can I find one of these? I typed "www.personalchef.com" into my web browser and up popped the American Personal Chef Association. I clicked on "find a personal chef." Then I clicked on my state to see a list of personal chefs in my area. This site lists over 2400 chefs in 400 locations across 47 states, plus Canada. Now that I've found some, how does this work? "When you first contact a personal chef," says Candy Wallace, "they will set up what we call an assessment date. The chef will come to your home and spend about an hour asking you about your likes, your dislikes, sensitivities, health and nutritional desires. Once the chef understands a little about your lifestyle, she or he will give you some menu selections to choose from and set up a 'cook date.' All that's left for you to do is come home from work. Kick off your shoes. Open the 'fridge and enjoy a healthy, beautiful, delicious dinner." I'm liking this.

As I reach for the phone, my husband asks, "So, how much does all this cost?" After a few phone calls to personal chefs in Los Angeles, Denver, Boston, Washington DC, Orlando and West Palm Beach, it's clear you don't have to be a movie star or a stock broker to afford this service. Expect to pay between $225 and $350 (depending on where you are in the country) for twenty servings - four each of five entrees, plus appropriate side dishes. And, that includes the groceries and the shopping. "Some of the portions," says Pacconi, "are larger than one serving, making it an even greater bargain." The Blackwoods report that they used to eat out three or four times each week before they found Chef Barbara. "We're spending a lot less money now. Besides, Barbara knows just how much seasoning we like and what foods we're willing to try or have already fallen in love with."

I need a Personal Chef. - JANE SEARS THOMPSON

PHOTOGRAPHY LORI MICHAELSON

FINDING YOUR OWN PERSONAL CHEF

American Personal Chef Association:
www.personalchef.com

Palm Beach County;

Brian Boots,
www.elegance-ala-carte.com

Ira Michaelson,
www.yourpersonalgourmet.com

Marion County;

Sharon Durrance,
www.personalchef.com/gourmet-to-go.htm

Hillsborough County (Tampa)

Eileen Morris,
www.personalchef.com/icustomcuisine.htm

Duval County (Jacksonville) Dina Kessler,
www.chefdina.com


American Personal Chef Association
4572 Delaware Street
San Diego, CA 92116
800-644-8389
619-294-2436
info@personalchef.com

All rights reserved. © American Personal Chef Association 1996-2006 Updated 1/15/03.