questions to ask a personal chef

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What is a personal chef and who needs one?

A personal chef serves multiple clients – usually one per day – and provides several meals that are custom-designed for the client’s individual tastes and dietary requirements. The meals are packaged and stored according to the client’s request and enjoyed at their leisure. This is different from a private chef who is employed by one individual or family full-time who is often “living in” and prepares up to 3 meals per day. Many people use the services of a personal chef because they find they no longer have the time, or perhaps desire or ability to cook the food they want to eat each day. Single people, married couples, busy professionals, seniors, new parents, those with a hectic family life, people needing a specific diet or anyone who is tired of eating out or cooking for themselves every night, find value in the services of a personal chef.

Do you cook in my kitchen?

Yes, we do prepare your meals in the safety of your own kitchen according to food safety guidelines. We cannot cook in our own homes and deliver it to you as health department laws prohibit it. On our agreed upon cooking date, we bring all the ingredients, utensils and equipment required to prepare your selections. At the end of the day, your kitchen will be left clean with nothing left behind except a fridge packed with delicious meals and the aroma of home cooking.

How long will you be there?

Because all of your meals are prepared from scratch with great care and attention to detail, we will be at your home anywhere from five to eight hours depending upon the number of entrees. We will work together to determine what works best with your schedule or situation.

Who chooses the menu?

You do! We’ll provide you with an initial list of menu selections to choose from, but we may also make suggestions that we think you will enjoy based on your initial assessment. It may take a few weeks to fine tune your meals (i.e. portion size, less starch, more spice), but we’ll work together to ensure we meet and exceed your expectations. If you have family favorites or special recipes you and your family enjoy, we will do our best to accommodate those requests.

How will you package my meals?

Since storing of your prepared meals can take up prime freezer and refrigerator space based on the number and servings you request, we recommend using uniform-sized containers for efficient storage. We provide a choice of the following options:

Pyrex or other glass freezer/refrigerator/oven/microwave safe containers: Glass containers are popular because in addition to being a one-time investment, they are versatile and eco-friendly. The cost of these containers will be determined by the size of your family and the service plan you choose. This one time start-up fee usually ranges from $100 to $150 based on number of containers needed. We do the shopping for your containers for your convenience and once purchased the containers belong to you.

Plastic containers: These are a less expensive alternative, but will require you to transfer your meal to an oven-safe dish for heating in a conventional oven and we suggest you do the same if heating in the microwave. While plastic containers are less expensive, they are not as durable as the glass containers and would have to be replaced as needed. The initial container charge of $10 to $15 will be collected on the first cook date with additional minimal replacement fees as needed.

When and where do you shop for ingredients?

As quality ingredients make for quality meals, we shop for the ingredients–including fresh items such as produce, meat, fish and poultry–on the way to your home. We make purchasing local, organic and sustainably produced items a priority in determining where we shop and fortunately there is an array of options for us to source these products for you. We will look for stores close to you that make this a priority such as MOM’s Organic Market ,YES Organic Market and Roots Market as well as local Co-ops.

We also love to purchase directly from local farmers, so if there is a farmers market or farm stand close to you on your cook date at a convenient time, you bet we will be there! If you are already purchasing directly from a farmer through a CSA share or other means and want to continue to do so, by all means, we will work with you and/or the CSA to plan and prepare meals based off that delicious bounty. Another great option is home delivery companies such as Relay Foods, Washington’s Green Grocer and Hometown Harvest that source from local farmers and we can arrange to have many of our ingredients delivered to your home the day before our cook date.

We can also shop at the stores that you enjoy shopping at within reason. Because we do shop just before arriving at your home, we are happy to pick up any incidental items you need (milk, diapers, pet food, cereal, etc.)—up to about six items—for reimbursement only.

Why do you purchase local and sustainably produced whole foods? Aren't they more expensive?

Eating whole foods, foods that are processed and refined as little as possible without added artificial ingredients and foods produced in a sustainable manner using little to no toxic chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources, is an investment in your family's health and the health of our planet. When we purchase local ingredients, we invest in our local farmers and the local economy, preserve farmland and have a better understanding of how our food is produced. We believe it is important to be mindful of the effects our food system has on the environment, public health, communities, and animal welfare and we purchase our ingredients with gratitude to those that produce our food without compromising future generations' ability to do the same.

Is a personal chef really affordable?

Yes! With our personal chef service you can enjoy delicious, healthy, restaurant quality meals in a matter of minutes without the hours spent on menu planning, preparing grocery lists, shopping, preparing meals and cleanup since we do all of that for you. How many times have you:

  • worked late and found yourself sitting down to one more skimpy frozen dinner that had an extremely high sodium or fat content along with unpronounceable ingredients listed on the package?
  • come home to kids screaming “what’s for dinner” and found yourself throwing a frozen pizza in the oven yet again or ordering carryout?
  • once again found yourself stuck in a fast food drive through eating unhealthy processed food?
  • waited 45 minutes for a table at a restaurant wishing you could be comfortable at home eating something made just for you?
  • found yourself or a family member in a Doctor’s office due to health problems resulting from poor eating habits?
  • bought beautiful produce and perishables only to find they needed to be thrown away because life became too hectic and they weren’t used in time?

If you add it all up, using the services of a Personal Chef will save you time and money. This will not be an extra expense on your monthly budget, but will in fact replace many of the expenses that you already incur. Our professional personal chef service may even help you to control your food costs, as you will be less likely to impulse-buy in the grocery store or resort to low-quality fast food, convenience food or spending valuable time waiting for a table at a restaurant.

How do I pay for the service and am I locked in for a period of time?

We ask that you pay for the service in addition to the grocery deposit in advance of the cook date because we are reserving that day for you. We accept cash, check, credit cards, Paypal and online payments through your bank account.

There is no contract and you are not locked in for any period of time. Try the service to see if you like it and whether it meets your needs. If it does, we can reserve several dates in advance.

Our mutual arrangement can be terminated by either of us at any time with advance notice. We will provide you with a service agreement that outlines the terms of service along with our respective roles so that the service runs smoothly.

How long will the food last and how often will we need your service?

It will depend on how many nights you eat at home and the number of entrees and servings ordered. Whether it’s weekly, biweekly, monthly or as-needed, we’ll make sure it works best for you and supports your lifestyle without putting pressure on you. Service dates are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Occasional service and gift certificate purchases are scheduled around regular clients.

I have children that are finicky eaters. How can you help?

When we decide on a menu, we can choose some more kid-friendly selections. Also, we can “pull out” their portions when we are preparing a dish that is geared for more adult palates. For example, if we are making a spicy peanut chicken dish, we can prepare your child’s portion of chicken in a more simple fashion and package it separately.

How can you accommodate my special dietary needs?

This is where our personal service really comes in! After sitting down with you for a personal consultation that covers your specific likes and dislikes, food allergies such as dairy, gluten, egg and additional dietary or medical restrictions you may have, we will customize your menu to meet those needs. We enjoy preparing food that will enrich your life in mind (stress relief), body (healthy) and spirit (joy of a delicious meal).