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Apr 4, 2007 07:44 AM

Personal Chefs - what's the dish?

Last nite I went to a dear friend's house in the South End for a DELICIOUS dinner party. After a couple of glasses wine with dinner (and a couple of martinis beforehand), my host informed me that the entire dinner was prepared by a Personal Chef and delivered to his home with heating and timing instructions. He said this was type of service is now all the rage - he also went on to brag that the chef he retained was exceptionally talented (and I agree, the food was SUPERB). But, I've never heard of a Personal Chef I the only one in the dark on this or was my friend just being pretentous by saying that EVERYONE is doing it??

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  1. Personal chefs have been around for many years. They really started becoming mainstream about 9 years ago, including starting their own association. Even very small towns usually have some type of personal chef service available.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mattrapp

      Thanks Mattrapp, I guess I've just been such a restaurant rat that I never considered (and therefore never searched for) a personal chef. i assumed that people ate out, used delivery services, went top prepared food markets, had a private chef in their homes or they hired caterers. the personal chef thing sure made for a relaxed dinner party last nite though!

      1. re: khelsy67

        in your list of choices you didn't include "cook it themselves"? I've hosted many a dinner party in my life and that's the only one *I've* ever done.

        1. re: DGresh

          DG, I'm with you, whatever happened to cook it yourself!?

          1. re: Rick

            That is great, if one has the time. Last event was sandwiched between a charity golf tournament, and leaving for London at 5:30AM the next morning. This was the only time that our friends were in town. Wife cut out at the 13th, and I finished the full 18, but left before any part of the festivities, and I am on the board. Wife got home, just as the guests arrived, but the staff had wines at the ready, so she got to shower. I did not, but no one seemed to really mind. Maybe it was that welcome wine?

            After the meal, the staff cleaned it all up, took away any leftovers, and locked the door behind themselves. We were then up at 4:00AM and were ready for the towncar.

            We'll have to do similar for Passover this year, as we fly out on Easter Sunday, at 6:00AM.

            It really helps with the timing, and I am a big fan.


          2. re: DGresh

            While we use similar services, for dinner parties, we usually have them catered, by a local chef, complete with servers. Have never used our "personal chef's" services for any event.


      2. Glad tou enjoyed the meal. To answer your questions Yes and yes.

        Personal chefs have been around for awhile and they are probably a bit more common in certain circles today. However it does sound like your friend was overstating and being a bit pretentous.

        1. Last year my sister and I got a gift certificate for a personal chef for my parents for Christmas. This was prompted by upcoming bunion surgery for my mother who would be off her feet for 6 weeks. The chef had been an instuctor at Johnson and Whales. This particular chef had extensive menu choices, including dishes for those on particular diets. She would either come to your home or cook off-premises and deliver meals for either immediate consumption or for the freezer. My parents really enjoyed it!

          1. My grandparents (in their 80s) have a personal chef who comes into their home once every two weeks and cooks entrees and sides for them.

            One of their children had originally hired the personal chef for them for a month, while my grandmother (who does all of the cooking) recovered from eye surgery - at the end of that month, my grandmother made an "aside" comment to one of the grandchildren about how she wasn't looking forward to having to start cooking again. That grandchild repeated the comment to their parents and now we've all banded together and chip in each month toward the personal chef.

            After many years spent in the kitchen (she grew-up on a sugar beet farm in the midwest, cooking for her younger siblings and for the field-hands - then cooking for her four children and several foster children) my grandmother is tired of having to cook several meals a day. She still enjoys baking, and likes making breakfast dishes, but as for putting together a "full meal" for lunch and dinner every day - she's reached a point where she's ready to retire from that responsibility.

            So she has the personal chef, who prepares wonderful, fresh, healthy meals, and she's happy and my grandfather's happy, and the rest of the family is grateful that we can provide this for them, as a small way of saying "thank you" for all that they've done for us.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ElsieDee

              ElsieDee thank you for sharing with us, thank you for reminding us how good people can be.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I agree- what a nice idea!

                I would not consider what I did personal cheffing AT ALL, but for a summer, I baby-sat for a couple with two young kids and I did all the grocery shopping and three meals a week for them. It was really fun because they had a ton of money, didn't care what I made as long as it was good obviously, and were adventurous eaters. Sometimes I think this would be an ideal job for me, but I know the reality is that I would never have such easy clients again!

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  It seems the least we can do for my grandparents.

                  I have done some "unofficial" personal cheffing myself - about once every three to four months I start feeling a need to get out of the city (I'm in L.A.) and so I head north to my sister and BIL's home - I camp out there for a week or two, decompressing.

                  My way of saying "thank you" to them is to restock their freezer with easy to prepare meals (they're both teachers and they also coach youth sports and so have little time/energy to cook during the week, but they love to eat). I make large batches of soup (or soup bases), chowders and chilis, individual or small quiches, easily reheated casseroles, homemade bread and rolls, quick breakfasts (breakfast burritoes, waffles), muffins, baked fruit tarts and cobblers, and anything else I can think of.

                  I find the cooking to be cathartic for me - and they have a gigantic kitchen with LOTS of counter space where it's a joy to cook (in stark contrast to the tiny kitchen in my tiny apartment). And they like the results, so it's a win-win situation for all involved.

                1. re: ElsieDee

                  It seems that surgery often plays a role in this. Maybe that is where it starts, but if the personal chef service is good, there might be no end ot the relationship - until something goes very OFF.

                  We love it, and dine better, though my wife could well be a chef, if only she was not so good at running major hospitals. I can pair the wines, and do some sauces, but am not even a beginning line cook. If we wish to eat well, without having to leave home, a service like this is great.


                2. In the early 80s, I did the Personal Chef gig for a Washington, D.C. couple who wanted the best of both worlds -- personal time at home alone and great food with no hassle.

                  I would prepare their food for a week, leave directions and disappear. When they had dinner parties, it was much the same only more elaborate food. The couple's housekeeper made all the serving and cleanup arrangements. I loved this job.

                  It morphed into working with the outpatient department of hospitals in Alexandria VA to provide meals for patients whose families lived far away but were concerned when Mom or Dad were discharged and not quite on their feet yet. Another great job.