Those who know me know that I absolutely love to cook and bake (and eat good food, of course). I would have never thought myself a candidate for the services of a personal chef, not for one doggone minute. Nope, not even when I was faced with a week full of stresses of end-of-the-month deadlines at work (yes, I have a “real” job), caring for a sick granddaughter, catching a bug myself, and having to feed three people at home that same week.
Well, wait a minute.
It was time to call my long-time friend Connie Thibault. She had told me about her recent leap from the corporate world (event/catering sales manager at a luxury resort) to launch her own personal chef/event planner business, Culinary Creations by Connie. This is a gal who knows her stuff, having had her own bakery and catering business and worked in many great restaurants and resorts throughout the West and Southwest. I’ve enjoyed many a decadent dessert and meal at her hand. Maybe it was time to find out a little bit more about this whole personal chef thing.
I didn’t realize there was a difference between a “personal chef” and a “private chef,” for starters. The former is hired by different clients and prepares meals in the clients’ home kitchens, based on their needs and preferences, while the latter is employed exclusively by one client, in some cases even living in the client’s home. These days, Connie told me, personal chefs are used by busy professionals who want to do more than just “grab something” on the way home from work, families on the go who just don’t have time to create a good family meal, athletes, people with dietary concerns, the elderly, people recovering from surgeries or other illnesses, or simply those who don’t want to be bothered with cooking for themselves but want healthy, delicious meals in their own homes.
When Connie suggested I try her out to see what it was all about, and knowing the week I had ahead of me, I jumped at the chance, not really knowing what to expect.
First, she scheduled an initial consultation with me and my husband, to go over any dietary restrictions (I have certain food allergies), food likes/dislikes, our eating habits, and so forth. She explained that not only would she be preparing food for the week for us, but she would shop for everything on our chosen menu and schedule a day to cook when we were away, bringing all her own equipment. She left us with a folder explaining everything in more detail and providing main course and side dish menus from which we could choose. The options seemed endless, and all sounded delicious. I finally opted for items that I wouldn’t necessarily prepare myself (if I had the time): Chicken Scaloppini with Saffron Cream Sauce, Rosemary & Bacon-Wrapped Halibut drizzled with Balsamic Glaze, Salmon Wellington, Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce, and Roasted Pork with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce. Sides would be Confetti Corn, Green Beans with Slivered Almonds, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Spinach Gratin, and Wild Rice Pilaf.
When the appointed “cooking day” arrived, I was overjoyed to think that when I came home from work, I wouldn’t have to give one thought to what I was going to feed my family…all week. When I walked in the door that evening, it was like a fairy godmother had been there, waving her magic wand and leaving behind a refrigerator magically stacked full of elegant single-serving entrée containers, with descriptions and reheating instructions on each and every one. Not another trace anyone had even been there; my kitchen was cleaner than when I had left it.
My family ate like kings that week, feasting on ample portions of the delicious meals Connie had left behind, starting with a very decadent Salmon Wellington. You have no idea of the relief I felt knowing the pressure was off me that week when it came to preparing meals. Was I sold on this whole “personal chef” concept? You bet I was.
Now naturally this costs money, and pricing varies depending on how many entrees you’d like and how many servings of each entrée. Food costs are additional. But what a treat if you can swing this even just once in a while! (Mother’s Day, anniversary, birthday gifts? Hello?!?)
Many of Connie’s current clients are those with special dietary needs (like gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.), and what a perfect solution for them. For her part, Connie is thoroughly enjoying doing what she loves best: cooking – and providing delicious, nutritious food to people who can really use her help.
Connie is a member of the American Personal & Private Chef Association, is a Certified Food Handler from the Maricopa County Health Department, and is ServSafe certified. She provides personal chef services as well as catering and event planning.