This happens all the time. We buy gorgeous beets or radishes or carrots at the farmers market, greens intact. We get back to the kitchen, lop off the greens and throw them into the trash can. After all, what we wanted was the root. Or we buy a whole fish, break it down for the fillet and toss the rest. Or we pass over slightly bruised tomatoes when all we’re going to do is make sauce. Or slightly over-the-hill fruit when we’re just going to bake with it.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, and for the average American family, that can be up to $2,200 per household.
So much of what we toss or bypass is unnecessary–if we thought about creative ways to use it.
For instance, you could buy a whole fish from your local fisherman and roast it whole. Or you could use not just the fillets, but also the collars and cheeks, where so much flavor resides. Never break down a fish before? Here’s how, in five steps:
- Grab a sharp knife or even a spoon and run it across the body against the scales to get rid of them. (You can skip this, but it’s not a big effort.)
- Using a flexible filet knife, cut down just below the fin till you reach the skeleton, then angle the knife parallel to the body and slice evenly down to the tail to create a filet. Put it aside to sauté, grill, or bake.
- Now you have the guts (give it to your dogs, throw it in the garden to fertilize your plants) and the carcass with the head. Cut off that triangular section just under the head and below the fins. That’s the collar. The meat is full of fat and flavor. Put it aside to bake, grill, or fry.
- Cut off the rest of the head and split it to open flat. Get rid of the gills. Grill or bake this to enjoy the oh so sweet cheek meat.
- What’s left is the carcass. Don’t toss it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice and put it on the grill or sauté it. Use a fork to scrape off the meat and enjoy. Or freeze the uncooked carcass to make fish stock.
In fact, you can save the bones from a cooked chicken to roast and use for chicken stock. The same for meat bones, lobster and other seafood shells, and the trimmings from vegetables. Just put them in freezer bags and when you have enough to cook with you’ll create some very flavorful dishes. Use fresh greens from root vegetables in all sorts of dishes–from soups to stir fries. Your clients and Mother Earth will thank you.
Recently I went shopping with a local chef at one of the big Sunday San Diego farmers markets. While he was picking up orders at one stall, I found myself fixated on some gorgeous Easter Egg radishes. They were so plump and colorful I bought a big bunch of them. When I got them home I cut the stems off and, unlike your typical sad, wilted supermarket bunches, they were so fresh I couldn’t bear to toss them. I’d sautéed radish greens with garlic before so I knew how wonderfully peppery they are. But what to do with them now?
I had to decide quickly. What you learn about radish greens is that they have a pretty short shelf life. I could make soup with them, make a stir fry, roast them, add them to pasta or an omelet, or make a salad with them.
Or, hmmm, make pesto. I had all the ingredients I needed, including a fresh bottle of herbaceous young olive oil from California Olive Ranch that would match the spicy radish leaves.
The first thing you need to do with radish leaves is wash them. Thoroughly. As root vegetables, the greens are close to the ground and seem to attract dirt like spinach. I did several rounds in a salad spinner before I got the grit off to my satisfaction. Once washed and dried I gave them a rough chopping for the blender.
With that, it’s just a matter of grating your favorite hard cheese (I used Parmesan), toasting walnuts to bring out their flavor, and trimming some garlic cloves. You’ll want to add a touch of butter to round out the flavor, and some salt–but not much because of the saltiness of the cheese.
After that you’ll put everything but the oil in the bowl of a blender or food processor and gradually add in the oil until it reaches a smooth and creamy pourable consistency. Then you have the perfect sauce for pasta, salmon, roasted vegetables and all sorts of other dishes.
Radish Greens Pesto
Yield: 2 cups
6 ounces radish leaves, with tough stems removed (save and snack on them or add to a stir fry)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
5 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
Pinch of salt
3/4 to 1 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
After removing the tough stems, wash and dry the leaves thoroughly and roughly chop.
In the bowl of a blender or food processor, add the leaves, waln uts, garlic, cheese, butter, and salt. Put the lid on but leave the opening available to add the oil. Turn on the machine and slowly add the oil. Puree the contents until the mixture reaches a loose, creamy consistency. Periodically, stop and scrape down the sides to incorporate all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings.
You can keep the pesto refrigerated for up to a week, although it’s best used right away. Be sure to pour some oil over the surface to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown. Or you can freeze it.
Are you careful about cutting food waste? What great dishes have resulted from this strategy?
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
Why do seniors use personal chefs? For some, it’s no different than any other client. They don’t cook or don’t have the time or interest. Or, they have a specific health issue they need nutrition assistance with.
A senior client explained to her personal chef that while she and her husband could well afford to dine out every night at fine dining restaurant it meant she would have to dress for dinner, put on make-up, style her hair and drive to and from the restaurant, which meant no cocktail before dinner for the driver.
She and her husband had traveled extensively and were excellent cooks themselves who chose to continue to dine adventurously, but chose only to dine out on occasion. Her request to the personal chef was for a program where they could “dine out” at home.
Other senior clients request personal chef service because they want to eat healthy delicious meals without having to see the inside of their grocery store any time soon, and to have as little kitchen and meal preparation time as possible getting in the way of their busy, active, retirement lifestyle.
The security of knowing their meals are prepared in accordance to their wants and needs from all fresh ingredients by a scratch cook is important to many senior clients who choose to stay healthy and active well into their senior years.
That may not sound any different from your other clients, so how do senior clients differ from them?
For many seniors, it’s a necessity if they want to remain in their homes as they age. They need to develop a support system to provide services that would otherwise only be offered at a senior living facility. Cleaning services, yard services, shopping services, and a custom-designed, palate-specific meal program prepared from fresh ingredients can make aging in place a pleasant experience. As people age, their ability to experience flavor diminishes, so personal chefs are able to infuse flavors their clients can discern and enjoy.
Additionally, as our population ages, special medical challenges become a reason senior clients seek out the services of personal chefs, many of whom are former nutritionists and dietitians who chose to leave the health care industry to attend culinary school in order to obtain a skill set to be used to serve clients with special medical challenges.
One twist here is the increasing incidence of children of seniors seeking personal chefs for their parents. More often than not, the children of the senior clients do not live in the city where their parents live, and are seeking support services to sustain their aging parents.
However, this situation comes with its own set of special challenges. It’s wonderful of the children, but it can cause the parents to feel a loss of independence akin to having their children come to their home and take away their car keys. We have found that unless the parents are in agreement and amenable to using the service and are willing to meet with the personal chef and provide information for a complete assessment of their needs, the relationship may be brief. If the senior clients do not actually invite the personal chef into their home to provide service, the relationship will not work.
Once you have been retained to cook for seniors, how do you make sure you’re meeting their needs? Well, let’s look at some of the things we’ve learned over the years.
Oftentimes, senior clients prefer entrees that are less crunchy or al dente and more on the soft or creamy side due to possible dentition issues. Clients may also request smaller portions.
Sense memory can enhance a senior client’s enjoyment of a dish. It is good policy to encourage clients to request and supply favorite family recipes. These may be dishes they’ve prepared and enjoyed for years but can no longer prepare themselves. Having you make them still allows them to experience that deep emotion connection through food, which can be deeply satisfying for the client.
Senior clients can be more time intensive for the personal chef since the cook date can sometimes be considered by the client to be an “event,” and they may wish to spend time visiting with you in the kitchen.
We know that one of your goals in the day-to-day operation of your business is to be efficient. To avoid being trapped into a chat-intensive cook date, it is important to develop and suggest a plan of some sort to which both parties can agree. One personal chef suggested they arrive 15 minutes early on each cook date so they could have a cup of coffee and a 15-minute visit with the clients prior to officially starting the cook date. I describe this additional service as my senior client’s “upscale meals on wheels service,” during which the personal chef can sit for a brief visit and check to ensure the client was making sense, that all clothing buttons were buttoned correctly and there were no visible bruises or injuries to be seen.
The personal chef also offered to take a break at lunchtime and serve a salad or soup and sandwich to the clients with another short visit before continuing and completing the cook date service.
The key is to be kind but firm. Explain to the client that on a professional cook date, the kitchen is the personal chef’s “office,” and that in order to avoid distractions that might result in a delicious entrée being ruined, or worse yet, a distraction that results in an injury, it is important for the personal chef to have the kitchen to themselves. In this case, the clients agreed and the relationship remained deeply satisfying for all parties for more than 10 years.
Here are some additional tips for working with seniors:
- If adult children hire you on behalf of their parents, discuss with them the possibility that their parent/s may be resistant to the gift, and consequently will not be made happy no matter what you do. Make sure that the children resolve with their parents whatever objections the parents have prior to meeting with the parents for the first time so that your relationship with them has a good chance of blooming into regular client status. At that point, make sure that the senior client knows you are working for them and focus on what they want.
- Determine what medications and or medical situations you’ll be dealing with so any food/medication incompatibilities can be addressed.
- It may also be appropriate to meet with the potential client’s primary care physician or special medical situation educator or advisor to ensure that appropriate medical/nutritional care plans are being followed and supported.
Cooking for seniors can be deeply satisfying. You’re helping to facilitate people staying in their own homes and eating delicious, nutritious meals that they might not otherwise be able to enjoy. You’re offering them the dignity of control over their lives. And, even if it is limited, you’re providing some companionship. For many of our personal chefs, it’s a way to honor their own parents and grandparents.
Are you cooking for seniors? What other advice to you have for colleagues?
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
Since becoming a personal chef in 2011 APPCA member Dan Vogt has chosen his own path for operating his business. Instead of traveling to client homes to cook, he’s always opted to use a commercial kitchen for cooking and then delivers their meals.
“It’s completely custom, but I can do the cooking on my own time and I’m not bothering anyone in their home,” he explains. “I thought if it were me, I wouldn’t want to have someone in my kitchen clanging around pots and pans. I just want someone to make what I want and bring it to me. And because I rented a commercial kitchen I could service many more clients.”
Vogt’s focus has been on a clean eating approach, using local, organic ingredients as much as possible. Based in Long Branch, New Jersey, Vogt works with a broker for farmers markets in Pennsylvania who is himself a farmer. Based on what’s available, Vogt designs his menu.
“My niche is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free,” he explains. “I work with doctors, with whom I’ve created alliances, to address specific diets. My meal plans can meet everyone’s needs.”
For years, Vogt called his personal chef business Food by Dan. It’s attracted both locals and vacationers at the Jersey shore. He works with NFL athletes and consults with their dietitians to optimize their nutrition. Vogt also partners with about six doctors in New Jersey. He does weight loss and lifestyle coaching with people trying to lose weight, often in partnership with local gyms.
But recently, Vogt had a brainstorm. He re-conceived the business and changed its name to Hello Chef. The biggest change was opening a quick-service storefront, also called Hello Chef, on December 7, with hours from 9 to 3 Monday through Saturday. It features breakfast, lunch, and cooking classes, while also Vogt also prepares his custom meals for clients in the back. People can come in and pick up prepared meals, they can eat in (Hello Chef seats 25), and they can set up a private dinner with Vogt, including a farm-to-table dinner party at the restaurant.
Because Vogt doesn’t have the overhead of serving and bussing staff–it’s just himself, his wife, and a dishwasher–expenses can be kept down and he can cook client meals. Eventually, he’d like to hire a line cook who can put together dishes Vogt already has prepped so he can focus more on the business–not in the business. That’s a big difference to him.
Vogt saw a huge need for this kind of quick service food option in Long Branch. “In our area, there are places where you can get good food, but it’s limited. They tend to be stuffy, high-end places where entrées are $35 to $40. Most folks can’t afford that,” he says. “I think it’s unfair. People should be able to eat real food. I want to make high-quality food at a reasonable price. So I came up with the idea of having a quick-service place with fresh real food. It’s more expensive than other quick-service places, but people understand they get what they’re paying for.”
So, is the storefront the focus of Hello Chef? No. In fact, Vogt, says, it’s basically a way to market his personal chef services. He tells of a customer who came in for breakfast, but after learning about his personal chef services, ended up spending about $200 by ordering 10 customized dinners and a couple of quarts of soup.
One recent Friday night, he hosted a girls night out with all-you-can-eat appetizers. He had 25 people at the event at $60 a person. “It’s a way to promote our real business, which is meal plans,” he says. “That’s our whole push.”
“We get summer beach crowds in Long Branch, and we’ll be marketing to those complexes,” he says. “Imagine planning a vacation and having food ready in your fridge when you arrive.”
He’s also talking to investors about launching a healthy food truck business by this summer. And, Vogt is working toward opening multiple locations with the idea of franchising some day.
Are you trying to develop ways to expand your personal chef business? Vogt has a few tips for you:
- Give thought to your goals. Everybody’s business goals are different. Do you want to build something that self sustains or something where you’re your own boss? Think about it. There’s a big difference. For me, it’s something that self sustains.
- Get creative. Consider how you can do something different to market your business. Trade your skills with a gym to get in front of clients. You can’t be stingy with it. Build that sense of trust with people and they’ll tell everyone about you.
- Marketing is what it’s all about. You can have the best food in the world but if no one knows about you, nobody’s going to care.
Do you have a unique approach to running your personal chef business? Let us know if you need any help or advise!
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
Isn’t it irritating these days to come across recipes that come from what we believe to be reliable sources, but turn out to be missing one key directive? It can ruin a dish and waste ingredients, not to mention our time.
I love Meyer lemons and have two fruit-producing trees. By December they were weighed down with the vibrant yellow-orange globes. I gave many away but still found myself with more than I could use before they’d start going downhill. Because I enjoy the craft of preserving, I decided to make marmalade.
I’ve successfully made marmalade from a wonderful Ina Garten recipe in her Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook, but her large oranges didn’t really translate into my much smaller lemons so I searched through my cookbooks until I found an actual Meyer lemon marmalade recipe in my ginormous compendium of all things Ruth Reichl, The Gourmet Cookbook. I was tickled to have just what I needed from one of my cooking bibles.
Other than tripling the recipe to use 4 1/2 pounds of lemons, I followed it precisely. It took me hours to halve the lemons, remove and reserve the seeds, then quarter the juicy halves and thinly slice them. I pulled together all the seeds into a cheesecloth parcel I tied with string. I mixed the lemons with water and the seed pouch and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
After racing out in the rain to get more sugar (12 cups!), running all my jars through the dishwasher, and then setting up my canning equipment, I started the cooking process. Everything went fine. I put a couple of small plates in the freezer to chill so I could test that the marmalade had cooked enough. The soaked lemon mixture simmered for 45 minutes, reducing by a third. Then I stirred in the sugar and brought it all to a boil, stirring and skimming.
Per the directions, after 10 minutes I pulled out a frozen plate, dropped a dollop of golden marmalade on the plate, put it back in the freezer and waited for a full minute. I tested it. Still runny. I cooked the mixture for five minutes more, tested it. Still runny. I did this four more times and by then the peels were collapsing. Enough.
At this point the jars had been sterilized so I started filling them, hoping that the mixture would set. I processed the filled and sealed jars and set them on the counter overnight, cleaned up the kitchen, and crossed my fingers.
I shouldn’t have bothered. The next morning I had what I generously called Meyer Lemon Marmalade Syrup. It tasted delicious, but was still runny.
Fortunately, because I posted some of this on Facebook, pastry chef Kathleen Baran Shen offered some advice. And this is why I am writing this–because this Gourmet recipe didn’t mention it–you need to measure the temperature of the mixture and that temperature needs to hit 223 degrees to reach the jelling point.
“There are varying amounts of water in every lemon and the temperature assures a specific percentage of water remains in the mixture,” she said. “Just cooking for a set amount of time doesn’t get you a specific end result.
“Pectin needs a few things to set,” she explained, “proper sugar concentration, acid, and to be cooked to the right temperature.”
She added, “If you want to go to the trouble to dump it out and recook it, use a thermometer and bring it to 223 degrees and re-jar it. It will be good.”
Kathleen was right, of course. I had some leftover jars of “marmalade syrup” in the fridge–jars I didn’t have room to sterilize. I dumped the contents into a pot and followed her directions. After I poured the recooked mixture back into the re-washed jars, I let them cool and then put them back in the fridge. A couple of hours later I opened one up. Sure enough, it was perfectly set. I went back and emptied all my marmalade syrup into a large pot and brought the mixture to the right temperature, re-washed and sterilized the jars, filled them, processed them, and relabeled them–this time as just Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Okay, a slightly darker marmalade, though. Turns out that while sugar doesn’t caramelize until reaching 300-plus degrees, if you don’t stir constantly as you get close to the magic number or use a copper pot that conducts heat more effectively, the bottom gets hot enough to caramelize. And, as Shen added, some color change will happen no matter what as the fruit changes color when cooked. Second lesson learned!
So, if you are starting out as a jammer be sure to find the right recipes and also don’t give up because it didn’t come out right the first time. Kathleen not only saved my batch of marmalade, she saved my hard-earned lemon harvest–and gave me the gift of knowledge that will be used for my next jamming foray.
Here’s my version of Meyer Lemon Marmalade, adapted from the Gourmet recipe with Kathleen’s advice included. In terms of special equipment, you’ll need a large canning pot and rack; canning jars, lids, and bands; a jar lifter; a funnel; a lid lifter; cheesecloth and string; and a candy thermometer.
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Yield: About 6 cups
1 1/2 pounds Meyer lemons
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1. Halve the lemons crosswise and remove the seeds, placing them in a bowl as you work–they’ll provide the pectin you need to thicken the mixture.
2. Tie the seeds in a cheesecloth bag and reserve.
3. Quarter each lemon half and thinly slice crosswise.
4. Combine the lemon slices, seed bag, and water in a pot and let stand, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours.
5. When you’re ready to make the marmalade, wash and sterilize jars in a large canning pot filled with heavily simmering water. Keep the jars in the water and keep the water simmering. Wash the lids and put them in a small saucepan. Fill with water and bring to a simmer. Wash the bands and set aside.
6. Place the lemon mixture on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to about 4 cups–about 45 minutes.
7. Stir in the sugar, attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pot, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam until the mixture reaches 223 degrees.
8. Place a kitchen towel on the sink where your filled jars can cool. Remove a jar from the canning pot and drain it of water. Fill it with marmalade to within a 1/4″ from the top. Wipe off any excess marmalade from the jar, particularly where the lid and band will go.
9. Place a lid on the jar. Seal the jar with a band and gently twist it. Do this with each jar and then return them to the water bath. (Note: If you have any leftover marmalade, place it in a container and refrigerate it to use right away). Discard the bag of lemon seeds.
10. Cover the pot and bring the water back to a boil. The jars should be in actively boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the bath for another five minutes. Then remove the jars to the towel on the counter out of a draft. Don’t worry if there’s water on the lids. It will evaporate. Let the jars alone overnight. Within minutes you should hear popping as the lids seal.
Questions about the nuts and bolts of preserving? My bible is the Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. You’ll find a step-by-step guide to the canning process. It seems intimidating at first because of the number of steps but it actually is very easy.
Do you make preserves? What’s your favorite? If not, what’s holding you back?
Being a personal chef can be a solitary endeavor. You develop recipes and create menus on your own, you shop alone, you often cook and clean up alone. It’s up to you to market yourself and attract clients. You are the one responsible for growing your business.
Nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s what we signed up for. But at some point we all need advice, education, and help with advancing our business. Joining a professional association can help with that. It should help with that. Joining a professional association means making a commitment to your career through networking with peers. It means having a forum that allows you the opportunity to take advantage of situations that arise where you are able to make personal and professional contacts that can benefit you at the present time and also provide beneficial opportunities in the future.
These days, it’s understandable that many professionals feel that the interactions they experience on social media can replace membership in a professional organization. Millennials especially have eschewed professional organizations, according to Entrepreneur magazine. They reported that in Buzz Marketing Group’s “Professional Organizations Study 2015” survey, more than one quarter of respondents referred to professional organizations as “old school.” Why did respondents, who were under the age of 40, leave older groups in record numbers?
- 37 percent did not see value in the group.
- 45 percent reported participation was too expensive.
- 35 percent said the group wasn’t a community comprised of their peers.
- 31 percent felt that groups lacked technology.
- 27 percent said it lacked proper curation.
But, Entrepreneur also points out that that with social capital being so important to millennials, they’re being drawn into professional organizations that are millennial focused.
We think that’s short sighted. While being in a group of same-age peers can be useful, there’s a lot to be said for interacting in groups with multi-generational members who can learn from one another and expand opportunities across the breadth of experience and networks.
At APPCA, we’ve found that our members most definitely learn from the expertise of those who have been in the business for years and from the insights and knowledge of young members who are in tune with new technologies and lifestyles. We share these on our forums and at meetings–as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Our members tell us that they hope to get job leads from membership and that they want to get together at conventions.
On our Facebook group page, Carolyn Tipton Wold explains that, “Joining an association has given me hundreds of ‘sounding boards’ when I find myself with questions about pricing, marketing, recipes, etc. I also gain perspective on issues I haven’t yet encountered but could in the future. I gain a lot from the annual conferences and, depending on which association(s) you join, you can also get insurance coverage for your business and access to organizational cheffing databases.”
The consensus among experts in career advancement is that there are some key gains to be made by those who invest both time and some money in joining a professional organization. The top benefits they see include:
- Business operations resources
- Access to insurance or other member perks
- Greater exposure to jobs/clients
- Continuing education
- Shared information
- Inspiration and motivation
- Developing leadership skills
Of course, simply joining an organization won’t yield results–unless you’re looking to just add the fact of your membership to your resume or website. You need to participate, get to know other members, share information and insights.
So, let’s say you’re game to join a professional organization. Homing in on the right ones takes some research. How do you evaluate their effectiveness for your specific needs? Here are some questions to ask when considering membership in a professional organization:
- What resources and benefits are you looking for and are they offered by the organization?
- What in general does the association offer to members?
- What are the criteria for membership?
- Are industry-specific training materials and programs available to members?
- Does membership in the association offer its members professional credibility?
- What professional continuing education opportunities does the association offer? Does the association offer professional certifications? Are they valid? Are they meaningful in the industry?
- Does the association provide assistance to members regarding job lead assistance?
- Does the association provide access to professional support such as specific general liability insurance?
- Does the association provide internet interaction access between members for mentorship and support?
- Does the association provide information about current trends impacting the industry?
- Does the association provide ongoing industry support to members through blogs, social media, forums, etc.?
- Does the association represent the members through participation in other prestigious professional organizations and the media in order to further the value of membership in the organization?
- Does the association win awards for developing and furthering the industry it represents?
- Is the association committed to the success of the industry and members it represents?
APPCA, for example, has long been committed to the success of our members. We offer all the tools and resources a budding personal chef needs to start a business–including our upcoming Personal Chef Seminar in San Diego this weekend–as well as support and guidance for those with more experience. We are revving up our Chef Summit this year. We offer this blog–which features discussions about business strategies, recipes, member spotlights, and special diets. We are active on Facebook and other social media. We operate an active member forum on our website. We provide access to general liability insurance. We help members design effective websites. We have software to support your business. We have developed an app to help potential clients find and hire personal chefs in the association. And, founder/executive director Candy Wallace is always available to help individual members address issues they’re facing with their business.
If you’re not already a member, make 2016 the year you join a professional association so you can get these benefits.
What are you looking for in a professional organization? What’s been holding you back from joining one?
Happy New Year! As chefs, you know how important it is to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry. So, we’ve pulled together a round-up of eight food trend forecasts for 2016. You may not want or need to follow all of these for clients, but here’s what they’ll no doubt be exposed to when dining out–and that can lead to requests in their kitchens or for events you cater.
Clean Eating: “Free-from” for all (gluten, soy, lactose, etc.) falls into this category, as does organic, natural processing, flexitarian, and greens in the Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends list for 2016.
Veggie-Forward Menus: The Specialty Food Association created a top 10 list of trends on the 2016 horizon–everything from veggie-forward menus to no waste and supermarkets for super health.
Snack Attack: Innova was very busy with trend predictions. Here’s a list of global trends they produced for the 2015 Anuga Show held in Cologne, Germany. The top 10 includes the growing trend of snacking, marketing to millennials, high-quality convenience, and an emphasis on texture.
The Return of Lard: Lard is back. Escargot is back. So are beets. Say goodbye to sriracha and embrace the heat of harissa and gochujang, according to the Sterling Rice Group’s list of 14 trends. They see the end of GMO’s and more local, transparent sourcing. Like, The Specialty Food Association, they, too, see no waste and a focus on vegetables.
Old-World Ingredients and New Vino Vehicles: From Whole Foods we get a top 10 list that runs the gamut from plant-based everything to wine in cans. In the sustainability folder, we get consumers interested in unusual seafood and cuts of meat. Fermented foods are going to be big. So are heirloom ingredients, dehydrated foods, and Old-World flavor adventures.
Substance Over Sizzle: Zester Daily brings its Top 6 Food Trends for the year, leading off with the movement for healthier food, and noting the importance of sustainable diets, food literacy, supermarkets as health hubs (see The Specialty Food Association above), raw milk cheese being hot, and an increased consensus by the experts on what to eat.
Plants are the New Meat: I love this food trend interview with food writer Bonnie Wolf on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. She notes that vegetables have moved to the center of the plate. We’ll see more dried beans, peas, and lentils. And, like Innova’s predictions, she sees millennials as the trend movers and shakers.
Get Outta Here: Now for food trends famous chefs would like to see retired, from Thrillist. You can probably relate to some of these. Tired of deviled eggs? How about molecular gastronomy? These chefs are. They’re over tweezers (use your fingers!), smoked cocktails, and calling everything “farm-to-table.” So long, kale (really?). And, let’s end it here, get outta here with food trends!
What’s on your 2016 food trend list? Will anything above influence how you create recipes and menus?
Here we are again. It is almost the end of the year, and the beginning of what could very well be an exciting, successful, enjoyable new year for your personal chef business and your life.
To help make that happen, APPCA’s executive director Candy Wallace believes it’s wise to sit down and do a review of the past year and make plans for what you want to create in the new year. This way, you are working a plan of your own design rather than being passively at the service of whatever circumstances present themselves over the course of the year.
Here are her recommendations:
Review your current biz plan
Ask yourself: Are you enjoying your business? If not, can you:
- Adjust your schedule.
- Adjust your product or service.
- Set higher goals.
- Set more realistic goals.
- Evaluate if the business model you’re using is right for you.
Do you keep and maintain a Profit and Loss report? Do you know the nuts and bolts of your finances? Examine your year-end P&L to look for ways to improve your finances next year.
- Identify Total Revenue: Is it consistent over the course of the year? Is it enough to meet your goals?
- Identify Pricing: Are you charging what you need to make a profit?
- Identify and prepare for Quarterly Tax Payment Liability: Are you putting funds away for each quarter’s tax payment?
- Identify Total Expenses/Overhead: Can they be trimmed? Can you find less expensive ways to finance them? Will you have new or increased expenses in the coming year in the form of employees, insurance, fuel/transportation, food prices, equipment?
- Identify Profitability: What is the balance between your revenues and expenses?
- Identify Special Business Needs: Do you have a budget for unplanned opportunities or needs like promotional banners for an event or classes to elevate your skills?
Re-evaluate income streams
- Consider a possible price increase:
- Did you low ball your pricing to get new clients?
- Do you need to revise your pricing to reflect your value, your expenses, increased costs?
- Consider offering more and different services: Could your clients use additional services, like catering or cooking classes?
- Can you take on more clients: How can you bring in more clients this year?
- Are you interested in new income streams: Many personal chefs do more than offer cook dates for clients. They offer product demonstrations, cooking classes, catering, writing, and other food-related services. Maybe there’s something else you’d like to do under your personal chef umbrella.
Are your satisfied with these?
- Software support
- Contract services
- Public relations/Promotion
How would you rate your marketing efforts?
- Are you engaged enough in professional networking?
- Is your Web presence/SEO/design in need of an update?
- Are you actively promoting yourself via social media and/or a blog that gives you and your business exposure?
- Do you have and always carry business cards?
- Do you need help in learning how to better market your business?
How would you rate your business skills?
- Do you feel confident in the various aspects of operating your business?
- Could you benefit from training in different arenas, such as managing finances, marketing, public speaking, writing, or even cooking?
Personal Finance review
- Are you building your savings or depleting it? Can you establish a monthly savings structure? If you can’t save because your revenues and expenses aren’t aligned, go back to re-evaluating your business finances and income streams.
- Are you engaged in financial/retirement planning? What steps can you take to build your finances now and in the future?
Personal Life Plan
Are you enjoying your life? If not and it’s related to work:
- Review your work schedule and figure out how to make changes that better suit your lifestyle as it is or want it to be.
- Make a vacation plan.
- Schedule family time.
- Commit to regular recreation/exercise/continuing education opportunities.
Remember, that as APPCA members you have a number of resources to assist you in improving your business. That includes regular weekend Personal Chef Seminars in San Diego. Many members take the seminar as they are launching their business, but we welcome established members, who are interested in revisiting topics and getting input in revving up their personal chef business. Our next seminar is January 16 and 17. For more information, visit our website.
We wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Do you do an annual review of your business and life? What other issues do you take into account as you look ahead to the new year?
As we come to the end of 2015 and look ahead to a bright new year, APPCA executive director Candy Wallace has some words of advice about nurturing the relationships we’ve developed with our clients.
It has always been my feeling that gratitude should be shared. Often. We personal chefs who have actually had the blessing of custom designing our businesses are most fortunate and, hopefully, are conscious of just how fortunate we are. The end of the year is a wonderful time to share your gratitude with people with whom you share your life, on whatever level that may be.
Your clients are definitely people you should thank since they are directly impacted by your service and you are directly impacted financially by providing that service. The relationships we develop with clients tend to be intimate in that they place their trust in us to provide custom-designed meal service that contributes not only to their well being but also to the quality of their lives, so while saying thank you is lovely, you may want to take it a step further and write them a brief letter.
What can you say? Be yourself and speak from the heart, but also communicate as a professional.
You may want to thank them for the opportunity to serve them over the course of the past year, and tell them how much you value them as special clients. You can tell them what a joy it is to cook in their beautiful kitchen, how much you look forward to providing meals for their adventurous international palates, or mention any specific aspect of their lives or home you know they would appreciate your mentioning.
You can mention any special situation that may have occurred over the year, or special life events you have participated in over the year, or simply say that you have enjoyed getting to know all of the members of the family and look forward to continuing their culinary adventure or continuing to be able to provide special support, or continuing to participate in whatever program they have asked you to develop. Just acknowledge what it is that you do for them and that you are committed to continuing to provide delicious custom- designed meals and support for them in achieving their goals.
Why do this? It is important to stay in touch and reconfirm your commitment to your client so they feel appreciated and valued by you. With communications reaffirmed at the end of the year you have a very good shot at beginning the new year with renewed enthusiasm and appreciation on the side of your client as well.
Good client relations should be nurtured to keep the connection healthy and strong. It is said that it is easier to work to maintain a solid relationship with a current client than it is to seek out a new client who needs to be trained over time by you on how to use your service efficiently and effectively.
Speaking of gratitude, I want to thank each of you for choosing to make your living as personal chefs. The service you provide is so important and the impact our chefs have made on the way America eats over the past 24 years has been enormous.
I also want to thank you for your membership and participation in APPCA. We value the contributions of each and every one of you, and we appreciate your having assisted us in nurturing and protecting this wonderful career path.
How do you express gratitude to your clients? What are you grateful for as a personal chef?
Charles Schulman has been in the culinary industry for more than 30 years. He came to the personal chef profession in 2008 after years of working in the hospitality industry–think hotels–and corporate world–think corporate dining rooms, hospitals, and private schools, as well as restaurants and fine dining establishments like country clubs. Based in the Baltimore area, Schulman’s last full-time gig before becoming a personal chef was as a chef for a private school.
At that point he was ready for something new and his wife suggested he look into becoming a personal chef. Years before a co-worker had talked to him about it as a career and pointed him to the APPCA. Schulman finally attended a seminar in Washington, D.C. and liked what he heard. And so he launched his business, Savor Each Flavor.
Since then he’s had a range of clients and also works part-time for a caterer and sometimes for a fine dining restaurant in Owings Mills. “I’ve learned from every one,” he says. His catering umbrella is broad. He offers dinner parties and receptions, romantic dinners and barbecues, cooking lessons and Hors d’oeuvre parties, and chef/sommelier parties. Much of his clientele comes from client referrals, although he says he’s also experimented with Groupon and Living Social.
Schulman has shared 10 tips about catering that he’s gleaned from his experience:
- Offer a lot of variety in terms of food. Create innovative combinations, especially for brunch.
- With bridal showers and baby showers, you get a lot more guests interested in healthy dishes. Be sure to offer egg substitutes or egg whites for omelets.
- Make your omelets in front of your guests. You’re creating a show and are entertaining guests, which they enjoy.
- Be flexible and know your guests in terms of the kind of food they prefer. Do they tend to prefer lighter, healthier dishes? Do they want you to make their mom’s recipe? Be open to their requests instead of strictly sticking to your menu.
- Cater to your client. They’re the ones paying you. They’re the ones eating the food. They’re the ones who will rehire you or give you a great referral.
- When hiring wait staff make sure you have good people who you know around you. They’re the first line of defense. Make sure you’re all on the same page. I have meetings before the event to review plate presentation, platter presentation, menu, clients’ rules. At the event, review every single detail before the event starts.
- Consider partnering with a wine consultant for an event. And for events for guests numbering more than 15, consider hiring a second chef to assist.
- If you’re using fresh herbs, dry them in the oven to preserve them—and you don’t have to toss leftover herbs. Instead you can put them in the freezer. With other leftover produce, you can roast them or otherwise cook them and freeze them.
- Have a good strategy for prepping so you don’t spend all your time in the kitchen cooking. Jot down menu items with recipe with a section that accounts for equipment you need and special issues like guest or client allergies to ingredients.
- Email clients with confirmation when you’ll be there, the menu, and to make sure that the dishwasher, sink, countertops, stove cleared off. If you come into a clean kitchen and clean house, you leave it the same as you found it.Clean as you go. Clean while guests are eating.
Schulman also emphasizes the importance of annual planning. From Christmas to New Years, you can find him at his computer going over the goals he has for himself and his business for the new year. And he anticipates a busy January. “I usually have a range of clients then of people who want to change their diets, who decide they don’t want to cook for themselves, or want a chef to come in and cook healthy meals for their families,” he says.
What are some of your best catering tips? What concerns do you have about branching out into catering?
Looking for a break from all of the holiday indulgences that too often temp us to overdo with tempting rich foods and sweets? Both you and your clients are probably trying to balance the inevitable splurges at parties with some exercise and nutritious meals, as well as strategies for keeping the holiday fare healthier. After all, as much fun as this time of year is, it’s also very stressful. The best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to fuel right so that the celebrations are welcome and enjoyed.
We’ve put together a dozen links to sites that have great suggestions for enjoying a healthy diet during this period–and we have a great Holiday Kale Salad from our own Candy Wallace, APPCA’s executive director.
Let’s start with the links.
- Here’s are some healthier versions of traditional Chanukah dishes from Eat Well.
- Still recovering from Thanksgiving? Try these healthy dishes from HuffPost.
- Cooking Light explains how to eat clean during the holidays.
- Is Type 2 Diabetes an issue? The American Diabetes Association has tips for holiday meal planning.
- Even the Food Network is getting in on this with healthy holiday meals.
- How about some healthy holiday desserts from Health?
- Healthy, colorful salads? Here are 25 recipes from Babble.
- Be inspired by these healthy vegetarian soups from Parade via Philly.com.
- Grab a sandwich–but keep it light, thanks to Family Circle.
- Low-carb, gluten-free holiday side dishes from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
- Take a look at these vegan holiday dishes from BuzzFeed.
- The Mayo Clinic chimes in with some marvelous healthy holiday dish recipes.
And here’s Candy’s gorgeous salad.
As she says, a colorful holiday kale salad using seasonal fruits, nuts with or without roast poultry can satisfy your hunger without adding to your waistline during these days of temptation. It’s is a seasonal holiday salad that my family and friends look forward to each holiday.
One thing to remember about kale is that it can be tough and even slightly bitter if simply torn and tossed into a salad bowl, but can easily be transformed into a more tender and even sweeter green by handling or massaging it with acidity such as fresh lemon juice.
There is no trick to it, just remove the ribs and stems and place the torn kale into a bowl. Add fresh lemon juice and “massage” with your hands or repeatedly turn with tongs for 3 to 5 minutes. This will soften the kale and reduce the volume by about ½. The end result is worth the extra step.
Just add the delicious fresh ingredients you selected for your salad and set in the refrigerator for up to half an hour before serving.
All Hail Holiday Kale Salad
Serves 4 to 6
1 Honeycrisp apple – peeled and sliced into matchstick cuts
½ cup pomegranate seeds
½ lemon – juiced for massaging the kale
1/2 lemon – juiced to pour over apple slices to keep from turning brown
¼ head red cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot – shredded or thin sliced
½ cup dried pitted tart Montmorency cherries (available at Trader Joe’s)
½ cup jumbo raisin medley (available at Trader Joe’s)
½ cup toasted walnuts, rough chopped
½ cup salted peanuts
Shredded roast chicken or turkey (2 cups if the salad is an entree, 1 cup if it’s a side)
Traditional Slaw Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white wine, champagne or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp salt
Peel and slice apple, combine with lemon juice to keep from discoloring. Set aside.
Shred cabbage and carrot on box grater or slice into thin strips. Add to kale.
Add dried cherries, jumbo raisins, chopped toasted walnuts and salted peanuts to kale.
Add sliced apples and pomegranate seeds.
Add roast poultry.
Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use just enough to coat the salad. As an alternative you can also use a citrus vinaigrette.
How are you keeping it healthy over the holidays? What’s your go-to recipe for a healthy holiday-time meal?