About Caron Golden

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

So, what week of the coronavirus shut down are we in? I’m losing track. How about you? What I do know is that many of us have lost work and are trying to hold things together–both financially and emotionally. So, here’s a suggestion: put your talent to work in a different way and hold online cooking classes.

Already I’m hearing about APPCA members trying this out. In fact, member Shelbie Hafter Wassel shot me a message inviting me to take a look at her new video on Facebook, which she later uploaded to YouTube, shot by her husband Jerry. Here she offers a couple of recipes for making fish. Check it out!

So, here’s what I’m thinking. You have clients. You have recipes. You may have limited access to groceries but no doubt you have a fridge and freezer packed with food. Why not learn to use a new technology while you have some down time, engage your current clients, social media promote the heck of your video classes to get new ones when this crisis ends–and maybe even make some money while you’re at it?

Money? You can earn money making a video? Well, there are at least half a dozen platforms that could enable you to earn some money holding online cooking classes. Let’s discuss.

Skype: You probably are already familiar with Skype. So, why not use it for an interactive online cooking class? You can charge a fee and share recipes for the class ahead of time so your participants can follow along. Maybe you teach a knife skills class with recipes based on various skills you teach. Or perhaps you create a meal kit for clients and include this interactive online class to teach them how to use it?

Google Hangouts Chat: You can do the same thing on Google Hangouts Meet as with Skype. Take a look at this invite from San Diego chef Jason Roehm, who regularly teaches via this platform. The class is live, followed by recipes. He charges $25 for a two-hour class and sells the tickets via a link to Eventbrite.

Patreon: Here’s how this website describes itself: “Patreon powers membership businesses for creators by giving them the tools they need to acquire, manage, and energize their paying patrons. With a subscription-style payment model, fans pay their favorite creators a monthly amount of their choice in exchange for exclusive access, extra content, or a closer look into their creative journey.”

As The Street describes it, “Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that enables fans (or patrons) to pay and support artists for their work. For producers of videos, webcomics, music, podcasts and more, Patreon is a way to earn extra money on what might otherwise be free content, and allows fans to contribute to their favorite artist’s platform.”

The site allows creators to set up monthly, subscription-style payment tiers. Creators can also charge an upfront payment instead–and that remains permanent. Your “patrons” can join by creating an account and pledging money to you, with subscription options sorted by different payment tiers or per-post options for content. According to their site, Patreon takes 5% of the amount paid to creators in fees. Creators keep some 90% of their revenues, with an additional 5% going to transaction fees.

Vēmos: Vēmos allows creators to host interactive classes that enable participate to engage with you. You can sell tickets to attend your virtual class to earn income from your home. Vēmos uses Stripe Connect. This allows ticket sales to be deposited directly into your account as soon as sales role in. They don’t charge a monthly subscription fee. Instead, a 10 percent fee is added to the consumer buying the ticket, with a maximum fee of $9.95 per ticket. You select the price point for each ticket for the class. Vēmos has a step-by-step guide for starting an event.

Zoom: I hate to say it, but if you haven’t heard of Zoom in the last few weeks you’ve been living under a rock (and probably safer there). Zoom has become the default platform for video conferencing for the coronavirus shelter at home worker. But why not make it work for you for earning some money with virtual cooking classes? It’s free. It’s easy to sign up. Perhaps use Eventbrite to sell tickets and then you can round up your students at the time you teach the class.

Now you may not make a ton of money doing this, but every little bit can help. Plus, you learn a new tool and can flex your muscles working on a new angle to promote yourself and your business.

Have you started doing video cooking classes? What’s your experience been like?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

In the coming weeks, Candy and I will be working to developing suggestions for ways in which you can keep yourselves whole during this coronavirus shutdown. We know many of you are worried about how to make ends meet. Here’s what Candy had to say this week:

First things first. I suggest that APPCA members file for a Small Business relief loan immediately. Here’s how to get the information. Contact all of your monthly financial obligations including cellphone carriers, internet providers, all utilities, car loan holders, landlords/mortgage lenders, and student loan lenders, for example, to see what kind of disaster relief they are offering.

On our Facebook group page, member Holly Verbeck shared her experience with contacting every business she has bills with:

“DROP your personal and business expenses QUICKLY!

I’m adjusting NOW to the fact business/income will be down for 90 days or so.

I just got off the phone with every company I pay a bill to.

– Verizon ‘suspended’ my account for 30 days (=ZERO due this month w/ no changes to my service!!)

– NY Times dropped my paper subscription by HALF for one YEAR!

– my utility company dropped my bill by 20% for one YEAR!

– Sirius XM dropped my bill by 30% for one YEAR!

The list goes on…

I’m dropping all my expenses and haven’t reduced services!

This makes it a helluva lot easier to pay the mortgage!

Call…call now…call everyone, chef. Ask them what they can do to help reduce your payments while your business is impacted! And SHARE your results with other chefs!!”

Then, how best can we serve our current client base and/or secure new income stream sources? With all the restaurant closings chefs all over the country and restaurants have converted to production cooking and either pick up or delivery from licensed commercial kitchens.

However, your client base relies upon and appreciates the personal commitment and custom designed programs designed by and provided by their personal chef. Members with access to commercial space can convert to 100 percent delivery to avoid exposure for their clients and for themselves. Come up with promotions you can afford to do to spark more interest. Perhaps an extra dish with meals? A discount on a future catering gig?

Adding on or providing separate services like shopping for clients, if feasible in your city, could provide income.

The biggest challenge for personal chefs right now is securing product. You may find that your usual local markets are out of your usual items because of the panic run by customers. While this is likely temporary–officials stress there is no shortage of food–it can be inconvenient right now. Here are some options:

  • I found that shopping for produce with the closure of the farmers markets in our area was a challenge (although in San Diego the Little Italy Mercato just announced a limited market with stringent entrance rules).  I turned to Chefs Garden, which delivers fresh-picked, customer-selected amazing produce via FedEx in a cooled shipping carton.
  • Check in with local farms to learn if they are creating CSAs to sell their produce. If you haven’t heard of them, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Many farms have subscription CSAs. You sign up and then pick up or have delivered a box of the farm’s produce weekly or every other week. Farms that usually sell directly to restaurants are now instead opting to sell directly to customers. So find out if this is an option in your locale.
  • Contact farms directly or go to their Facebook page to learn if they are holding temporary farm stands.
  • If your city has a restaurant warehouse, a Costco Business Center, or wholesale markets–not just for produce but also seafood and other proteins–find out if you can buy from them.
  • I’ve seen on Facebook offers from people who participate in community gardens make offers to the general public to share produce. Check this out.

If you have encountered other options, please share them with us below! Or contact Caron at caron@goldenwriting.com so she can share them.

What changes are you making to your business to adapt? What could you use help with?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

We Can Do This!

Filed under: Business Strategies , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , March 16, 2020

How’re you doing? Coping with the chaos? Our chef members are the rocks of their communities. In times of disruption there may be nothing more important than to have focus, a strategy, pragmatism, and, yes, optimism. Every state and locale is experiencing this coronavirus pandemic differently so far but what we have in common is to critical mandate to protect ourselves and our society by following CDC guidelines and keeping up with federal, state, and local direction.

APPCA’s founder and executive director Candy Wallace has been through tumultuous periods before–from recessions to 9/11 to other pandemics. Naturally, she has a great perspective on what we’re going through now and advice for member chefs.

I have been struggling with this situation, like you, for weeks, watching it evolve so that I could offer realistic recommendations and suggestions to support our personal chef members.

This is even more challenging than the financial challenges of 2008 with the gravity of a global pandemic. Safety from contagion is paramount. Peace of mind, professional leadership, and stability are vital to prevent panic. Personal chef clients hire us because they need/want our assistance and guidance, so how can we continue to be useful in the present situation?

Let’s address first what we are dealing with: A fear of food source instability that’s causing panic buying, fear of exposure, and a lack of comprehensive information and/or direction from our government to name a few. Let’s not forget anxiety and the collapse of our way of life when it comes to employment, healthcare, education, sports/entertainment outlets, and organized face-to-face religious support and worship.

Let’s be honest. We are in a state of chaos where the parameters change with the fluidity of liquid mercury so the ability to adapt service for clients while remaining safe is the quandary.

What do we know with certainty at this point?  Not much. But this is no time to panic. We’re smart; we’re resourceful. And we’re among the luckiest of our citizens. So, let’s make use of it. How? Think of this period as a time to prepare, do your best to help clients and your families, and plan for the future–because this will resolve and life as we knew it will resume.

I have no doubt that when the chaos settles and the fear factor is reduced, personal chefs are going to be a big part of the recovery process and an enormous asset for a population that wants to get well and maintain  a healthy lifestyle. So stay in touch with your current and past clients, offer services that don’t put you in any jeopardy, and be a resource of advice and tips on being safe in their home kitchens in an epidemic and they will rely on you in the future.

What do I advise?

  • Wait. Watch. Pay attention. Rest. Exercise. Eat well. Keep safe. Remain calm.
  • Prepare to react quickly when we have real and reliable information.
  • Use this opportunity to update your recipe files and develop new healthy recipes.
  • Help current clients by updating them on ways to stay safe and offer support through communication and information.
  • Use social media to communicate your presence and commitment to the well-being of your clients and your community. Post current information impacting resources that impact your specific area so they will turn to you as a reliable source of information and support.
  • Stay in touch with your professional colleagues to glean and share information, suggestions and support.
  • Stay in touch with us–we have our forums and Facebook page and group that are all great resources for sharing information and comparing notes.

Let’s face it, our world is changing. We are in what I refer to as a breakdown across the board of Epic Proportions, and yes, I intentionally capitalized those last two words. We must be part of the equally Epic BREAKTHROUGH that is on the other side of this dreadful current reality.

In order to survive as professional personal chefs and rebuild our businesses and industry we must choose to be part of the change, be able to adapt and address the realities that are in the process of revealing themselves, and act quickly implementing a new service model when we have enough real information to determine direction.

In the next week stay safe, rest, reflect and recharge your batteries. And be sure to let us know what you need from us and keep us posted on what’s happening in your community!

Are you still able to work with clients? What kinds of challenges are you facing and how are you resolving them?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Asparagus Season is Almost Here!

Filed under: Recipes,Vegetarian , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , March 9, 2020

When you were a kid were the food seasons really seasons? Did you have to wait for summer for tomatoes and corn? For fall for apples and chestnuts? For winter for citrus and root veggies? And for spring for asparagus and artichokes?

It seems that with our global economy comes global accessibility year-round to otherwise seasonal food–unless you’re committed to cooking and eating locally. That means that for many of us we can have what we want when we want it, as long as we’re willing to eat food shipped from other countries.

But wasn’t the anticipation of the first of the season produce or seafood or even flowers pretty thrilling? So, here it is March and while I can certainly find asparagus in my local supermarket and Trader Joe’s somehow its appearance at my farmers market or in the display areas for the seasonal produce just makes me happier and more eager to take it home to cook. And it’s almost time!

Back in the day, asparagus was exotic and pricey. At least pricey for my family. I may have first discovered them in their canned form, which is so not a winning introduction. Canned asparagus is overcooked and kind of slimy. But fresh asparagus! Oh, that’s another matter entirely. Especially grilled or broiled.

Now over the years two questions about asparagus persist:

1. Pencil thin or thick? (As if my preferred medium girth weren’t an option.)
2. Eat with your fingers or your fork?

I’d love to know your favorite way to prepare them and hope you’ll share them below. The way I enjoy them the most requires medium girth and a fork at the table–because I cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces. You see, I love them sautéed in olive oil and garlic, before being caramelized by lemon juice, and tossed with toasted sesame seeds and sea salt.

This is the simplest of dishes and yet, to me, is all about the asparagus and how well it marries with each of these few ingredients.

Here’s how it goes down: Wash the asparagus and then snap off the tough, woody bottom end. Slice into two-inch pieces (or as close as you can get). Mince a couple of cloves of garlic. Lightly toast a couple of teaspoons of white sesame seeds. Get a nice juicy slice of lemon (I use Meyer lemons from my garden but a conventional lemon is fine, too).

Now pull out your favorite sauté pan and place it on the stove over medium high heat. To be honest, I have a Scanpan wok that I’ve had forever. I rarely use it for Asian cooking (I have a “real” wok for that) but love to sauté veggies in the Scanpan wok because the flat bottom perfectly fits one of my ceramic stove’s front burners and the swooping sides give me more cooking room.

Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and let it heat up a bit, then add the garlic. Once you can smell the garlic’s aroma, add the asparagus. Stir it in to coat with the oil and garlic.

Then be patient and let the asparagus cook for a couple of minutes. Stir and let it sit some more. It takes about six minutes for the asparagus to show signs of browning. You don’t want it overcooked, just a little seared. Then add the lemon juice. Stir and let the juice reduce and caramelize the asparagus. The garlic will turn into brown bits that actually are delicious, not to mention crunchy. Sprinkle the asparagus with sea salt, then toss in the sesame seeds. Mix well. That’s it. Time to plate it.

Sautéed Asparagus with Garlic, Lemon Juice, and Sesame Seeds
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 dozen medium-width asparagus spears (about a pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
Juice from 1/4 lemon
Sea salt to taste

Directions
1. Wash and trim the asparagus to remove the woody bottom. Slice into two-inch pieces.
2. Heat a sauté pan over medium high and add minced garlic. Once you can smell the garlic, add the asparagus. Stir to coat the asparagus with the oil and garlic. Then let it sit for a couple of minutes. Stir and let it sit some more. Continue to stir a couple of more times until the asparagus starts to brown–about six minutes.
3. Add the lemon juice. Stir and let the juice reduce and caramelize the asparagus. Sprinkle with sea salt and stir in the sesame seeds. Serve.

What spring food are you waiting, waiting, waiting for? And how do you love to prepare asparagus?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Squash blossoms

Winter doldrums, menu malaise… It’s easy to get into a cooking rut. But it’s just as easy to get out of one, too. Especially with spring around the corner. Produce seems prettier and more inviting that basic root veggies. There’s color outside and more color in the markets.

I asked our Facebook page followers what they do when they’re feeling the need for some inspiration for new dishes, techniques, and menus. What is their inspiration? And I got a variety of options to share with you:

  • “I watch Fast Forward cooking shows,” responded Cherylanne Farley. “The Kitchn always has good ideas techniques.”
  • “The Barnes and Noble bargain cookbook area,” is member Carol Borchardt’s inspiration. “Pinterest. Old magazines because everything that is old can be made new again.”
  • “Tasting Table, Plate magazine or Pinterest are my go to’s,” said Jennifer M. Grawburg.
  • “Pinterest,” is Suzy D. Brown’s source of inspiration.

Media, of course, is a great source for food-related ideas. Social media is awash in food images and video. And you should certainly subscribe to daily newsletters that arrive in your email’s inbox from Epicurious, Serious Eats, Tasting Table, Well Done, Cooking Light, the Kitchn, ProChef SmartBrief, and MyRecipes–just to name some of the most obvious. So are the vast array of cooking shows on PBS, Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

Marcus Samuelsson learning how to make noodles in Las Vegas

But sometimes you need to get your head out of your computer or device and get out. A recent PBS series that puts out there just how inspirational a hometown can be is chef Marcus Samuelsson’s “No Passport Required.” His second season just concluded but you can find the episodes on demand or the PBS website. Lucky you if you’re from Boston or LA, Philadelphia or Seattle or Houston. Most cities have enclaves of different ethnic groups and watching No Passport Required should give you the itch to explore your city’s Armenian neighborhood, or Filipino or Nigerian or Italian.

Yes, I recognize the irony of suggesting a TV show to get outside. So get outside. You may think you’ve hit all the hot spots of your town but there may be other towns nearby to explore.

Learning from a kind family at next table how to add egg to a Soon Tofu dish at BCD Tofu House in L.A.’s Koreatown.

I asked a chef I know in San Diego what she does when she’s looking for inspiration. She goes on food tours of the city–in San Diego or wherever she happens to be. They take her to markets, restaurants, food stalls, and street vendors. There she can try new flavors, ask questions, and develop ideas for new dishes. I’ve done this myself in San Diego, Los Angeles’s Koreatown, San Francisco, Paris, Quebec City, Vancouver, and Montreal. It can explode your mind and lead to an exciting new approach to your menu.

If you’re not in an area where organized food tours are available, how about gathering up a few friends and day trip somewhere close by? Take a bus or train or carpool to a nearby city for a day of markets and food from another culture? Bring a notebook, take photos, and ask lots of questions of chefs and shoppers? See something you don’t recognize in a bin? Ask someone making a selection about how to use it and how to pick the best quality.

Green almonds from a Middle Eastern market in San Diego

And, if you can’t leave town and you have several different kinds of markets in your town or city, turn that into a day trip and enjoy your region’s diverse offerings. Mark Dietz told us on Facebook he swears by markets as inspiration.

What if your inspiration needs to come from a very specific practitioner? Let’s say you’re interested in taking on cooking for clients with a specific dietary need. Sure, you can turn to the Internet and Pinterest, etc. But how about reaching out to professionals–dietitians or nutritionists, for instance–who can give you some ways you can incorporate specific foods into dishes? Maybe you can have a cook date to learn techniques?

It all comes down to how eager you are to come up with novel resources that ignite that spark of change. Just getting a fresh perspective from another chef or an aisle of gorgeous spring vegetables may send you racing back to your kitchen, eager to develop a new recipe or two for clients.

What’s your inspiration when you are in a culinary rut? 

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 25, 2020

Chefs are nothing if not creative, but sometimes every cook can get into a rut. And there may be nothing that induces a rut more than your basic roasted chicken. We like what we like. We’ve figured out our perfect technique and favorite ingredients and it’s just an easy go to.

But how about dialing it up a little with a slightly different approach, if not for clients perhaps for yourself? As in a skillet chicken with a finger-licking sauce?

This would certainly work for any piece of chicken–including a whole cut up chicken–but I’m partial to thighs. I love their moistness and flavor.

Since I like to caramelize chicken skin with honey on occasion we start here with honey, along with garlic–such a great pairing. To offset the honey’s sweetness I use anchovies. I have a large tin of salted Sicilian anchovies and they’re perfect to mince with the garlic. Meyer lemons are in season this time of year so clearly they, too, factor in.


Finally, butter. Yeah, butter, browned and foamy and nutty. That pulls it all together.

Making this dish isn’t just a matter of throwing the ingredients together and shoving the pan in the oven to bake for awhile. Nope, you have to hover over the stove to build the flavors.

So, pull out your reliable cast iron skillet and add a tablespoon of unsalted butter. While the butter melts over the heat, season the chicken thighs with a little salt and pepper. Then, with butter sizzling, place the thighs into the skillet to sear, skin side down first, then turned to cook for a few more minutes. Remove, along with most of the pan juices, which you can discard (the juices, not the chicken, of course). Add just a bit more butter to the skillet, scraping up the bits, and gradually the stirred butter foams and browns. To that add the honey, stirring it to get it to dissolve, then the garlic and anchovies. Now don’t make a face. The anchovies are fairly indiscernible in the dish, but create this lovely underlying salty umami.

Once the aroma becomes this side of mouth watering, add the lemon juice. Now you’ve got sweet, salty, and tart in a molten sauce. That’s when you add the chicken back to the pan skin side up and continue cooking, spooning some of that sauce over the chicken to baste. You’ll cover the pan to finish it up before running the skillet under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin.

And that’s it. For the effort, you get tender, juicy chicken bathed in one of the best sauces you’ll ever love. Serve it over rice. Serve it over greens. I chose arugula for the spiciness. Then spoon the sauce over it all and swoon a bit.

Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemon, Garlic, and Anchovies

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovies, minced
Juice from 1 lemon

Instructions

Preheat your oven to broil.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch oven-proof pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. While the butter melts, season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken thighs, skin side down first, until the skin is crispy. Turn and sear again until golden. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the pan juices. Transfer chicken to a warm plate.

Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan or skillet the chicken was seared in over medium heat, scraping any bits left over in the pan from the chicken with a spatula. Stir the butter and swirl the pan occasionally for about 3 minutes as the butter changes color to golden brown and has a nutty fragrance.

Add the honey and stir it into the butter to dissolve. Then add in the garlic and anchovies. Sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the lemon juice. Stir well to create a well-blended sauce.

Return the chicken thighs skin side up to the pan with the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes uncovered in the sauce, occasionally basting the skin with the pan juices. Reduce heat to simmer, cover the skillet with a lid, and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a thermometer to measure the doneness. It will be fully cooked at 165 degrees F.

Remove the lid and transfer the skillet to your oven to broil for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tops of the chicken are nicely charred. Then remove from oven.

Serve over rice or a plate of arugula. Drizzle sauce over the chicken and rice/arugula.

Have you recently been in a chicken rut? How did you change things up?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Congratulations! After a lot of hard work, marketing, and great word of mouth you’ve got a full stable of clients to work for. Just as many cook dates as you want and need.

But don’t get too comfy. It’s inevitable that at some point one of those clients is going to have bad news for you. Could be they’re moving out of town. Could be their life circumstances–or finances–have changed. Or could be they just want to make a change. But now you’re down a client and some income.

What are you planning on doing to make up that void?

For some chefs, it might be good timing. They’re ready to slow down the business. For others, it might offer the time and incentive to expand their personal chef umbrella into other areas like teaching, catering, or writing.

But for everyone else there’s that matter of shopping for a new client–or two–to fill the new gap.

The first lesson is never stop marketing yourself. Even when you’re full up with clients. Even when you don’t see any threat to your business. Change always happens and you don’t want to be invisible to your potential client base when it does.

Here are some ideas from current personal chefs:

  • Be up front and ask clients for referrals: “I ask my other clients for referrals,” says Jennifer Grawburg. “I still ask everyone I meet, ‘if you know anyone who needs a private chef…'” adds Ray Lopez.
  • Be out there: “I have monthly on air cooking spots on our local news station. I also have cooking classes I do with the community. I’m always advertising even when I’m full,” Grawburg adds.
  • Be online: Lopez also does internet marketing.
  • Contribute to your community: Lopez donates to sick friends, and church functions. So does Grawburg. “I do a lot of charity promotions throughout the year too. I give to a few that are close to my heart and a few others that are bigger organizations with more attention.”

And consider these:

  • If you and your client are separating on good terms, don’t be shy about asking for referrals.
  • Identify who your ideal client is. A young family? A health and fitness aficionado? A professional couple? Someone who has a specific medical condition? With that knowledge, target those institutions and organizations where they would be. Get involved in an organization directed to helping a specific medical condition. Join a gym where you might find potential clients–or target gyms in your area and offer to hold a cooking demo. Be creative. There’s always an intriguing angle for you to come up with.
  • Do you have favorite reporters or food bloggers in your region? Think up some story ideas for them about food topics or holiday food topics and help that person out by offering these ideas and yourself as a source. In other words, get yourself some publicity!
  • Never leave home without your business card. You never know who you’re going to meet in the course of a day and if you’re open to chatting with those people you could find that they know someone who knows someone…

Finally, no matter the reason for the client separation, make sure it’s on good terms and that you don’t do or say anything that could burn bridges. They may come back!

When was the last time you lost a client? How did you rebound from that?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Homemade Yogurt

Filed under: Recipes,Special Diets,Special Ingredients , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 10, 2020

Imagine being a New Stone Age human, just starting to engage in food production back around 9,000 B.C. You have sheep and goats that you’ve discovered are tasty (Domesticated cows wouldn’t show up until about 4,000 B.C.). And, their wool keeps you warm. But what really made them appealing is their milk. It’s so nutritious!

Just one problem that many of your clients can relate to. People—not all, but enough—couldn’t digest it easily. Yep, there was lactose intolerance back in the very old days. But by fermenting the milk—as in creating yogurt and cheese—a lot of that lactose morphs into lactic acid, which is much more easily digested.

Today, of course, there are entire walls of supermarkets dedicated to yogurt. And, yeah, it’s so convenient to toss a bunch of containers into your cart. It’s a great, easily transportable snack, transforms into a beautiful sauce or dip, and, yes, is magical when flavored and frozen.

But you haven’t tasted the real deal until you’ve tasted homemade yogurt. That’s because it’s missing all those chemical additives that keeps the processed stuff more time to languish in your fridge. What you have with homemade yogurt is the milk—cow’s, sheep, or goat—along with some culture. That’s it.

The most important element in making yogurt is the quality of the milk. Sure, you can buy milk, even goat milk, at a market but read the labels and you’ll find they’ve been pasteurized to within an inch of their lives. Your task is to dive into relationships with farmers, Local Harvest, and natural health food stores to find out how you can access farm-fresh milk.

The cooking process is then straightforward. First make sure everything—from utensils to the cooking container—is spotlessly clean. You’ll pour the milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it to about 180 degrees, then cool it down to 115 degrees with an ice bath. The milk is then ready to receive the culture that will transform it. Use either a cup of unflavored yogurt or yogurt culture that you sprinkle on the milk. Stir it in well and then place the yogurt in a water bath. If you have an Instant Pot you can use the Yogurt setting. If not, you can use a clean, sanitized ice chest with water that’s 120 degrees. Cover the milk mixture tightly and let it sit in the chest or slow cooker for up to 24 hours. Then you’ll refrigerate the yogurt, aiming for 38 degrees. If the yogurt isn’t as thick as you’d like, turn it into Greek-style yogurt by hanging it in muslin over a bowl to drain the whey (which you should save and use).

At that point you can flavor it if you want and pour it into individual containers. But first taste it. It will taste like no yogurt you’ve ever had—fresh and tangy and clean. You’ll want to eat it all up or, if you have some will power, use it as an ingredient in a sauce.

Two issues to note: Again, make sure everything involved is scrupulously clean, but if for some reason your creation doesn’t smell like yogurt or cheese, don’t eat it. And don’t flavor it until it’s cooked (except the coconut yogurt, to which you can add agave or other sweetener and vanilla bean). Ford explained that the flavorings will deteriorate the yogurt faster than if it is plain.

Sheep, Cow, or Goat Yogurt
Yield: Depending on the species, yields will vary. Sheep and cow milk will yield between ¾ and 7/8 of a gallon. Goat milk will not have as high a yield. If you make Greek-style yogurt, yield will decrease about 50 percent.

Ingredients
1 gallon fresh milk
Yogurt culture or a cup of yogurt

Tools
Stainless Steel Pot
Thermometer
Extra Fine Butter Muslin
Colander
40-quart Ice Chest, or a Slow Cooker, Ricer Cooker, or Instant Pot

Directions
Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot on the stove and bring up to 175 to 180 degrees.

Once milk reaches the correct temperature, cool the milk down to 115 degrees by pouring it into a bowl and place that bowl into an ice bath.

When milk is cooled sprinkle culture on top of milk and let hydrate for a minute or two. If you use yogurt simply stir into the milk. Stir yogurt culture into the milk going both directions and bottom to top to make sure the culture is well mixed, otherwise your yield will go down and it can also result in a grainy texture.

In a clean and sanitized ice chest pour in 120-degree water for your water bath. It should be just enough so that the water line and milk lines are level. Not enough can cause yogurt not to fully develop, while too much will cause pot to float and possibly tip over. Cover the pot of milk tightly with lid or plastic wrap. You can also use individual, sanitized glass jars. Close the lid of the ice chest and let sit for 18-24 hours.

As an alternative you can pour the milk into a slow cooker, rice cooker or Instant Pot and set to low or yogurt setting for 12 hours.

Remove yogurt from ice chest/water bath or electric cooker and refrigerate until fully cooled and set.

Once yogurt is well chilled (38 degrees), you can create a thicker Greek-style yogurt by placing the yogurt in a fine butter muslin and colander and letting the whey drain into a bowl. The more you hang and drain the whey the sour/tart flavor will increase. Save the whey and use in smoothies, blend with fruit for frozen pops, or include in sauces.

Have you ever tried to make homemade yogurt? Did it live up to expectations?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Personal chef and APPCA member Anne Blankenship

We always say that one of the benefits of being a personal chef is creating your own work parameters. Over the years we’ve had members who chose this profession after exhausting hours spent on restaurant kitchen lines.

Well, chefs over age 40 might want to consider cutting back their work days to three a week, based on the findings in a 2016 Australian study. They found that workers performed better if they were only on the job three days a week, noting that working for more than 25 hours a week resulted in fatigue and stress for most middle-aged participants.

The study, published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series, asked 3,500 women and 3,000 men (aged 40 and over) to complete cognitive tests while their work habits were analyzed, according to HuffPost.

Data for the study was drawn from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, which is conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. It looks at people’s economic and subjective well-being, family structures, and employment. Those taking part were asked to read words aloud, to recite lists of numbers backwards and to match letters and numbers under time pressure.

Researchers found that cognitive performance improved as the working week increased up to 25 hours. After that, performance declined for both men and women. Study subjects who worked 55 hours a week demonstrated cognitive results worse than those who were retired or unemployed.

“Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress which potentially damage cognitive functions,” the report said.

Colin McKenzie, professor of economics at Keio University who took part in the research, said it would appear that working extremely long hours was more damaging than not working at all on brain function.

BBC News, however, interviewed Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, who said: “The research looks only at over-40s, and so cannot make the claim that over-40s are different from any other workers. What the authors find is that cognitive functioning improves up to the point at which workers work 25 hours a week and declines thereafter.”He added: “Actually, at first the decline is very marginal, and there is not much of an effect as working hours rise to 35 hours per week. Beyond 40 hours per week, the decline is much more rapid.”

Some APPCA chefs already have adopted this approach. “I managed my clients so that I had three-day work weeks except for one week each month-that was a four in a row week,” said Dallas-based Anne Blankenship. “Worked great for me.”

Tori Scaccia agrees. “Yes. Worked for me and paid Sous chef very well,” she said.

But that’s not how chef Christina Hamilton Snow sees it. “Not a reality for personal or private chefs,” she said.

Are you over 40? What do you think about this study’s results and recommendation?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

Many clients are eager, especially as part of New Year’s resolutions, to cut their carbs consumption. And yet they still crave a hearty, warming meal–like lasagna. Now, if you have clients who love eggplant–and all the great ingredients that eggplant complements–you can’t go wrong with this faux “lasagna.”

Eggplant is such a versatile vegetable. Fry them, bake them, roast them, marinate them… the list goes on and on. And you find them in so many cultures around the world, which adds even more to their versatility and the range of flavor profiles you can create.

Here’s a dish that features sliced, roasted eggplant; roasted, peeled red and yellow peppers; homemade tomato sauce, rich with spicy Italian chicken sausage and mushrooms; and lots of garlic mixed into the ricotta, Parmesan, egg mixture. Oh, and let’s not forget the panko mixed with grated Parmesan that tops it all off.

All of these ingredients are layered into a deep 9 by 9-inch ceramic baking dish and baked at high heat for about half an hour. It comes out of the oven brown and bubbling from the cheese. Cut into it and you have layers of sublime flavors all complementing each other. Your clients can pair it with a salad and serve it with a crisp white wine. And, you can freeze it before baking or freeze well wrapped baked slices.

Baked Eggplant and Bell Pepper in Ricotta

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus 2 teaspoons for the baking dish and to drizzle on the casserole
2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise, about ½ inch thick
3 bell peppers (any color but green, which is too bitter)
2 fresh spicy Italian chicken sausages
4 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups marinara sauce
15 ounces ricotta
3 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus ¼ cup reserved for topping
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup panko crumbs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Place eggplant slices on two half sheet baking pans and brush lightly on both sides with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for about 25 minutes, turning slices over halfway. The eggplant slices should be golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. While the eggplant is roasting, roast the peppers on your stove top or alongside the eggplant until all sides are blackened. Remove and place in a brown paper bag with the top rolled up to steam the skins off the peppers. Wait about 10 minutes and remove the peppers and peel the skins off. Slice in half and remove the core and seeds. Then slice into segments and set aside.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Slice through the sausage casings and add the meat to the skillet. Break it up and sauté until browned. Set aside and add the mushroom slices. Let them brown. Add the sausage meat and the mushrooms to the marina sauce.

4. In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, eggs, garlic, Parmesan cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.

5. To put the casserole together, brush an 8-inch baking dish with olive oil. Then layer half of the eggplant on the bottom of the dish. Follow that with half of the marina sauce and a layer of the peppers. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat these layers and end with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the top with the ¼ cup reserved Parmesan cheese and the panko crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

What’s your favorite low-carb riff on lasagna? What ingredients do you feature?

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.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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