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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.

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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.

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Schulman has shared 10 tips about catering that he’s gleaned from his experience:

    1. Offer a lot of variety in terms of food. Create innovative combinations, especially for brunch.
    2. 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.
    3. Make your omelets in front of your guests. You’re creating a show and are entertaining guests, which they enjoy.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

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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?

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.

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Caron Golden

About 

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.

1 Comment »

  1. It’s interesting that you point out how you should make the food in front of guests to keep them entertained. Having the catering company also provide some entertainment is a great idea for private parties. In addition to cooking in front of them, creating a nice display may also help to give the guests something to do.

    Comment by Kendall Everett — June 21, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

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