APPCA member and personal chef Anne Blankenship has pretty much served as our reporter on the ground for personal chef transitions. The owner of Dallas’ Designed Cuisine a Personal Chef Service, Anne is working her way toward retirement and has written about that process for us. This week she outlines the process of hiring and working with an intern, the idea being that she could eventually refer incoming potential new clients. 

If you’re looking for help and a way to pay forward the help you received when you were just starting out–or if you’re a culinary school student searching for some practical internship experience–you’ll want to ready this guest post by Anne:

They say too much of anything is not a good thing. When you have more business than you can handle, what do you do? I have recently found myself in the position of turning away clients on a weekly basis for the first time since I started my personal chef business. While I am thrilled that potential clients are calling, it is also frustrating to be unable to accommodate potential new business.

When I sat down to ponder this issue, a light bulb went off in my head. Recalling my days in culinary school I knew that there were required internships of students. I so “fondly” recall working for $5.85/hour, scrubbing fish scales out of the sink around midnight, and then mopping the floor! However, it was a great experience and when you are the “low person on the totem pole” you never say “that’s not my job.”

I contacted my alma mater (a local community college with an outstanding and highly rated culinary program) and sent a message to the head of the Food and Hospitality Institute at the college. The school’s culinary program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation, and I of course knew that the “CPC” (“Certified Personal Chef”) designation was available through the organization. I told the chef that I wanted to hire a student for an internship as well as provide them with insight into a different area of the culinary world—that of a personal chef. I also reminded him that the “CPC” designation was a viable option, as many culinary instructors are unaware of this classification. He responded and said he would mention my internship to his classes and that the best option was for me to post it on the online job board for students, which I did at the end of August when school started. In addition, I contacted my clients to let them know I was considering hiring an intern. I wanted to check  whether or not it would be alright with them that this person would accompany me on future cook dates.

I received a response to my ad within a week from a promising young student. However, I had neglected to post the days/hours that I needed the applicant, and his school schedule was such that he would not be available. After I amended the posting to include the hours, I received a second response at the end of September. This time I knew I had potentially found the right candidate in Tina, who is in her first semester. Like me, she had been in the corporate world for 20 years and wanted to change careers, had always wanted to be a chef, loved to cook, and had planned and executed dinner parties for friends with various cuisines and interesting dishes. We exchanged e-mails and as she told me more about herself I became certain that if she was interested, I could help her pursue becoming a personal chef as well as have someone viable to whom to refer new business.

We met for lunch a few days later and after three hours of discussion we made plans for her to accompany me on upcoming cook date at the beginning of October. Once at the client’s home I showed her the menu and recipes for that day and we divided up the tasks and who would make which menu item. Although I was watchful, I knew she was competent and I truly didn’t have to worry about the way she cooked the food. Everything she has done thus far has been excellent (and made me think I’ve been a little careless in the way I cooked some of my recipes!). Even better is that when we review the menu for the day and divide up tasks, she usually has a good idea of how to execute the recipes but always asks if she is not sure.  Truly, she is the best person I could have gotten for the job!

The “end game” is that if she decides to pursue being a personal chef, I would help her get started and hopefully be able to refer any incoming potential new clients to her as I am quite satisfied with the client base I now have. I told her that it wasn’t all “philanthropical” on my end—she would be helping me so that I wouldn’t have to turn away business and she would benefit by having her own clients. I have been very honest with her about how clients come and go in the personal chef business, that you have to be flexible, manage your finances well and be prepared for what could happen. However, I also told her that being your own boss, making your own schedule, and truly enjoying what you do for a living is beyond compare to working in the corporate world. I still love what I do every day and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

She will be with me until the middle of December but has until the end of December to decide whether or not to go back to the corporate world or pursue her dream of being a chef.

I did not change my liability insurance policy as I did not know how long Tina would be with me.  Since my insurance premium is due in December, I will take a look at everything at that time. When we talked she asked me what the “big picture” was and I said that I wanted to try and retire in 2020 and if the right person came along, I would consider turning my business over to them.  I was working out details about possibly taking a percentage of the client fees for awhile when I turned over the business.  I am still mulling over that idea. If Tina does not want to go forward with this then I will start over again next semester and possibly hire someone else.  If I cannot find the right person, I will just keep on doing as I am now and turn business away.

If you are in a position to hire an assistant for your personal chef business, consider your local community college, as many of them now have excellent culinary programs. You have the ability to mentor someone (probably younger) and show them that there is so much more to the food industry than working at a restaurant. I feel it is one way for me to “pay it forward” for someone who wants to be a personal chef. I have the Internet presence, the knowledge and 12 years of experience to assist her in getting started. I believe she feels as strongly as I do about the “personal” in being a personal chef and how we interact with our clients’ families, children and lives. As a result, my tagline has now become “Personal Chefs – We Make a Difference in Peoples’ Lives.”

Have you considered working with an intern? What are your concerns about the hiring and collaboration process?

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!

Last month the National Restaurant Association released its 2018 Annual Chef Predictions of food and beverage trends. The survey of 700 professional chefs–members of the American Culinary Federation–predicts “what’s hot,” what they expect the food and beverage trends at restaurants to be in the coming year.

According to the survey, menu trends that will be heating up in 2018 include doughnuts with non-traditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, and heritage-breed meats. Trends that are cooling down include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and house-made charcuterie.

At number 11 on the list of top 20 food trends is Peruvian food.

Peru is a culinary melting pot–a mix of Spanish, Italian, Cantonese, and Japanese styles and techniques that reflect the country’s unique history. Lomo Saltado–an intriguing stir fry beef tenderloin that melds Peruvian flavors with Cantonese influences–is a popular traditional Peruvian dish served with French fries or potato wedges on rice. I learned how to make it recently from a San Diego chef, Emmanuel Piquera, who grew up and learned to cook in Peru. In fact, I shared his ceviches with you last October. Loma Saltado is the dish of his I’ll be making during winter now that temperatures have dropped.

This dish features soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic to form the sauce that is its base. That’s made in the blender and reserved. Using canola oil, you stir fry seasoned tenderloin pieces, then add red onion, tomatoes (have you ever stir fried tomatoes?), and a jalapeño. All this is blended with that salty, sour traditional sauce and topped with scallions and perhaps a fried egg. It’s easy to prepare and the brightness of the stir fried vegetables really set off the richness of the tenderloin.

Lomo Saltado
From Emmanuel Piquera of Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria in San Diego
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
Canola oil for frying potatoes
8 ounces of potato wedges1 ounce of canola oil
1.5 pounds beef tenderloin cut into 1/2 inch thick
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 large red onion, cut into strips
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into strips
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and julianned
6 ounces of lomo saltado sauce*
Scallions cut into strips for garnish
Optional: fried egg

*Lomo saltado sauce:
In a blender mix 2 ounces of low sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, 1 ounce of white wine vinegar, 2 ounces of water, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, and one clove of garlic.

Directions

Fill a large pot with oil or use a fryer and bring oil to 375 degree F. Carefully add potato wedges in small batches and fry for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels.

Season the tenderloin pieces with kosher salt and black pepper.

In a wok with canola oil stir fry the tenderloin pieces and cook until golden over high  heat, add the red onion strips stir fry for two minutes, add the tomato strips cook for one minute, add the chilies, then add the lomo saltado sauce and mix everything together in high heat for one more minute.

Serve in a shallow plate, add the fried potato wedges and garnish with the scallions strips and fried egg if you like. For a traditional Peruvian experience, serve with white rice.

What new food trends are you embracing as you plan menus in 2018?

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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