Periodically we want to feature APPCA chefs who we think are doing great work, making a difference in their communities, or would be a source of inspiration for our member chefs. Steve Loeschner of Chef Steve Personal Chef Service in Derry, New Hampshire falls into the latter category. We know all of you are working hard to constantly improve your culinary skills and build your business. Take a page from Steve’s efforts. Perhaps it will give you some ideas for amping up your own personal chef business.

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Like many of us who have a passion for food and cooking, Steve learned kitchen skills from his his grandmothers and mother. “Being German, Italian, and Polish, food was in my blood,” he says. And, he early on he was fascinated by “The French Chef “and “The Galloping Gourmet.” But his practical side chose a career in technology, reserving his cooking for family and friends.

Eventually, however, he started a catering business but gave that up and then with his wife Maryellen, started a bakery where they made cupcakes, brownies, and other baked goods. But the “crazy long hours” weren’t sustainable.

“I wanted to stay in cooking but didn’t want to work in a restaurant on the line making the same food day after day,” he recalls. “Still looking for a way to pursue my interest in the culinary field, I found the personal chef field. I thought this was a great fit! I can take on as many clients as I can handle.”

Steve also found the APPCA. “Everyone has been a great help and always lots of support,” he says. “I’ve also been trying to figure out how to get my culinary training and still be able to work.” He learned about the Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy through the APPCA and is thrilled with the program. “This allows me to spend the time I need to review the material and it’s not crammed into an eight-hour day like a brick-and-mortar school. If I know the material I run through it. If it’s new to me I can go over it as much as I want until I get it. And the chef mentors are great. You can even send them recipes you create and they’ll review them.”

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He’s now picking up the formal knife skills and basic French-cuisine fundamentals he’s been keen on learning. Because the chef mentors can review and critique your work, but obviously not taste your food, he relies on family and friends for that.

Steve has been in business for close to a year now, bringing tasty meals and a healthy lifestyle to clients. “Everybody eats such junk. They go to the store and buy boxes and bags of whatever. We bring fresh ingredients instead of chemicals, better cuts of meat, food that keeps you healthy.”

Steve works with clients to identify what they need, depending on their preferences, health issues, and dietary needs. “We create menus as a result of our assessment. We’ll swap out ingredients in our recipes to make them healthier based on their specific needs. In a lot of cases, we contact their doctor or have a list of foods we should incorporate in their diet. One client has leukemia so we have to be very cautious about both what we prepare and how we prepare it.”

He’s now collaborating with a woman who does personal training and nutrition to come up with a program for clients that integrates nutrition and fitness.

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One of Steve’s biggest efforts in building his business has been developing a social media presence through Twitter and Facebook. “I’m still learning. I feel for other chefs because they’ll be going through the same thing. But it’s really important because this is how people communicate today. I like the foodie chats on Twitter. I meet a lot of people and learn a lot by watching what they say. It’s a lot of fun. You get a lot of followers that way.”

In fact, through his Twitter engagement he met someone with whom he’s doing a radio show. Steve is also blogging for himself and guest blogging on www.curveyhealthygirl.com and kitchenmoxie.net.

“You have to stay in front of your potential clients all the time,” he emphasizes. “It helps them remember you. It’s huge and doesn’t cost anything. With advertising and marketing so expensive, why wouldn’t you do social media?”

And, he’s beginning to organize cooking classes to teach specific dishes to clients at their homes with the ultimate goal of holding larger classes at a commercial kitchen.

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But the classes won’t eclipse working with clients at their homes. That’s Steve’s passion. “Cooking for clients is quite personal and that’s why I like it. You get to know them and what they like and dislike and create meals just for them that they’ll enjoy. I love getting to know them!”

Do you have favorite story to tell about your personal chef business? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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.

 

Are you challenging to buy gifts for? If you’re a personal chef, probably not. There’s always one more great kitchen tool or gadget you’ve got to have to make your life easier—or at least more fun.

We asked personal chefs to identify some of their favorite kitchen toys, oops, equipment that they can’t live without and thought you’d enjoy as well. Some may not exactly fit into a stocking, but they’re all pretty reasonably priced so you can give them out to colleagues and friends—or hint around to those who love you that you’d like them. They can all be found easily on websites like Amazon.com, Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, and The Chefs’ Warehouse, but also check out interesting sites like this one that caught our attention—thegourmetgadget.com. And be sure to support your local housewares businesses. We love Great News! in San Diego.

So, with the help of some of your friends, here’s our stocking stuffer list:

Oxo Good Grips tools got a lot of love. Leslie Siegel Guria of Fresh From Your Kitchen in Illinois says that she put their can opener on her gift list. “I made the mistake of buying a fancier one and I’m NOT HAPPY! I also can’t live without my Oxo peeler.”

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Johanna Sawallisch Dadsyah and I both agree that an immersion blender is a “can’t live without” kitchen tool. “It would make blended soup so easy!,” she says. I agree. No more pouring hot soup into a blender and risking spills and/or explosions. Some people prefer the cordless version—and they are handy—but you risk running out of juice in the middle of pureeing. Corded immersion blenders also seem to have a bit more power.

Chef Steve Loeschner of Chef Steve Personal Chef Service in New Hampshire has a long list of can’t live without tools, including the immersion blender, but also a digital scale, digital thermometer, cooling fans, and an eight-inch chef knife. But what does he want to find in his Christmas stocking? Mario Batali crocs. “I love the color!,” he says. In fact, once he heard that Batali orderd 200 pairs of the orange plastic shoes because he’d heard they were being discontinued, Chef Steve ordered a pair, too. “Sorry, Santa, couldn’t take the chance!”

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Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food in Tennessee touts Universal Knife Blocks. “My mother-in-law got us one of these last year for Christmas. They’re a bit large to put in a stocking, but I’ve been recommending them to every foodie I know. It took up less space than our big, chunky wooden knife block AND you can put whatever knife or kitchen shear you darn please into it. There are thousands of plastic ‘filaments’ or some such things that you can stick your knives into that won’t dull them.”

April Lee of Tastefully Yours in Maryland offered enough suggestions to fully outfit a kitchen. She, too, is a fan of the knife blocks—preferring the Kapoosh ones, which she says are bigger—but also included one of her favorite utensils, the Pampered Chef’s Mix ‘N Chop. “There’s nothing out there that chops and browns ground meats, fresh sausage, etc. so easily and into even small pieces. It’s a must have at home and in your PC kit.”

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Lee also loves the Joseph Joseph large colander scoop, saying she, “uses this baby for everything and it’s safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s great for frying, too.”  The Hamilton Beach 1.7 liter programmable electric kettle is another favorite of hers because tea drinkers can choose the temperature they want and it keeps it at that temperature for an hour. Coffee lovers will enjoy another item on her list, the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker. “I love this! It makes the best coffee, quick, simple, easy to clean. I gave away my French press after getting this!” And, you’ve got to have the Thermopen instant thermometer. “It’s pricey, but worth every penny,” she says. We agree!

Have we missed something fabulous? Please leave a comment and let us know. Next week we’re going to showcase inspirational cookbooks that you can gift others. Please check our Private Discussion Forum – General for Caron’s request for suggestions and tell us what has moved you and why so you can appear here.

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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