Well, we’re at the precipice of month three of 2017. What actions did you lay out in your 2017 business plan to build your personal chef skills? Have you acted on them yet?

Now, you’re probably assuming we’re talking about cooking. And, yes, that’s a part of it. But being a successful personal chef involves more than cooking skills. It involves marketing yourself and your business. Gaining financial literacy so you actually make a profit. Broadening your social skills to be able to engage with clients and potential clients. Maybe it’s developing a specialty and attaining the critical knowledge of that area of specialization to deliver on it to clients.

With this in mind, here are five ways to build your personal chef skills:

  1. If you’re feeling that your cooking skills need a boost so you’ll feel more confident and able to expand your repertoire of recipes, enroll in cooking classes. They can be local classes or you can get certified by a cooking school. Our partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy offers self-paced Culinary and Pastry Arts programs. In fact, several of our members are graduates.
  2. Amp up your visibility by building a social media presence. Figure out where your potential people are. Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest? You don’t have to tackle them all but two, maybe three platforms will start to build your reputation among potential clients. Make sure you take great, well-lit photos of your food and reach out to others (including us) to build connections who can help share your posts.
  3. Where you live can make a difference in how you shape your business. So, why not reach out to other APPCA members in your city to network? You can exchange marketing tips, resources, and maybe collaborate on projects–catering large special events or backing each other up with gigs you can’t take on.
  4. Set yourself apart with an area of specialization. Some people focus on dietary specialties–gluten-free or vegan, heart-friendly diets, building athletic strength, disease oriented. Others like to cook for new moms and young families or busy executives or older adults. If there’s a type of diet or a type of client that really excites you, build a business around that–but make sure you have the special skills and insights you need to put you in demand. And that’s a combination of cooking skills and human interaction skills.
  5. Reinforce what you’ve learned and may have forgotten or weren’t ready to act on. When you joined APPCA did you attend our weekend Personal Chef Seminar at Candy’s home in San Diego? If you didn’t, this intensive course will give you a vast array of information, tools, and insights into running your business that you’ll leave excited and energized. If you did attend years ago, how about going back for a refresher course? With some experience behind you, you may discover some gaps you’re ready to fill. And Candy can offer you suggestions within the context of the seminar based on your evolved needs. The next seminar is March 11-12 and the following one will be held in May.

Enjoying lunch and some San Diego sunshine at a recent weekend seminar

We can help you with any of these five tips. Get in touch with Candy to discuss the Escoffier culinary program. Get in touch with me to get some help with social media (or take a look at past posts here and here and here). If you’re looking for local APPCA members to network with, go on our forum to reach out or our APPCA group page. Or ask Candy for a list of local members to contact. Get input from colleagues on specializing in both of these groups–or, again, Candy. We’re here to help you succeed!

What steps are you taking to rev up your business? How can we help you?

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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Our Candy Wallace has been on a commencement speech roll. Earlier this spring she delivered a virtual graduation address to the students of the Escoffier Online International Academy. Then on June 17 she was the keynote speaker at the Art Institute of California in San Diego’s commencement.

It’s no surprise that the founder and executive director of APPCA would be asked to give graduating students–and not specifically the culinary students–just entering their new chosen profession words of wisdom and advice. After all, Candy has been a leader in the culinary industry for decades. She’s seen it all and done it all–and created a career path that has drawn hundreds upon hundreds of people looking for a way to better control and direct their lives and find success and happiness.

So, what did she tell these graduates, whose degrees ranged from fashion, web design, photography, and advertising to media arts and animation and culinary arts?

She told them that the first thing they needed to do was make a plan. “Not having a plan is like throwing yourself off a cliff and trying to knit a parachute on the way down,” she said. “That’s not so good. You need a roadmap to avoid the pitfalls of cliff jumping.”

You start, Candy said, by defining where you want to go–in 10 years or next year. This plan is where you create a place for your dream to live.

Then, she noted, you have to figure out how to get there. “Know that you don’t know it all yet.” And she advised them to search out resources for learning more. And throughout, to stay humble and stay determined.

Find a mentor, she advised, someone who can help you, push you, encourage you, and be honest with you while you’re learning and growing.

Here some other sage nuggets of advice she gave these graduates:

  • Commit to learning something new every day.
  • Know that you can’t learn everything on the clock so you need to do it on your own time as well.
  • Make mistakes. It can be frustrating and embarrassing but admit to them and learn from them. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.
  • Be patient with yourself and stay realistic.
  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities and see challenges as opportunities in disguise.
  • Be kind to the people you encounter along the way and give credit to those who help you.
  • Learn about the world, especially through travel. Be adventurous and curious–and share your own culture.
  • Participate in your community.
  • Nurture the friendships you make over the years. Keep loved ones close to you.
  • Honor your parents. They started you on this journey and have been your biggest cheerleaders.

And, finally, she told the graduates, “Stop along the way to enjoy your life. Press the party button!”

You can listen to the full eight-minute speech here:

What were the best words of advice you received when you launched your career? What do you wish someone had told you?

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!

 

 

Periodically, we invite our members or friends to guest post in this space. I marvel at what member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats in Southern California does with her Thanksgiving turkey. The way she bones and butterflies–it is a marvel of technique and her timing is the perfect example of exquisite planning that allows her to enjoy the day with family and friends. So, I asked her to explain to us how she makes it. And she surprised me with an additional recipe, which I think you’ll love. So, here is Beth:

Chef Beth Volpe

Savory Eats by Beth opened for business in January 2014. I had the fortune to take my classes in the warmth of Candy Wallace’s home and kitchen in San Diego. I am currently enrolled in Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy and have one year left towards becoming a Professional Culinarian. I have been cooking as long as I remember. I do it because I love it and it is who I am. I have three regular clients I cook for weekly and they are wonderful! I cater small dinner parties frequently and I teach cooking classes. Like all of us, I have done the work to get here and it has paid off.

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the way the house smells when everything is cooking. When I was working in the corporate world I did not have time to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner without being totally exhausted Thanksgiving Day. So for the past 10 years I have figured out a way to make my Thanksgiving meal two days before so that I would have the holiday to enjoy with my family. I make a brined, butterflied turkey, the gravy, the dressing, and the cranberry sauce the day before. Come Thanksgiving Day, all I do is slide my turkey in the oven and pour myself a glass of wine. One thing to note, in order for the turkey to fit in your oven and on a rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan, the turkey can be no larger than 14 lbs. Here is how I do it.

Over the years I have tried every variety of turkey out there (aside from hunting one down). In the end, they all taste the same after my process. So nowadays I generally purchase a nice frozen turkey. My process starts on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I butterfly the turkey. That requires cutting out the backbone and the tail. I reserve these parts to be used later in the making of my gravy. Reserve the gizzard, heart and neck. Once the backbone is removed I remove the tiny breast bones on each breast. This makes carving easier. Turn the bird over, stand on a stool so that your weight is above the turkey and press hard on the center of the breast. The breastbone must be broken in order for the turkey to lay flat. You will hear it crack. It’s at that point that I take the bird to the sink. It will be very floppy.

Butterflied turkey prep

Once I butterflied my first turkey and actually saw what was left inside the cavity, I was convinced that I would never again stuff a turkey. Sure we clean the inside well; however, there are the liver, kidney parts, and other “things” inside that cavity that just don’t wash away unless you open the bird up. Once cleaned I put the entire turkey into a brine (recipe to follow). It sits overnight or about eight hours. On Wednesday, I remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well in cold running water for five minutes. Dry the turkey with paper towels. It’s important to get as much of the moisture possible off of the bird. Place the bird on a cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. This is an important step because the chill dries the skin and creates a nice crispiness when roasting. I also make my gravy and my dressing on Wednesday. Come Thursday all that is left is to pop the turkey into the oven. I actually place the rack with the turkey over one of the large foil square pans full of my dressing. When the turkey cooks, the juices from the turkey drip into the dressing. So you get the great turkey flavor stuffing the turkey provides without the risk.

So, here we go:

BRINING

Tuesday – Butterfly the turkey, reserving all of the parts that you remove (minus the liver). Those parts get tossed into a roasting pan along with garlic, celery, and carrots to caramelize for the gravy.

Make your brine – I use brining bags from William Sonoma. They are worth every penny.

2 gallons water
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons black peppercorn – whole
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves

Add all ingredients to the brining bag and seal. Massage the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, place your cleaned, butterflied turkey in the brine. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and into the fridge it goes. There it will stay overnight for 8 hours.

Wednesday – Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine and bag. Rinse the turkey well for 5 minutes to remove the brine.

These instructions are without the dressing.

Cover a large jelly roll pan with foil (if you don’t like cleaning the pan) and place a cooling rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan on top of the foil. Place your turkey breast up on top of the cooling rack. Make sure all parts of the turkey fit on the cooling rack. You may need to tie the leg joints together to keep the thighs and legs in place. See Photo. Back into the fridge this goes for up to 24 hours. Do not cover.

Thursday – Pull out your bird. Be careful because there will be fluid in the pan and you don’t want to spill. Take the tray to the sink and pour off any accumulated fluid. Brush the turkey with turkey fat, duck fat or butter. Season with salt and pepper.

This turkey will literally take around 80 to 90 minutes to cook. I cook it hot at 450°F. I turn my turkey front to back after 40 minutes. Continue to cook until your instant read thermometer reads 175° in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest. Carving this turkey is a breeze.

Roasted turkey

Chef Beth’s Thanksgiving Roulade
(Boneless Turkey Breast stuffed with Cranberry and Bourbon Compote, Turkey Leg and Thigh Confit, and a simple dressing wrapped in Puff Pastry)

Serves 5 to 6

I have been wanting to create a recipe for an elegant turkey dinner with all the flavors of Thanksgiving minus the carcass. This recipe was created in about a week. It took me two tries to get the outcome I was hoping for. I knew it the minute I tasted it. I hope you enjoy it!

The following items must be prepared before your start rolling.

TURKEY LEG AND THIGH CONFIT
6 peeled fresh garlic cloves
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one large lemon
8-9 cups duck fat
2 turkey legs, 2 turkey thighs, skin on
Fresh sage leaves
4 peeled fresh garlic cloves

In a food processor grind the first 6 ingredients. This will be your rub.

Massage the rub into your turkey legs and thighs. Place in a bag and let sit (preferably) overnight; however for this recipe I only let them marinate about 1 hour.

Prepping

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Heat the duck fat on the stove until melted.

Transfer the legs and thighs to a deep Dutch oven. Add a couple springs of fresh sage and 4 whole peeled garlic cloves. Pour melted duck fat over the turkey. Make sure all of the legs and thighs are submerged. Cook this for 3-4 hours uncovered. You want to make sure the turkey is very tender and cooked through.

Cooking process

Remove from oven. Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Keep in the Dutch oven and transfer to fridge when cool and cover. The confit is complete at this point and ready for use. It can stay in the fridge for a few days.

To prepare the confit for the roulade, gently reheat the confit in its fat on the stove and only when warm, carefully lift out the legs and thighs. Remove the meat from the bones and process in your food processor (pulse so that you have control) until coarsely ground.

Confit off the bone

Add enough gravy from the roasted turkey to give it a spreading consistency. You will have leftover confit to enjoy.

CRANBERRY/BOURBON COMPOTE

4 cups fresh cranberries (should be equal to one bag at the grocery store)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Toss everything into a small saucepan and cook at medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Reduce until you get to a compote consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and process the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate

Compote

DRESSING

I used a very simple recipe that I found on Epicurious. I needed something relatively plain but with all of the traditional ingredients…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, all from my garden.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality, day-old white bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.

Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).

PREPPING THE ROULADE

I use a ½ skinned, boned turkey breast (Reserve bones and skin for another use.) and 1 sheet of puff pastry dough.

Lay turkey breast skin side down (sans skin) on a long sheet of plastic wrap to aid in rolling the roulade later.

Prep breast

It’s important to make sure that the turkey breast half is uniform before pounding. So, it may be necessary for you to butterfly a portion of the breast that is thicker. Place in plastic bag and pound to ½-3/4 inch thick. Turkey breast halves are not symmetrical. You may need to do some trimming. Use the turkey tenderloin to fill in open spots.

Roll roulade

Spread an even coat of the cranberry compote all over the breast.

Spread the confit in an even layer over the compote. Press down.

Spread an even layer of the dressing over the confit. Press down.

Do your best to maintain the integrity of the layers.

Use the plastic wrap to roll the turkey breast. Parts may fall out the sides but don’t worry. You will stuff them back in and use the plastic wrap to form the roulade. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.

It is now time to wrap the roulade with puff pastry dough. You will need only one sheet per half breast. Roll it out very thin (1/16 to 1/8 inch). Make sure your roulade will fit on the pastry sheet and be fully covered front to back. You will need a couple of inches on each side. Remove the plastic wrap from the rolled breast and cover the breast with the pastry sheet. On the sides, cut away extra dough (it won’t cook through) and seal the ends by tucking them underneath the roulade. Place on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove and make fine cuts into the pastry diagonally across the top. Brush with an egg wash and bake in a 350° preheated oven for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown and turkey registers 165°.

Bake roulade

If there are fluids around the roast, carefully discard them. Allow roulade to rest 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully slice and serve with gravy and the remaining Cranberry Bourbon Compote.

Elegant, the whole dinner in one roulade! Mission accomplished!

Turkey Roulade

What’s your favorite way to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey? Please leave a comment for Beth and let her know your thoughts or ask her a question.

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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Amy DiBiase of Tidal

One of San Diego’s most talented chefs is Amy DiBiase, now executive chef at Tidal, the beautifully renovated restaurant overlooking the San Diego Bay at Paradise Point Resort & Spa. Our friend and food writer Caron Golden often spends time in the kitchen with San Diego chefs and she recently had kitchen time with Amy, who shared with her the technique for making ricotta gnudi. While this is a year-round dish, somehow it seems especially delightful as the weather takes on a chill, so we thought we’d share this recipe with you.

The gnudi are easy to make and pair with a variety of sauces. Here we’ll show you Amy’s pairing with lamb, eggplant, and zucchini, but really, you can top it with any sauce you’d use with pasta. We love that this dish is also low carb, meaning this could be a special treat for clients dealing with type 2 diabetes. Amy uses durum wheat flour to coat the gnudi, but if you have clients with gluten issues, you could probably substitute wheat flour with a gf flour without it suffering.

So, here are the basics. While gnudi feels like pasta it’s really is cheese coated in flour. Essentially you beat together the cheeses with a sparkle of fresh lime zest and salt and pepper, pipe it into a bed of ground durum and cover it up with more of the durum.

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Let it rest, refrigerated, for 36 hours so it forms a shell that encases the cheeses. Rub off the excess durum and pop the gnudi into boiling water for about four minutes.

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Then serve with your sauce. Bite into a gnudi and what bursts from the durum skin is a warm, creamy texture with a mild flavor from the trio of cheeses. You could easily add fresh herbs like chives, thyme, or a touch of rosemary or spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or sumac to create your own flavor profile.

On this day, Amy showed Caron her current menu sauce–roasted eggplant puree with zucchini, tomato, braised lamb, and black olives. While making the sauce, she warmed the already-prepared puree in a shallow bowl in the oven.

In a skillet, she sauteed the zucchini in olive oil. Then she added the shredded braised lamb shank and a hank of butter. Once the liquid had reduced and the gnudi were cooked she dropped them into the pan briefly with the halved tomatoes. Out came the bowl with the eggplant puree and over that went the gnudi with the sauce. Then she added fresh basil before garnishing the dish with the Moroccan black olive puree.

Ricotta gnudi is also the perfect dinner party dish. Make it ahead of time up to the point where you boil the gnudi. Then serve family style on a platter with a salad and perhaps big bowl of steamed clams or mussels, and a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.

Ricotta Gnudi
From Amy DiBiase

Serves six

1 pound ricotta
8 ounces marscapone
4 ounces grated parmesan
zest of one lime
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag fine ground durum wheat flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)

*Note, the proportions of the cheeses are 1 part ricotta to 1/2 part marscapone to 1/4 part parmesan cheese. Amy says the easiest way to measure is to buy a 1 pound container of ricotta. Empty that into a bowl, then use the container to measure the marscapone and parmesan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients but the durum wheat flour until they just come together.

Spread a one-inch deep layer of flour into a casserole dish. Using a piping bag, pipe the gnudi straight onto the flour in the shape of a large Hershey’s kiss (don’t swirl like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone). You’ll probably need to use a clean finger to push the dough off the tip of the bag with each gnudi. Keep them about an inch apart.

When you’ve filled the dish with the gnudi, cover them completely with more durum flour. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 36 hours.

When you’re ready to serve them, put a pot of water on to boil. Add salt to the water. Uncover the gnudi and remove them from the durum flour. Gently brush off excess flour. When the water comes to the boil, add the gnudi. They should boil no longer than 4 minutes (cook too long and they’ll fall apart). The key is that they’ll begin to rise to the top of the pot.

Drain the gnudi and add to your sauce. Garnish and serve.

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What’s your favorite fall dish to prepare for clients?

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 don’t forget to tune in to Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act this Wednesday and Oct. 22 from 7:30 to 8 a.m. EST/PST. I’ll be on the show to talk about women in the culinary industry and how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online through our partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy.

 

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Escoffier Online graduate Christa Ruvolo, Julie Moran, and Candy Wallace on the set of The Balancing Act

Well, this is a treat! I’ll be appearing on Lifetime TV’s award-winning show The Balancing Act on Oct. 15 and 22. The segment I’m on will be geared toward educating women on the culinary industry and pastry arts, as well as inform them as to how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online from APPCA’s partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy. In fact, I’ll be joined by an Escoffier graduate and new APPCA member Christa Ruvolo. She’ll discuss her journey through the program and how it gave her the opportunity to manage the dining facility at a large Marriott property in Orlando. And, she’ll prepare a couple of dishes on the show.

Here’s a preview.

So, how did this come about? Well, as a member of the August Escoffier Schools’ International Advisory Committee, I’ve been a proponent of online education for years. I truly believe that affordable education should be available to all who are interested and committed to learning. I support the efforts of and programs developed by the Auguste Escoffier Schools to deliver realistic, affordable culinary training. When students successfully complete the program, they receive an industry-accepted professional certificate that enables them to pursue a career in the culinary industry.

BalancingAct_Lifetime

This meshes perfectly with The Balancing Act, which is geared toward bringing busy, on-the-go women positive solutions and cutting-edge ideas to help balance their busy lives. On the show, host Julie Moran interviewed Christa and me about how woman who are seeking realistic, attainable careers that will afford them the opportunity to support themselves and their families–as well as fulfill their spiritual and emotional goals–can go into the culinary industry. Let’s face it, traditional culinary education can be both time consuming and expensive. We explain how the Escoffier online training is not just affordable, but allows students to complete the program on their personal time schedule so that they can move forward in months, not years.

Christa's salmon dish on The Balancing Act

Christa’s salmon dish on The Balancing Act

Christa personifies this track. This is a second career for her. She’ll tell you herself how well the online training program worked for her–and she’s going to prepare some delicious dishes that showcase her culinary skill set. And we both were charmed by the very gracious Julie Moran, who was warm and encouraging on set. She and the production staff and crew made both Christa and me very comfortable and ready to share our information and anecdotes. It was wonderful to see Christa, who was a bit nervous about the interview, light up once the cameras were on. Now I understand the term ‘broadcast charisma!’ Christa has it and I got to watch her star shine!

Be sure to watch–and pass it on to your friends. The show airs from 7:30 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 15 and 22 on Lifetime.

 

Whether you’re a novice home cook or a seasoned chef, the free Escoffier Cook’s Companion mobile app is one you’ll want to keep on your iOS devices for easy reference. Recently featured in Wired magazine as one of the eight best cooking apps for chefs, Cook’s Companion offers several tools that will make your life in the kitchen easier, richer, and more productive.

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The app has several functions: a converter, a timer, an equipment glossary with photos, an ingredients list, a general culinary glossary, and “My Escoffier,” which leads prospective students to our partner Escoffier Online and more apps by the Futura Group, which produced the app.

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The converter can easily change temperature measurements from Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa. It does the same for grams and ounces, liquids, and length.

You may have a physical kitchen timer, but can you set it for multiple times simultaneously to help you cook multiple dishes for a meal? This one can. Plus, you have a choice of half a dozen sounds to use, including bells, buzzer, chime, doorbell, triangle, and wind chimes. Cook's Companion4

The ingredients glossary ranges from Adzuki beans to zucchini, with categories, storage temperatures, an overview, menu uses, quality signs, and purchase specs–with a photo of the ingredient for reference. Don’t know what coral lettuce is? How about poori, poppadrums, schinkenwurst, vongole, wombok, or Yabby (hint, a freshwater crustacean in Australia)? This app has you covered and then some.

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You’ll also get a good overview of kitchen equipment from aprons to a workbench, with photos, that includes usage, OH&S, cleaning, and storage.

Finally, there’s a glossary that includes ingredients, equipment, and cooking terms. This could actually use some visual help, but I assume that photos will be added here. Have trouble with pronouncing foreign terms? Press the volume sign and you’ll hear the pronunciation.

So far the app is available for iOS systems–iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

Download this app and let us know what you think. What are some of your favorite food apps?

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.

 

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.

Desserts

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.

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