We’re always hawking you about marketing your business and past posts have talked about different ways in which you can strategize. But sometimes an opportunity just falls in your lap. How do you take advantage of it?

Kathy Dederich of ChefPlease in Arkansas is the most perfect example of this. I saw a post she put up on Facebook to a YouTube link that turned out to be a video featuring her at the Bentonville Farmers Market. No, she didn’t create it. it was a man named Rick Patanella, whom she met a couple of years ago when he was doing demos at the local Sam’s Club. Like Kathy and her husband Dan, it turned out he had also lived in Chicago.

So, here’s how this came about, according to Kathy:

“I buy virtually all our produce at the Bentonville Farmers Market, except for what I can get out of my garden. There is a wide array of produce that I had never heard of before, so I love to hear and learn what the vendors are selling and experiment. Anyhow, I ran into Rick at the Farmers Market this summer and found out he has struck out on his own. When Rick mentioned he was planning on doing some videos of different market vendors, he asked me if I’d be interested in being interviewed as well.  Naturally, I said yes.”

Patanella filmed Kathy shopping at the market and recorded a voice over of her talking about shopping there and–importantly–about her business. So now she has a terrific vehicle for sharing and promoting her business. So what’s she doing with it?

“I’ve posted it to my Facebook pages, pages I belong to, and LinkedIn. I was just thinking that maybe I can forward it to a few of our local newspapers to see if there is any interest in them doing a piece on this and incorporating some of the other vendors as well. There is a local realtor who saw it. She has a rather extensive page listing vendors/service providers in Bella Vista (where we live).  I’m already listed on that, but she wants to incorporate the video on my listing as well.

“At this point, I’m not really sure if this will bring in any business, but it certainly can’t hurt.  I subscribe to the Steven Covey philosophy…sew and then ye shall reap.  I am always looking for ways to put things into the pipeline.”

And, of course, we at APPCA are promoting here and on social media.

Now don’t you want to see this masterpiece?

How are you marketing your personal chef business? How about trying video?

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.

As we all know, there’s no way to prepare 100 percent for surprises in our businesses or personal lives, but giving some thought to “what if” certainly doesn’t hurt. Things happen. It could be an injury to you or serious family illness. You just never know what may suddenly pull you away from your work.

Chef Carol Borchardt, who is generous with business advice and photography expertise

Chef Carol Borchardt

For Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food, it was getting her foot hooked in the strap of one of her grocery bags that sent her flying to the floor and fracturing her right knee. At the home of a woman who was the recipient of a gift certificate. While Carol didn’t need surgery, she had to stay off her feet for six weeks, using either crutches or a “saddle stool” her hairstylist loaned her. She clearly couldn’t even drive.

How did she handle her client load? “I notified my clients by telephone,” she says. “I didn’t feel e-mail or texting was appropriate. I generally have about 15 to 16 clients and called one or two per day, depending upon when I was scheduled to cook for them. They were all GREAT. Fortunately, this happened at the end of May 2014 so many were taking vacations anyway. The doctor told me I’d be out for six weeks, so most only missed one cook date as most of my clients are monthly.”

To keep on schedule, Carol went back to work while still in a brace, with the help of a friend, but got back to her routine pretty quickly after that. And while on enforced rest, she stayed productive, studying food photography and launching her blog, A Cookbook Obsession.

Jim Huff with APPCA executive director Candy Wallace

Jim Huff with APPCA executive director Candy Wallace

Jim Huff of Traveling Culinary Artist has had these health surprises happen twice in his career. The first was after emergency surgery in Arizona at the end of a vacation. His wife called all his clients to explain the situation, which turned from one week off to three weeks away. He was able to return in the fourth week with the help of an assistant. “All my clients were happy to wait for me and ate whatever was stored in their freezers, ate out, and cooked some,” he says.

The second time was also for surgery, but this time, Jim had time to plan.

“I approached each client and asked what they would prefer: Me to cook extra and fill their freezers or arrange for another chef to cover,” he explains. “Coincidentally, two clients were traveling for much of the planned time off and two preferred me to fill the freezer and one just cooked or ate out for the duration.  All were very happy to have me back to good health. That time my wife was working with me as she was between jobs, so my return to work was smooth.”

Jim has filled in for other chefs on occasion. In these situations, the chefs communicated with their clients regarding menus, payments, and other issues. “This worked well, since the chefs I worked for kept control and I accepted a reduced rate from them as I wasn’t doing the menu planning, etc., and I was helping them in a time of need.”

ChefKathy Kathy Dederich

Kathy Dederich of Chef, Please is dealing with this issue now. In early July, her husband Dan suffered a  traumatic brain injury at work. After being airlifted to a nearby hospital for surgery, he is now recovering in a rehab facility four hours from their home. She expects to be there at least another couple of weeks and then Dan will move to a more intensive rehab facility where family members are not allowed to reside–meaning Kathy will return home to work.

“As luck would have it, I received more calls/emails from new/prospective clients than what I had gotten in the last six months,” she says. “Fortunately, two families have indicated they will wait until I am ready to come back to work. They have both expressed their concern for both Dan and me and send their best…mind you, I have yet to meet them.

“My regular clients have been extremely supportive as well,” Kathy adds. “They call on a regular basis to see how we both are. We sort of have an understanding that as soon as I can, I will be back to cook for them. My plan is to ask for a list of their favorites that they’d like me to make my first week back.”

For those potential new clients who had immediate needs for various functions, Kathy referred them to a friend of hers who is a full-time chef at a senior facility. She says there aren’t many legitimate personal chefs in her region so she didn’t have many referral options.

For Kathy, not working has been the right decision for her. But she encourages others to review both their finances and legal documents. “We had these completed when we were still in Illinois, but wanted to make sure we were compliant with the state of Arkansas,” Kathy says. “We finally did this in early spring. It has been a God-send because everything is in place.”

eprewitt

If you’re lucky enough to plan for enforced time off because you’re pregnant, you can consult with clients to figure out the best approach. That’s how Elizabeth Prewitt of Silver Plum Personal Chef has been handling her future. With a due date of August 23, she scheduled clients through the 12th with the understanding that the last couple of dates might have to be unexpectedly cancelled if he showed up early (he didn’t and as of now, they’re still waiting).

Beth started telling clients in person about three to four months ago. She hired an assistant toward the end of her work period, but it was clear that the assistant was to help her. She wasn’t a Beth clone.

“So as the due date got closer, and I realized that I was simply going to have to take time off with no replacement/contingency plan for my clients, I let them all know, again, in person,” Beth explains. “My plan is to take two to three months off, and start scheduling again when I’m ready. (I have yet to secure child care, which will probably dictate exactly when I can start working again—my next huge stressor!)  Since I’ve never done this ‘having a kid’ thing before, I didn’t want to make any promises I couldn’t keep, so I haven’t given anyone a firm return date. As most of my clients are families with young kids, and I primarily communicate with the ladies of the households, they have all been very understanding with this. This doesn’t mean I’m not worried about client retention, though. The longer I’m away from them, the more likely they are to find other solutions that work just fine for them.”

So, what are the takeaways from these chefs’ experiences?

“Kathy Dederich said it when she told us, “I encourage others to do a review of their finances as well as legal documents,” says Candy Wallace, the APPCA‘s founder and executive director. “Knowing where you are can save a lot of time and angst in a crisis.

“Jim Huff and Carol Borchardt turned to family and friends for physical assistance in their abbreviated operation of businesses, and ALL of the chefs did the smart thing in contacting their clients immediately and including them in the decision-making process of keeping their businesses viable during their recuperation processes as well as allowing the clients to take part in the planning process of their return to operations,” Candy observes.

“Carol was able to use much of the enforced time off to learn a new craft, food styling and food photography, which has become an enriching part of her culinary business plan,” adds Candy. “And Beth Prewitt is settling into a new home and getting ready to be a new mom. I think you could say they used ‘down time’ to forward the action for their futures.”

But Candy does emphasize the importance of getting to know and befriend colleagues to get learn one another’s specialties and levels of experience so you can refer business back and forth to each other–and back each other up in case of emergencies like the ones above. And she relates a story that hits close to home.

“Many years ago I was out training two new members in San Diego when I arrived at home to find all of my neighbors standing on my front lawn. When I got out of the van I was told that my husband Dennis had had a heart attack and had been taken to a local hospital. I took off immediately for the hospital and did not return home until around 3 a.m. when the cardiologist told me Dennis was going to live and sent me home. I arrived and found all the lights on in the house and the doors open. I thought, great, Denny is in the hospital, and now it looks as if we have been robbed…I walked in and found a group of local personal chefs I had worked with over the years waiting for me. They had cleaned our house, filled the fridge and freezer with heart-healthy meals, and had gone through my file info and contacted all of my clients to let them know I would not be available for the next three months while I helped Den recuperate, and that they would be providing service on their regular schedule.

“There was nothing I could say. I sat down on the couch and burst into tears. That night the APPCA was officially created to support the chefs we trained through the original Personal Chef Institute. The association was created so that all members could experience the genuine support and respect for one another we experienced as a result of Denny’s heart attack. Talk about a silver lining.

“Please make an effort to get to know your local colleagues. Offer to go along with one another on occasion as an unpaid guest chef so you can know one another’s skill level and get to know one another on a personal as well as a professional level. Refer appropriate business leads back and forth to one another. I say it often, and I’ll say it here again, ‘We are all in this together as personal chefs, and it simply makes sense to take care of one another and take care of the personal chef career path so that we all win at the career and life path we have chosen.'”

What plans have you made for your business in case of a health or other emergency?

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.

Many of us in the business are comfortable cooking with grape leaves (think dolmas) and any number of herbs. But are perilla leaves in your wheelhouse? These broad, serrated aromatic leaves are a part of the mint family, native to the mountainous regions of Asia. Somehow, they found themselves in Northwest Arkansas, where APPCA member Kathy Dederich of Chef Please! Ltd. is based.

Kathy and her husband relocated to Bella Vista, Arkansas from Chicago. She brags that the region was listed as one of the top places to retire in the U.S. as well as one of the country’s safest cities. Just south is Walmart’s headquarters. Nearby is Tyson Foods and JB Hunt. The area has now reached a population of half a million and Kathy is proud that their food culture has evolved to the point that four local chefs have cooked at the James Beard House. One was a semifinalist.

Kathy has been cooking since she was a kid. Later, married and working at the family printing company, she enrolled in The Cooking & Hospitality school known as CHIC and later acquired by Le Cordon Bleu. She earned her degree with presidential honors and while still at the printing company first started cooking professionally for a friend from cooking school who was the in-house catering manager for a downtown law firm. The friend needed help serving outside catering clients, including Roger Ebert and, her all-time favorite, Ray Charles. The light bulb went off by then and Kathy has been a personal chef since 2007, when she joined APPCA and landed her first weekly client, a woman with Alzheimer’s Disease whose children wanted to keep her in her home. She was with them for over three years until moving to Arkansas.

Since then, she’s been thinking about how to incorporate some of the area’s indigenous ingredients into her dishes. Perilla leaves were an immediate go to.

perilla leaves close up

“Perilla leaves grow wild in the area,” she notes. “Usually I make Korean sesame leaves, which includes garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, sesame seeds, ground red pepper, and a bit of sugar. I use them as a carrier for rice. Some people eat it with meat.”

But it occurred to Kathy that they would be a terrific candidate for pesto. Instead of using pine nuts, she uses black walnuts–also native to the area–as well as local goat cheese in lieu of Parmesan.

perilla pesto

“The result is quite nice,” she says. “There is a lot of oil in the walnuts so not as much olive oil is needed. The perilla leaves are not nearly as strong as most mint, so it’s not overpowering.

Interestingly, Kathy uses the pesto primarily with rice instead of pasta because, she explains, Arkansas is one of the top rice producers in the country. She also includes sun-dried tomatoes from her garden, using–what else–the Arkansas traveler variety. Enjoy this as a side dish with chicken.

photo 5

Kathy has generously given us her recipe for all of us to enjoy:

Perilla Leaf Pesto
From Kathy Dederich

Ingredients
2 cups perilla leaves
1 cup black walnuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces goat cheese
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Perilla Pesto with Rice

What’s your favorite recipe that incorporates local ingredients?

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.

Christmas is tomorrow so I thought I’d look at what makes the holiday so special to so many of us—in fact what makes so many holidays special to us: the food that is so significant a part of our cultural identity. Our traditional foods are how we express our family history and reverence for where we come from all over the world. It’s what brought us together each day with our knees under the family table interacting, sharing, teaching, sometimes torturing, and always celebrating one another as a family.

Food is especially significant at holiday time when many families who have become spread out geographically come together to celebrate their faith and cultural ritual. Preservation of and presentation of family recipes enhances the experience of who we are, where we come from and how we celebrate life within our cultures.

I grew up in a large Eastern European family. Meals were prepared from food we had raised, harvested, or slaughtered, preserved and prepared. When we were not cooking or eating as a family, we were planning upcoming meals and talking about food and family. Most holiday dinners involved a clear soup, two entrees, polenta or home-made pasta, two salads, vegetable sides, and fresh fruit. This meal would be prepared and served for sometimes more than 40 family members and took days to prepare.

It was wonderful to hear your traditions. Kathy Dederich of Chef Please in Arkansas,  told us of her childhood  travels to her grandparents’ home in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving or Christmas where she loved a dish called suelze. “Grandma would get about four or five pounds of fresh pork hocks and cook them in a pot of water, vinegar, onions, and bay leaves until the meat came off the bone,” she recalls. Clearly, that recipe was lovingly handed down to her. She describes making the rest of the dish by straining the remaining liquid, then grinding the meat and skin, dissolving gelatin into liquid, adding the meat, mixing, and then putting it into molds or bread pans where it sits in the refrigerator to set, resulting in a dish that has a little aspic on top.

Kathy Dederich's Suelze

Kathy Dederich’s Suelze with capers and tomatoes

This dish resonated with Amber Guthrie of Salt of the Hearth in Colombia, Mo., who recalls her in-laws’ family traditions from Guyana. “You cannot have Christmas without curry (chicken or beef or goat), pepper pot, garlic pork, and black cake. Amber’s garlic pork recipe is included here.

Jim Huff of Traveling Culinary Artist in New York remembers his mother’s descriptions of Pennsylvania Dutch dishes of her childhood, including a fascination with hog maw (sometimes called Pig’s Stomach, Susquehanna Turkey, or Pennsylvania Dutch Goose). “It’s made from a cleaned pig’s stomach traditionally stuffed with cubed potatoes and loose pork sausage, as well as cabbage, onions, and spices.” According to Jim, it was boiled in a large pot of water, like Scottish haggis, but it can also be baked, broiled, or split, then drizzled with butter and served hot on a platter cut into slices or cold as a sandwich. “I remember enjoying this dish at a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant with my grandmother in Lancaster on my first Christmas away from home 44 years ago!,” he recalls.

April Lee of Tastefully Yours in Baltimore was married to a Jamaican and tells us of Christmas breakfasts in her house when her kids were young. “There was ackee and saltfish, fried plantains, bammy, bread fruit, and boiled mashed green bananas,” she says. “Dinner might be curried goat, oxtail stew, rice and peas, sorrel punch, and, of course, Jamaican Christmas Cake, a dark, dense, moist, and very boozy fruitcake.”

And, Judy Harvey of The Dinner Lady in New Jersey, goes back to her southern roots to celebrate New Year’s Day with collard greens and black-eyed peas, along with roast pork shoulder, southern cornbread, and, of course, sweet tea.

On our Facebook page, Lizzy Brown shared childhood memories of waking early and making banana nut muffins, the smell filling the house. “But I made sure to write that recipe in my recipe book and told the kids they would always have it to make for their children.” Joan Angelis remembers her parents making home-made ravioli with ground beef and spinach filling covered in tomato sauce. Croeins Kitchen still makes her grandfather’s stuffing of ground meat, mushrooms, chestnuts, herbs, onion, and sweet potato, while Gladys Valiente has Sopa Azteca or Mexican Tortilla Soup in her heart. Anne-Lise Lindquist-Slocum dreams of Danish roast goose and red cabbage with cognac in the gravy. And, Moira Douglas lives for her chestnut stuffing and Nana’s shortbread.

Each year at Christmas my grandmother would prepare an Eastern European walnut strudel-like creation to everyone’s delight. Povitica. The children would line up out the kitchen door into the dining room to await the removal of these 4-pound delights from the hot oven, just to breathe in the heady scent of walnuts, and spices emanating from the ovens.

Whatever your family recipe is, whether it is a soup, pasta, empanada, tamale, 7-fish dinner, turkey, prime rib, or the culturally questionable green bean casserole, celebrate it and share it with loved ones who look forward to coming together to share memories, stories and food made by loved ones that reflect the family history and identity.

As Grandmother Marta Vinovich always told us, “Respect the harvest, keep it simple, and eat with people you love.”

Happy Holidays to everyone! Cook and eat with your family every chance you get!

Walnut Povitica

From Candy Wallace
Yield: 1, 4-pound loaf

Dough

1/2 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup hot milk
4 1/2 cups flour

Filling

1 cup milk
4 cups walnuts, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Stir sugar, salt and butter into hot milk; cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl; stir to dissolve. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture. Add 2 eggs and 2 1/2 cups flour; beat at high speed with electric mixer. With a wooden spoon gradually beat in remaining 2 cups flour. Knead by hand until dough is stiff enough to leave side of bowl. Place dough in lightly greased large bowl. Turn the dough over to bring up greased side. Cover with a towel; let rise in warm place, free from drafts, until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

To make filling, brown nuts. In a pot over heat, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk until milk is absorbed. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Stir filling to blend well.

Shape dough; punch down dough. On lightly floured surface turn out dough; cover with bowl and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out to a rectangle 30 inches long by 20 inches wide. Spread with filling, to 1 inch from the edge. Starting from wide side, roll up tightly, as for a jelly roll. With palms of hands, roll back and forth so that roll is even all over. On large greased cookie sheet form roll into a large coil, seam side down. Let rise in warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and brush the roll with the melted butter. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack. Slice crosswise ¼-inch thick.

Povitica Bread (photo reprinted with permission from Krissy's Creations)

Povitica Bread (photo reprinted with permission from Krissy’s Creations)

Garlic Pork
From Amber Guthrie

This recipe is from my mother in law. The measurements are estimates since she doesn’t measure.

8-pound pork roast (lean pork not recommended)
5 heads of garlic
30 or so hot peppers
1 cup dried thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
Vinegar

In food processor or blender pulse garlic, peppers, thyme, salt and about ½ to ¾ cup vinegar, just enough vinegar to get it going. Taste. Although the vinegar will overpower, you should taste the flavors of each ingredient.  Adjust seasonings. Then add another 1 to 1 ½ cups vinegar and blend some more.

Cut up pork into big chunks. Add marinade and mix thoroughly. Place into a big glass mason jar with lid. Add additional vinegar to cover if need be. Let it sit for three days on the counter, stirring each day.

Amber Guthrie's Garlic Pork at marinating stage

Amber Guthrie’s Garlic Pork at marinating stage

On Christmas morning, spoon out some pork with a slotted spoon leaving marinade behind and pan fry (non-stick pan works best) on med-high heat (be sure to run your vent on high…those spicy vinegar vapors are no joke). Once it’s nice and browned and some of the fat has rendered, lower the heat slightly, cover and allow to simmer until the meat is tender. Add just a smidgen of water and/or tiny drizzle of oil if moisture needed. Once tender, remove lid and allow liquid to cook off. Eat with fried eggs and flata (roti) and drink tea or cocoa. And listen to reggae music! And be Merry!

Ready for a Christmas breakfast!

Ready for a Christmas breakfast!

Note:  After 3 days, the pork doesn’t need to marinate any longer. Either cook all the pork or transfer to a glass storage container, store in the fridge at this point, and discard marinade. If you’re using a lean cut of pork, you may want to reduce the marinade time in half (or maybe less, I don’t know, we always use a pork butt….MIL uses an even fattier cut).  If you don’t reduce marinade time on a lean cut, I’m not certain, but am afraid you might end up with vinegar cooked pork by Christmas morning (yuk).

What’s your favorite traditional holiday dish? Please leave a comment and let us know. Next week we’re going to showcase, what else, New Year’s resolutions. Please check our Private Discussion Forum – General for Caron’s request for suggestions and tell us what your personal chef resolutions are 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.