Chef Samone Lett is the owner of Atlanta’s Wishful Concepts Catering & Personal Chef Services. She’s an APPCA member and I’m captivated by her tweets. Always looking to feature our fabulous members, I reached out to Samone to ask if she’d be interested in telling her story. It’s a fascinating one, as you’ll read below. We have such remarkable members!

It is hard to recount my journey from a homeless young woman following culinary school  to a successful chef. So, I’ll start from my beginning. As a small girl in Brooklyn, New York, I used to watch celebrities like Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, and Jamie Oliver on the Food Network and prayed to God to give me a chance to be on this show as a contestant. Never in my wildest imagination did I see myself as a big chef hosting my own show on television. It’s still an aspiration!

But by God’s grace, my hard work and struggle has paid off and today I am a successful chef.

 

I was passionate about cooking as a small child. My father and grandmother taught me how to cook when I was nine, and I continued in the military, when at age 18 I enlisted into the U.S. Army as a Food Specialist and eventually was stationed in Germany. There I was exposed to kitchen management, food service, and cooking for large quantities of people. I later studied the intricacies of this profession at a culinary school. I studied Hospitality Management & Tourism and also graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a degree in Culinary Arts. After graduating culinary school I took my chef bag began to aggressively pursue personal and private chef jobs. I had a set back in 2004, a year after my graduation, when I ended up homeless. My previous marriage, clients, and business fell apart and I was in a season of instability. I later wrote about it in my spiritual memoir, Lily In The Valley, published in 2007. After remarrying in 2010 the road to rebuilding Wishful Concepts Catering began and I was inspired to focus on my passion for culinary arts full-time.

I also worked in some restaurants in Orlando, but never felt satisfied as I had no direct interaction with guests. I could not know what they thought about the food I made for them. This was why I started my own catering business. I was hooked to the idea of becoming a personal chef given to me by Chef Candy. I relished the idea of running private events.

I worked under a few chefs for some time in Orlando. Wedding planner Michelle loved my work and mentored me to learn the finer details of this business. I learned how to set up a buffet and other plate events from her and still use her ideas in running my own company.

Salient highlights of my career

  • Our company focuses on customer experience and provides friendly services.
  • Besides being a chef, I have a passion to help other women in finding their identity and direction.
  • I have written five self-help books. Lily in the Valley is my autobiography.
  • I have worked hard to find a place in this male-dominated industry. Being a female chef, I also faced lots of discrimination.
  • My company has won Best Wedding award six times in a row from The Knot and have two Couples Choice awards from the Wedding Wire.
  • We are supplying food to the crew on the sets of movies.

My experiences as a contestant on Food Network

Food Network is the most popular channel among food lovers. I always admired this show and the judges who evaluated the dishes made by the contestants. I applied to become a contestant by sending my latest pictures. I was thrilled to pieces when I got an invitation in two weeks’ time. I underwent a tough interview process and was finally selected to be a contestant on Cooks vs. Cons, which aired in August 2017. This is a show where ordinary cooks are pitted against professional chefs with their identities concealed until the show has been completed and it is time to declare the winner.

The name of my episode was Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf. Contestants had to prepare a meatloaf in just 30 minutes, although it takes nearly 45 minutes for this job. It was a highly intense and stressful event where I knew my actions were being filmed and telecast live as I prepared a dish. There were no retakes or time to rectify mistakes and I had to get it right in whatever time I got. It was really tough to keep smiling and listening to the remarks of the men behind the cameras while preparing my dish. Cooking under the pressure of a time limit and in front of the judges was really very tough.

Not being able to stay in touch with family and friends for a long time was also a hard experience for me. But, the nerve wracking experience as a contestant on Cooks vs. Cons helped me in my preparation for the next show, Food Network Star. It was a once in a lifetime experience. It was definitely amazing to meet Chef Carla Hall, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, and food author and TV host Daphne Oz! I had loads of fun and received love and warmth from the staff and the crew members of this show. They liked me so much that I was again called by Food Network to participate in Food Network Star. I could not believe my luck when I received the call from the channel for this show. I was on Season 14, which aired in Spring 2018. I thank my stars for finally getting recognition for my work as a chef.

Today, business is good and I’m currently focusing on personal chef services as we just moved to Atlanta. No matter what I’ve endured on my journey as a chef and business owner, my faith has consistently provided the resources and people I needed. I share my story from a perspective of showing others that anyone can fulfill their purpose in the midst of challenges and obstacles.

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How many of you cater brunch parties? How many of you get requests from clients for easy breakfast treats?

My friend, San Diego chef Vivian Hernandez-Jackson, is a first-generation Cuban American, born and raised in Miami, who infuses her Cuban heritage into a variety of pastries and sandwiches, which she sells at her popular Ocean Beach eatery Azúcar. I spent some time with her in her kitchen and learned how to make these crazy delicious scones.

Initially I was confused. Why would scones–traditionally British fare–figure so prominently on her menu? Then I learned that while attending Le Cordon Bleu in London, she worked at Claridges and made hundreds upon hundreds of scones. They became as much a part of her repertoire as the other pastries she learned to make.

Back in the States, Vivian figured out ways to give a tropical, Cuban flair to traditional pastries–adding coconut and macademia nuts to Florentine Bars, and key limes, mojito mint, mango, Cuban rum, and passion fruit to her many other sweets–and to improve the ingredients of the Cuban foods she grew up enjoying. So, no lard or margarine are in her doughs; it’s good butter. And her pastries are baked in real time.

How does she do it? Well, this is why I thought you’d enjoy learning the recipe. She prepares the dough in advance, scoops it into individual scones, and puts them on trays raw in the freezer to be baked first thing the following morning and throughout the day as needed. It alleviates the stress of making and baking early in the morning and reduces waste. Plus, customers get freshly baked treats throughout the day. On major holidays, like Thanksgiving, Vivian sells the frozen scoops of scone dough, with the icing and instructions, to customers the day before so they can bake them off the day of the holiday to have fresh, hot pastries.

How does this relate to you? Well, not only can you make these in advance of cooking for a catering gig, but you can make the dough for clients and leave them with baking instructions. It’s not at all complicated, as you’ll see, and the scones can easily be baked to order in just a toaster oven (as I did with the ones Vivian gave me).

Trust me, you’ll thank me for this!

Key Lime White Chocolate Scones
from Vivian Hernandez-Jackson, Azúcar
Makes 9 large scones

For scones:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cold diced
3/4 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons key lime juice (You can find containers of Nelly & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice at major supermarkets.)

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1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
Baking spray
Granulated sugar

For key lime icing:

1/4 cup key lime juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325˚.
2. With mixer on low speed and using paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients. Add the cold diced butter and blend until the mixture resembles wet sand and no large pieces butter remain.

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3. Pour in the buttermilk, zest, and juice. Mix until all are combined, then gently mix in white chocolate chips/chunks.

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4. Scoop scones onto a sheet pan with parchment paper that has been sprayed with baking spray. Place about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar before baking.

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At this point you can freeze them and bake off when needed.

If baking fresh: 25-30 minutes
If baking frozen: 30-35 minutes

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When scones come out of the oven, drizzle with key lime icing. If you have leftover scones the following day, reheat them briefly in the microwave just to warm them inside before eating.

Lime and white chocolate scone

What’s your favorite pastry to make for clients? What’s your strategy for preparing them in advance?

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.

Throughout the year we want to inspire you with the various ways in which our members are reinventing themselves and their personal chef businesses. Tom Herndon of Hipp Kitchen in the San Francisco Bay Area is a perfect example of this. And an advocate. He’s our guest blogger this week and has some terrific words of wisdom that we know you’ll take to heart!

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Businesses succeed not by being the best, the first, or the most well run. They succeed because they know how to tell a compelling story. They also learn how to retell their story over and over. This means they refuse to be hemmed in by their past. They know how to re-craft their business identity to stay in harmony with the needs of their customers. Today, especially, there is a growing need to be fluid, adaptable, flexible. Many of the strategies we’ve adopted as personal chefs may not be working as well for us now as they did this time last year. It could be for a variety of reasons—our personal lives have changed, our clients’ lives or budgets have changed, the communities we work in have evolved. For some of us our stories need to be upgraded. It’s important to learn how to craft a different story. And then a different one from that. And down the road a different one from that.

A few years ago I was lucky to be invited by Candy Wallace to speak at the APPCA convention in Las Vegas. The heart of my message was that as personal chefs we have a pretty sexy story to tell, which includes a number of unique advantages. Because we are chefs we are perceived experts on food and food service (large in part due to Candy’s success in making the APPCA a tremendous value for members and their customers). Food experts continue to be highly valued in today’s market. Because we’re cooks, we know how to make something magical out of diverse ingredients, which often includes being willing and able to adapt quickly to our circumstances.

My aim in my presentation was to point out the value of having a powerful and sexy story to tell which includes an innate skill set unique to our profession. These skills keep our work fresh, retain customer value, and help pull us through leaner times. We have the skills to adapt, to change, and to leverage our perceived expertise as food professionals to keep our careers thriving. In other words, we have what it takes to change our story as needed. Does your story need an upgrade?

I read Candy’s December blog post about 10 Ways to Revitalize Your Personal Chef Business in 2015. Items 8 through 10 particularly resonated with me because, since I became a personal chef, I have been diligent in my efforts to keep my business fresh and to continually revitalize my practice. I chose to leverage multiple passions which ended up with multiple streams of income. What I have been doing is changing my story so I can continue to offer value and to have a fulfilling life. Having various ways of making money was the icing on the cake.

Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes

Five years ago my PC business became focused on cooking for people with food allergies, a lucrative niche. I once again changed my story. I changed my company’s name from Full Fridge to Hipp Kitchen (Hipp being short for Hippocrates, who said, “Let food be thy medicine.”). But in cooking alone, I craved company. So I found a beautiful venue in San Francisco and began holding allergen-friendly cooking classes and foodie events. I’ve done over 30 parties, classes, and team-building adventures in this venue alone. I was making more money, as well as developing new relationships and keeping my creative juices floating. Now my story was that I was a (perceived) expert in food allergies.

But there was still one itch that wasn’t being scratched: my passion for travel. I came to find out combining a love for food and a love for travel was also a strong customer need.

Chefs Barge Cruise

My experience shows that you have to leap when you encounter an opportunity. Mine was meeting a travel agent who was working on organizing a culinary tour to Italy. She had the template; I had the people and the passion. I had always dreamed of doing culinary tours in Europe, so I formed a new culinary adventure company called Spirit and Spice—and couldn’t be happier. Leading culinary travel adventures is so heart-fulfilling, and as a source of income it’s been wonderful because my husband and I have been able to travel to Europe. I have lots of repeat business and my customers are still talking about the adventures years afterwards.

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I have organized and led three culinary adventures to Europe. My last tour was called “Floating Through Paradise” and was one week on slow-moving French Hotel Barges cruising up the beautiful Canal du Midi in the South of France, followed by a week in Paris. Candy and seven other personal chefs joined me in the adventure. Cooking classes, wineries, olive oil factories, goat cheese farms, a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu, farmers markets, hunting wild asparagus along the Canal du Midi, and as a group, preparing the final dinner on the barges to say thank you. I brought home new techniques, new recipes, new friends, and a lifetime of memories.

Chefs at the Mediterranean

I have changed my story a number of times. I went from being a home cook to being a personal chef. I went from being strictly a personal chef to also being a perceived expert in food allergies. I then became a cooking teacher, a culinary event producer, and now I am considered by my ever-widening network to be an expert when it comes to creating culinary travel adventures!

Pintxos in San Sebastian

I encourage you to follow Candy’s advice and do what you can to keep your business (and yourself) revitalized. Don’t be afraid to take a close look at your main passions and figure out how to turn at least one of them into a source of income. You have the power to completely change your story. Begin telling it to everyone and pretty soon your new story will be top of mind within your network. Plus, you have lots of wisdom and inspiration offered from your fellow PC’s on the forums to help you get started.

My fourth culinary travel adventure is coming up in May. It’s called “Bordeaux to Barcelona.” I have room for a couple more people and it would be wonderful to have some fellow chefs along. Please check out the details here.

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.

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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.

Natalie Lewis

APPCA member Natalie Lewis may have a raging sweet tooth, but she’s deep into savory dishes that she makes for both her personal chef and catering clients. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, with a diploma in French cuisine, the Cincinnati native is a dedicated traveler who has enjoyed enhancing her knowledge of regional and cultural fare. Early in her career she took that knowledge to jobs at upscale catering catering companies and restaurants. Her move to Napa gave her a greater appreciation for local, sustainable cooking and the art of viticulture. Today, she lives with her family in Northern New Jersey.

Natalie's Sweet Pea and Parmesan Salad with Burrata and Capiocola

Natalie’s Sweet Pea and Parmesan Salad with Burrata and Capiocola

Natalie found us like many others–with a desire to get out of the restaurant business she starting researching other career options in the food world and found APPCA through an Internet search. She joined us in 2010.

“The best benefit has been that people find me easily when they do Google searches for personal chefs,” she says. “The APPCA website is one of the first to come up. So I’ve gained a lot of clients this way. The forums are also great, so I can connect with other personal chefs and compare notes.”

Natalie's Crab and Shrimp Avocado Salad with Tomato Coulis

Natalie’s Crab and Shrimp Avocado Salad with Tomato Coulis

Among Lewis’s other passions is her food blog, Natalie’s Daily Crave, where she posts recipes–mostly original–and gorgeous food photography.

The recipe below originated from cocktail appetizers she makes for her catering clients. “I make little bite-size red potatoes stuffed with blue cheese and bacon,” she says. “They’re always a hit at parties so I thought a potato salad with a similar concept would be a crowd pleaser also.”

This salad is perfect for summer picnics and barbecues–and something you can adapt for your own catering clients!

Natalie Lewis' Bacon-and-Blue-Cheese-Potato-Salad-so-delish1

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad
from Natalie Lewis

  • 3 lb red skin potatoes
  • 6 oz good blue cheese
  • 10-12 strips thick cut bacon
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  • 3 heaping Tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • salt and pepper

Clean and scrub outside of potatoes. Cut potatoes in half and add potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until they are fork tender, but still firm.

Meanwhile cook the bacon and crumble the blue cheese with a fork. Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl add the mayonnaise, Dijon, vinegar, chives and dill. Mix well and set aside.

Once the potatoes are cooked drain well. Roughly chop the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and while warm, pour the dressing over the potatoes. Mix well and add salt and pepper.

Add the crumbled bacon an blue cheese. Top with additional bacon, blue cheese and chopped chives. Can serve warm or cold. Store in fridge 2 days in advance.

*Photos courtesy of Natalie Lewis

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Vegas pool party

So, here we are at week seven of Food Network Star, so thrilled that our own Nicole Gaffney is now one of six contestants and in Las Vegas for a series of new challenges. But, there’s always a wrench thrown into these competitions–and one came this week in the form of reinserting a contestant. Yes, Star Salvation has ended and into the competition returned… ta dah… Luca! Gorgeous Luca, whose English has been transformed.

So we’re back to seven contestant and have two related challenges. The first, taking place in the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace, was with judge/mentor Giada De Laurentiis, who gave each contestant 90 second to describe up to three dishes in a way that would make her hungry. Kudos to Emma, who was the only one to nail it with all three. Nicole, starting with a beef pho, used words like viscosity and unctuous–great in an essay for an English class, but not very appealing or understandable for the general public looking for something delicious to eat.

Moving on, this critical skill was to be on display again for the main challenge–a pool party at the hotel’s Venus pool. Each contestant had an hour to prepare a dish representing their culinary POV and then a minute to pitch their dish to the crowd. Each of the 100 party guests was given three tokens to spend on three dishes, plus they were given what Alton Brown calls the “dial of doom,” a marketing gadget used to measure each person’s reaction to each pitch.

Our Nicole decided to make a seared scallop wrapped in serrano ham, accompanied by romesco sauce. Just one problem. There was no serrano ham and Nicole decided to substitute prosciutto. But, she wasn’t exactly forthright about that in her pitch. “I’m guessing that no one at this party is going to be able to tell the difference between serrano ham and prosciutto,” Nicole said. Well, no one except the judges…

The good news? Alton and Giada liked her pitch, calling it concise and connected to her viewpoint. And, she was grace under pressure as a gust of wind almost swept away her dish during her pitch. But while both judges liked the flavors of her dish, Giada took her down on the misleading description. “I loved the scallops but not the serrano ham,” she said. “Don’t misguide them or they’ll never trust you again.”

It was a good lesson. Gotta make a substitute with an ingredient? Be upfront about it.

Nevertheless, Nicole made the first cut with the top four, with Lenny winning and doing a celebratory belly flop into the pool. Can’t wait to see what next week brings!

Have a favorite summer dish you make for clients? Please share!

 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.

No matter how confident you are in yourself, your cooking abilities, and your business skills, sometimes the personal touch can make the difference. That’s why we regularly hold weekend Personal Chef Seminars. It allows Dennis and me to meet new members just launching their businesses and give them hands-on guidance in the business of being a personal chef. Yes, we have wonderful printed and online materials available to you–and you shouldn’t have any problem getting started with them alone. But gathering with a group of like-minded people for a weekend of learning and sharing just clarifies the process that much more. And it gives you compadres and commadres with whom you can share questions and issues long after the weekend is over.

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What takes place? Whether we travel to cities like Chicago and Baltimore or hold the seminars at our home in San Diego, the basics are the same. We review the training program and manual one bite at a time, taking it at your pace and answering your  questions. We talk about business plans, finances, and marketing. And we answer your questions. We delve into things like website SEO, advertising, and media exposure. And we answer your questions. We introduce you to Personal Chef Office and the Personal Chef Forums. We even talk recipes and cooking methods. And we answer your questions. We love answering your questions.

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Last month, we held an intimate seminar with four remarkably talented women: Mary Ziebart of Chicago, Jackie Buesa of Carlsbad, Rochelle Schofield of Los Angeles, and Valerie Cathell of Virginia. Each came to us with a desire to not just to cook for a living but to help change their communities. It was inspiring to be with each of them, as well as watch them spur each other on and, ultimately, bond.

Mary, for example, is just entering her career as a personal chef, having attended culinary school and spent time as a private chef and then an educator–even winning the 2012 Foodservice Educator Network International (FENI) award for Secondary School Teacher of the Year Award. “I loved teaching but I wanted to get back into the kitchen again and make people smile,” she says. “This seminar took the fear out of starting my own business.”

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Then there was Jackie, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with highest honors. She has been employed at a high-end coastal resort and has worked as a line cook, banquet chef, caterer, and healthy cooking teacher. Now she’s interested in focusing her talents on a smaller scale, emphasizing fresh and simple foods for a clientele that appreciates the value of local and organic.

“The weekend seminary was such a great experience,” she says. “You and Dennis are so knowledgeable and also very patient. You really took the time to make sure everyone in the class had a clear understanding of the material. You shared so much about your extensive experience in the business. I gained valuable insight of the business and challenges I might encounter. And, you shared the many rewards of becoming a personal chef.”

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I’m blushing. And, yet, that’s what Dennis and I strive for with these seminars because we want you to return home and feel empowered to get your business going with confidence. We want your takeaway also to be that we’re here for you every step of the way to help you grow your business–whether we do it by email, phone, or over a cup of coffee.

Val, who grew up the child of fabulous cooks, bonded with her family in the kitchen. Like many personal chefs, she hasn’t had formal culinary training, but was always cooking for friends, who asked her to cater events and urged her to go into business for herself. Now she wants to take this ability to feed people and serve others. “I am a very maternal thinker and I do believe we show love with our food,” she says. She writes about food, wants to teach others cooking skills, and loves that she can share her talent with others professionally.

But that doesn’t mean that launching a business automatically leads to success. That’s why she joined APPCA and why she signed up for the seminar. “It was invaluable in helping me understand the important business aspects of being a personal chef. Your instruction was thorough and so entertaining. Your personal stories were wonderful and provided great insights and tips on things to do and not do, like never shop on your own money and always get the fee up front.”

It also gave her the confidence to get the most out of Personal Chef Office and the manual so she can better control and grow her business. “And now that you taught me about the Personal Chef Forum I also know where to look when I have questions.”

On that beautiful Sunday afternoon as everyone was packing up to head home, Val gave me the best compliment I could hope for, “You are an amazing woman. I can see that it comes from the heart. It’s what I aspire to.”

My passion for this work and for helping our members attain their goals does come from the heart. And I hope that Dennis and I can meet more of you in person at our weekend seminars so we can help you take your talent to your community in a way that brings you success and deep satisfaction. Stay tuned for our announcement of our next weekend seminar and be sure to sign up! We can’t wait to see you!

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Green screen dreams

For APPCA member Nicole Gaffney, week six of Food Network Star wasn’t a dream experience. This week she and her fellow  contestants were charged with turning their POV into a packaged food product. They each had one hour to cook their product and then had to “sell” it in a commercial featuring a 360-degree green screen and virtual production stage. Each was assigned a theme and our New Jersey girl Nicole got the Wild West.

We knew that could be an issue once we saw her face drop. After all, how does a chef with a coastal point of view sell a product in the desert?

Nicole decided to make a tomato onion jam that she explained to the judges jibed with her coastal POV since it goes great with fish and is a good base for a dish with mussels or clams. Using her nickname, she named the product “Coley’s Coastal Tomato Onion Jam,” and her sales pitch was essentially, “You don’t need to live by the ocean to get the laid back flavors of the shore.” But when she opened her commercial with, “It’s drier out here than Death Valley in Prohibition,” and Bobby Flay’s smile turned into kind of a snicker, we knew she was in trouble and so did she.

Fortunately, her jam was delicious and the judges all gave her raves. But they were honest about her star power going AWOL. Giada De Laurentiis gave her sage advice. “You’re wound up so tight. Let go. Be who you want to be.”

For the first time Nicole was in the bottom three–but she wasn’t eliminated. So, phew. And we’ll see her in Las Vegas next week for week seven!

Have a question about starting up your own personal chef business? Have you been to one of our seminars? Let us know what you learned that weekend! Leave a comment!

 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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