We’re very proud of the efforts made by our Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter (MARC) to bring our members in the area together as an additional resource to network and share information. This year, Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Owings Mills, Maryland is the chapter president and she organized and hosted their recent spring meeting. Shelbie has written a wrap up of the meeting and Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food in Memphis supplied us with photos. Thank you both for your contribution!

Our MARC group celebrated the arrival of spring with a two-day meeting based at my home, but with a number of outings and speakers.

Sipping margaritas

We began with dinner Friday night at a funky little restaurant called Alchemy in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. The next morning the meeting went into full swing with over 20 attendees from New York down to Virginia. We also had Chef Carol Borchardt visit us from Memphis!

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Judy Harvey's tuna-stuffed eggs

After a breakfast that featured homemade gravlax with bagels ( a special thank you to Judy Harvey for making the tuna stuffed eggs, when I ran out of time) and a beautiful breakfast cake made by Chef Peggy Haser, we held a short business meeting. Laura Knight (A Knight’s Feast) reviewed our bank account and we elected Keith Steury (The Food Sherpa) as our new secretary. We also had the group quite excited when we announced the current planning of a trip to Alsace, France to be hosted by MARC member, Chef Bernard Henry.

Presentation

Our keynote speaker was Joan Norman, owner and operator of One Straw Farm, one of the largest farms in the state. The farm not only services many of the finest restaurants in town, but also runs a huge CSA. Joan shared stories of her 30 years in the farming business and discussed the use of biodegradable mulch film and how that distinguishes her farm from those that claim to be 100 percent organic.

Our next speaker was Dara Bunyon, a local Baltimore food blogger, whose business, Dara Does It, dabbles in all things food. She shared interesting tidbits from her blogs, such as the top items that people steal from restaurants! (Not just salt shakers!)

Our third speaker for the morning, MARC’s very own, Lettie Lavalle (Leave Dinner to Lettie), is also a social media expert. Lettie walked us through the confusing maze of various sites and helped to demystify the ever-growing world of social media and how it relates to personal chefs.

Featured salads

Lunch time provided an opportunity to chat with friends and enjoy an all-salad buffet that featured a duck confit salad over baby greens and spinach with dried cherries and a curried chicken salad with homemade mango chutney as an accompaniment.

After lunch, Mary Stewart and her daughter Katie Enterline of The Grateful Table presented a kitchen demo for us. Mary prepared individual lemon curd soufflés, similar to chocolate lava cakes. Katie demonstrated her whipped cream, using coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream. OMG! I guarantee that this will become my dinner party dessert of choice! Beautiful and delicious!

Lemon Curd Souffle demo

Our next event, included a lovely drive through horse country to reach Bastignati Winery. We sampled five wines…some very nice, some not my thing! However, several of us purchased bottles to go.

Winery

Our evening concluded with a potluck dinner, prepared by the attendees. If you have never attended a potluck prepared by personal chefs, then you are missing a treat! Amazing starters included Jim Huff’s bacon jam, Sharon and Bruce Cohen’s Tuscan tomato bread soup, and Mary Stewart’s risotto cakes. Dinner followed with Ayisha Jones’ fig jam tenderloin and Keith Steury’s Asian pork BBQ. Sides included Laura Knight’s asparagus salad and Marta Mirecki’s  fennel radicchio salad. April Lee generously provided an amazing collection of wine, including a lovely chocolate dessert selection.

crabcakes

Our next meeting is scheduled for October 2 to 3, 2015. MARC meetings are open to members of the APPCA in good standing!

Why do we do this? Well, we’re a group of people who truly enjoy each other’s company. We’re brought together through our membership in APPCA and have much in common. Personal chefs are people who love food and travel, and therefore have a zest for life. I think chefs by nature are passionate, artistic people who have a nurturing desire to please others by feeding them. Put all those qualities together in one room and you are bound to have a good time! The meetings we hold allow us to recharge our professional batteries and share work experiences with those who understand the ins and outs of the profession.

Doesn’t this sound like a great opportunity in your area? If you’re an APPCA member, let us know if you’d like assistance in forming a chapter in your part of the country.

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.

 

We love that our members feel such an attachment to APPCA and kinship with one another that they find it beneficial to participate in regional chapters. One such is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter, or MARC. They get together to exchange information, bring in speakers to learn about new concepts, and hold cooking demos.

Earlier this month, 17 APPCA members gathered for a MARC meeting at chapter president April Lee’s home. We’ll let her describe what transpired:

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter (MARC) of the APPCA held its first meeting of 2014 this past weekend. We had a blast and great turnout with 17 people in attendance, including several new members. We had several speakers who inspired and motivated us with great ideas: Lynne D’Autrechy, President of Buzzquake.com, talked to us about Internet marketing, how to increase traffic to our websites, and reach more potential clients. Bernard Henry (star personal chef and APPCA member, but with a CFO background) spoke about basic financial and accounting tips and how to set up our own businesses. Rufus Knight (husband of member Laura Knight, of A Knight’s Feast) talked about how to enhance our websites visually and contextually, as well as how to make them more useful for our clients and for ourselves. Our to-do lists just got longer but with fantastic ideas!

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We also had two great cooking demos: Cindy Shepard (Cindy’s Home Cooking) showed us how to use sous vide circulators for our meal service and dinner party clients. This is a very popular cooking method being used in all the high-end restaurants now. Most of us were unfamiliar with how sous vide works, but were impressed with the results, especially with how proteins, which are easily overcooked (such as fish), can be cooked perfectly and held for hours at just the right temperature. Amazing!

Cindy Shepard's sous vide demo
Shelbie Wassel (Shallots Personal Chef Service) demonstrated one of her favorite go-to client entrees: Parchment Paper Salmon over Fennel, Leeks and Carrots. Her delicious pairing of the flavorful vegetables topped with salmon filets roasted beautifully in the oven and made a very pretty presentation in the parchment pockets. For those of you who know Shelbie, you can imagine how much fun we all had during her demo … hehehe!

Shelbie's parchment salmon demo MARC0414Dinner3
Everyone enjoyed the sous vide steaks, sous vide salmon, and the parchment salmon with vegetables as part of the potluck dinner which followed the meeting.

Potluck
Oh, yes … the potluck dinner that follows every MARC meeting. This is actually why we have the meetings:  so that we can have a great party afterwards with wonderful food and drink. Just take a look at the photos and you’ll know that a very good time was had by all! (On top of that, April says, several of the members got together the night before the meeting for dinner and then met the day after the meeting for dim sum. “Doesn’t take much to get personal chefs together to enjoy good food and drink,” says April.)

A HUGE THANK YOU to all the members who took precious time out of their busy schedules to spend a day (or two) with colleagues. This chapter is as active and vibrant as it is because of all of you! Big hugs all around!

For those APPCA members who are interested in joining MARC, please send me an email (chef.april@verizon.net).  I am so proud and happy to be associated with this group because it is comprised of wonderful people. We are a very lively, collegial, and supportive group and we care very much about helping each other … plus we LOVE sharing great food and wine, and having fun together!

What are some of the best tips or pieces of information you’ve received as an APPCA member? What could we help you with?

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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