CandyWallaceAPPCAheadshot (low rez)

This past weekend, Escoffier Online International Academy celebrated its 2016 graduating class online and our own Candy Wallace delivered the commencement address. Candy considers it to be a tremendous honor to have been asked to speak to the students, but it’s no surprise that they would invite her. After all, she has had close ties to Escoffier. In 2014 she was inducted into Disciples of Escoffier, and has been serving on the Advisory Committee of the Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts.

During her 12-minute talk, Candy reviewed her own culinary career and how, 24 years ago, she came to launch the then-new profession of personal chef. For Candy, it’s all about having options throughout your career. You may start on the line in a restaurant and love the demands and hours of that job. But maybe 10 years in or 20 your priorities change. Candy wanted to create an option for culinarians who wanted to continue to cook for people to be their own boss, have their own business, focus on their dreams–but in a way that suits their changed lifestyle or interests.

In her address, Candy emphasized the value of learning in the course of a culinary career. She told the graduates that if they’re entering the industry in a restaurant to learn something everyday. To volunteer to take on tasks. To keep your mouth closed and do what you’re asked and do it with joy. The time will come soon enough when your skills catch up with your opinions and your opinion will then be valued by a time-pressed executive chef.

And, throughout your career, she said, “Read, watch videos, travel if you get the chance. Developing a global palate is a lifelong journey that you’re going to enjoy. Get out, look around, taste, and talk to the farmers and chefs and fishermen you encounter in your travels and learn.”

Candy also did a special call out to one of our valued APPCA members, Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth in Glendale, California. Beth, she said, had joined APPCA and launched a successful personal chef business but wanted to have official culinary credentials, so she asked Candy for advice. Candy suggested Beth enroll in the Escoffier Online International Academy. Beth did so the next day and now she was one of the graduates Candy was congratulating in her commencement address. “She kept her word and did the work. I’m proud to call her my colleague,” Candy said.

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It turned out that shortly after the delivery of the address, Candy received this note from Beth:

Hi Candy,

At 8:00 am this morning Joe (my husband) and I settled in with our coffee to watch Graduation.  I was very excited for him to hear you speak and put a name to the face.  You are obviously my mentor and he has heard me talk forever about you and your success. Your speech was so fantastic and outlined your journey and the culinary path of being a personal chef. Needless to say we both about fell off the couch when you mentioned me. And at the same time started tearing up. We were so shocked and so humbled and proud. I can’t thank you enough for such a mention. I feel so honored and am still in awe. You have certainly made our day, our month, our year. 

I had my family watch this graduation ceremony not knowing that I would be mentioned and they too were thrilled.

Thank you for remembering me.  You changed the course of my life and allowed me to make the dream come true.

With warmest regards and XOXO

Beth

We hope that as you search for your culinary direction you consider all your options–there are so many now–and that a grounded education is your first step. And if your journey is to become a personal chef, that you get in touch with Candy at APPCA so that she can help guide you on your path and give you the help you need to establish and run a thriving business. We hope that watching her address below gives you the inspiration you’ve been looking for to take your next steps!

Are you considering a culinary career? What is your passion when it comes to food and cooking? Is being a personal chef an option for 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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Back in March we talked about the idea of  having YouTube videos as part of your marketing arsenal. APPCA member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth let us know that she just did an online video for an L.A. radio show, discussing ways to eat healthy even with a busy schedule. Beth, who earned a certificate from Escoffier Online Culinary Academy, uploaded the videos to her website and they’ve been garnering views. We think this has been a great way for her to promote her business and introduce herself and her skills to potential clients.

We asked Beth to share with fellow members her experience making the videos. We wanted to know how the show found her, how she prepared, how she decided on the topics to cover, and how it felt to be on camera. We also asked her what she learned from the experience and what may come next. So, here’s Beth’s response:

I was contacted by a representative of Lunch with The Finance Bunch, an online radio show that features entrepreneurs in different fields.  I was asked to do a cooking show featuring recipes that would be easy for a busy working person to prepare and from that meal, make another meal for the following night.  They wanted budget friendly recipes.  They found me through a Google search and confirmed their decision after viewing my website.

As far as preparation was concerned, I searched my database for recipes that I know are easy, fast and budget friendly.  I didn’t prepare myself for being on camera since I really have not had experience on camera other than a demo that I did a couple of years ago.  That was live.  This was pre-recorded.  They shared with me the process once I got there.  While it wasn’t live, I operated as if it were.  The biggest problem I had was looking into the right camera.  I was forever looking at the crew in the room and talking to them as opposed to talking into the camera.  Sometimes I was talking into the food camera. 

There were little goofs that most people would not notice.  Like showing how to cut a tomato and putting the diced tomato into my trash bowl.  I caught it right away but I am not sure the regular person would.  I knew that the cameras would stop rolling once the food was placed in the oven.  Even though the host set this up as if they were visiting my kitchen, it was not my kitchen.  The oven actually turned off each time I increased or decreased the temperature.  I’ve never seen that happen before so my food took longer than expected to cook.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I don’t think the host was that familiar with her oven either.  They edited the taping but that was a bit of a surprise.  The host wanted well-done meat.  It was not well done when I took it out but not sure well-done meat would have looked very good on camera. 

I really enjoyed doing the video.  I wasn’t nervous at all.  It was my first time doing something like this and I did learn from it and think the next time will be easier. I would love to do more videos.

My son Brian helped me promote the video via my Facebook business page, which took people directly to my website where they could view all four parts of the video. He did all kinds of little tweaks to personalize the video.  We have been tracking it with Google Analytics which is a great way to see how many people are accessing that page on my website.  I’ve had over 100 new people visiting that page on my website just to view the video.  I was also interviewed by the host during the show and it gave me an opportunity to talk about the personal chef profession and my niche which is people that have dietary restrictions. 

One thing I did learn from all of this is that social media is so necessary if you want to get your business known.  I am on FB and I have my website.  However, I don’t use Twitter or Instagram.  We decided to hire a social media person who can manage this for us and put my name out there in places I have not explored yet.

Do you create videos or do TV/online appearances to help promote your business? Tell us your experience and how it’s impacted your visibility.

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!

In commercial kitchen

Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth (l) in her commercial kitchen space with her prep cook Tess Henderson

You work hard to market your services in your area, and when your efforts begin to pay off and your schedule fills up with regular and casual clients the reality sets in…there are only seven days in a week, and if you want a life, you are probably cooking on the five days most clients request service, Monday – Friday.

You may also choose to add an additional income stream and do some dinner parties or small events on occasional weekends which generates lovely additional income, but it sure does cut into your family and personal life….what is a busy personal chef to do?

Welcome to decision time…Do I hire additional help and do more than one client per day? Do I rent space in a commercial kitchen? Do I attempt to find licensed space in my community that may not be used on a regular basis, such as large community churches, the VFW or Elks Club or other such organizations that might consider allowing me to rent and use the space during the off days?

Perhaps your city has licensed, inspected incubator kitchen space available that can be rented on an hourly as needed basis. More of these valuable non traditional kitchen operations are opening each month and seem to book up quickly.

While we have always been proponents of going to our clients’ homes to cook for them in their kitchen, we know that to expand a business you need to be able to handle more clients more efficiently. Some of our members are opting to rent space in a commercial kitchen or are coming up with even more creative ways to be efficient (more on this next week).

For Los Angeles-based APPCA member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth, the issues were two-fold, “I was getting more requests than I could handle as a one woman show,” she said. “I only wanted to work three days a week doing personal chef business. I could do no more than one client daily which means I maxed out at three. In the kitchen I can do two completely different menus in one day. I now have six clients weekly who I cook for. Two each of the three days I work.”

The other reason was health related. With a bad back, lifting groceries and equipment was taking a physical toll on her.

What Beth did recently was find and rent space in a commercial kitchen, which she uses three days a week. But, she admits, the process of finding one was daunting. “I won’t kid you. Finding a commercial kitchen is no easy task unless you happen to know someone who has connections or you have your own connections,” she said. “I looked for weeks literally and it took a friend who I sit on a board with who saw an email I wrote looking for a kitchen, forwarded it to an organization he is on the board for and they contacted me. Sounds like spaghetti!!!”

Beth suggested trying churches, synagogues, civic organizations, non-profit organizations, and restaurants that only cook at night, such as bars.

An incubator kitchen might also be an option. Check to see if your city has licensed, inspected incubator kitchen space available that can be rented on an hourly as needed basis. More of these valuable non- traditional kitchen operations are opening each month and seem to book up quickly. An incubator kitchen operation serves multiple food service professionals. It may also provide multiple cooking station facilities where more than one chef is operating at the same time. The facility is licensed by the state so you can operate legitimately on commercial equipment with cold and dry  storage available which means you can prepare multiple entrees for multiple clients – while still continuing to customize recipes for clients with special needs or requests. If you are looking for incubator kitchen space, google search your area, or contact your local Board of Health and request a list of licensed facilities in your city. If they are inspecting them, they should know where they are.

What should you look for?

Beth had a number of criteria:

  1. Certified Commercial Kitchen (approved by the Health Department). This requirement varies according to the state you are in.
  2. STORAGE! If you don’t have places to store your equipment, utensils, and pantry you will be lugging it daily and that takes time away from cooking.
  3. Refrigeration and Freezer. Most places that prepare food have walk-in refrigerators and freezers. What a dream! No more ice baths. No more ice period! I use the refrigerator for cooling. You really can’t do that in a regular refrigerator. You will need the freezer for extra supplies (I don’t find I have much other than stock frankly). “I use it to freeze my ice packs,” said Beth. “We made the decision to purchase our own new refrigerator with an upper freezer for our grocery storage. That way we don’t worry about anyone getting into it. It’s closer to our work stations. Our foods are unpacked and immediately stored in our fridge.”
  4. Appliances are key. “We were not too picky when we were looking but you should be,” Beth explained. “You will need a minimum of two ovens to cook for more than one client. Make sure that they work. If they don’t work properly (which tends to be the case where kitchens sit unused for long periods of time) your food will not cook properly. We have this issue now but the equipment is getting replaced. You will need at most four working burners.”
  5. You need a work station for each prep cook you have.
  6. Make sure there is adequate ventilation and it works! Kitchens get HOT!!!
  7. Hopefully you will have space for your small appliances such as blender, rice cooker, pressure cooker, food processor and it does not take space on your work station.
  8. Check out the trash situation. Do they have adequate trash cans? Who empties them and where do they get emptied. “We are lucky,” Beth said. “We have two huge cans in the kitchen and we don’t have to empty them!”
  9. A dishwasher is crucial. “I say that because at the moment we don’t have one,” Beth said. “The organization just got approval to put one in. Hand washing dishes can take up to two hours a day in a commercial kitchen. Whatever you do, do not let your dishes pile up. It makes for a messy kitchen and you will be overwhelmed with dishwashing at the end of a hard day of cooking.”
  10. Make certain everyone understands the hours you are able to get into the kitchen. You will need access (key and/or alarm codes).

In her space, Beth is able to stop in a drop off groceries the day before or pick up foods the day after to deliver. She signs leases at six-month intervals and has access to the kitchen seven days a week if needed–and, she said, “You need that if you are catering.”

One thing Beth suggested is that you need to check your insurance to increase your coverage for cooking in a commercial kitchen and also to cover your supplies in case of a fire, etc. You may also be required to list the facility as an additional insured. Depending on your policy you may or may not have to pay more.

The pluses, she has experienced, are that she can take on more clients daily and increase her income, her  employees can unload and unpack groceries, she can cater and not do it from her clients’ home. Everything other than food–other than what she stores in the pantry–is stored in the kitchen. And, with an employee, she doesn’t do dishes anymore.

But there is a cost–beyond the financial. Some drawbacks are that recipes don’t taste the same since you’ve got different cooking conditions. You have to deliver all that prepared food, which can take time. You’re more apt to use more dishes and equipment since you have the space and the supplies.

But most of all, noted Volpe, “The biggest change I notice is that you no longer have that personal relationship with your clients. My long-term clients I know and love and we visit when I deliver. But, the new clients are basically strangers. One I have cooked for since March and I have only seen her one time when I catered a luncheon. I have never even met the other two clients. I deliver and the check is on the counter. I miss that part. The business becomes more like a business and not so much the personal touch. You are simply a food delivery service. They have no clue or empathy for how hard you work unless they see you in their kitchen cooking.”

So you have to weigh your priorities. Using a commercial kitchen space that provides commercial equipment, adequate counter space, and cold and dry storage means the chef can serve multiple clients on the same day while continuing to customize meals for specific client requests, cool, portion, store, label, and deliver with relative ease. It might allow the chef to serve multiple clients two to three days per week, allowing them to serve more clients than classic service allows, while also providing an opportunity to have several days per week in which to provide other services or develop other income streams. But it can be pricey and you may lose the personal touch that makes this career so special.

No two personal chef businesses look alike…they all reflect the chef’s level of expertise and also the chef’s personal and professional preferences…That is what makes this career exciting and just plain FUN! Isn’t it great to have options!

Are you considering renting space in a commercial or other kitchen? What have been your experiences so far?

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.

Over the next several months we’ll be addressing a topic that many personal chefs take special pride in: learning how to help clients with special dietary needs. Several member chefs who have developed specializations will contribute posts that explore how they got through the learning curve and developed dishes that make life healthier and happier in their clients’ daily lives.

We start with Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth, who has developed the ability to work with a spectrum of clients with special needs. She tells us how this developed and gives tips for how to take on a new dietary challenge so you don’t have to say no–and, in fact, can be the great change in a family’s life.

Working with Special Needs Clients
by Beth Volpe

Last March I was contacted by a nutritionist who had a client with food sensitivities. “Tom” is in his early 30’s, has a high pressure job, is married to a wife with a minimal palate, and his colon was removed 11 years ago due to severe ulcerative colitis. He does not feel good most of the time. He was put on a food sensitivity diet consisting of 25 items (this included herbs and spices). Cooking for clients with dietary specifications of course requires more work and research. However, cooking with only 25 items presents even more challenges when it comes to making the food look and taste good. I was able to add one or two items to the list weekly. Unfortunately, we found that combining certain foods together caused a negative reaction.

Chicken Loaf with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese--created for "Tom." After a couple of months of cooking for him, he was able to enjoy ricotta cheese.

Chicken Loaf with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese–created for “Tom.” After a couple of months of cooking for him, he was able to enjoy ricotta cheese.

I don’t have formal training in dealing with food sensitivities but fortunately there are lots of resources out there. In “Tom’s” case I stayed in close contact with his nutritionist at first to fully understand the list of foods. I cooked twice a week for this client, making 14 dinners and 14 lunches weekly. Half were frozen. Since the couple doesn’t cook I was also cooking for his wife, who did not like many items on his list. More work! I still cook for “Tom” today, however I have given him my recipes and he cooks on his own now. I see him every three to four months.

Vinegar and Coconut Milk--special for "Tom"

Vinegar and Coconut Milk–special for “Tom”

What I have learned:

  1. People with food sensitivities or intolerances feel sick when they eat foods that do not agree with their body. It has been described to me as the same feeling as a hangover.
  2. I always ask if their condition has been diagnosed and who made the diagnosis. Was blood work done? For too many people, the answer is gluten-free diets.
  3. These clients require lots of research by the chef. For me, I needed to understand this dietary program. I always research any medical condition my clients have before I meet with them so that when we do meet I am at least somewhat familiar with their condition. Then I’m able to ask the right questions.
  4. To date, I have never turned down a client with special dietary needs. However, today, I would not take on a client like this or a vegan client or anything that looks too complicated.  At the time I met “Tom” I had just started my business. I was in the market to get clients and entertained any interested parties.
  5. I cook fresh only. I don’t freeze foods anymore. My clients seem to prefer fresh food and are willing to pay for me to come in weekly and cook for them.
Raw Apple Pie--created for a paleo diet

Raw Apple Pie–created for a paleo diet

Comments:

My business fell into a niche market from the get go. My first client was diagnosed pre-diabetic. Then I did a Paleo Valentine’s dinner (that was fun and interesting). That was followed by a young mother with Multiple Myeloma. She had just had a stem cell transplant. The rest were/are referrals from nutritionists. Now my clientele consist of gluten free, gluten free/lactose intolerant, heart conditions (bypass surgery or heart attack), and cancer/chemo patients. All of these require research. All of these are challenging.

Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free New York Steak and Potatoes with Onions

Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free New York Steak and Potatoes with Onions

If you’ve been approached by people with special dietary needs, don’t turn them down out of hand because you’re afraid you don’t have the knowledge base to help them or that it will be too difficult. But there are challenges in working with them. I’ve put together some tips to help you get started:

Tips:

  1. Make sure you have the time to devote to clients with special needs. It is not as simple to put a recipe or menu together. They personally may want more of your time.
  2. Be prepared to research what you need to know about their situation. That may mean talking to their doctor or nutritionist directly. Buy the book, Google it, read blogs. Get familiar with why they are seeking your help.
  3. Be patient and be ready to do what the client needs, not what you want to do. I always considered myself a savory cook. Making food taste over the top was what I did. Well, that all needs to be put into perspective when you are limited by the foods you are able to cook with. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative. It means you must become even more creative. Save your amazing recipes for those wonderful dinner parties.
  4. It’s a good idea to find out what type of oil the client, doctor, or nutritionist wants used in cooking. Generally extra-virgin olive oil, sesame, and coconut are acceptable. I was surprised to find out that commercial brands of oil such as canola (and many others) are not acceptable (for my clients).
  5. For your lactose-intolerant clients, butter and milk alternatives must be used. I use ghee when butter is called for in a recipe.
  6. Chia seeds are a great binding alternative in any ground meat such as meatloaf. Mixed with a liquid it becomes a tasteless gel.
Chicken Fajitas and Spanish Rice--gluten and lactose free

Chicken Fajitas and Spanish Rice–gluten and lactose free

Beth Volpe is the chef/owner of Savory Eats by Beth Personal Chef Services in Los Angeles.

What types of medical conditions or diets are potential clients contacting you about? How have you learned to help them?

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 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.

About a year ago APPCA member and personal chef Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Baltimore got a call from a gentleman who asked her if she remembered him from one of her classes that he had attended with his wife. “I did remember them,” she says. “He was asking what I was planning on teaching the following semester and told me that my class had changed his life! He and his wife began cooking at home and had subsequently changed his diet for the better, and had become passionate about cooking! It was an activity he could share with his wife and it brought them closer. He has become one of my biggest fans! Wow! It makes me feel like a rock star!”

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Need a reason to teach cooking classes? That pretty much sums it all up, don’t you think?

Okay, let’s stipulate up front that teaching is not for everyone–for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are uncomfortable standing up in front of a group of people and feel cooking for others by yourself in a kitchen is enough. Maybe you don’t have time. Maybe the idea of showing others how to do what you have perfected is not your idea of a pleasurable experience. You all can move on.

However, if you’ve been toying with the idea of teaching cooking classes but weren’t sure of what is involved and need gentle encouragement from colleagues, we’ve got some tips for you to help you make that satisfying leap.

Our experience is that many personal chefs have developed multiple income streams which complement their personal chef services, one of which is teaching cooking or demo classes since we believe personal chefs are by their very nature teachers. After all, we teach our clients how to use our services effectively and efficiently. We also teach them how to make healthy choices and to pass that information on to their children so they can grow up to be healthy adults. We answer client’s questions about food sources, cooking techniques, and recipes regularly. So, to my mind it makes sense to teach officially and be paid to pass along that knowledge–or donate that expertise and support to a non-profit group that needs our skills and expertise to help people in need.

teaching

These classes or demonstrations can take place in the client’s home, at a local venue, a vocational cooking school, a community college, or a demonstration kitchen facility. The size, layout, and facilities will determine whether the class will be a demonstration or hands on.

Think about it, you could hold cooking class dinner parties or luncheon’s in a client’s home. You could do event demos at fairs or market openings–or market tours followed by a demo. You could hold classes in a community center, a farmers market, a rental kitchen–even your own kitchen. You can certainly teach adults, but you can also teach kids and teens–or families. One woman I know holds brunch cooking classes on her boat in the San Diego Bay.

Member April Lee of Tastefully Yours, also in Baltimore, has been teaching cooking classes for 30 years, starting with after-school cooking classes for kids with the county government. “I’ve taught everything from basic cooking skills to cuisine-based classes to customized classes dealing with special diets,” says April. “I’ve also taught classes dealing with party appetizers, holiday dinners, and theme dinners. I teach because I love sharing my passion for cooking with others and I don’t want people to think that cooking is mysterious or to be intimidated by it.”

April Lee lorez

April Lee

April’s venues have ranged from using commercial kitchens in county-owned facilities to teaching in client homes or a commercial kitchen she rents. Marketing the classes for the county is done through the county’s course catalogs. For private classes, she says it tends to be word of mouth. “I taught a series of Asian cooking classes several years ago, starting with a tour of Asian markets and introducing students to various produce, sauces, and other ingredients. From that point on, word got out about my classes and I’ve had a steady following ever since. I’m currently developing a new set of fun classes and will market them to my personal chef clients as well as my students in about a month–just in time for people to buy gift certificates for the holidays.”

Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth in L.A. is relatively new to the business but she’s been teaching grilling classes to adults and teens in client homes. “I actually love teaching because I love to share what I know and what I learn,” says. “I started the grilling class because a client I do dinner parties for wanted to learn to grill. I don’t market. They come to me through my website, referral, or Thumbtack [a site that lets you find professionals to handle various jobs].”

Beth charges an hourly rate with a minimum of two hours, plus the cost of food. If you’re teaching for a local government organization or community college, the rates are likely to already be established and are probably not very high. Shelbie, who has been teaching cooking classes for more than 20 years often teaches a class or two every semester at the local community college, which dictates the prices. But, she points out, each student pays her directly at each class for the cost of the groceries. She charges students of her private classes–dinner party classes, demos for women’s groups, etc.–based on the number of students, the menu, and the location. “A class of 12 could begin at $60 per person and go up,” she explains. “A private class for one could be $250.”

Shelbie Wassel

Shelbie Wassel

Shelbie uses Facebook to promote her group classes. The community college handles marketing for her cooking classes with them–although she also promotes them on Facebook. “I also keep a running email list of interested students and alert them to upcoming classes. Occasionally, I receive inquiries through my website from folks wanting private classes or dinner party classes and I keep a Word document handy that I can send them with some examples of classes I’ve taught in the past.”

Between us, we’ve come up with a handful of tips for aspiring cooking teachers:

  • You must be 1000 percent organized. Know your recipes and ingredients. Know what to do if something goes wrong–because inevitably it will and you’ll have to prove to your students that there are fixes.
  • You’ll always need more equipment than you think you do (i.e., sheet pans, mixing bowls, cutting boards) because you usually can’t stop to wash them while teaching.
  • Keep your recipes and jargon uncomplicated. You probably don’t know what level of cooking experience your students have.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse so you are comfortable talking in front of people while performing tasks. Be sure you time yourself so the class is completed within the time allotted.
  • Instead of providing printed recipes at the class, offer to send them to students later to keep them focused on what you’re doing.
  • Prep ahead of time to keep things during class moving. Call on volunteers to help and pass things around the group to keep them involved.
  • Have anecdotes relevant to what you’re cooking? Use them!
  • Know how to charge so you make money. If you’re volunteering or working for a non-profit with limited funds, accept the gig with the knowledge that you’re doing it for personal reasons. Otherwise you want the highest WOTDF (walk out the door fee) you believe you can charge. We tell chefs not to leave their homes for less than $250 per cook date, so you need to figure out how that translates for cooking classes. Remember to factor in the cost of groceries, and cost of extra labor (such as an assistant to help you clean up as you’re demoing).
  • If you’re on social media, use it tenaciously to market your classes, along with the rest of your business.
  • Most important: bring high energy and enthusiasm! If you can’t be enthusiastic about teaching, don’t do it. If you’re enjoying yourself, your students will, too. They’ll care, they’ll hear, they’ll feel empowered to go home and try it themselves. Which is the whole point of this, right!

And, remember, APPCA members are here for each other. We have lots of great conversations about teaching classes and other business-related issues on our forums. Feel free to log in and ask away–or offer your own input to others. I often chime in as well.

Do you aspire to teach cooking classes? What is your pressing question? Do you teach? Give us a tip or two based on your experience!

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.