Welcome! Below are a few photos of some new small plate ideas I’ve been working on including: chili crusted tuna tataki, bobwhite quail w blue corn arepas, vanilla spiked foie w barrel aged burbon and 24 hr sous-vide short rib w syrah redux. Ultimately, the goal here will be to post easy recipes of dishes like these along with plating notes, a step by step photographic guide and wine pairing suggestions. I would love to hear any requests for specific dishes from our readers and of course, #wine pairing suggestions are always welcome. Hope you enjoy!
Too busy for the kitchen? Special diet? A pro can slice and dice for you — at home.
The busier we become, the more we look to others to help us simplify our lives. Services that might seem a luxury become easier to justify as a necessity.
We’ll hire a lawn service, maybe have someone come in to clean the house regularly, and even drop the laundry off with the dry cleaning.
Now there’s a growing sector of service professionals available to help out with one of your most important daily duties: dinnertime. They’re called personal chefs, and they come into your home and cook your meals.
Oh, right, you’re thinking, I can have the chef bunk with the chauffeur in the rooms over the carriage house. But a personal chef is different from a private chef, and the cost is a lot less than you might imagine. And for some people it’s a service that not only is cost-effective but also a provision that is even more essential than having someone mow the grass.
Eric Kunichika, a Longwood physician, and his wife, Deanne, a dentist, have used Justin of Justin Thyme for about 21/2 years. Kunichika admits that for two doctors the cost isn’t a factor, but he says he has referred friends who are laborers to Justin Thyme.
“It isn’t cost prohibitive,” he says. “The cost to go out to eat is fairly substantial, and I have wines at home I can open that are more economical.”
The client pays for all the food and seasonings the chef purchases, and any items unused are left in the refrigerator. The cost of hiring a personal chef varies from one chef to another and depends on the situation — for instance whether it involves cooking for a special occasion or with special ingredients. Dale Pyle, a part-time personal chef, says $15 to $20 per entrée per person is typical.
And as Pyle says, “If you add up all the times you go out to eat, order in or stop at the drive-through, and the food you buy and throw out” because you never got around to cooking it and it spoiled, the cost is comparable to an average restaurant meal.
“You can get the same meal at your house and eat it in front of the TV in your underwear.”
A measure of independence
A personal chef differs from a private chef in that the latter is someone who is employed by one client and cooks exclusively for that individual or family. A private chef might very well live at the client’s home, though it’s doubtful one would agree to share accommodations with the chauffeur.
A personal chef works for several clients and is an independent contractor who owns his or her own business.
Justin-Thyme has worked as a private chef and also did time working the lines in the kitchens of well-known restaurants in South Florida. But he likes the independence — and the more reasonable hours — of working as a personal chef. When he was working in a restaurant, he says, he never had weekends or holidays off. Now he works only weekdays, 9 to 5, and finally has time to spend with his fiancée. He’s happy he made this career move.
“Quality of life factors into it,” he says.
More chefs are coming to that realization, according to Candy Wallace, executive director of the San Diego-based American Personal Chef Association. She says that when she started her organization 10 years ago, she knew of about 30 personal chefs. Those numbers are blooming. Her Web site, she says, gets about 1 million hits every month.
Of course, some of those hits are from potential clients looking for someone to do the cooking. According to Wallace, consumers will hire a chef for a number of reasons. Foremost is the convenience factor, the dual-income working couple who don’t have time to prepare good food after a day of work.
Some people hire personal chefs for medical reasons. If a physician recommends a special diet, a personal chef can assure that regimen is followed. And seniors will contract the services of a personal chef to maintain their independence instead of moving to a care facility.
Pyle, whose company is called At Your Service, says he often gets calls from out-of-town adult children to hire him to cook a week of meals for elderly parents. Pyle’s last job in a professional kitchen was in a retirement village in Lake County, so a lot of his clients choose him because he knows about proper nutrition and the special needs of the elderly.
Have knives, will travel
That was the case with Lake Mary residents Ed and Phyllis Lower, who found Pyle after doing an Internet search for personal chefs. They wanted someone who could cook meals that fit into Ed Lower’s diet for diabetes. After interviewing three chefs, they decided to hire Pyle.
The chef goes to the Lower house with everything he needs, including pots and pans. He has a large Rubbermaid bin, a smaller plastic container, his knife roll and a cooler with meat and fish on ice. Pyle even brings his own cutting boards, including a separate one for the meats.
It would be convenient for the chefs to do some of the prep work at home, slicing and dicing the vegetables for the dishes. But the licensing restrictions don’t allow that unless the chef’s home kitchen is approved for professional cooking. It’s an odd technicality because the clients’ kitchens aren’t licensed for professional food production either.
Pyle, who also teaches at the Orlando Culinary Academy, says he isn’t looking to build a huge client base. He says his average client will have him cook 20 meals at a time, two portions of 10 entrees plus side dishes, to be refrigerated or frozen for reheating at a later date.
Except for the occasions when they’re hired to cook for a dinner party, all the personal chefs fix multiple meals that are fully or partially prepared for the client to finish later.
And here’s the drill
Each meal begins with the chef doing the shopping. Before heading to a client’s home, justin-thyme makes trips to Publix and Whole Foods, where he purchases fresh fish, poultry and produce. Just before he goes inside he changes from his “civvies” into a crisp white professional chef’s tunic, even though he says it isn’t unusual for him to go to a job, spend his 21/2 to three hours cooking and cleaning up after without ever seeing the client.
A personal chef will usually schedule an interview with a new client to assess likes and dislikes. There’s no sense in hiring your own chef if he or she makes food you don’t like. The Lowers keep a file in a bright yellow folder labeled “Chef Dale” with notes on past meals. A note next to the stuffed pork loin notes it was good, but next to the chicken cacciatore they’ve written “bad.” Pyle says it doesn’t hurt his feelings to receive the negative feedback; he’d rather be cooking the things clients like.
The Lowers have Pyle come in to cook several times a year to prepare multiple meals that he freezes. They say they eat out at restaurants often, but when they stay home, they heat up one of Pyle’s frozen dishes, following the typewritten directions he leaves behind.
Phyllis Lower says she used to cook a lot, but now that it’s just the two of them, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.
“I like to cook,” she says, “but some of the meals that took a long time to prep . . . why bother?”
And, she says, there’s one other big advantage to hiring a personal chef: “He cleans up so well.”
Scott Joseph can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5514.
Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel
- Tampa Personal Chef Services (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
- Justin-Thyme Food Photography 2011 (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
- Justin-Thyme provides elegant full-service event catering to the to the Tampa Bay area! (chefjustinthyme.wordpress.com)
Full Service Dinner Parties
Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Provides Elegant Full-Service Dinner Parties to the to the Tampa Bay Area!
Do you love fine food and wine but dread a long night out at a fine dining restaurant? In today’s dining scene, people are taking advantage of another option! If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant, you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored, since most entrees are “assembly line” ready in the kitchen.
After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home. If you have a Personal Chef Service, you can eat a wonderful entrée that has been prepared specifically for you palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.
How it works:
Chef Justin will help create a delicious gourmet menu suited to your particular tastes for any special dining event in your home. He consults with you about what kind of party you’d like to give, how many guests you plan to invite and any other special detail to make your party perfect. He will then design your special custom menu of four or five courses suited to your particular tastes as well as help you pair up the best wines with the cuisine. We are also happy to make changes to the menu to accommodate a guest’s special requests or restrictions. Once menus are finalized, we print up custom copies detailing your event for your guest
Chef Justin will take care of all the shopping, arrange for any rentals needed, schedule his highly professional and personable wait staff as requested and arrive a few hours before the first guest to set up the kitchen and start cooking.
He brings his own utensils and all the cooking equipment and begins the set-up for the night’s festivities. The wait staff will arrive at least an hour before your dinner, finish any last-minute arrangements and then cheerfully greet and serve your guests.
You’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and our high-end four-star service, and then, while you’re savoring dessert, we’ll scrub your kitchen spotless as you bask in your guests’ praise at what a clever host you are for bringing in a private chef to create such a delicious and memorable experience!
An intimate, 3-5 course seated dinner party in the comfort of your home. Custom menus, menu shopping, table service, seated amusé, intermezzo (if 5 or more courses), kitchen clean up and a delicate washing of your servingware.
If you any have questions about our Tampa cooking classes or would like to book a dinner party or purchase a customized gift certificate, please contact us today at: Justin-Thyme.com
Additional Personal Chef Services Available to the Tampa area:
Personal Grocery Shopper–
While we are out shopping for your menu or picking up supplies for your cooking class, we can pick up some of the extra household items you may need for an additional charge. (pet food, cleaning/laundry supplies, etc.)
Hors d’oeuvres Soiree-
A cocktail party for 20 guests with a variety (8-10) of seasonal hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.
$325 + Groceries: Prepared, packaged & left for you to serve your guests in your home
$975 + Groceries: Prepared & served with wait staff during a 2-hour cocktail party in your home
If the hassle of preparing for the holidays is wearing you down, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service come and prepare all your culinary delights for you. Then all you have to do is heat and eat!
One of the key elements to keeping a relationship interesting and exciting is the unexpected! Incorporating a “Date Night” with unique and special activities does wonders! Call us today for more details!
‘Secret’ Chef Service
If you want your friends to think you’ve been cooking over a hot stove all day in preparation for your party, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chefs take care of all the details! We will prepare your menu from soup to nuts then sneak out the back door prior to your guests’ arrival so you can take all the credit. No one will be the wiser! We also provide you with all of the recipes of the day to share with your guests!
In-Home Dinner Parties/ Corporate Luncheons
Want to create a memorable event that your guests will be talking about for a long time to come? Whether it’s a holiday party, family BBQ, a sit-down multi course meal or a corporate event, Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service can accommodate your needs, providing that WOW factor you seek.
See our sample dinner menu!
Interactive Dinner Parties
Love to host parties but dread the thought of shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning? How about having an interactive dinner party where Chef Justin provides a hands-on cooking demonstration with you and your guests. Chef Justin will help you plan a dinner menu and will bring all the ingredients to your home for the party. Once the cooking is done, you enjoy your meal with your guests while we clean up the mess in the kitchen!
Kids/Teen Cooking Classes
Kids/Teens are taught healthy/delicious cooking techniques, sustainable cooking/shopping and basic knife skills with every class! Cooking classes can consist of learning how to make healthy after school snacks to an entire dinner! ‘Kids in the kitchen’ is a 2 hour cooking class for ages 5-12. ‘Teens in the Kitchen’ is a 3 hour cooking class for ages 13 and up, call for details!
Personal Chef Tampa Justin-Thyme
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