General Questions | Weeknight Relief | Company's Coming | Cooking Lessons
What do you do as a personal chef?
I take over your kitchen and relieve you of your culinary chores, whether it's for your everyday meals or your dinner party spread. Although I cook in your kitchen, I bring all the equipment I need to prepare your menus. You simply relax and enjoy the delectable treats prepared just for you.
How much does your service cost?
My services are tailored to your specific tastes and desires, so the cost depends on a number of factors. Please see the following sections for more specific information on cost: Weeknight Relief , Company's Coming , Cooking Lessons.
What are your specialties?
Big, bold flavors! My food is influenced by myriad ethnic cuisines - Asian, Caribbean, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean and Southwestern - but I also make a mean pot roast. I pride myself in making things from scratch, from the to-die-for croutons for my Caesar salad, to the ethereal crepes in my manicotti, to the flaky, buttery crust of my quiches. I even make many of my own spice blends from freshly toasted spices for a richer, more authentic flavor.
What menus do you offer?
As this is a purely individualized service, I devise your menu based upon your food preferences and dietary needs. I have hundreds of recipes to which I turn, including several signature dishes that I have created, ensuring you get an optimum variety of taste treats. For more specific menu ideas, please see the following: Weeknight Relief , Company's Coming , Cooking Lessons.
Can I taste a sample of your food before signing up?
Because I do not work out of a commercial kitchen, I am unable to provide food samples. However, I will be happy to provide the names of satisfied customers whom you can call as references. I also provide a feedback form with each service so that I can get a better sense for your likes and dislikes and tailor the menus accordingly.
Where do you cook?
I do all food preparation in your home, however, I bring all the equipment and utensils I need to prepare the food. You need only provide the oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.
How much time will you need in my kitchen?
With my personal chef service, I'm typically in your home for approximately 5-7 hours, depending on the menu. For dinner parties, I will need 2-6 hours of advance food preparation time (the greater number of guests, the longer I'll need), in addition to the length of time for the dinner and cleanup. For cooking classes, I typically need approximately 2 hours of prep time prior to the start of class.
What areas do you cover?
I serve the greater Seattle area (roughly a 15-mile radius of downtown Seattle). This includes north to Edmonds, east to Kirkland, south to Renton and all points in between.
As my personal chef, will you cook for me every night?
No. To make the service as economical as possible, I spend the day in your home preparing a variety of meals in advance (one to two weeks' worth).
Do I have to sign up for a regular schedule, or can I just call you when I need you?
My service is designed for people looking for a long-term solution to their dinner woes, so I schedule everyone on a standing cook date, whether it's weekly or bi-weekly. That way you're ensured of a slot in my schedule until you decide to discontinue the service.
What if I'm traveling or going on vacation?
I simply request that you let me know at least 30 days in advance of your scheduled travel or vacation so that I have the option of filling that day with another client. However, if your travel schedule prevents you from committing to a regularly scheduled cook date, I'd be happy to refer you to another chef.
How many different entrees do you prepare each service?
I prepare five different entrées with an appropriate side dish (the number of portions will depend on the number of people enjoying the meals). If you prefer not to include side dishes, I will prepare six different entrées. I will not repeat an entrée for at least 6 months unless you request it.
I just need a couple of nights of food per week; can you do this?
The most economical option is for me to prepare a variety of meals at once. However, many of my clients have me prepare a 5-day service on a bi-weekly basis, as they still go out to eat, travel or prepare meals themselves.
Are all the meals frozen?
The majority of your meals will be stored in your freezer, however, I typically store your first couple nights' meals in your refrigerator, especially if one meal is a fresh fish selection. For those meals that do not freeze well, they would just need to be consumed within the first three to five days.
What does your service fee cover?
It covers the menu planning, grocery shopping, food preparation, pantry items (spices, oils, vinegars, condiments) and food packaging required for your meals.
How much room do you need in my refrigerator and freezer?
I typically need at least 1 shelf each in your refrigerator and freezer. However, if I'm preparing 30-40 plates, then a separate freezer is required.
Do I need to be home when you're here?
No, in fact, most of my clients are not home when I'm there. They just provide me with a key and the alarm code, if necessary. Trust that I will treat your home better than my own and keep your information in the strictest confidence.
I want to learn how to cook; can you give me a cooking lesson while you're doing the service?
As you can imagine, preparing five different entrees and side dishes takes a considerable amount of concentration. Therefore, I am unable to provide cooking lessons while performing your service. However, I'd be happy to schedule a separate session that can be devoted to cooking lessons based upon what you'd like to learn (see Cooking Lessons for more information).
Do you offer gift certificates?
Due to my regular client schedule, I am no longer able to offer gift certificates. However, I'd be happy to refer you to another chef.
What is the maximum number of guests you serve?
Because most home kitchens are not designed for larger parties, I mainly limit my service to sit-down dinner parties and brunches of 12 guests or fewer. However, I can also handle buffet dinners or appetizer parties for up to 20 people, contingent upon a site visit.
How much lead time do you need?
It depends on the size of the party. Two weeks' notice is sufficient for an intimate dinner for two. For parties of 4-6, three weeks is preferable, and for parties of 7-12, 4-5 weeks is ideal so that I can arrange for additional staff. This also allows me enough time to develop and price out your menu based upon your preferences. Parties around major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day) require additional lead time.
What days are you available?
I have regular clients Monday-Friday, so I'm primarily available for dinner parties on Saturdays or Sundays. But certainly feel free to call me about my availability on other nights.
What is your cancellation policy?
I collect a 50% deposit upfront to secure the date. If you cancel within 2 weeks of your party you will receive a 75% refund of your deposit, otherwise your deposit will be forfeited.
We don't have enough dinnerware, flatware, glassware or linens; do you provide that?
I can provide dinnerware and flatware for a reasonable fee; if you need to rent linens or glassware, I can arrange for rentals for an additional fee (my time plus the cost of rentals). For buffet dinners, I can provide chafing dishes and platters for a reasonable fee.
Do you provide the wine or other alcoholic beverages?
Because I do not have a liquor license, I am unable to purchase wine, beer or liquor on your behalf. However, I'd be happy to provide wine suggestions based upon your menu.
Do you handle all the clean-up?
For sit-down dinners, I will handle all the clean-up associated with the food preparation, as well as clean up your dinner dishes. Should your guests stay longer than the party's designated end, you will be responsible for any remaining clean-up. For buffet dinners, my full service option includes all clean-up, otherwise I just handle the clean-up associated with the food preparation.
Do you handle everything yourself, or do you have staff?
I do not employ staff, but do have professionals to which I turn when necessary. I will prepare and serve food for up to 6 guests; anything over that will require additional staff. Service staff will be billed at $30/hour, 4-hour minimum (staff will be paid directly by you the day of the event).
Although I have a few set class offerings, I can also craft a customized class based upon what you'd like to learn.
Do you offer hands-on or just demonstrations classes?
Most of the classes are demonstration, however, I do offer participants the opportunity to practice the technique if they so choose. If your kitchen is large enough to accommodate a full hands-on course, I'd be happy to discuss it with you (extra charges may apply, plus you will need to provide additional equipment, such as knives, cutting boards, aprons, etc.)
How much do classes cost?
Most classes are $55-$75 per person, with a 6-person minimum (groceries are included). See pricing for more information. Classes for individuals or couples are available for $100/hour with a 2-hour minimum, plus the cost of groceries.
What is the minimum and maximum number of people for a class?
Most classes require a minimum of six people, although I do offer classes for individuals and couples. The maximum number depends on the size of your kitchen, however, I've found that classes are most effective with 12 people or fewer.
Do you provide the equipment?
My goal is to teach you dishes that you can prepare yourself, so ideally we'd use your equipment. However, I'd be happy to use mine and provide you with recommendations for purchasing your own.
Will I leave the class with a full belly, or do you just provide samples?
There'll be plenty of food! Depending on the menu, you will either eat the dishes as they are finished, or you will sit down to a feast at the end.
I have a small kitchen; can you still do the class?
I'd have to do a site visit first to determine if your set-up will work. I will need sufficient space to prepare everything, plus there needs to be enough room for participants to observe what's happening.
If you have any other questions, please contact me.