Copyright 2006 Andrew Horan
It is a special day. You want to make sure everything is perfect for the romantic meal you are planning tonight. You make one phone call and then, reassured, go back to work. When you get home, your other half is waiting for you in the living room. On the coffee table are two martinis and two appetizers. The first one is lemon and saffron chicken brochettes. The second one is wild mushrooms, garlic, and thyme bouchees. You know the soup course, classic vichyssoise, is in the works. The salad course will soon follow. The baby leaf salad with roasted pepper and black olive drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette is your favorite. You sit down, take your shoes off, and pick up the martini. While you relax, you smell the main course of seafood raqut with lobster, scallop, shrimp and mussels in a champagne infused tomato sauce. The rice pilaf and vegetable ratatuie will accompany the main course.
Sure maybe you could have prepared this meal, but you know that you would not be sitting down now enjoying your first mouthful of brochette without worrying about the next courses. Once you made that phone call from your office, you knew that everything would be perfect. Instead of spending hours planning the meal, shopping at several different markets, and locked in your kitchen cooking and digging up your fine china, you made one phone call. It was to the personal chef whom you hired to prepare your meal. He has experience working in restaurants in Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean. His services include everything from menu consultation to food preparation to serving and finally the clean up. When your personal chef leaves, the kitchen is spotless, the dinner table cleared, and you can enjoy the rest of your evening without worrying about the traffic on your way home.
The personal chef is not just for the super rich anymore. Many Washington area couples are finding that it is easier to call a personal chef then to venture out to their favorite restaurants. The food, the service, and the cost of a dinner prepared by a personal chef rivals meals prepared at the areas finer restaurants.
Couples have different reasons for turning to the personal chefs. For some, hours stuck in the gridlock of their commute have made going back out into traffic for a meal at a decent restaurant unbearable. For those people, the convenience of hiring a personal chef to prepare a meal is irresistible. For others, the stress of preparing those big holiday meals for large numbers of holiday guests is a stress that they can do without. What are the other options? You can spend hours stuck in a kitchen or you can organize the trip out to the closest restaurant. Preparing a dinner for large numbers of people is no small feat. Bringing your guests to a restaurant on a holiday requires reservations, transportation, and other drawbacks. Others prefer to enjoy a romantic meal at home without complications. Whatever reason, Washington area couples are turning to the personal chef and they are keeping it quiet. Why? You may hear rumors that your neighbors had a meal catered or someone must have taken some cooking courses. However, you will not hear that your neighbors are using a personal chef. Couples are hoarding the names of the good personal chefs. What use is having the number of a personal chef, if you cannot use it when you want? With holidays or special occasions always coming up, no security clearance is high enough to be trusted with the contact information of your favorite personal chef.
If you are celebrating a special occasion, or just want to have a good meal in a relaxed setting, hiring a personal chef for an evening is a great option. The big question is how do you find a good personal chef? Normally, I would suggest word of mouth. That works for maids, mechanics, and hairstylists. The contact information for personal chefs is rarely given out. Why plan a special meal with a personal chef, if the chef is not available because you have given out his or her contact info to all your friends. Why risk missing an incredible Christmas dinner prepared by a personal chef - because your friend has hired the chef instead.
You can look at resumes but you cannot eat words. What matters most is the food and the professionalism. Please understand that these individuals spend their lives working with food. They are food geeks so do not be put off by their enthusiasm for food topics. Enthusiasm is an unproven criterion. If the chef seems to be as interested in your meal as you are, that is a good sign, but only a sign.
How do you find a good personal chef? Are there associations or companies that provide personal chefs? Yes - but the important thing is the quality of the chef. If you want someone to cook a special meal, it does not matter where you found your chef. Whether you find your chef through the yellow pages or web pages from an association or independent contractor, focus on what matters the food. You can find the chefs through a web search or the yellow page. Many of the chefs can be removed from your list that way. If the web page does not contain a sample menu or it does not impress you, move on to the next one. The best way to choose a personal chef is through the interview and the tasting. These individuals are using the title of chef so yes, everything about their cooking should impress you even the menu. Be picky. When you interview the chef, have him or her provide menu suggestions. If you want something that would be served at the areas best restaurants - the menu is the first sign of quality. Ask where they will be getting the wines. Ask where they will be getting the produce. Ask where they will be doing the cooking. Most chefs will supply a range of services.
Do you want that special someone to think that you prepared the meal? Some personal chefs will drop off the food.
Do you want the meal served on the finest china? Some personal chefs will provide china, crystal, and whatever is needed.
After you have asked all the questions you can think to ask, the only thing that really matters is the food. Ask for a sample. If anything does not impress you, move onto the next chef. Remember a good chef will tailor his menu and services to your dinner, not the other way around.
So what happens after you hire the personal chef? Imagine eating a romantic meal at home and being able to be romantic after it is over without worrying about the dirty dishes. Imagine splitting a bottle of wine at dinner and not having to worry about whom will be the designated driver.
Will I admit to using a personal chef? Yes. I used one to help write this article. The menu that I included above is straight off the website of my personal chef. His background is borrowed also. He is Executive Chef Vinko Marinkovic and he is the best-kept secret in the Washington area. Most of his customers would not give up his contact information under threat of torture. He can prepare a private meal for two Thanksgiving dinner for their twenty guests. Whether it is the wine from his private cellar or menus tailored to your tastes from many different cuisines or the service that he provides, you will notice similar touches from some of the finest restaurants in the Washington area. The difference is if you go a great Washington area restaurant, you can order what is on the menu. If you hire Chef Marinkovic, you can have French appetizers, with Italian as the main course if you so desire. Restaurants are limited to what is on the menu. Chef Marinkovic will make whatever you ask.
Why should you hire a personal chef? Imagine just being able to enjoy the most amazing meal of your life.
Check out his web page at http://www.dalmatinocatering.com/