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The World of a Private Chef


Timh
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What doesn't get eaten, gets thrown out(after 2 days). I don't recycle because I try at all costs to avoid redundancy.

Timh this is fascinating and I really appreciate you sharing your experiences. I would imagine that not repeating yourself is one of the biggest challenges, though a healthy budget and choice purveyors must help. I suppose a big challenge would be food allergies or strong individual dislikes. Are they pretty much open to eating whatever you prepare?

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A few questions from the curious.

What effort do you make to do everything from scratch? I can picture, perhaps wrongly, you making your own cheese.

Do you make batches of the basics (such as stock) up and then use it for a few dishes or would you make it up fresh for each individual meal.

You say that the family is not gourmands, but do you utilize the latest techniques and gadgets (such as sous vide with hotter then normal water to overcook chicken or using a pacojet to make basic vanilla ice cream)?

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Thats one of the many positives of my job, I get to cook whatever I want, (knowing their likes and dislikes), occasionally they'll make a request, but its really whatever I feel like cooking that day. They aren't too picky, or have any allergies so it makes it easier for me.

When I remarked about the gourmand bit, What i meant was that while they like good food and eat and have eaten in many of the top restaurants in the world, they don't neccesarily obscess about food like you would think . They leave it up to me to do the obscesing, they do know when something is good or not :wink:

I run the kitchen like a professional one, I maintain par stocks of all basics. I make all of the stocks and fonds that I use weekly(or daily if its a particular one). I made the bread in the beginning, but Pain d'Auvignon is near here, and mine doesn't compare to theirs. I make all desserts, and confections. Make simple things like mayo, will have my own vinegars ready soon, i don't make cheese (except for paneer) there are too many great cheese makers here in New England(I fully support all artisian food makers and sellers). I like to think of my kitchen as a mini restaurant kitchen in a house.

I have all of the gadgets; kitchenaids, Cuisinarts, convection ovens, hoping for a thermomix soon, allclad stainless cookware, what you would find in any quality restaurant.

Edited by Timh (log)
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As I said earlier, this topic is great!

Just wondering, is dinner served formally every night in the dining room, or is it more casual and in the kitchen? Who serves the food?

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So, do you mean to tell me that there are people who don't have personal chefs? How sad. :sad: How *do* you get by? :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Its very casual, with teenagers and their indiviual scheduals, dinner time can be all at once or one at a time. I just try to be set up by a certain time and wait for them to come. Its all about their schedual, I must be flexible to them. its a challenge for sure, but by now I know what to expect(the unexpected). On occasion there will be dinner guest, may be formal or informal. I do all of the serving, unless its 6+ people, then the house keeper helps out.

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So, do you mean to tell me that there are people who don't have personal chefs?  How sad.  :sad:  How *do* you get by?  :wink:

I'm looking to hire a "me" :rolleyes: One of many ironies is that I'm a cook for a family, and i have little time to cook for my own.

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So how do you feed your kids, then? Do you have a kitchen in your unit where you live? Do you bring them leftovers?

I do alot of pot cooking on weekends, portioning and freezing. The nanny pulls and reheats. Also I'll prep something in the morning and hav the nanny finish it for them in the pm. Wholefoods prepared foods are a quick alternative. I do get home early on a irregular occasion and we'll go out. I love taking them out to MY favorite places(teaching them to be good restaurant kids) Hopefully the new au pair will be a good cook. My condo is a real condo, w/ eat in kitchen. We always have breakfast together Its our consistent time together.. I don't bring anything out of the house unless given to me by the family, better to avoid ant potential problems or misunderstandings. The Mr. does on occasion give me fresh fish when he has a big catch on one of his sport fishing trips, I've had toro fresher than any Masa could hope for :biggrin:

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I mean what happens at 10 pm on a Thursday night, does the misses grill up a few cheesesteak hoagies for her and hubby? :blink:

They're in metropolitan Boston.

They don't know from cheesesteak or hoagies up that way, let alone cheesesteak hoagies.

Having lived in both cities, I believe I can speak from experience.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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What doesn't get eaten, gets thrown out(after 2 days). I don't recycle because I try at all costs to avoid redundancy.

This may sound incredibly naive, but is it possible to donate any of the uneaten stuff to a local food bank or soup kitchen?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Pain D'auvignon supplies the local Wholefoods every day. Their bread is organic(4-6 ingredients) and is imho outstanding. My family does appreciate good bread, and I feel lucky to have the supply I do. there's also an offshoot of PdA, Iggy's(former employees) that do great bread, more interesting varieties. But overall PdA is tops in my book. (they are an interesting story too, 3 guys, 1 croatian, 1 serbian, 1 bosnian, all makin' bread together... gotta love that)

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What doesn't get eaten, gets thrown out(after 2 days). I don't recycle because I try at all costs to avoid redundancy.

This may sound incredibly naive, but is it possible to donate any of the uneaten stuff to a local food bank or soup kitchen?

I try to limit the waste so there isn't enough to donate, and where I live, i am the bottom wrung of the ladder.

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I try to limit the waste so there isn't enough to donate, and where I live, i am the bottom wrung of the ladder.

I got a chuckle out of this. :biggrin: Sounds like you don't take yourself too seriously, which must help keep you sane in your field. Love this thread- I'm a junkie for gossip about how the other half lives.

Best of luck with your personal situation, it must indeed be taxing to deal with another family's drama on top of your own.

"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you."

-Nigel Slater

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Not to put a damper on this thread but I've had some pretty mediocre experiences with personal chefs. For a while the g/f's family had a personal chef who would come in the early afternoons and prep dinner for that day and perhaps work on a couple other items.

In general, the food he prepared was forgettable and the fact that most food had to be reheated didn't add to the dining experience. It's hard to recall specifics but this guy wasn't very good and doesn't bode well for personal chef-ing in general. I suppose it's all about finding someone who meets your family's needs and someone who you can build a culinary relationship with.

On a somewhat separate note, good food doesn't have to come from a "private chef." The g/f recalls having an Italian housekeeper who made amazing food. Again, it's all about finding someone who works for the family at hand.

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Am I the only person here dying to know who the family is? (I'm thinking of possibilities ... :hmmm: ) Enquiring mind, indeed! And while you are lucky to have such a job, timh, your employer is lucky to have you, too.

Not to put a damper on this thread but I've had some pretty mediocre experiences with personal chefs. 

As with an awful lot of the industry, be they private chefs, cooking teachers, food writers, etc. -- there are people calling themselves experts and being paid to do things who are un- or underqualified, or simply clueless.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Not to put a damper on this thread but I've had some pretty mediocre experiences with personal chefs. 

As with an awful lot of the industry, be they private chefs, cooking teachers, food writers, etc. -- there are people calling themselves experts and being paid to do things who are un- or underqualified, or simply clueless.

Exactly. There are a lot of fine personal chefs out there. You've got to be aware of whom you are hiring for any position.

After my mother died, my father had a housekeeper who was a fine cook but it would not have been fair to expect her to do the amount of food shopping, planning and preparation that's being described in that thread.

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Not to put a damper on this thread but I've had some pretty mediocre experiences with personal chefs.  For a while the g/f's family had a personal chef who would come in the early afternoons and prep dinner for that day and perhaps work on a couple other items.

In general, the food he prepared was forgettable and the fact that most food had to be reheated didn't add to the dining experience.  It's hard to recall specifics but this guy wasn't very good and doesn't bode well for personal chef-ing in general.  I suppose it's all about finding someone who meets your family's needs and someone who you can build a culinary relationship with.

On a somewhat separate note, good food doesn't have to come from a "private chef."  The g/f recalls having an Italian housekeeper who made amazing food.  Again, it's all about finding someone who works for the family at hand.

Yes you are right in a way as private or personal chefs are unfortunately bound by and to their employers.

Most of the time, although the perks are good and the wages very respectable, but it is a death bed for the personal promotion and development of a chef.

The whole experience is very much dependant on the employer requirements and to be honest a large percentage of such families get a chef for not so glamorous reasons.

Take this example of a private jet flying to Japan for 10 days with all crew and personal Chef in the cabin. Upon arrival in Tokyo, the suite at the hotel had a small kitchen nevertheless the chef was allocated a special cooking post at the main hotel kitchens. The food was for the local taste of the employer with the usual medicinal constraints.

Was it fun for the party: No

Was it fun for the Chef: No

The poor Chef was frustrated to the point of exhaustion and he rightly deserved each dollar of his package.

The problem is that usually either the chef is more sophisticated than the employer or the employer more sophisticated than the chef.

Edited by Nicolai (log)
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Pain D'auvignon supplies the local Wholefoods every day. Their bread is organic(4-6 ingredients) and is imho outstanding. My family does appreciate good bread, and I feel lucky to have the supply I do. there's also an offshoot of PdA, Iggy's(former employees) that do great bread, more interesting varieties. But overall PdA is tops in my book. (they are an interesting story too, 3 guys, 1 croatian, 1 serbian, 1 bosnian, all makin' bread together... gotta love that)

For those interested, here's a link to Pain D'Avignon's website. It does look like a neat operation!

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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In my situation, I had an interview and then a tryout. What appealed to me was that they expressly stated they wanted restaurant quality food. I did my own interview and asked all of the pertinent questions also.

Some chefs only prep and leave the family to heat and serve, thats the family's call. I don't like the idea of leaving my work for someone else to finish and potentially screw up. I also enjoy preparing the dishes and finishing them a la minute, it allows me more technical freedom and ensures that the food is right. I know of households where the housekeeper also does the cooking, and thats cool, but then its not the caliber of cooking that I'm doing either. Splitting the two jobs takes away from both.

Thanks for the link to Pain d'. Got my countries mixed up there, but the bread is kickin' like karate.

Edited by Timh (log)
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