PERSONAL CHEFS GROCERY SHOP. A LOT.
7:30am I’ve dropped the kids at school and I’m at my favorite grocery store bright and early. It’s empty and lovely and quiet.
The magnetic signs on my car and the company logo embroidery on my shirt never fail to get comments from people. Everyone is always excited to talk to a chef and ask questions from an expert. So sometimes I go incognito. Especially if I haven’t had enough coffee yet.
As I work my way through the store, I say hello to everyone by name. Seeing each other every morning, we’re practically co-workers as opposed to customer and store employee.
Produce is still unloading their truck delivery, but Robert goes into the back and finds the fresh veggies and herbs I need.
Over to seafood, Don the manager let’s me know he checked with their supplier and can get sole within 24 hours anytime I need it. I get the natural salmon, skin on from the head end, no scrappy tails for my clients!
On to the meat department where I get prime ribeye for the client’s Mongolian beef. That’s right, they want only prime beef for a Chinese stir fry. This client only wants the best of everything.
I get the rest of the meat and poultry, hit the dry food aisles, then the frozen sections and dairy and done!
Checkout is a breeze because I’m the only one in the store. When the checker asked if I found everything I need, I refrain from lamenting the fact they don’t carry shao hsing and that I’m annoyed they rearranged their aisles again. I pat myself on the back for my self-control. Sometimes I have to go to two or more stores to get everything I need. Annoying!
I bag my own groceries in my reusable bags, so they’re organized and there’s no cross contamination between the raw meat and anything else. Plus, my eggs don’t get smashed by an untrained bagger.
Off to the cooking!
9:00 I unload everything from the car to the kitchen counters.
And here’s the only thing people think a typical day for a personal chef consists of!
I get the oven preheating and get the chicken stock started in a pressure cooker, so it’ll only take an hour.
I have several quick dishes so theirs no point in doing all the mise in place (prep work) ahead of time. Instead, I leverage the time dishes are cooking to prep other dishes. This means at any time I’ll have two, three, or more dishes going at the same time. Soon the kitchen is full of the delicious smells of herbs, citrus, and roasting meats.
Tasting all the dishes during cooking and when they’re finished means I have a very eclectic breakfast! Luckily I have the digestive system of a goat.
Depending on the client I can be preparing anything from chicken pot pie to braised octopus to vegan tofu wontons with dipping sauce.
The most difficult food to taste is for my client whose diet is no-sodium. Nothing tastes ‘right’ without salt!
1:00 When each dish is finished, they’re quickly chilled over an ice bath and then packaged and labeled and stored in the fridge or freezer. Some clients get a week’s worth of dinners in large containers (family style) but some want everything packaged individually and then stored in the freezer for a whole month. That can be upwards of 40 containers! Sometimes I manage to snap a quick pick of a favorite recipe to post to my facebook page.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PERSONAL CHEF INCLUDES LEAVING A CLEAN KITCHEN
When everything is in its final stages I wash dishes, sterilize counters and sink, sweep and even mop if needed. Some days I’m messier than others!
If the client isn’t home, they’ve left me a check and I leave their invoice and menu complete with heating instructions for them and cart out any supplies of my own I’ve brought.
A TYPICAL DAY FOR A PERSONAL CHEF ENDS EARLY
2:00 If I’m hungry I have enough time before picking my kids up at school to grab something for lunch. Sometimes I’m not hungry after all the quality control I’ve had to do!
The rest of the afternoon is enjoyed with my kids. While homework is never fun, I relish the time I spend sitting…
…before it’s back up on my feet to make dinner for my own family!
And that’s a typical day for a personal chef.
Is it what you thought? Any surprises or questions? Let me know in the comments.