Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is a Personal Chef?
  2. Who is a Personal Chef for?
  3. How much does the service cost?
  4. How is a Personal Chef different from a supper club?
  5. Will you customize my meals to my personal tastes and health requirements?
  6. I have a food allergy/sensitivity/intolerance (e.g. wheat and gluten, dairy, soy) and/or need to follow a special diet (Vegan, Paleo, Zone, etc). Can you help me?
  7. Can you make my favourite family recipe?
  8. When and where do you shop for ingredients?
  9. How long does a cooking session take?
  10. What will you store the food in?
  11. Can I order only one or two entrees?
  12. How often will we need your service?
  13. How much space do I need in my refrigerator or freezer?
  14. How do I pay for the service and am I locked in for a period of time?
  15. What is your cancellation policy?
  16. Do you belong to any professional associations?
  17. Do I need to heat the food?
  18. How long does it take to defrost an entree?
  19. How long can I keep a thawed dish in the refrigerator?
  20. How long can I keep a frozen dish in the freezer?

What is a Personal Chef?
Unlike a private chef, who is usually employed full-time in a single family’s household, a Personal Chef cooks for several clients on a regular weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. This allows those clients to enjoy all the benefits of customized menu planning, preparation and cooking without the inconvenience — or expense! — of hiring live-in help.

A Personal Chef will prepare and plan meals based on your unique preferences and dietary requirements, including shopping for all groceries, cooking healthy, delicious meals and leaving them in your fridge or freezer, complete with detailed heating and serving instructions.

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Who is a Personal Chef for?
Personal Chefs meet the needs of today’s busy singles, couples and families. A Personal Chef is an ideal option for anyone who doesn’t have the time, desire or ability to spend 2 hours a day cooking for themselves, but who wants to make healthy, high quality, home-cooked meals a part of their everyday lives.

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How much does the service cost? Depending on the service you select, on average, meals prepared by a professional Personal Chef will cost about the same as they would in a restaurant. However no restaurant can offer the same level of comfort, convenience and customized service as a Personal Chef.

Think about it this way: with a restaurant, you have to drive there, find parking, possibly wait for a table, hope your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests, you don’t always have the guarantee they will be honoured. After eating, you have to pay, tip your server, get back in your vehicle and drive home. With a Personal Chef, you simply come home after a hard day, heat a beautiful entree that has been prepared specifically for your palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.

Best of all, you don’t have to be Donald Trump or Julia Roberts to benefit from a Personal Chef service! In today’s busy world, time is money. Think of all the time and money you’ll save by:

  • Eating out less;
  • Kicking the unhealthy take-out habit;
  • Having someone else do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning; and
  • Never again throwing away food that’s gone bad.

According to Statistics Canada (March 25, 2002), Canadians spend an average of 1.9 hours each day cooking, washing up and preparing meals. That comes to about 8.5 hours a week you could’ve spent working, exercising, enjoying a favourite hobby or just being with family and friends – and it doesn’t even include the time spent planning meals or shopping for groceries.

What would you do with an extra 8.5 hours a week?

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How is a Personal Chef different from a supper club?

The supper club concept is a fairly new one that is just beginning to be found in Canada. Basically, a supper club offers a set menu (usually around 12 items or so) that changes once a month. In many cases, those menu items are developed at a head office and then offered for sale at a storefront location.

A customer then schedules a time with some of their friends to meet at the storefront and put together their own meals — a process that can often take upwards of two hours. The customer then brings the assembled meals home, where they still have to cook them. If you need more than 12 dinners each month for your family, you have to repeat the same 12 meals all over again.

Although the supper club concept can work well for people who want to socialize with friends and who have the time to do all the travel, prepping and cooking according to someone else’s schedule, it does not offer nearly the convenience and customization of having a Personal Chef to do everything for you. A Personal Chef will work on your schedule, to prepare meals that fit your tastes and dietary requirements –- not the other way around. With a Personal Chef, all you ever need to do is heat, serve – and enjoy!

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Will you customize my meals to my personal tastes and health requirements?

Yes! When we meet, we will fill out a detailed assessment questionnaire that I will keep as your personal client profile. This will give you the chance to let me know about your likes and dislikes, your favourite and least favourite foods, your dietary needs or goals, as well as any allergies, health concerns or other special requirements you may have. We can also discuss whether you have a preference for hormone-free or organic products.

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I have a food allergy/sensitivity/intolerance (e.g. wheat and gluten, dairy, soy) and/or need to follow a special diet (Vegan, Paleo, Zone, etc). Can you help me?
Yes! Many of our clients are trying to follow a specific diet, or have food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances that can make meal planning and preparation even more challenging and time-consuming. We specialize in creating healthy, delicious and satisfying meals that can meet any dietary requirements or food allergies, sensitivities and intolerance, including: wheat- and gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan and vegetarian; cancer survivors; anti-inflammatory; macrobiotic; Paleo; Zone; Dukan; and many more.

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Can you make my favourite family recipe?
Absolutely! In addition to designing a menu for you, I would be more than happy to prepare any family recipes or other favourites that you may have.

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When and where do you shop for ingredients?
Every great meal begins with great ingredients. I will therefore shop for all ingredients, including produce, meat, fish and poultry, on the morning of the same day as your cooking session.

Because the cost of groceries is over and above my professional fee, I can shop wherever you would like (within reason) or I can recommend a grocer that I feel would fit your needs and budget. I also support local farmers, producers and small enterprises who make it their life’s work to put fresh food on our tables. Whenever possible, I make every effort to buy food supplies from these local producers, who grow delicious food in ecologically friendly ways. This ensures the freshest of baked products, regional meats and seasonal produce, devoid of pesticides, picked fresh and prepared for you with time and care.

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How long does a cooking session take?
Because all your meals are prepared from scratch with great care and attention to detail, each cooking session takes an average of anywhere from five to eight hours, depending upon the number of entrees and side dishes. I am more than willing to schedule your cooking date whenever it best accommodates your schedule. If possible, please try to contact us to reserve your cooking session at least two weeks in advance, to ensure we can find a day that works for you.

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What will you store the food in?
I offer both disposable and permanent options, depending on which you prefer. I highly recommend purchasing a set of Pyrex containers because of their versatility, smaller environmental footprint and ability to go straight from the fridge to the oven to the dishwasher. The cost for a basic set of containers will vary depending on the size of the service you choose, but will usually run from $125-$175.

However, unless one of the containers gets broken, this is a one-time fee that represents an excellent long-term investment. To save you a little more time, I will be happy to purchase the containers for you at cost. The containers are also yours to keep should you ever wish to discontinue the service.

Should you prefer disposable containers, a one-time container fee will be charged at the beginning of our contract. An additional charge of $15 will be added to the bill whenever the plastic containers need to be replaced.

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Can I order only one or two entrees?
I wish I could make that option available to you. Unfortunately, between the planning, shopping and preparing, it takes almost the same amount of time to produce half the food as it does to complete a full service. For that reason, I cannot offer fewer than three entrees at one time.

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How often will we need your service?
That depends entirely on how many nights you eat at home and the number of entrees and servings you wish to order. I’ll be happy to help you determine how often you may want to schedule my service to best suit your needs, whether it’s monthly, biweekly, weekly or my “fresh always” twice-a-week service.

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How much space do I need in my refrigerator or freezer?
Again, this will depend on how many entrees and servings you order, and how often you want me to come by. But meals do take up a considerable amount of space in the freezer and refrigerator, so please make room in these areas before I come for the cooking day.

The good news is, my method of packaging is extremely space-efficient, and will maximize the amount of meals stored. I will also consider your freezer size when we first meet to determine your meal quantity needs. For refrigerator space, I typically advise my clients not to go shopping the day before I will cook for them, so I can cool down your products while I work.

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How do I pay for the service and am I locked in for a period of time?
I will require a deposit cheque to cover the cost of the food and your containers when we book your first cooking date. When I arrive on your cooking day, please have a cheque ready for me for the remainder of my professional fee.

For all subsequent cooking dates, I will email you an invoice in advance that will include my fee plus the amount spent on groceries for the previous session (minus your deposit). I ask that you have a cheque ready and waiting for me for that amount.

Our mutual arrangement can be terminated by either of us at any time with two days notice.

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What is your cancellation policy?
Because I am setting aside a full day for each cooking session, I require a minimum of 72 hours advance notice if you need to cancel. If you cancel within the 72 hours, I won’t charge you for the food, but I will need to bill you for my services, as I will be unable to schedule with another client at such short notice.

I require the same amount of notice for postponing your date. Postponing has the same impact as cancellation, and is therefore treated the same.

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Do you belong to any professional associations?
I am a proud member of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA). I am also a graduate of the Cordon Bleu Paris – Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, I have a Business Licence from the City of Vancouver, and I am certified by FOODSAFE and the Province of British Columbia in safe food handling practices and requirements.

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Do I need to heat the food?
Yes. All entrees and side dishes should be heated using the detailed instructions I will provide. Every oven and microwave is a little bit different, so I recommend that all my clients purchase a meat thermometer so you can accurately determine when a dish has been heated through to the correct temperature. Some fish and seafood items may also need to be cooked slightly by you as part of the heating process to be enjoyed at the peak of flavour. These items will be clearly labelled as well.

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How long does it take to defrost an entree?
Once frozen, a typical full-size entree will require approximately 24 hours in your refrigerator to thaw completely. This varies just as fridge temperatures do. I recommend that you take 2-3 items out of your freezer at a time, as they will defrost at different rates (depending on whether they are big casseroles or delicate fish dishes).

I would discourage you from defrosting food by leaving it on the kitchen counter at room temperature, as this can allow for germs and spoilage. I also discourage you from defrosting your food in the microwave, which can lead to overcooking around the edges and under-cooking in the centre.

If you prefer to avoid having to defrost your meals or think about what you want to eat in advance, you may want to consider my “fresh always” twice-weekly service.

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How long can I keep a thawed dish in the refrigerator?
I recommend that you keep a thawed dish in the fridge for no longer than two or three days at a continuously refrigerated temperature. Seafood items should be eaten within one day of defrosting for best results and freshness.

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How long can I keep a frozen dish in the freezer?
For best results, I recommend that all dishes be thawed and eaten within 45 days of freezing.

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