Pittsburgh personal chefs discuss their services
Who we talked to
Nicole Bell, owner
Allison Park, Pa.
Patty Martin, owner
Your Dinner is Solved!
Carole Ortenzo, owner
Organic Personal Chef Service
What services do you offer?
Nicole Bell: "I do a personal chef service, sit-down dinners, catering up to 100 people, cooking demonstrations and gift certificates."
Patty Martin: "I do just the personal chef service. I shop in the morning, take everything to the kitchen, prepare it, chill it, package it and deliver it to the client the same afternoon."
Carole Ortenzo: "I do personal chef service. I also teach cooking classes in my home and at a local wellness center."
Do you offer personal meal planning and preparation?
Bell: "I have a set menu, but it's customized to their needs. There are no limits. I change the menu every six months to keep up with the seasons."
Martin: "When I meet with them initially, I can customize a meal plan according to their taste."
Ortenzo: "People's tastes and tolerances are really different. You have to come to understand what your client wants."
How do you charge for your services, and what's the cost?
Bell: "I charge an hourly rate of $35 based on the amount of meals: Four meals equals four hours, and an additional hour for grocery shopping."
Martin: "It would depend. It's a completely custom service."
Ortenzo: "It depends on the item they order. Cost is based on ingredients and organic needs. The least expensive items are vegan."
Do you have a dish you prepare that's the most popular with your clients?
Bell: "Seafood-stuffed mushrooms is a big one, sweet potato soufflé and lasagna. Once they try them, they just keep ordering them."
Martin: "I try to do a huge variety of things."
Ortenzo: "My chocolate cake is very popular. I usually offer a raspberry sauce and the sweetener is pure organic maple syrup."
Where do you prepare the meals?
Bell: "I cook in the client's home."
Martin: "I have a commercial kitchen."
Ortenzo: "I have a commercial kitchen. People come to my house to pick up their meals."
What's one spice or ingredient you couldn't live without and why?
Bell: "Garlic. If you cook it just right, it has a great sweet flavor."
Martin: "Cumin. A lot of ethnic cooking has cumin in it. Middle Eastern does. Mexican does. I love it."
Ortenzo: "The combination of whole beans and whole grains. It's a very healthful way to eat. It's also very flavorful."