Pittsburgh personal chefs discuss their services

Pittsburgh personal chefs discuss their services

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."

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