Tampa personal chefs discuss their services

Tampa personal chefs discuss their services

What services do you offer?

Mel Ramos: "I'll design the menus, do the shopping, bring everything to your home to cook and store the food. I also bake and do special-needs baking, such as wheat-free or gluten-free."

Eileen Morris: "I'm a full-service personal chef and do everything from teaching adults and children to weekly meal prep to catered events. I'll do all the grocery shopping and menu prep."

Thomas M. Cox: "As a personal chef, I provide home-cooked meals for individuals and families. The meals are prepared to an almost-finished state that allows the client to complete the meal in the oven or stove."

What service is the most popular with your clients and why?

Ramos: "I offer a split visit, where I'll come back to your house to prepare fresh meals. It allows me to bring more fresh options into your menu."

Morris: "The most popular is a weekly service that I call my 'basic' service. It includes five complete meals for two people for $135."

Cox: "A single entrée with two side dishes and an occasional dessert. Families seem to enjoy casserole-type meals, which provide some leftovers."

How do you charge for your services, and what's the cost?

Ramos: "I offer packages, which are the most cost-effective. They start in price at $295, which includes groceries, for 20 meals. Or I can cook by the hour for $30 an hour."

Morris: "Most of the time, they're purchasing packaged meals. I try to keep the 'personal' in personal chef. Some of my clients want me to come to their home every day and that's an extra cost."

Cox: "At this time, the cost is $35 an hour, which covers shopping, preparation and travel time. A pantry fee of $25 is added to cover miscellaneous items such as spices, herbs and oils."

Do you have a dish you prepare that's the most popular with your clients?

Ramos: "My black bean turkey chili is very popular. Another dish that's very popular is my turkey meatballs."

Morris: "It all depends. For my catered events, I have chocolate covered strawberries that are very popular."

Cox: "Almost anything chicken (chicken cacciatore), macaroni and cheese and marinated flank steak."

Will you cater to people's dietary needs?

Ramos: "Yes. Whatever your need is, dairy-free, gluten-free, I'll cook for you."

Morris: "Yes, I work with allergies, diabetics, low fat, vegan, any dietary needs."

Cox: "Absolutely, that's the whole idea of having a personal chef."

What's one spice or ingredient you couldn't live without and why?

Ramos: "It depends on what ethnicity I'm cooking. Ginger for my Indian cuisine. Coconut milk for my Thai cuisine."

Morris: "I'd have to say spray oil, just because so many of my clients are on diets and I can keep the fat down."

Cox: "Garlic, because it can induce so much flavor to a meal."

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