We have all been there: You're sitting in a restaurant on a date and service so far has actually been pretty good! The atmosphere is nice, the food is great, and all of the sudden, the host seats a young couple and their screaming 2 year old right next to you and your server disappears for 45 minutes. The food is finished, and you have been forgotten about, while the toddler sings you the song of its people.
45 minutes later, the bill comes with some generic apology/explanation about how the bar is backed up and they asked for your server's help. You go outside, exhausted and hearing impaired and valet lost your keys, so you stand in the 38 degree weather while they try to get it figured out.
These little situations drive me crazy and are the reason I typically opt for something special at home. They are also the reason that I feel a private dinner with a chef can be a great alternative to the typical night out.
Over the years, I have been doing private dinners regularly for clients and I have thought long and hard about where I can compete with restaurants. Four years in business have taught me that there really isn't much competing with them anymore. People are dying for an experience to remember! They love telling their friends about the time they had a chef come in and serve them. Even more so, they love entertaining friends while a chef serves them. As this realization came across my mind, I worked to create more unique experiences such as: The Ooni Pizza Party where we bring a portable pizza oven and sling pies in clients' back yards and the Seasonal Menus where we provide warm scented towels before service and print menus to serve as a keepsake, and numerous others.
It is no surprise that the experience can be better for all parties involved, especially hiring an attentive chef who cleans up after themselves and works hard to create something special, but there is also a special side of this that many do not think of: Dietary and Allergy Restrictions. Where somebody with say, Celiac, might not feel comfortable trusting in a 19 year-old server to relay that info to a booming restaurant kitchen staff member with headphones in, they can now talk directly with their chef to ensure that their safety is top priority. They can visually inspect the cooking process as an even further measure.
Now, this might also sound like a risk. Some things to look for in hiring a chef are: tenure, an established business that's insured, reviews or testimonials, and a clean personal presentation. Tenure shows that this isn't their first rodeo and frankly, if they haven't destroyed their own reputation yet, they must be decent enough. I would follow that up with looking up their business or their name and reading reviews. If they don't have any, I would be reluctant to move forward. If some reviews worry you, reach out to them and ask about them. Interviewing a chef that you have to trust in your personal space is totally recommended and reasonable - and any who push back on this are questionable. Lastly, if they look dirty, they cook dirty. Their presentation (a cleaned, pressed uniform, clean hands, etc.) is what they are willing to show you and your guests. If they are willing to show you filth on that front, what aren't they showing you?
How do I find a chef?
Word of mouth is how most of our clients find us! Friends tell friends. Yelp, Thumbtack, Google, and Instagram can also be good routes. Yelp, Google, and Thumbtack are kind of "pay to play" which isn't a good representation of the real market. Instagram is nice because it shows off a chef's style. Ask around, though. Event planners, Real Estate Agents, and Concierge Services usually know who to hire and who to avoid in your market.
Now that you have the info, consider hiring a chef service for your next anniversary, birthday party, or special occasion gathering. We do this for a living and we are here to make the experience special.
My name is Tyler King and I love to write about my journey, not only in the kitchen, but in the ever changing world of entrepreneurship. I graduated from Belmont University's Entrepreneurship program in 2018 and started Tastify that same year. I hope you all find something of value in my blog posts! Definitely reach out if you have any ideas or questions!