Tasting Everything: a Wine Country Personal Chef service serving Napa, Sonoma, Marin, and the surrounding areas


Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of questions that you might have when deciding to work with a personal chef service. These are some of the most common ones, and if you do have questions, please feel free to email me any time!

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I really like gluten.  Are you willing to cook foods that have gluten?

Of course!

What is the difference between a Personal Chef and a Private Chef?

A Private Chef is employed by one individual or family full time and is often live in and prepares three meals a day. A Personal Chef serves several clients, usually one per day, and provides multiple meals that are custom designed for the clients particular requests and dietary requirements. These meals are packaged and stored so the client may enjoy them at their leisure in the future.

Who needs a personal chef?

A personal chef service is perfect for busy professionals, new moms and dads, seniors, people visiting or staying in a new area, and those who are preparing for surgery or recuperating from an illness. A personal chef can also help you feed a household of guests, cook for special anniversary dinners, dinner parties, birthdays, barbecues and other catering events, and make sure you have delicious food in your vacation home. My service also offers private cooking classes for those who are interested.

What is the advantage of having a personal chef?

The meals are prepared specifically to your own tastes and preferences. The cost represents all of the components that make up a professional personal chef service: the assessment meeting, menu planning, grocery shopping, careful preparation of the meals, safe and appropriate packaging with labels and warming instructions. If you have a personal chef service, you will be able to enjoy a delicious entrée on your own schedule in the comfort of your own home.

Do you cook in my kitchen?

Yes, I do prepare your meals in the safety of your own kitchen. Health department regulations do not permit me to prepare any of your meals in my own kitchen. I am not a large event caterer, and though I do have access to a professional kitchen, renting that space will add a substantial cost to your service. If this does interest you, I am happy to arrange to cook your meals or the food for your event in that space and bring it to you. One of the reasons I visit your home before the first cooking day is to assess the kitchen and note how many burners are functional, etc. On our agreed upon cooking day I bring the fresh ingredients for your meals along with pots, pans and utensils, and prepare your meals on site.

Do I need a big kitchen for a personal chef?

No. You do not need a big kitchen to have a personal chef. All I need to prepare your meals is a functional kitchen with an oven and stove, running water, and counter space.

How long will you be at my house cooking?

It usually takes 4-7 hours to actually cook, cool and store the meals in your home, depending on the meal package selected. My time spent planning, grocery shopping, etc. is usually about three or more hours longer than the actual cooking time.

Do you do the grocery shopping?

Yes. I will do all of the grocery shopping that is necessary for your meals on the morning of your cook date so that your ingredients are as fresh as possible.

How should I prepare for the cooking date?

On your cooking date, your kitchen counters need to be clean and cleared of anything other than the normal small appliances. Your stove, oven, and refrigerator should be in working order. Space will be needed in the refrigerator to store groceries until they are prepared. The refrigerator and freezer should have the appropriate room to store your  meals.

Do I need to be home on the cooking date?

No. You do not have to be home on your cooking date, but you are certainly welcome to be. When we book your cooking date, if you won’t be home, we will discuss house entry, pet arrangements and other specifics I may need to know.

Is it okay if I watch or help?

As much as I would love your company while I am cooking, my first concern is safety. Distractions can easily cause burns or cuts; and since several different recipes are being prepared simultaneously, it is best to limit other activity. This also helps to ensure excellent quality of your meals. I would be happy to chat or answer any questions before or after, and I am always happy to answer any questions or take suggestions through email or phone. If you are interested in learning, I would be thrilled to arrange to teach a cooking class for you at your home. The structure of a cooking class is better suited to interacting with each other.

How will the meals be packaged?

During your free assessment, we will decide upon the type of containers that best meet your needs. Your meals will be packaged according to your preferences, the size of your family, and whether or not you will be dining together. Generally, entrées are packaged separately from side dishes. It is important to use uniform-sized containers for your meals in order to conserve space in your refrigerator and freezer. If you decide that high quality storage containers are best for you, I will leave them with you at your house and can reuse them each time I cook for you, which can make those containers a one-time investment.

How much refrigerator and/or freezer space do I need?

This depends upon the number of meals you request and the sizes of the containers, but it generally requires a considerable amount of space. During your assessment we will consider how much space you have available to meet your needs. Appropriately sized and uniform containers are used for optimum and efficient storage.

How difficult is it to warm meals?

Warming meals is very easy and convenient. You will receive clear and easy to follow warming instructions for each entrée and side dish.

How often will I need your services?

It’s entirely up to you. I can visit weekly, biweekly, monthly, or whatever works best for your family. It depends upon the size of your family, how many entrées you order, what size storage space you have, and how many evenings you eat at home. I’ll be happy to help you determine just how often you will want to schedule my services in order to best serve your needs.

The cost seems to be about what I would pay for a meal in a restaurant. Why is that?

My fee represents all of the components that make up a professional personal chef service. This includes the assessment process to determine your likes and dislikes, how you like to eat, and whether you have allergies, sensitivities or medically specific dietary requirements. It also includes time spent researching and customizing your menu and adapting recipes to reflect your personal needs; grocery shopping for the freshest ingredients; coming to your home to prepare the entrées; packaging, labeling and storing your meals; and leaving clear and easy to follow warming instructions for each entrée and side dish. If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant service, you would have to consider your travel time and possibly waiting for a table. If you have allergies or special requests you would not always have the guarantee that they would be honored since the restaurant industry cooks on an assembly line. After eating the meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and travel back home. If you have a personal chef service, you will have a refrigerator full of wonderful entrées which have been prepared specifically to your taste and to meet your dietary needs in the safety of your own kitchen. Plus, you get to enjoy the meals anytime and eat in the comfort of your own home. No restaurant can offer you that kind of service!

Do I have to sign a contract?

No. I do not require a contract or a commitment to a specific term of service. You pay for each cook date in advance. The service is flexible and if you need to cancel a cook date, we will try to find an alternative cook date. You may schedule as far in advance as you’d like. However, if I have any openings, I am happy to schedule on short notice.

Do I pay ahead for each cooking date? Are groceries included?

It is customary to pay at least a week in advance of the cooking date. My services do not include the cost of groceries, which allows you maximum flexibility in choosing menu items. I will estimate the cost of the groceries based on your menu selections and require a deposit for groceries, in addition to my fee, in advance of your cook date. The cost for containers will be included in your grocery fee. Note that many of the disposable containers can in fact be reused several times. Paying separately for groceries allows you to be more specific with your need not only for food, but for container selection as well. Any remaining balance for groceries can be paid on the day that I cook for you.

Can you do special diets or help me lose weight?

Yes. I am happy to prepare meals according to your doctor or nutritionist’s specifications, provided that you can share with me any information that you have so that I can fully understand the direction we need to go. While I am not a registered dietician, my fee includes the research and time needed to prepare the healthy meals you require.

What type of meals do you prepare? Can I choose the menu?

At our initial meeting we will discuss your likes, dislikes and any dietary needs you may have. This will allow us to customize your menu. You can choose your menu selection, or if you prefer I will choose the menu for you and send a copy of the selection for your approval a few days before your scheduled cook date. I have experience with some special dietary needs; for example, vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, and all of my meals are gluten free. After you try the meals, we will re-examine the menu and implement any changes you request, for instance, more or less spice, portion sizes, etc. In addition, I would be delighted to prepare a family recipe if the recipe is provided at least a week in advance. Menu requests are phoned or emailed to me a week or more in advance. Most clients leave the menu selection to me since I know their likes and dislikes. Your menus will reflect the seasons, as well as market specials. But, if one of my dishes becomes a family favorite be sure to let me know!

Can I afford it?

Absolutely! With my personal chef service you can enjoy delicious, healthy, restaurant quality meals in a matter of minutes. You have to buy groceries in any case, and very often food and produce gets thrown away because it is not used in time. If you add up the costs of groceries, waste from uneaten food, take out meals, restaurant meals, and even doctor’s fees or medical bills resulting from unhealthy eating habits, using the services of a personal Chef will save you time and money. This will not be an extra expense on your monthly budget, but will in fact replace many of the expenses that you already currently incur. My professional personal chef service may even help you to control your food costs, as you will be less likely to impulse-buy in the grocery store or resort to low-quality fast food, convenience food or restaurant food. When you add up the time and money spent on planning, shopping, cooking and clean up, the price can be quite affordable–not to mention the other benefits you may experience when you begin to devote that time and energy to other pursuits! The cost per meal is comparable to eating at a nice restaurant. However, with my service, you will be getting individually customized meals with your specific dietary requests in mind. You will eat in the comfort of your own home, at your convenience, and will have all the extra time saved to enjoy doing the things you love!

What type of side dishes do you prepare?

The side dishes will compliment the entrée and it will be selected and prepared according to your needs and requirements. The appropriate side dishes often consist of a seasonal fresh vegetable, potato, rice, salad, or pasta.  I am always happy to provide additional services such as extra side dishes or additional grocery shopping; however, it will entail an additional fee.