#FoodieFriday: In the Kitchen With Katie Simon

by Nick Bailey on March 3, 2017 in Food, Living Texas, Austin,
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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a personal chef? What it might be like to be a personal chef to others? So many people are opting into various food services, like monthly or weekly meal subscription services, meal prep regimens and even personal shoppers and chefs that it begs the question, “what’s all the hype about?” So we got in the kitchen with Katie Simon of Kitchen Canvas in Austin to find out.

Katie Simon
Katie Simon

What do you think has spurred the rise in personal chef popularity?
I think the rise in popularity for personal chefs is due to food and cooking in general having become more popular in the past 10 years, thus people appreciate those subjects more. This is due to the media’s portrayal of it, making it more accessible to just about everyone. People appreciate food and therefore are willing to pay for having someone make them well-made, tasty meals.

What does it take to become a personal chef?
Practice, creativity, and good work ethic. Whether the person went to culinary school or not, practicing your craft – trying out and learning different techniques and cuisines – before setting out to become a personal chef will ensure self-confidence and help them become a better cook. After becoming comfortable with these techniques and cuisines, the next step is to get creative with the food by taking what they know to create new dishes, especially ones personalized to your clients’ tastes. A good work ethic makes a well-rounded personal chef as well. Obtaining a Food Handler’s Certification/training and liability insurance also helps to make sure they’re covered to practice their trade, especially in someone else’s home, etc.

KC logo 1How does someone find the right personal chef for them?
When looking for a personal chef, one needs to be very specific about their tastes and dietary needs. The chef needs to know not only the specific ingredients their client likes or dislikes, but also any food allergies. It does also help to find a chef that the client has a good rapport with so there are good open lines of communication between chef and client.

What would you say is your favorite part of being in this industry?
It’s great to hear when clients give positive feedback about the food to the chef, but especially when they brag about it/their personal chef to other people. It’s also nice when people refer the chef to others for future work.

How would you describe your average client?
My average client is a busy mom who doesn’t have time and/or skill to make nutritious meals every night for her family most nights. Typically, they’re also on a special diet (e.g.: Paleo, low-carb, vegetarian, etc.).

food-516044_1280Is it difficult working with different dietary needs?
Personally, it’s not difficult to work with dietary needs. From what I learned in culinary school to working as a chef instructor for Whole Foods for four years to keeping up with diet trends, I’m pretty well-versed in the more common special and popular diets — gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian, low-sodium, Paleo, Keto, Atkins, etc.

How can someone become a personal chef?
Becoming a personal chef takes training and lots of practice in the kitchen cooking for others, a good work ethic, some people skills, and the initiative to get out there and find (and keep) clients.

What advice would you give to aspiring personal chefs?
Practice cooking for your family and friends often to get the hang of cooking for different tastes (and not always just making what you want to make). Also try making dishes from various cuisines and ones that are outside your current wheelhouse.

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