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Big City Chefs in the News

April 5th, 2016
Wall Stret Journal: Make the Best Burger

STAND AWAY FROM THE GRILL, CHEFS SAY, AND USE A SKILLET.
‘Making a medium-rare burger is actually a good test of a young chef’s abilities.’

Make the Best Burger

By NINA SOVICH
April 5, 2016 12:19 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal Online

The ingredients are simple—salt, pepper, ground meat and the inalienable belief that any American can make a decent hamburger.

Yet as the days become warm and bright, countless home cooks will fire up the grill only to stare in wonder at the disc of meaty disappointment they have produced, cheese or no cheese.

What makes a good hamburger is a perennial obsession, though it feels ever more difficult to achieve perfection. How does a home cook compete with restaurants’ Wagyu beef burgers, procure duck fat or bake buns? Even fast-food restaurants like Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger have raised the bar with fresh tomatoes and good quality beef.

“Cooking a hamburger is no joke,” says Mark Lapico, the executive chef at Jean-Georges restaurant in New York who likes to cook his burgers at home with dry-aged beef and on a piping hot Japanese binchotan grill. “It has to be crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. Making a medium-rare burger is actually a good test of a young chef’s abilities.”

THE ELEMENTS OF A BURGER

The Bread: There should be a 1:1 burger to bun ratio. Brioche or a potato roll work well because they don’t overtake the patty. Some chefs like a kaiser roll for keeping mess together.
The Meat: Grind your own chuck, which comes from the steer’s shoulder. The more an animal uses a muscle, the tastier it is. Burger meat should have at least 20% fat.
The Method: An iron skillet is better than a grill for making burgers because it heats the patty evenly, allowing caramelization to coat the crust of the burger.
The Fixings: Most customized sauces use mayonnaise and another ingredient such as sriracha, garlic or salsa. Mayo soaks up any flavor easily.
The Pickles: Most restaurants include a pickle on a burger. Don’t forget them at home. The fermentation makes them healthy and the tang offsets the fat and sweetness of the beef.
There is disagreement over the details. Some chefs require pasture-raised beef. Others say cornfed is sweeter. Some swear by the Kaiser roll, and others the soft potato bun. Some chefs smash the burger down until it is ragged and crunchy, others like to maintain a cool and rare center.

“A hamburger is a sandwich,” says Alex Tishman, a private chef and regional director for Big City Chefs, a chef service in the San Francisco Bay Area. “You need to balance flavor and texture.”

Think of hamburgers in terms of ratios, says Mr. Tishman. The bun and burger should have a 1:1 ratio. The meat should be between 70% to 80% protein and 20% to 30% fat. Any less fat and you will lose the vital mouth feel, any more than 30% and it will start to taste greasy.

The Meat

Chuck from the animal’s shoulder is good for burgers because the steer works that part of its body. The more an animal uses a muscle the tastier it is. Mr. Tishman adds brisket and trimming from hanger steak, but makes sure that 50% of the burger remains chuck. He says to avoid adding egg or breadcrumbs that change its consistency.

He and other chefs are dismissive of using expensive cuts of tenderloin, Kobe or Wagyu beef, which can bump up the price for a restaurant hamburger over $50. “That kind of beef has almost no flavor,” says Mr. Tishman. “It’s terrible for a hamburger.”

Freshness is paramount. Ground meat bought in the supermarket can come from any number of cows and often harbors unhealthy amounts of bacteria. Hamburgers cooked with meat from an unknown origin should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or well done. For a rare or medium-rare hamburger, best to ask the supermarket butcher to grind the meat or, even better, do it at home.

Secrets to a Better Burger

Many chefs suggest home cooks use an iron skillet for cooking burgers rather than a grill. The skillet heats the meat evenly and encourages caramelization.

A stand-alone grinder retails for between $100 and $600, but KitchenAid sells a stand mixer attachment for around $50. Some people grind meat in their blenders, though they can get hot and melt the fat, making for mushy, dense patties. Experts recommend putting the device and the meat in the freezer before grinding.

The Heat

The reason people like hamburgers so much, chefs say, is partly due to the way proteins and sugars react when they are heated to between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dubbed the Maillard reaction, it creates a meaty umami flavor that makes the outside of the burger taste more distinctive from the cool and velvety inside.

For this reason most chefs council using a griddle or a cast iron skillet. The consistent heat across the burger enhances the production of sugars on its surface.

“That’s why places like Shake Shack have such a successful burger,” says Graham Elliot, Chicago-based restaurant owner and chef, who keeps his burgers ½ inch thick and puts an ice cube in the middle to keep them moist. “That crunchy caramelized outside is the good part.”

Mr. Elliot says he would chose a pan or griddle over a grill any day, but concedes that most Americans will end up grilling hamburgers in the spring and summer. About 75% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, roughly the same percentage believe they are proficient or extremely proficient at grilling, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, a barbecue trade group.

Grilling is one of the most difficult ways to cook, and the people who grill are often the least experienced cooks in the house. Heat is inconsistent, flare-ups occur and the caramelization is difficult. Humidity and ambient temperature can also affect the cooking process.

“The grill has to be clean and hot, and I mean hot,” says Mr. Lapico, anywhere between 400 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Many gas-fired grills have trouble reaching this temperature, or they lose too much heat once the cover is opened. Unless you have a high-end gas grill, a charcoal grill is better for burgers, he says.

 

Condiments

Several private chefs said that Heinz 57 Ketchup remained among their favorite condiments for burgers. Ketchup, like caramelized onions, adds a sweetness that evokes childhood memories.

Customized sauces have recently become popular in restaurants, though several chefs say that the sauces are often just mayonnaise with one other ingredient.

“I go to the Indian grocery, get some green mango pickle. Mix it with mayo, slather it on a burger, delicious. I got special sauce,” says Malcolm Riley Gay, a chef in New York City. The mayonnaise can absorb pretty much anything, he says. When he goes to people’s houses to cook, he often makes the hamburger sauce from ingredients in their pantry, adding sriracha to mayonnaise for example, because people have on hand what they like to eat.

The Bun & The Extras

As for the bun, most chefs agree that making a hamburger bun at home is far too much effort for the return. A brioche or soft potato bun is sufficient. Mr. Gay says a Kaiser roll with its slightly tougher exterior, works wonders holding a messy burger together.

Bacon has such a strong taste it can overwhelm good beef, say several chefs. If used, bacon should be moist enough to break off easily in the mouth, and used sparingly.

Cheese can also improve a hamburger but should be considered carefully, chefs say. American cheese melts well and goes well with a traditional burger. Gruyere is strong but tastes good with dry-aged beef.

For home chefs who want to add something special, Mr. Gay says homemade pickles are a nice touch. Adding a fermented food also enhances the nutritional benefits.

“Pickles really are the unsung heroes of the hamburger,” Mr. Gay says.

Write to Nina Sovich at nina.sovich@wsj.com
This article has been abridged from the original.

November 17th, 2015
Good Day Sacramento – National Pizza Day

Put a blistery, chewy, puffy, cheesy pizza on the table, and all is right in the world.  Few foods have such a universally comforting appeal, beginning with the fun of hand tossing the dough.  For this reason, our Hands On Artisanal Pizza Workshop is one of our most popular private cooking classes.

But when it’s a Monday night and you’re in a pinch, shortcuts can help you enjoy a customized, almost homemade product in minutes.  Recently, in honor of National Pizza Day, our exclusive Sacramento Private Chef, Jeff Manson, showed the crew of Good Day Sacramento how to prepare globally inspired pizzas using store-bought naan bread.  Don’t miss his unique ideas for toppings for your next spur-of-the-moment pizza party.

Private Pizza Classes

May 15th, 2015
San Francisco Local Magazine: Our Private Cooking Lesson with Alex Tishman of Big City Chefs

San Francisco private chefs

January 10th, 2014
Book an Exclusive Romantic Dinner with a Top Chef through Citi Private Pass and Big City Chefs

Celebrate the Valentine season with a supremely decadent seven course private dinner for two in your home, custom-crafted just for Citi Private Pass members by one of Big City Chefs’ exclusive private chefs. Your private chef will prepare, serve, and introduce each course for this once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience.

BOOK NOW

Private Chefs for Valentine's Day Dinner

Our Private Chefs’ Tasting Menu

Cauliflower Soup with Caviar and Chives

Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese Mousse, Rye Crisps, Caper-Herb Vinaigrette

Pasta “Carbonara”- Smoked Egg Noodles, 64° Farm Egg, Crispy Prosciutto, Chives

Seared Scallop with Citrus Salad and Peppercress

Triple Lemon Sorbet (Lemon Thyme, Limoncello, Lemon Verbena)
24 hour Braised Short Ribs, Anson Mills Polenta, Creamed Bloomsdale Spinach with Sunchokes and Parmesan

Dark Chocolate Soufflé, Vanilla Bean Sauce, Cocoa Nibs, Sea Salt

 

Pricing: $250 per person, plus sales tax where applicable

Available in: Boston / Chicago / DallasLos Angeles / Miami / New York / San Francisco

BOOK NOW

Offer available through February 29, 2014

December 10th, 2013
Big City Chefs Partners with Citi Private Pass

EMERYVILLE, CA – National boutique private chef company Big City Chefs, as featured in the Food Network television series “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” announced a partnership with Citi Private Pass, kicking off a series of private dining experiences with some of the agency’s top chefs, custom-crafted exclusively for Citi cardmembers.

The first private chef experience will pair cardmembers with Private Chefs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who will prepare a decadent seven-course dinner in their homes, along with private butler service.  Please visit the Citi Private Pass website for more details.

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Below is a sample offering from this promotion:

Hire a Private Chef for Dinner Parties in San Francisco

Celebrate the holiday season with a limited-edition private dining experience with Chef Alex Tishman, Regional Head Private Chef with Big City Chefs, and alumnus of several Michelin-starred restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chef Alex will pamper you and your guests with a decadent seven-course dinner in your home, custom-crafted just for Citi cardmembers. A private butler will ensure that you and your guests enjoy fine dining service to make your table the best seat in town.

Amuse:
Butternut squash soup, ricotta, garlic, vadouvan

Salad:
County Line chicories, balsamic gorgonzola vinaigrette, sunflower seeds, tangerines

Second course:
Arborio risotto, wild mushrooms, pork belly, green apple, 12 year balsamic, fines herbs

Intermezzo:
Triple lemon sorbet (lemon thyme, limoncello, lemon verbena)

Fish course:
Seared scallop, potato galette, sherry foam, pomegranate

Meat course:
Prime hanger steak, buttered baby root vegetables, herb jus, crispy sunchokes

Dessert:
Vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta, caramel corn, sea salt, poached quince

For bookings: Please contact 866-321-CHEF or email info@bigcitychefs.com to inquire about available dates.

May 30th, 2013
Big City Chefs Joins Signature TailWins Rewards Program

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Big City Chefs, the nationwide private and personal chef provider featured on Food Network’s hit television series, “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” is joining Signature Flights’ newly lauched nationwide Signature TailWine Rewards Program.  The rewards program recognizes and rewards pilots and crews for fuel and handling purchases at Signature Flight Support facilities and globally when they use the Signature Flight Support aviation credit card – valid wherever Multi Service Credit Cards are accepted.

Big City Chefs currently participates in numerous other nationwide elite credit card rewards programs, including HSBC Premier, Discover Rewards, Citi Thank You Rewards, and others.

Contact:
Big City Chefs
510-655-2800
info@bigcitychefs.com

Signature Tailwins Rewards

May 26th, 2012
FriendsEAT.com: Interview with Personal Chef Alex Tishman of Big City Chefs

By Blanca Valbuena, FriendsEAT

Whenever people think of Chefs, they automatically think of those Cheflebrities on the Food Network: Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Mario Batali. What they are missing out on are the amazing chefs who work in the Personal Chef field. This market is growing fast. I have used personal chefs in the past. They take the sting out of having your 40 family members over for Thanksgiving. Personal chefs are perfect when you’re just starting a diet, it is much easier to follow a diet when you have a pro sticking to the rules and creating something delicious. One Personal Chef we particularly love is Alex Tishman. Tishman is young, innovative, and talented. I recently caught up with Chef Tishman to learn a bit more about the life of a personal chef:

Blanca Valbuena: Alex, did you grow up cooking?

Alex Tishman: I grew up watching my mom in the kitchen. I learned a lot about cooking from her, especially when it comes to dedication for local, organic ingredients, and solid cooking techniques. For as long as I can remember, she’s always grown her own herbs and lots of vegetables, and treated them respectfully and carefully, Family meals were always really important growing up, and food was a central part of our gatherings Even now, we have burritos the first night any of us come home to visit. She cooks the beans all day long, and we still heat the tortillas in the same two cast iron skillets we’ve used for 25years. When I was really little, my parents used to make ice cream the old fashioned way, with rock salt and hand churning in a bath tub full of ice. Those food memories really form the base of my love for food and cooking.

BV: When did you know that cooking was more than just a hobby, but that it would become your way of life?

AT: Thinking back, I first got the cooking bug in high school. My senior year I was dating this girl who lived just a few blocks from school, and we had a special off campus lunch tradition. We would go to her  house during lunch, and I’d make cherries jubilee, or bananas foster, or something else equally alcoholic and flammable. I realize in retrospect this was probably…  (read full article at FriendsEAT.com)

April 19th, 2012
Bank of America WorldPoints Adds Exclusive Private Chef Packages from Big City Chefs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Beginning this spring, cardholders of Bank of America credit cards participating in the popular nationwide WorldPoints rewards program will have access to exclusive private chef dining experiences from Big City Chefs not available through other channels. With an emphasis on romantic dining for two, the packages offered will include “Romance in a Box,” which offers three price and service levels of a multi-course dinner for two with flowers and wine or champagne, and “Swept Away,” a premium package that includes a private chef-created five course fine dining experience complete with flowers, champagne, and a private butler service for the evening. Cardholders will have the option of either booking packages directly through their WorldPoints concierge or redeeming points earned on their credit cards. Services will be available in nationwide locations served by Big City Chefs’ private chef services.

The launch of the WorldPoints private chef experiences is the first in an upcoming series of special offerings to be created by a partnership between Big City Chefs and Les Concierges, the world’s largest concierge provider. Big City Chefs, a nationwide private chef company established in 2000, and stars of Food Network‘s hit television series, “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” was recently selected to become the exclusive private chef service provider for Les Concierges and its affiliates across the country.

 

 

March 16th, 2012
Travis London, Celebrity Chef, at Brunch

March 11, 2012
Huffington Post

Don’t let Travis London’s celebrity affiliations fool you. Yes, he’s been dubbed a “partygoing L.A. hipster” by Page Six and linked both romantically and platonically to the likes of Mary Kate Olsen and Rihanna, but on his day job as a Los Angeles-based private chef to the stars, London is just an up-and-coming chef and family man.

On weekends you’re liable to find chef Travis and Co. kicking back at his mom’s house in Palm Springs, where he’s often fielding attacks about being a healthy cook and giving his family’s African-American and Mexican dishes a healthy twist.

“I’m Mexican and black, so I grew up with southern food, enchiladas and tamales. I know it all, but no one in my family eats healthy,” he says, describing the initial flak he caught for remaking his grandmother’s recipes for enchiladas with sweet potatoes instead of meat.

Healthy eating is a goal London says he adopted growing up, watching his mom struggle with being overweight. “I remember being 13 and I saw Suzanne Somers selling the book ‘Eat, Cheat and Melt the Fat Away,’ on Home Shopping Network. I saved up my allowance and had my grandmother get a money order for me and I sent in to get the book,” he says. “I got the book for my mom and literally read it from cover to cover. That was how I got involved in healthy eating…because I wanted to find a way for my mom to lose weight,” London says, adding that she’s since shed more than 200 pounds.

With nutrition topping the list of London’s company goals, making sure his dishes look appealing comes in at number two. “You eat with your eyes before anything else,” he says.

Here, London shares his best advice for newbie cooks, plus a few brunch recipes to try out.

  • Use what you have. It’s more about the way you cook things than what you buy and where you buy it, he says. Always on deck: Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Not only for making sure your dishes are as nutritious as they can be, but fresh fruit also serves as a palette cleanser in between each course.
  • Stay in your confort zone in the kitchen. If you’re a grilling guy, for example, don’t try to venture out and do something like a beef bourguignon. Want to grill something but upgrade it? Do a papillote on the grill instead, London says.
  • Start with brunch. “It’s a good way for people to test things out. It’s more relaxed, it’s more carefree, it’s time when you can actually experiment with things,” he says. And since it tends to be less formal, perhaps the expectation to make it perfect isn’t quite as high.
  • Jazz up the classics. Even if you’re working with pancake mix from the box, there are ways to take the breakfast staple to the next level. London suggests adding a cup of pumpkin puree, plus a little nutmeg and cinnamon, to the mix. Once your flapjacks are done, use a cookie cutter (or the rim of a glass) to cut out each one for a much nicer presentation.

RECIPE: X-RATED BELLINI

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
2 1/2 ounces mango puree
Rose Brut Sparkling Wine

Method
In a cocktail shaker add X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, mango puree, and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute rimmed with rimming sugar.  Top with sparkling wine.

January 18th, 2010
Food Network Begins Production on New Reality Series ‘Private Chefs of Beverly Hills’

NEW YORK January 14, 2010 — Production begins this month on a new series, Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, it was announced today by Food Network. Slated to premiere in April, the series, produced by Target Entertainment, will shoot six episodes following Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere private chef placement agency. On-call at all hours of the day, this group of talented chefs cater to the over-the-top and eclectic clientele in Los Angeles’ most posh neighborhood. Viewers will get a glimpse into the secret and high-demand world of culinary glamour where anything is possible.

# # #

FOOD NETWORK (www.foodnetwork.com) is a unique lifestyle network and Web site that strives to be way more than cooking. The network is committed to exploring new and different ways to approach food – through pop culture, competition, adventure, and travel – while also expanding its repertoire of technique-based information. Food Network is distributed to more than 98 million U.S. households and averages more than 9 million unique Web site users monthly. Food Network programming is available internationally in more than 150 countries. Food Network is headquartered in New York, and maintains offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Knoxville, Tenn. Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE: SNI), which also owns and operates HGTV (www.hgtv.com), DIY Network (www.diynetwork.com), Great American Country (www.gactv.com) and Fine Living Network (www.fineliving.com), is the manager and general partner.

December 22nd, 2009
Air Dates Announced for Big City Chefs’ Food Network Show

Please watch a sneak preview of Big City Chefs’ new reality program, “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” on Food Network on Tuesday, December 29th at 9 PM.

Complete sneak preview schedule lineup as follows:

Tuesday, 12/29 – 9 PM
Wednesday, 12/30 – 12 AM
Sunday, 1/03 – 6 PM (encore)

Tuesday and Sunday airings follow Food Network’s highly popular “Ace of Cakes.”

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May 9th, 2008
Mom Minus Dad: The Essential Resource Guide for Busy Adults with a Newly Widowed Parent

BIG CITY CHEFS LISTED AS TOP MEALS AND FOOD MANAGEMENT RESOURCE IN THE NEW BOOK Mom Minus Dad: The Essential Resource Guide for Busy Adults with a Newly Widowed Parent – by Jamies Haverkampf

Available on Amazon.com

Big City Chefs is listed as a top resource for meals and food management for either adult children or their surviving parent in the early weeks and months after a loss in the new book Mom Minus Dad: The Essential Resource Guide for Busy Adults with a Newly Widowed Parent. This book is the only resource guide available with more than 500 resources for adults who lose a parent and need to assist a newly widowed parent. The book provides readers with practical advice on ten major parent loss topics along with more than 500 valuable and time-saving resources including Web sites, companies (like Big City Chefs), government resources, U.S. laws, books, and nonprofit organizations to assist the twelve million sons and daughters who lose a parent every year. The author shares how she and her sister-both in their early thirties-found success and managed struggles during their journey after their father’s death

June 1st, 2006
C&K Magazine

 

C&K Magazine – June 2006

 

CUISINE

More than ever, Americans are pressed for time. Between a grueling commute, corporate travel, and a day full of meetings, who has time to cook a nutritious dinner? As time becomes one of our most precious commodities, we often rely on quick but unwholesome mealtime solutions such as high calorie fast food, fattening take out, or frozen entrées. Enter the newest weapon in the fight against the daily grind: personal chef services.

A less costly alternative to a full-time private chef, personal chefs develop customized meal plans based on a client’s specific tastes and dietary objectives. Entering the client’s home with pots, pans, and fresh foods, the chef will prepare one to two weeks of entrées that are conveniently packaged, labeled, and ready to heat. For little more than $80 per person per week for a typical package, personal chefs may offer clients customized gourmet dinners that range from Soy and Mustard Glazed Salmon to Homestyle Short Ribs. Particularly for those with nutritional goals such as Atkins, South Beach, or other diets, a personal chef more easily allows them to maintain a regimen.

Sylvia Bartlitz, who lives near San Francisco, California and has regularly enjoyed personal chef services for several years, touts the benefits of personal attention and expert preparation of nutritionally customized food. “This service has greatly benefited my family. Not only do we have more time to enjoy dinner together, but our chef has used his knowledge of our likes and dislikes to expose us to exciting flavors and dishes we might never have thought to try.”

David Fischbein, President of Big City Chefs, a nationwide personal and private chef service brand operating in nearly a dozen major metropolitan markets, notes, “Our clients tell us they feel more productive and relaxed by reducing the time they previously spent cooking, grocery shopping, or eating out at pricey restaurants.” He adds that clients rave about the company’s hand-picked professional chefs, who include veterans from the restaurants of celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse. According to Fischbein, “Personal chef services provide a convenient and affordable luxury that allows Americans to reclaim their stressful lives.”

To inquire about personal chef services in your area, please contact:

Big City Chefs, Inc.
www.bigcitychefs.com
1-866-321-CHEF toll free

February 1st, 2005
Business Week Online

Business Week Online – February, 2005

Valentine’s Day Gifts with a Twist

Still not sure what to get your sweetheart? We’ve got suggestions ranging from chocolates to trips around the world Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Here’s the dilemma: Even if you’re one of those people who thinks Feb. 14 is just another grossly commercial holiday that has lost any true meaning, there’s a chance your significant other doesn’t feel that way. Dis the source of your bliss, and you’ll have bigger problems than trying to find red roses at the last minute.

Party of Two

What’s better than home-cooked food? Food cooked in your own home by a professional chef. I would love a romantic dinner for two from Big City Chefs (www.bigcitychefs.com). Their professionally trained cooks will personalize a menu for you and then whip it up in your kitchen. They’re available in various cities around the country. Price varies according to menu, Big City Chefs

–Alice Cheung

Link to original article at http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/01/valentines/index_01.htm

October 1st, 2004
Flavors Magazine

Flavors Magazine, Fall 2004

Getting Personal: Is There a Chef In Your Kitchen?
by Donna Brousseau (edited for length)

It’s 6:00 p.m. and everyone’s grumbling, “What’s for dinner?” Exhausted from a day’s work, you crank open the refrigerator and are met by the woeful display of nothing edible in sight. Now what do you do?

Entrepreneur Magazine recently rated personal chef as number four on its list of the top growth professions for good reason: people are turning to a professional to quell their daily dining dilemmas… A personal chef… brings his/her own cooking equipment and groceries to his/her client’s home, takes over the kitchen for a few hours, and then removes all traces of his/her presence – other than the scrumptious gourmet meals that are magically left behind – usually one or two week’s worth.

Who’s Hiring Personal Chefs?

Valerie Boyd, art director at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has been a personal chef client for about a year. She says, “Nothing beats coming home to a sparkling kitchen with the heady aroma of dinner simmering on the stove. A load has been taken off my mind. I now have the time to deal with work and to live my life; the only hard part was deciding which delicious meals to try first.”

Who’s Becoming a Personal Chef?

After 13 years, it wasn’t just the low pay or the crazy hours that drove Chef Brett Eanes out of the restaurant business, it was the lack of client contact and creative freedom. Five years ago, Eanes, a graduate of the California Instituite of Culinary Arts, left a prestigious career cooking for the Academy Awards under Wolfgang Puck and headed to Atlanta to pursue being a personal chef. Unpacking his knives, he found a home with Big City Chefs, a nationwide (company) employing professionally trained chefs to provide top quality meals to (its) clients… …Eanes says, “I have found the perfect match. I now have creative freedom, flexibility and the time to build relationships with my clients…”

What Does a Personal Chef Do?

To learn more about a personal chef’s job, I arranged to spend the day cooking with a personal chef. Agreeing to meet at the local supermarket, I easily spotted the chef in her crisp chef’s coat rummaging through a pile of heirloom tomatoes. Love chicken? Hate fish? Giving Atkins a go? No problem. Before they hit the market, personal chefs interview their clients in order to develop menus based on their clients’ likes, dislikes, dietary restrictions and food allergies.

After loading up on the required ingredients, we headed off to the client’s kitchen. We let ourselves in (many clients provide a key so the chef can cook while they are away), set up our stations, split up the recipes and buckled down to work. With delicious armoas wafting through the air, it wasn’t long before the owners two dogs and cat made a beeline for the kitchen in search of the source.

Six hours later, we were surrounded by an array of mouthwatering dishes… After cooling and vacuum-packing the dishes in portion-sized packets, we labeled the contents and organized them neatly in the freezer before erasing any evidence of our presence. As I walked out the door, I took a final look at the clean kitchen and started panicking, “What was I goin to feed my own family?” I realized then – I need my own personal chef!

What Does it Cost?

Personal chefs don’t cost as much as you might think. Fees can be based on a standard contract fee… …or based on the type of meals. Fees generally (begin at $325) for 20 indvididual meals suited to your dietary needs and tastes. If you take into account the menu planning time, grocery shopping, preparation and cleaning, you may have found yourself a real bargain.

June 1st, 2004
Vision Magazine

Personal Chefs Serve Up Gourmet
Convenience
– Summer 2004

More than ever, Americans are pressed for time. Between a grueling commute, corporate travel, and a day full of meetings, who has time to cook a nutritious dinner? As time becomes one of our most precious commodities, we often rely on quick but unwholesome mealtime solutions such as high calorie fast food, fattening take out, or frozen entrées. Enter the newest weapon in the fight against the daily grind: personal chef services.

Read the rest of this entry »

February 1st, 2004
Rebuilding Shattered Lives, One Bite at a Time

Rebuilding Shattered Lives, One Bite at a Time – February 1, 2004

WOODLAND HILLS, California — From the sidewalk across from a peaceful suburban high school, gunshots pierced the stillness of an innocent afternoon. On September 9, 2003, three students of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, CA had been senselessly shot. A fifteen-year-old boy who was transported by helicopter to UCLA Medical Center will never forget the day that changed his life. Confined to a wheelchair as a result of paralysis, he struggles to rebuild a shattered life with help from his family and community.

Heartened by his unbroken spirit and determination to triumph in the face of adversity, teachers of Taft High School banded together early this year in a gesture of compassion to give the youngster and his family something they had not known since that fateful day: time to spend together as a family, free of the constant obstacles and tasks that make care taking a 24-hour job. With the assistance of Big City Chefs’ Chef Bryan Wang, these devoted educators helped arrange a personal chef service that would allow the family to enjoy a breather from their new lives.

Touched by the warmth of their gift, the boy personally called each of the contributors to thank them. According to one teacher who helped make the arrangements, “It was so touching to see how appreciative he and his family were for such a simple gesture.”

November 23rd, 2003
Happy Ham and Lap Cheung Day?

Happy ham and lap cheung day? – November 24, 2003
Turkeys are Thanksgiving meal for most, but not all

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) — They don’t call it Turkey Day for nothing: About 45 million turkeys will be sold this Thanksgiving, and turkey is 35 times more likely to be eaten this Thursday than any other day of the year.

But that doesn’t mean everyone will be gathering around a roast bird this week. Of the 64 percent of people who plan to eat at their home on Thursday, only about half will eat turkey, not quite the domination you’d expect.

Alternative occupants of the center platter include ham, chicken, an Italian dish such as pasta, or a family recipe involving meat, pasta or vegetables, according to a recent survey by The NPD Group, a consumer-market research firm.

Olives are 11 times more likely to be eaten on Thanksgiving Day than at any other time of year, and nachos are 10 times more likely to be eaten, according to The NPD Group’s research, which includes interviews with 2,400 American consumers.

A small vanguard of Americans is toying with tradition by seeking alternatives to the standard turkey, stuffing and cranberries, with part of that change driven by Americans’ increasing willingness to try food from all over the world.

“Our palates (are) being developed with more international flavors,” said Kate Heyhoe, executive editor of GlobalGourmet.com and author of the recently-released “A Chicken in Every Pot: Global Recipes for the World’s Most Popular Bird.”
Plus, “immigrants are introducing their own comfort spices and ingredients,” she said. For instance, “Chinese families might take a traditional cornbread stuffing and add Chinese sausage, called lap cheung.”

Other cooks agreed. “A lot of our clients in different parts of the country are exploring less traditional flavors,” said Tom Stieber, chief executive of Big City Chefs, a personal-chef service operating in about 10 cities nationwide.

Still, most Americans want just a slightly jazzed-up piece of traditional pie. “They want to be inspired with a little bit of something different, but most of the time they don’t change the whole menu,” Heyhoe said.

Others agree that Turkey Day is a safe bet as far as monikers go. “I’m sure all of us put our own little touches on (Thanksgiving dinner), but for the most part that bird’s going to be in the center,” said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group.
Cheap is good Americans’ penchant for turkey is driven in large part by our pocketbooks, Balzer said. Frozen whole turkeys cost an average of 99 cents a pound last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That low cost may prevent many Americans from exploring alternative meals. “As diverse as we are as a nation, on that one day, since this country can produce cheap turkeys, they become the centerpiece,” Balzer said.

Plus, sometimes a desire to change a dish is stifled by the strong tradition surrounding the holiday. “It’s a tough holiday to mess around with,” Heyhoe said.
“As a cook, sometimes you get a little tired of doing the same old thing, but God forbid that you should change it,” she said. “You run the risk of sulking in-laws and stewing husbands. People are doing it in small ways … if you drastically change everything one year you may be taking your life in your hands, especially in the kitchen with sharp objects.”

Alternative birds

A small but growing group of Americans is buying another kind of turkey altogether: free-range, organically fed birds, said to taste better than the turkey most Americans purchase on Thanksgiving.

Almost 10,000 such birds, called heritage turkeys, were sold this year, up from about 4,500 last year, according to Slow Food U.S.A., which advocates a return to the culture of food and high-quality ingredients, and is working to increase the population of alternatively grown turkeys.

“They’re juicy,” said Yuri Asano, spokeswoman for Slow Food USA. “The meat is much more succulent than a regular turkey. You can really taste a difference.” Still, they’re not cheap: $4 to $5 per pound.

Another trend is to buy two small birds instead of one large turkey, allowing cooks to experiment with different recipes for each. “They also will cook in less time, and you don’t have one big bird monopolizing your refrigerator afterwards,” Heyhoe said.
Deep-fried turkeys, a southern tradition, are increasingly popular nationwide, but be wary: Fire departments are warning that the combination of hot oil and an open flame is dangerous, and caused a number of fires last holiday season.

Andrea Coombes is a reporter for CBS.MarketWatch.com in San Francisco.

August 31st, 2003
Cooking for a Cause

Cooking for a Cause – August 31, 2003

DEL MAR, California – Sharing the spotlight with many of San Diego’s finest restaurants, Big City Chefs, America’s leading personal chef service provider, recently participated in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation‘s first “Wine Opener” fundraising event at the Del Mar Polo Fields on August 28, 2003. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raises important research funds for the nation’s most prevalent genetic disease, the effects of which lead to life-threatening lung infections adn improper digestion.

“We and our chefs are proud to give back to our communities across the country,” notes company President, David Fischbein. “By regularly contibuting to important causes, we hope to inspire others to embrace our company’s spirit of helping those in need.”

Along with such regionally renowned restaurants as Cuvee, Il Fornaio, Ole Madrid, BJs Pizza, and many local wineries, hundreds of guests enjoyed samples of Big City Chefs’ own Chef Josh Alkire’s hand-tossed signature Crispy Oriental Salad, among other items.

Big City Chefs currently serves New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Dallas, and is preparing to launch in several other cities in 2004.

June 15th, 2003
Big City Chefs Launches Personal Chef Services in Washington, DC Area

Big City Chefs Launches Personal Chef Services in Washington, DC Area – June 15, 2003

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, America’s leading personal chef service provider, has announced the official launch of its personal chef services in the Greater Washington, DC Area.

“We look forward to becoming a part of the dynamic and sophisticated communities of the Washington, DC area” notes David Fischbein, President of the California-based boutique company that manages executive level personal chefs for residential meal services and events. “By uniquely combining the culinary integrity of the finest full-time private chefs with the flexibility and affordability of occasional personal chefs, we are satisfying the demanding palates of busy professionals in some of the country’s most renowned food meccas.” Big City Chefs will offer its personal chef services in Washington, DC, as well as the surrounding areas of Northern Virginia and Maryland.

The company’s team of executive level personal chefs develops customized home meal replacement services for residential and corporate clients. Its personal chefs prepare fresh, personalized gourmet meals on the clients’ premises using restaurant quality ingredients from local and regional vendors. Big City Chefs’ impressive roster of chefs includes executive-level restaurant veterans with past stints at regionally and nationally renowned restaurants such as celebrity chef Jean George Vongerichten’s Jean Georges, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, and Michael Mina’s Aqua.

The company currently serves New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego, and is preparing to launch in Texas as well as several other East Coast cities later this year.

June 1st, 2003
Athletic Performance Chefs

Athletic Performance Chefs – June 2003

One of the great aspects of a chef’s occupation is the seemingly endless opportunities. Imagine, for example, going to your favorite professional athlete’s home and cooking dinner for him or her – and getting paid to do it. Or cooking for an Olympian and then seeing him or her win a medal. That’s just what many chefs are doing today, according to Tom Stieber, Chief Executive Officer of Big City Chefs, a national company based on the West Coast that specializes in placing qualified chefs as personal chefs. “We have a team of chefs, and many of them cook for professional athletes,” says Stieber. “We have numerous San Diego Chargers as clients; many of the players are actually encouraged by their trainers to hire personal chefs.”

Most of the chefs that are placed through Big City Chefs have formal culinary training and restaurant experience. “There are many good chefs out there, but those with education and restaurant background ensure quality for our (customers),” adds Stieber. Some chefs have four or five players as clients, but this doesn’t mean they cook for each of them every day. They go to the athletes’ homes and prepare, package, label, and freeze a week’s worth of meals that can be reheated. They also include reheating instructions.

The one thing that most personal chefs have in common is the benefit of flexible hours. Terese Hollander and Dionisio Esperas, chefs and co-owners of A Healthy Kitchen, a cooking school and personal chef service in Sacramento, Calif., cook for Mateen Cleaves, a guard for the Sacramento Kings. “We started teaching classes on healthy meal alternatives and it was just a natural outgrowth for us to cook for athletes and their personal trainers,” says Hollander. Esperas and Hollander are not only business partners, they’re also engaged to be married and the flexible hours offer them time as a family. Stieber concurs, saying, “What my chefs always tell me is that their lifestyle is so improved. The restaurant work may have been fine when they were younger, but now many of them are starting families and the hours are so much more conducive to family life.”

Christy Bundy, chef and owner of The Gracious Gourmet, a personal chef service in Ridgeland, Miss., currently cooks for Grady Jackson, defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints. She was recruited through The Personal Chefs Network and majored in dietetics in college, something that easily incorporates into her current job. “For a while, Mr. Grady was on a low-fat, low-carb diet to lose a few pounds, but now I’m just cooking regular meals for him,” states Bundy.

According to The American College of Sports Medicine, athletic performance and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition. Most athletes realize this, and so do their chefs. “We cook Mateen fresh meals every few days,” states Hollander. “Everything he eats is organic so we tend to do a lot of his shopping at a natural foods co-op. Mateen realizes that there is a direct link between what he eats and his athletic performance.”

Most chefs are hired for general cooking for the athletes, but some are hired short term and with a specific purpose in mind. “I recently cooked for a professional baseball player during the off-season,” says Toni Belveal, who operates her personal chefs service in Gold Canyon, Ariz. “He hired me to help him gin weight and muscle mass without adding fat, which we were able to accomplish.” The athlete she cooked for is a player on a major Midwest team and while he was “bulking up” he consumed a whopping 4,000-5,000 calories a day. His dinner was 2,000 calories alone. Prior to accepting the challenge, Belveal worked with the player’s nutritionist and did a lot of her own research. “One of the biggest challenges was trying to come up with meals that could reach 2,000 calories, yet, at the same time, be low in fat. I took basic foods, such as pasta and meatloaf, and reworked them. Cooking for him was like cooking for a family of four.”

If cooking for celebrity athletes sounds like a dream for a chef, it should. The hours are desirable, and the chefs can still be creative. Many operate their own businesses. “I think if you’re organized, it’s a great career. You’re able to be creative with menus and recipes, you set your own hours, and and you can interact with clients,” states Hollander. Working for an individual can be challenging but also rewarding and, for a chef looking for more manageable hours while still flexing his or her creative wings, this may be just the ticket. Bundy expounds, “It can be a challenging position. You don’t know their personal preferences at first and having something different from week to week is also important. But I work for myself and it’s very rewarding. Being your own boss is unique. It’s not an opportunity that everyone has.”

While many athletes hire chefs to work with them on a one-to-one basis, some cook for entire teams. Such is the case with Jacque Hamilton, CEC, executive chef at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Spring, Colo. She and her staff cook for hundreds of athletes every day, and the kitchen is open from 7:00 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. “Most of the athletes eat five times a day. They burn off the calories as fast as they consume them,” says Hamilton. “One thing that makes us unique is that we have nutritional analysis available for all of our foods,” she continues. “It’s difficult sometimes, as a chef, because you know that certain things would be better if you added cream or butter, but you can’t. I drive the nutritionist nuts.”

Just because the numbers are larger doesn’t mean that the chef doesn’t get to know the athletes personally. Many come into the kitchen to greet her and some have special requests. “If there is a particular athlete who needs something special we will cater directly to him or her. When you’re working directly with the athletes you get to know them. We have televisions in the kitchens, which we turn on during the games, and it’s a very personal experience when you see them on television because you know them. These sports are their lives.” – Joseph George

May 15th, 2003
Big City Chefs Launces Personal Chef Services in Greater Miami Area

Big City Chefs Launces Personal Chef Services in Greater Miami Area – May 15, 2003

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, America’s leading personal chef service provider, has announced the recent launch of its personal chef services in the Greater Miami Area.

“We are excited to offer our personal chefs’ professionalism and enthusiasm to the dynamic and sophisticated residents of the Miami, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale areas,” notes David Fischbein, President of the California-based boutique company that manages executive level personal chefs for residential meal services and events.

Big City Chefs coordinates a hand-picked team of executive level personal chefs who develop customized menus for residential and corporate clients seeking home meal replacement or dinner parties. The company’s personal chefs prepare meals on the clients’ premises using restaurant quality ingredients from local and regional vendors.

Big City Chefs currently serves the San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, New York City, Chicago, and Miami regions, and is preparing to launch in several other East Coast cities this summer.

February 5th, 2003
Big City Chefs Announces Groundbreaking Alliance with Nationwide Rewards Program

Big City Chefs Announces Groundbreaking Alliance with Nationwide Rewards Program – February 5, 2003

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, America’s largest personal chef service provider, has announced it will be the exclusive provider of personal chef services to corporate rewards customers of Maritz Rewards, a Maritz, Inc. company (www.maritz.com).

Participants will be able to select Big City Chefs’ personal chef services, which include personalized meal services, dinner parties, and private cooking classes, from among 1600 products and services from such high-end merchants as Waterford, Coach, Sony, Tumi, Morton’s of Chicago, and Bath and Body Works. According to Big City Chefs CEO Tom Stieber, this is the first time a personal chef service provider has been featured in a nationwide catalog. “We believe this reflects our busy society’s growing adoption of personal chef services as part of our everyday lives. As the country’s first and only multi-market provider of personal chef services, Big City Chefs is a natural fit for this compelling venture,” Stieber notes.

A multinational organization with operating companies and associates in 42 countries, Maritz, Inc. ranks among the nation’s top 10 consulting and business services firms for its innovative use of information technology, according to InformationWeek magazine. Big City Chefs provides personal chef services in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta, and will shortly launch its services in the Washington, DC area and Dallas Metroplex regions.

February 1st, 2003
California Lawyer Magazine

California Lawyer Magazine – February 2003

“Fowl Plate”

It’s not surprising that lawyers, along with other professionals, spend more on dining out – about $3,200 a year, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – than nonprofessionals and retirees. But what may be surprising is what food lawyers spend their money on. “Only 11 percent of entrées we’ve served to attorneys included red meat, while nearly 30 percent included seafood, and over 50 percent included poultry,” says Tom Stieber, a San Diego attorney whose company, Big City Chefs, sends professional chefs to shop for, prepare, and cook meals in his clients’ homes. “With some lawyers indicating weight loss as a specific nutritional goal, we believe these dietary preferences reflect our attorney clients’ needs to maintain better health.”

-Deborah Rosenthal, Senior Editor

October 4th, 2002
Helping Little Hands Grow at the Chicago Maternity Center

Helping Little Hands Grow at the Chicago Maternity Center – October 15, 2002

CHICAGO, Illinois – Big City Chefs shared the spotlight with Blue Man Group and the Blues Brothers at the “Chicago Blue”-themed Second Annual Benefit for the Legacy Committee of The Chicago Maternity Center. The event, held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on September 20, 2002, attracted a vibrant crowd of patrons – mostly dressed in blue – enjoying cocktails, dancing, auctions, and top-notch entertainment to raise funds for the Center’s Reproductive and Endocrinology program.

David Fischbein, Big City Chefs’ President, noted, “With many of our loyal personal chef clients experiencing pregnancy and motherhood for the first time, we are especially mindful of the health of mother and child. Through the combined donations of our company and our generous (Chicago-area) personal chef Kristen Lorenz, we were delighted to contribute our personal chef services to raise money for such an important medical cause that embodies our company’s philanthropic philosophy.”

Since its founding in 1895, The Chicago Maternity Center has established a legacy of providing the best available healthcare for women and infants. Its efforts and exceptional philanthropic support continue on behalf of programs at Northwestern Memorial’s Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center. In 2000, the CMC Legacy Committee was established to help support and carry on the traditions of the Chicago Maternity Center and help fund its Reproductive and Endocrinology program. The Committee’s Fundraiser is held annually in the Chicago area.

July 17th, 2002
Big City Chefs Launches Personal Chef Services in Atlanta Metro Area

Big City Chefs Launches Personal Chef Services in Atlanta Metro Area – July 17, 2002

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationwide personal chef service provider, has announced the official launch of its personal chef services in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan area.

“We are delighted to bring our personal chefs’ passion and creativity into the homes of Atlanta’s dynamic and sophisticated community,” notes David Fischbein, President of the California-based boutique company that manages executive level personal chefs for residential meal services and events. “By uniquely combining the culinary integrity of the finest full-time private chefs with the flexibility and affordability of occasional personal chefs, we are satisfying the demanding palates of busy professionals in some of the country’s most renowned food meccas,” including San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

Big City Chefs manages a team of executive level personal chefs who develop customized home meal replacement services for residential and corporate clients. The company’s chefs prepare fresh, personalized gourmet meals on the clients’ premises using restaurant quality ingredients from local and regional vendors. Big City Chefs’ impressive roster of chefs includes executive-level restaurant veterans with past stints at regionally and nationally renowned restaurants such as celebrity chef Jean George Vongerichten’s Jean Georges, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, and Michael Mina’s Aqua.

The company currently serves New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego, and is preparing to launch in Texas as well as several other East Coast cities later this year.

June 7th, 2002
Big City Chefs Continues Expansion into Chicago Metro Area

Big City Chefs Continues Expansion into Chicago Metro Area – June 7, 2002

SAN DIEGO, California – Seeking to meet growing demand for its services, Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationwide personal chef service provider, has announced it is expanding its business into the Chicago metropolitan area.

“We are very excited to continue our rapid growth into this vibrant city and its rich gastronomic traditions,” remarks David Fischbein, President of the California-based boutique company that manages executive level personal chefs for residential meal services and events. “By uniquely combining the culinary integrity of the world’s finest full-time private chefs with the flexibility and affordability of occasional personal chefs, we are satisfying the demanding palates of busy professionals in some of the country’s most renowned food meccas,” including San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

-The company coordinates a team of executive level personal chefs who develop customized menus for residential and corporate clients seeking home meal replacement or dinner parties. The chefs prepare meals on the clients’ premises using restaurant quality ingredients from local and regional vendors.

To launch its personal chef services in the Chicago area, Big City Chefs has hired veteran chefs Kristen Lorenz and Sarah Duff. Chef Lorenz, a graduate of the top-rated French Culinary Institute in New York City, has recently worked at Chicago’s highly acclaimed Tru Restaurant and at Singapore’s Four Seasons Hotel. In 2002, she also appeared on Food Network and as an assistant chef at Dinner with Jacques Pepin at the James Beard House in New York City. Chef Duff, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London, has worked in the Chicago area at Tru Restaurant and as Chef de Cuisine at David’s Ristorante.

Big City Chefs currently serves the San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, New York City, and Chicago regions, and is preparing to launch in several other East Coast cities this summer.

May 1st, 2002
Diablo Magazine


Diablo Magazine, May 2002

East Bay Rent-a-Chefs
Personal Gourmet Service Brings Haute Cuisine Home

Inspiration can sometimes strike in mysterious places and through interesting means. For Walnut Creek, CA native Tom Stieber, that place was a Southwest Airlines flight. The conduit: the ubiquitous in-flight magazine tucked into the seat pocket in front of him. A short article on a personal chef in New Mexico got him thinking. The chef had formed a professional association for others like himself.
Stieber, then fresh out of business school and working as in-house counsel for an Internet company, was casting about for an idea to strike out on his own. A business plan was born. “I got the sense that all of these personal chefs worked independently,” he says. “It seemed to me we could create some economies of scale.”

A little more than a year later, Stieber, 30, along with buddy and business partner David Fischbein, 28, are heading up their own growing company, Big City Chefs, connecting independent professional chefs with those who don’t have the time, inclination, or inspiration to cook for themselves. After a year of testing the market for their services in the San Diego area, the company has moved into the food meccas of New York City and the East Bay.

The concept is simple. Stieber and Fischbein recruit professional chefs via Internet job listings and trade shows, then match them up with clients based on tastes and dietary needs. After an initial consultation with the client, the chef customizes the menus. Big City Chefs takes a commission, and the chefs take it from there.

The response has been strong so far, Stieber says. The company now counts chefs from Lalime’s, Il Fornaio, and Casa Madrona on its roster, among others. “Our minimum standards are a culinary degree and several years of restaurant experience,” Stieber says. “The caliber of the chefs we’ve recruited is quite high.”

Longtime Moraga resident Martha Rubin, a musician and piano teacher, says the appeal of the service is the freedom it provides – along with a touch of luxury. She found the company while Web surfing late one night in search of something to help simplify her family’s dinnertime challenge. “I’m not often free during the time blocks one usually designates for shopping and cooking,” Rubin says. “My husband is also a musician and instructor, sharing similar hours.”

Some of her favorite meals so far: pasta tossed with fried shrimp “diablo” and roasted chicken with fennel potato gratin and creamed leeks. “I can’t recall ever having had food tasting any better in a restaurant,” Rubin says. “The meals ate tasty and inventive, and much more creative than my previous attempts to make vats of soup ahead of time in a crockpot.”

Carlo Soranno, former executive chef at Mercury Grill in Washington, D.C., has been cooking for Big City Chefs for four months, handling five regular clients and frequent catering jobs. The gig pays better than restaurant work and allows him the freedom to continually alter his custom menus, he says.

“The thing about cooking in a restaurant is that you have to cook the same thing over and over, exactly the same way,” Soranno says. “But as a personal chef you have full creativity – you get to use your ingredients in experimental ways.”

So does it ever get weird, setting up shop in a stranger’s kitchen? “It’s actually kind of fun; sometimes the kid and the dog and the husband will all be hanging out,” he says. “You’re not necessarily part of the family, but for those three or four hours, it’s kind of cool.”

For a cost of $325, he prepares and freezes 10 dinners for two. Soranno – as do all Big City Chefs – buys all of the ingredients for his meal preparations and brings his own cooking utensils, pans, and storage containers. A kitchen scrubbing is thrown in as a bonus. “I love it,” says Sylvia Bartlitz, a client of Soranno’s in Walnut Creek. “Carlo always seems to make the kitchen cleaner than before he began.”

The San Diego-based American Personal Chef Association, a 3,000-member registry, is a testament to the rapid growth of this niche profession. Candy Wallace, founder and executive director, says there are now 5,000 to 6,000 personal chefs operating nationally, up from only about 700 five years ago.

Stieber and Fischbein talked with the APCA as they polished their business plans. What sets Big City Chefs apart, Wallace says, is that they identified a need in the marketplace and filled it.

“They are providing the business administration and marketing backup that most chefs abhor,” Wallace says. “The boys didn’t re-create the wheel. They’ve just taken a segment of the business that the chefs like least and said they will do it for a fee.”

April 30th, 2002
Critics’ Review: Cooking For Your Man

Review from the E-Book Cooking For Your Man, Fountain of Wisdom Publishing, (C) 2002

Big City Chefs – There are a number of services out there – many of which can be found in the Internet – that will make it easy for you to have a full fledged professional chef, literally, at your disposal.

As many of you have already asked us to review this kind of services to use at home or for your company’s events, we decided to investigate. It took time and it was not an easy task because of the many reputable companies that we found. A great many of them work only locally or are dedicated to one city and its surrounding areas.

However, we have to admit that we were very impressed by Big City Chefs. These folks can host an intimate gathering or a large company event. Their professionally trained chefs can also create personalized dinner parties to fit your event or even your lifestyle whether it is a simple dinner or an extravagant multi-course menu.

Can other similar services provide the same ? It is possible so. But these folks’ professionalism and the way they managed the events where we were present, led us to conclude that they are committed to deliver one and only one thing: your own satisfaction whether at home or for your company.

We were also delighted to see that their chefs can prepare foods at your own home for one to two weeks, and their prices were far from prohibitive. Very affordable and reasonable indeed.

You can use the link above or call them at 866.321.CHEF.

Either way, we seriously doubt that you will make a mistake.

April 13th, 2002
Big City Chefs Expands Services to New York City Metro Area

Big City Chefs Expands Services to New York City Metro Area – March 13, 2002

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationwide personal chef service provider, has announced it has recently hired Chefs Stephen Primich and Fred Jean-Marie to launch the company’s personal chef services in the New York City metropolitan area and northern New Jersey.

Big City Chefs manages a team of executive level personal chefs who develop personalized, restaurant-quality menus for residential and corporate clients. The company’s chefs purchase the highest quality ingredients from local and regional vendors, and prepare them fresh on the clients’ premises using their own professional cooking equipment.

Chef Primich, a graduate of the top-rated Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, recently worked as poissonier of celebrity chef Jean Georges Vongerichten’s prestigious Jean Georges Restaurant at the Trump International Hotel and Towers at Central Park. He previously worked at L’Echalote and Lumiere in Vancouver, as well as at Le Cirque 2000 in New York City.

Chef Jean-Marie, also a graduate of the CIA, recently worked as Banquet Sous Chef and Restaurant Sous Chef at New York City’s upscale W Hotel. His previous work included Sous Chef positions at Atlanta’s Pastis and Van Gogh’s.

Big City Chefs currently serves a significant number of national markets, and is preparing to launch in several additional East Coast cities this spring. If you would like more information about the company’s services, please call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF or visit its website at www.bigcitychefs.com.

To contact Big City Chefs, call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF.

February 17th, 2002
Big City Chefs Welcomes New Los Angeles Area Chef

Big City Chefs Welcomes New Los Angeles Area Chef – February 17, 2002

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationwide personal chef service provider, has announced that Chef Bryan Wang has joined its growing team of professionally trained personal and private chefs. Bringing great culinary diversity to the table, Chef Wang, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, has worked under Chef Terrance Littlejohn at the four-star Arizona Kitchen at the Wigwam Resort in northern Arizona, at the Ihilani Fine Dining Room at the Manele Bay Hotel in the Hawaiian islands, and at the Belvedere Restaurant at the upscale Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.

Big City Chefs manages a team of executive level personal chefs who develop completely personalized, restaurant-quality menus for residential and corporate clients. The company’s chefs purchase the highest quality ingredients from local and regional vendors, and prepare them fresh on the clients’ premises using their own professional cooking equipment.

Big City Chefs currently serves the San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose regions, and is preparing to launch in several major East Coast cities this spring. If you would like more information about the company’s services, please call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF or visit its website at www.bigcitychefs.com.

To contact Big City Chefs, call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF.

November 1st, 2001
San Diego Lawyer Magazine

San Diego Lawyer Magazine: “Some More of the Most Interesting Lawyers We Know”
November/December 2001

Watch out, Emeril Lagasse. San Diego securities attorney Tom Stieber is bringing a little “Bam!” of his own into people’s homes. Stieber abandoned his full-time legal career to lead a unique entrepreneurial venture that sends professional restaurant veterans into the homes and businesses of busy attorneys, professional athletes, and working families. He chronicles the challenges attorneys may face in running a non-legal business.

Tom Stieber always had a penchant for combining the creative and the pragmatic. As an aspiring third-grade cartoonist, he asked his classmates to cough up cold, hard cash for the privilege of owning one of his original drawings. It was his first stab at developing a practical and beneficial arrangement for multiple parties. He was becoming part entrepreneur, part budding lawyer.
Many years later, after law school, he landed a job with a fast-growing Internet start-up company that embraced the prevalent 1990s optimism of limitless opportunity. As in-house corporate and securities counsel, he had free reign to develop his academic abilities into specialized areas of practical expertise. Like most attorneys, he used a broad range of problem solving skills to deal with a wide range of situations.

Stieber also endured the challenges of a rigorous work and travel schedule that limited time for sleep and exercise, tilted the balance of personal and processional life, and eroded the ability to maintain healthy long-term dietary habits. Most attorneys tolerate such inconveniences, but heavy restaurant takeout food was not an acceptable replacement for Stieber’s formerly healthy diet. He began a quest for finding a personal chef to help increase his quality of life.

After his surprisingly daunting search for a chef, Stieber realized that the personal chef industry lacked (legal) quality and education standards. In July 2000, Stieber and a former classmate incorporated Big City Chefs. Now Stieber meets unique professional and personal challenges. Legal work often takes a back seat to financial, marketing, or business development concerns. While this required some getting used to, the overall mix of activities was a welcome challenge to Stieber.

Stieber’s schedule took a change for the better. Although he may spend much of a Saturday working, he has time during the week to exercise, nurture creative outlets, and cook for himself. He has completed a residential landscape project for his family, expanded his repertoire of classical piano, and has taken minor stabs at composing and writing.

Stieber is quick to point out that starting a company is not a panacea for attorneys who seek to improve their quality of life. “The challenges that attorneys face in leaving the green pastures of law firms for the shadowy canyons of business ownership may be vast, but the rewards of managing a company like Big City Chefs have been even greater for me. Integrating a greater variety and mix of personal and professional tasks into my daily activities creates a finely interwoven emotional and physical tapestry that improves my concentration and energy, expands my problem-solving abilities, and maintains my intellectual interest in my work, thereby preventing burnout and reducing stress,” remarks Stieber.

To contact Big City Chefs, call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF.

September 1st, 2001
San Diego Home / Garden Lifestyles

Fuss-free Gourmet Dining

San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine, September, 2001

Personal chefs aren’t new, but San Diego-based Big City Chefs offers a squadron of chefs with different specialties. “They can prepare anything clients want, from hearty American fare to Pacific Rim dishes to meals as elaborate as you can find,” says Tom Stieber, chief executive officer. Chefs cook the meals in clients’ homes, bringing their own pots, pans and food. “Couples can get two weeks of gourmet meals for as little as $300,” Stieber says. Call 866/321-CHEF.

August 11th, 2001
Restaurant Chefs Search for Greener Pastures

Restaurant Chefs Search for Greener Pastures

SAN DIEGO, California – As feast turns into famine for restaurant operators facing plummeting food sales in the current economic downturn, even executive level chefs are finding their jobs in jeopardy. In the wake of dining establishments shutting down or cutting back staff, those chefs are increasingly looking beyond the battered restaurant industry at the growing personal chef industry as a lucrative occupational niche.

According to Tom Stieber, CEO of San Diego-based Big City Chefs Corporation, the country’s first nationally positioned personal chef service provider, the economics of the personal chef business indicate that it may be one segment of the food industry that can better withstand the impending recession than traditional dining establishments. For example, he notes that while restaurants must maintain relatively high prices in order to cover fixed expenses such as rent, management, staff, and utilities, personal chefs, who provide personal services cooking customized meals in clients’ homes, operate relatively independently and efficiently. As a result, as restaurant check averages in large cities like San Diego have soared to over $30 per person in recent years, personal chef services, which can run as little as $12.50 per entrée, provide an affordable alternative to cost-sensitive customers looking for value-priced restaurant quality food.

The benefits of low overhead add up to competitive earnings for personal chefs. Stieber notes that despite aggressive entrée pricing, his company’s chefs earn higher average hourly earnings than most restaurant chefs, partly due to the fact that minimal fixed expenses allow the business to pay its chefs a much larger cut of revenues. As a result, the company increasingly works with high profile chefs to deliver a variety of services.

Big City Chefs’ newest personal chef recruit, Nathan Slovatizki, represents the growing contingent of high-caliber chefs answering the industry’s call. Slovatizki, who left his position as Executive Chef at San Diego’s acclaimed Tupelo (part of the Cohn Restaurant Group) to pursue personal chef work, had the competitive edge of big-name experience under his belt. He previously worked with celebrity chefs Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck, and Emeril Lagasse at their respective restaurants. Although likely to find another restaurant job after Tupelo’s unexpected recent closure, he decided the personal chef industry could be a lucrative route given the current economic climate.

Stieber’s company also draws big names to cooking demonstrations his company coordinates at exclusive residential communities. Regional celebrity chefs such as Josh McGinnis, executive chef at Spectrum Foods’ popular Prego Ristorante in San Diego, are using the opportunity to cook for an affluent audience as a means to promote their employers’ upscale restaurants during the turbulent economy.

Bringing on big talent to the personal chef business means frugal but sophisticated consumers can increasingly enjoy attractively priced restaurant quality foods in their homes and communities. Combined with personal chefs’ unsurpassed level of personal attention to clients’ specific dietary needs and culinary preferences, Stieber believes the personal chef industry may particularly flourish in the months or years ahead. “Customers that spent a lot of money dining out during the late 1990s have modified their budgets and values, but not their tastes,” he believes. “Bringing the restaurant chef into the home permits people to enjoy unparalleled quality and personalization of food while keeping their monthly food expenditures modest during uncertain economic and political times.” As more high-level chefs discover this demand, Stieber predicts Big City Chefs will continue to raise the bar on this lucrative market niche.

To contact Big City Chefs, call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF.

August 10th, 2001
Cohn Restaurant Group Executive Chef Joins Big City Chefs Team

Cohn Restaurant Group Executive Chef Joins Big City Chefs Team

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationally positioned personal chef service provider, has announced that Chef Nathan Slovatizki has joined its growing team of executive level personal and private chefs. Slovatizki recently headed up the kitchen as Executive Chef at Tupelo, one of the Cohn Restaurant Group’s acclaimed downtown San Diego eateries, and previously worked as Sous chef with San Francisco celebrity chef Michael Mina at Aqua Restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as well as at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House.

August 9th, 2001
Big City Chefs Launches Services to Los Angeles Area

Big City Chefs Launches Services to Los Angeles Area

SAN DIEGO, California – Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationally positioned personal chef service provider, is now offering its personal chef services in the central Los Angeles area. The company’s high caliber chefs prepare restaurant quality home meal replacement solutions that they prepare in the kitchens of executives, professional athletes, busy families, and those needing special dietary assistance. Chefs develop completely personalized menus, shop for the highest quality ingredients, and bring their own professional cooking equipment to prepare meals on site.

By providing professionally trained chefs with total business management solutions, Big City Chefs brings the highest standards of professionalism and quality to the booming personal chef industry. The company’s impressive roster of chefs includes executive-level restaurant veterans with past stints at regionally and nationally renowned restaurants such as San Francisco’s Boulevard, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, and Michael Mina’s Aqua.

Big City Chefs currently serves the San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco regions, and plans to expand into other national markets next year. If you would like more information about the company’s services, please call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF or visit its website at www.bigcitychefs.com.

August 1st, 2001
San Diego Magazine Online

San Diego Magazine – Online Edition

Food Lover’s Forum with Judi Strada: Cooking Schools and Classes in San Diego

 

Big City Chefs
1-866-321-CHEF

Big City Chefs recruits experienced chefs whom they send around San Diego county to conduct cooknig demonstrations at private and public facilities. Classes may include light seafood dishes, Pacific Rim specialities, Tuscan foods, and more. Call for information, or visit www.bigcitychefs.com.

June 19th, 2001
Big City Chefs Expands Services to San Francisco Bay Area

Big City Chefs Expands Services to San Francisco Bay Area

SAN DIEGO, California – In response to increased demand for its services, San Diego-based Big City Chefs, the country’s first nationally positioned personal chef service provider, has launched its services in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company sends professionally trained chefs into the kitchens of busy families, executives, athletes, and those needing special dietary assistance. Big City Chefs’ restaurant-quality chefs develop completely personalized menus, shop for the highest quality ingredients, and bring their own professional cooking equipment to prepare meals on site.

Big City Chefs helps a growing contingent of culinary-trained chefs enter the personal chef industry by providing a turnkey business management package comprising marketing, billing, customer service, online account management, powerful web-based business tools for personal chefs, and vital industry education and support networks, all at significantly reduced start-up costs. The formula is proving successful: the company’s impressive roster of chefs includes executive-level restaurant veterans with past stints at regionally and nationally renowned restaurants such as San Francisco’s Boulevard and San Diego’s Pamplemousse Grill, Café Japengo, and Sam Choy’s.

Big City Chefs plans to further expand into the Los Angeles and Orange County regions later this year.

May 17th, 2001
Big City Chefs Feeds “Survivors” at Wellness Expo

Big City Chefs Feeds “Survivors” at Wellness Expo

May 17, 2001 – An estimated 600 attendees of the “Survivor Expo,” one of San Diego’s largest personal wellness events, recently enjoyed TV-inspired jungle decor, healthy foods, and fitness related demonstrations at the grounds of San Diego-based Cubic Corporation. Big City Chefs, America’s premier personal chef service company, was on hand to promote eating habits that take advantage of fresh, preservative-free, restaurant quality entrees.

“A personal chef is an integral part of improving and maintaining personal wellness,” according to Chief Executive Officer Tom Stieber. “Just as a personal trainer designs and implements a fitness program tailored to a client’s needs, a personal chef designs and implements a dietary program based on a client’s needs and preferences.” However, a client’s meal service needn’t be focused on healthy foods. “Personal chefs can promote both physical and emotional wellness,” Stieber notes. “Even for clients who enjoy unrestricted diets, the convenience of personalized, prepared meals can reduce overall stress.”

Big City Chefs’ clients, ranging from professional athletes to busy working families, are already appreciating that convenience. Demand for the company’s professionally trained restaurant chefs is leading the company to look at imminent expansion into the Los Angeles, Orange County, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco regions.

March 3rd, 2001
San Diego Daily Transcript

San Diego Daily Transcript, March 9, 2001

Hospitality Homepage

by Melanie Potter

Recently opened Big City Chefs is developing a new service to help a growing contingent of culinary-trained chefs enter the (personal chef) industry. The company sends professionally trained chefs into the kitchens of busy families, executives, athletes, and those needing special dietary assistance.

“Not all personal chefs are interested in managing their own business entity,” states David Fischbein, President of San Diego, CA-based Big City Chefs. “To allow chefs to join the industry more easily, we bundle a service package comprising marketing, billing, customer service, online account management, powerful web-based business tools for personal chefs, and vital industry education and support networks, all at significantly reduced start-up costs.”

The formula is proving successful: the company’s impressive roster of chefs includes executive-level restaurant veterans (with past stints at) regionally and nationally renowned restaurants such as San Francisco’s Boulevard and San Diego’s Pamplemousse Grill, Café Japengo, and Sam Choy’s.

Big City Chefs plans to expand into the Los Angeles, Orange County, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco regions by year’s end.

March 1st, 2001
Making Gourmet Cooking Personal

sdmetrologo

San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, March 2001

David Fischbein and Tom Stieber Make Gourmet Cooking Personal

by Terryl Gavre, Food Editor

Big City Chefs, a new food service company in town, is out to make staying home almost like an evening out. The company sends professionally trained chefs into the kitchens of busy executives, professional athletes, those with special dietary needs and just plain ol’ folk who deserve a break and want a little pampering. The brainchild of two college buddies from Berkeley, David Fischbein and Tom Stieber, Big City Chefs plans on

taking the concept nationwide once the San Diego operation is well under way.

Here’s how it works; qualified chefs with either cooking school or three years’ professional experience are interviewed, accepted and insured by Big City. They are outfitted with business cards, food containers, labels and access to the Big City Web site which will be interactive so that chefs can manage their clients and accounts online. They are then matched with clients, who also have been prequalified by Big City.

Cooking preferences, location and client load factor into the pairings. Clients can choose from menu selections predesigned by the chef or create their own. The chef will do all the shopping and then use his or her own equipment to cook dishes for anything from an evening dinner party to enough freezable entrées for two weeks.

The best part is that when all the cooking is done, the chef does all the dishes and promises to leave the kitchen spotless. For more information, call (866) 321-CHEF or click on www.bigcitychefs.com.

February 17th, 2001
Fundraising Gala a Success

Fundraising Gala a Success

San Diego, CA — Big City Chefs, America’s premier personal chef service provider, was honored to be a part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s second annual “Breath of Spring” gala event held at the Hyatt Regency in San Diego, California on February 17, 2001. Over 200 people attended the fundraiser, which raises important research funds for the nation’s most prevalent genetic disease, which slowly cripples its victims’ lungs and prematurely takes the lives of many talented and vibrant young people. Fortunately, recent advancements indicate that Cystic Fibrosis may be cured within the next decade.

Tens of thousands of dollars were raised from generous donations and the sale of stunning auction items. Guests also enjoyed a delicious three-course dinner and danced the night away to big band jazz, making it an unforgettable night for a very important cause.

November 11th, 2000
Big City Chefs Fires it Up at FoodTV Live!

Big City Chefs Fires it Up at FoodTV Live!

San Diego, CA — We were pleased to introduce our services to the San Diego, CA community to a packed house at Food Network’s FoodTV Live! convention on Sunday, November 12, 2000! Over 1,500 people attended this event, which brought together celebrity chefs, award-winning regional restaurants, national sponsors, and food lovers from throughout Southern California. The convention had previously toured through such diverse cities as Chicago, IL, Charleston, SC, New York, NY, and dozens of other major food communities around the country.

More than 500 people stopped by our booth to learn about our professional-quality personal chef services. We also enjoyed meeting many working chefs and culinary school graduates who are eagerly considering taking advantage of the growing Home Meal Replacement (HMR) industry by developing a career as a personal chef.

The afternoon was filled with wonderful food samples from local restaurants, as well as three stages showcasing many of Food Network’s popular celebrity chefs and hosts including David Rosengarten, Gordon Elliott, Bill Boggs, and Curtis Aikens. We hope to see many of you in the Southern California area at this event next year!

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