Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs a personal chef?
Anyone who wants delicious, wholesome ready-to-eat food that’s free of preservatives, additives and other unwanted ingredients. Many people hire a personal chef because they don’t have the time or desire to cook. Busy professionals, working families, seniors, individuals with specific dietary needs, and people recovering from illnesses can all benefit from the services of a personal chef.
What areas do you serve?
The greater Washington, D.C. area, including the District of Columbia, Fairfax and Arlington counties, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax cities in Virginia and Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland.
Do you ever serve locations outside your service area?
Yes, however, a travel surcharge may be added if your location is more than 25 miles (one-way) from my home-base in Arlington.
How far in advance do I need to reserve a date?
I suggest reserving a cook date as soon as you know it, but I will always do my best to fit you in at a time that is convenient for you.
Who does the cooking?
As the chef and owner of Cooking & Catering, I do it all from recipe development to food shopping to cooking and baking (from scratch too).
Do you have to cook in my home?
Virginia/Maryland/D.C. state health department regulations require that all meals prepared by a personal chef be cooked in the home of the consumer or a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen. If you prefer that I not cook in your kitchen, I am happy to prepare your meals in a commercial kitchen, but the kitchen rental fee ($35 per hour) will be additional.
Do you have your food handler's card?
Yes. I hold an up-to-date food handler's certification from the nationally recognized ServSafe.
Are you insured?
Yes. I hold liability insurance designed especially for personal chefs.
Did attend culinary school?
Yes. I received my culinary training at School for Hospitality and Restauranting in Barcelona, Spain (the same school attended by Jaleo’s Jose Andres). I also hold a Masters Degree in Food Studies from New York University (the academic study of all-things food).
Do you belong to any chef associations?
Yes, I am a member in good standing of the American Personal & Private Chef Association.
Can you provide references and a resume?
Can you help me with dinner parties and/or catered events?
Yes! Please look at my Catering page for information on all types of private events.
How do you know what I like to eat?
Cooking food that you enjoy is my number one goal and what we’ll discuss during our initial consultation. I’ll ask you to fill out a simple questionnaire and ask a few follow-up questions. Over the years I’ve cooked for many clients with a wide variety of tastes and nutritional requirements. It’s always satisfying to make each client happy with the food that they want to eat.
Where do you shop for groceries? What kind of ingredients do you use?
This varies from client to client. I use local and organic products whenever possible because I believe this makes food tastier and better for you and the planet. If you prefer a certain store or market I’ll always do my best to accommodate your preferences.
Do I have to eat organic ingredients?
No, you do not. During your complementary consultation we’ll discuss your preferences. You can always choose conventional groceries. I’m happy to work with you to create an appropriate grocery budget.
How do I choose what I want you to cook? Is there a menu?
Have a look at my sample menus. Following our initial consultation, I’ll send you a proposal for your first meals. I am always happy to take requests.
Do I have to be home when you are cooking?
No. In many cases clients are at work or running errands while I'm cooking in their kitchen.
How long does it take you to cook my meals?
This varies based on the menus and/or the service requested. Generally I’ll need 4-6 hours in your kitchen, but will always do my best to accommodate your schedule.
Is it okay if I watch or help?
I’m always happy to chat or discuss your meals before or after I am done cooking, but I do have a specific production schedule. I’m grateful when interruptions are kept to a minimum. This helps me produce safe, delicious, high-quality meals for you.
How often will you come to my home to cook?
This is up to you. I offer a one-time, occasional, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly service. You’ll find that I’m very flexible.
Is there anything I need to do prior to your visit?
When I arrive, I’ll need a clean kitchen. I’ll also need space in your refrigerator and/or freezer. If you use reusable containers, please have them clean and set out for me.
When and how do I pay you?
A deposit for groceries and the service fee are required in advance of each service date because I reserve an entire day for you. I accept checks, cash, or credit cards (using Paypal).
What is your cancellation policy?
For all personal chef services, at least 72 hours advance notice is required for cancellation without penalty. If you cancel within 72 hours, I am unable to refund the service fee, but there will not be a charge for ingredients.
Is the menu the same every time?
You may have as much or as little variety as you like. Some clients never have a repeat meal, while others have favorites they enjoy frequently.
Can you make special food for my children/baby?
Absolutely. I have years of experience feeding children and babies, including my own.
Are meals fresh or frozen?
This depends on your needs and preferences and will be discussed at your initial consultation. Some clients prefer to enjoy all their meals fresh, while others enjoy the convenience of having ready-to-go meals in their freezer. For many clients, a combination of fresh and frozen makes sense. For obvious safety reasons, I do not recommend fresh meals for more than five consecutive days.
How do I re-heat my food?
Each meal will be accompanied by detailed instructions on reheating and serving. Some dishes can be reheated in a microwave oven, others on the stovetop and some in a regular oven.
How much refrigerator/freezer space do you need?
This depends on how many meals you have ordered, but I will usually need a fair amount of space in your refrigerator/freezer. Pyrex-style containers stack well and take up less room than many other options.
What is the best way for me to contact you?
Because I am often in the kitchen or en route to a client, the best way to reach me is through my website’s contact form or email. I’ll almost always get back with you in less than 24 hours.