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Who Uses a Private Chef?

Years before, I was interested in becoming a chef, and I had the privilege of dining out a lot with my family. My Dad was in corporate restaurant management, and it was his tertiary duty to evaluate the dining experience of the company for which he worked. Dining with a family of five is understandably no easy task. Not everyone is in the mood for the same cuisine. And the idea of piling us kids in the car and herding us into a restaurant that put us all in a less comfortable element than at home wasn't always fun for everyone. But for special occasions or the one-off trip to experience something new, we would dine out. I guess as kids, we were all bored, fidgety, less adventurous out of our comfort zone of home. And, no matter what socio-economic station we found ourselves in, going out to dinner was as affordable as it was convenient. Not to mention that if we were dining out to meet and spend time with family, there were far too many distractions to allow for a nice visit without the rush and flow of restaurant activities around us.


I reflect on the last event I had where a boy aged ten had just passed a milestone at his family church. The parents contacted me and wanted to put together something to celebrate with the whole family. Naturally, I have the pleasure of curating a menu to suit the needs and budget the parents have in mind, but as they were celebrating their son's achievement, I felt it was pertinent to ask Him what he wanted. So, I did! The young fella requested chicken but had also expressed an interest in the Asian Style Duck that I have featured here on our website. But he wasn't too adventurous to actually want the Duck. No problem, kid. We'll put a pin in that adventure and just treat the chicken the same way with a nice Minneola Orange Marmalade and Saffron Rice. I enquired further about his favorite vegetables, and he replied that he loves broccoli. Perfect! Lastly, I asked what his favorite dessert might be, and he informed me that Carrot Cake was a close second to Lemon Jello. I may have that hierarchy switched around, but WE chose Carrot Cake as a more commonly enjoyed dessert. With the Menu completed for the Guest of Honor and his peers, we focused on the Adults' menu. A Moroccan Spiced Duck Breast with the same savory orange glaze as featured on the Kids’ Menu, as well as a Brazilian-inspired Sirloin Broiled and accompanied by Saffron Rice and a Bean and Chistorra Sausage Cassoulet. Everyone would get the Carrot Cake.


When the event date arrived, I had everything prepped and ready to go with the exception of icing the cakes with a cream cheese icing so good it was distracting me. I will always be the first to admit a shortcoming, and at this very moment, I'll admit that cake decoration is NOT my forte. My clients had specified that, if at all possible, they should not have an abundance of leftovers, especially when it came to the cake. This is a common request as cake goes. You want to have enough for 14 people but not enough for there to be perishable leftovers. My plan was to make individual cakes to avoid that scenario. And perhaps I could turn my cake decoration shortcomings into a fun "activity" of sorts for the kids. After a trip to my supply shop, I arrived at the event site with everything ready for final preparation including 14 individual, two-layered carrot cakes and several decoration bags of cream cheese icing ready to be deployed. 

I asked the young man if he would help me with an "important project". He was excited to oblige. We then gathered the remaining child guests, and after some hand washing and preventive maintenance on fancy wardrobes, I handed the task of decorating the cakes to the "next generation" of "future Chefs.”


Now, I won't declare that the late great Cary Vincent would be awarding any medals to my newfound decorating crew, and maybe I would have done a better job, but the delight these kids had while their parents visited and enjoyed their adult version of the celebration was memorable for even me! It gave them all an experience that wouldn't be afforded at a restaurant. Talk about an upgrade from crayons and color-by-number placemats!


It was fun for the parents to see these masterpieces when it came time for dessert. The Dad took videos of the whole experience, and I am sure that the fun everyone had would outdo any experience they could have had. When I had a moment, I asked the young guest of honor if he missed the Lemon Jello he had also wanted. He politely replied that his cake was a better choice, but I had wanted to surprise him. I handed him a Lemon that had already been cut in half and placed back together to appear whole. I asked him to "open" it for me. When he did, he discovered that each half was filled with Lemon Jello! I pulled out two more to accommodate the remaining children, who were all aghast with the special treat!


At the end of the event, it was clear to the parents, as they conveyed to me, that NONE of this would have been possible at a local restaurant. They had a great time freely visiting and celebrating in their home with their children and family members. They took their time congratulating and toasting the young man, and the had control over the timeline of serving and enjoying their meals.


So, why hire a private chef? Isn't it expensive? We could compare what you get at a restaurant to a meal prepared at home. We could certainly analyze costs and compare my prices to those of any restaurant in terms of the caliber of cuisine.


I will gladly split hairs on how much emphasis and detail goes into preparing wholesome foods on an elevated level that young diners find fun and appealing compared to the fried chicken fingers and cold pasta one finds at a restaurant. Sure, you get what you pay for. At least with a private chef, especially one like me, you get much more than a meal. You get an enjoyable and unprecedented experience—one by design and often with pleasant surprises.

Chef Dave Cottrill, private chef


Guest of honor decorating carrot cake during celebration

Chef Dave Cottrill, private chef with guest of honor

Appetizers made by Chef Dave Cottrill, private chef

Charcuterie boards made by Chef Dave Cottrill, private chef

Chef Dave Cottrill, private chef

Special treat of lemon jello in a lemon


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