How to Be a Personal Chef

personal-chef-in-kitchen-vertThe role of personal chef was virtually unknown a few years ago. Today more than 7,000 are registered as active members of the American Personal Chef Association. Industry leaders estimate this number will swell to more than 25,000 within the next 10 years. They will be serving nearly 300,000 clients and contributing nearly $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy.

A personal chef plans menus, shops for food, and cooks it in a client’s home. He may pack it in neatly labeled containers with heating directions, store it in the refrigerator or freezer and, then leave the kitchen in pristine condition. He or she customarily is employed by several clients. Continue reading

Radio Host Food Job

Being the host of a food-focused radio show must surely be among the most desirable of careers for anyone knowledgeable about food. If you would love to have your own radio program, this is how to get started.
Address a proposal to the radio-station manager in which you describe your idea in one short paragraph. For inspiration consider Food and Drink Magazine, a lively weekly radio program that celebrates the joys of food and drink. Late-breaking culinary news is heard there first, along with interviews and fascinating reports on the American food chain—the voyage of food from farm, to store, to skillet, to the plate.
Bullet points are always good to use in proposals. Using Food and Drink Magazine again as an example, if you were pitching that show, you might characterize it in the following manner:
• Food and Drink Magazine is modeled on the ideal buffet reception. It is a fast-paced buffet party where the talk is fascinating, the food is fabulous, and the punch carries a terrific wallop.
• The best-known and least-known small-scale food artisans, wine and beer makers, and connoisseurs are invited to present their opinions through tightly focused interviews and personal commentary.
• Listeners will meet cookbook authors, food-business entrepreneurs, chefs, restaurateurs, food-truck owners, farmers, physicians, nutritionists, food-safety regulators, beekeepers, bread bakers, and critics.
• On the menu, too, are those responsible for feeding school children, hospital patients, the military, astronauts, and those working in the kitchens of federal prisons, museums, zoos, and as the caterers of grand parties.
• When our guests can’t come to talk to us, we will go to them, even if the journey takes us to the galley of the Queen Mary 2 or to the White House.
• The subject matter of Food and Drink Magazine is the stuff of life. Food fads will be explored; food trends will be tracked. There will be reports on the latest supermarket innovations, on new apps and restaurant openings.
• The show will serve an audience hungry for information about food and the food market: what is in season—what is available at which supermarket, specialty food-store, or mail-order catalog?
• Listeners will learn about the latest scientific findings concerning nutrition and agriculture.

Suggested show format, with additional time to be allotted for commercial messages:
1. Message from the host/teasers/food news 4:00
2. Interview/produced story (major topic of the week) 3:30
3. Quiz question 0:20
4. Interview/commentary/produced story 2:00
5. New product review 2:00
6. Cookbook review 2:30
7. Person-of-the-week profile 2:00
8. Wine/beer segment 2:30
9. Supermarket news 2:00
10. The fresh report 2:30
11. Interview with person of the week 4:00
12. Listener mail with responses from an expert 2:00
13. Nutrition news 2:00
14. Closing commentary 1:30

You will be taken seriously if you provide this kind of detailed proposal. Remember as well, that some universities have their own radio stations. This may offer an opening for you too.

Food Job: Making a Difference

Relief Work, Lobbying, Advocacy

 

If you think you are too small to be effective,
you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.

—Betty Reese

The consequences of hunger are infinitely greater than the immediate= problems of not having enough to eat. Being unable to find adequate amounts of food quickly leads to irreversible deterioration of mental as well as physical health.

            A. A. Milne, the beloved author of Winnie the Pooh said, “In the quiet hours when we are alone and there is nobody to tell us what fine fellows we are, we come sometimes upon a moment in which we wonder, not how much money we are earning, not how famous we have become, but what good we are doing.”

            Many chefs these days are fine fellows: they do well by being good neighbors. They volunteer at local food banks, the Feeding America hunger-relief charity, and with other organizations. Mario Batali is one among many who have created their own philanthropies. His is called the Mario Batali Foundation. As Batali has said, “Those of us who are fortunate enough to make a living feeding people have a very clear view of those who cannot afford to eat.”

            Cat Cora’s foundation, Chefs for Humanity, is an alliance of culinary professionals and educators working with US and global organizations. It provides nutrition education, hunger relief, and emergency and humanitarian aid to reduce hunger across the world. She and her coworkers personify President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy when he said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

            Share Our Strength is a national organization whose mission is to make sure that no child in America grows up hungry. The country’s leading hunger-fighting organizations—Meals on Wheels, City Harvest, Feeding America Entertainment Council, and Food Banks—weave together networks of community groups, activists, and food programs in hundreds of communities in order to supply children and adults facing hunger with nutritious food where they live, learn, and play.

            Chefs and restaurateurs Charlie Trotter and Marcus Samuelsson are two more among the fine fellows I mentioned. They have spent innumerable hours supporting nutrition education and hunger relief organizations.

            Almost all major fast food chains have established charitable foundations as well. One of the most visible programs is the Ronald McDonald House for parents of children in hospitals. The PepsiCo Foundation, too, focuses on health and wellness, youth development, and higher education.

            Other soft drink companies have established company foundations as well. The Coca-Cola Foundation, for instance, also concentrates its energies on education. Its programs include a scholars program that gives two-year college scholarships to high school seniors and provides extensive funding for many other causes. Most large fast food chains, junk food manufacturers, and soda makers give to or have started philanthropies.

            The Arby’s Foundation, established in 1986, has focused on Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which has helped children from primarily single-parent homes by matching them with adult volunteers. Domino’s Pizza supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with terminal medical conditions. The Ingram- White Castle Foundation gives scholarships to college students.

            In the soft drink world, Claude A. Hatcher, founder of Royal Crown Cola, established the Pichett-Hatcher Education Fund in 1933. By 1968, this fund had assets of almost $5 million and was one of the largest student loan funds of its kind in America.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were trailblazers in the food industry. They funded their foundation in 1985, with an endowment of Ben & Jerry’s stock. Their employee-based community action teams lead the foundation and distribute grants to surrounding communities.

            Ben & Jerry’s has always held certain values, and these have permeated every aspect of their business. Their brilliant Heifer International Foundation enables even those who have little to give to offer a living gift that truly keeps on giving. The gift of a cow costs $500, but anyone can contribute just $50.00 for a cow share. The foundation helps children and families around the world receive the nutrients, training, and supplies they need to live more self-reliant lives. When, for example, a family receives a heifer, every morning there’s a glass of fresh, rich milk for the children to drink before heading off to school.

            Likewise through Heifer International, one can buy a whole goat for $120 or contribute $10 for a share. Goats provide up to a gallon of rich, nutritious milk each day and don’t need large tracts of land for grazing. Sheep as well can be gifted for $120 each. Their wool can be used to make clothes and their manure turned into fertilizer. Finally, their mutton may provide a good dinner, while two sheep will produce even more little lambs.

            There are still more animals available through Heifer International. Chickens require little, but give a lot. They don’t take up much space and can thrive on food scraps. A flock of little chicks costs just twenty dollars. Three rabbits cost sixty dollars, or ten dollars a share—and they breed, well, like rabbits. A pig too, might make a perfect present. And it is also possible to donate funds for a pair of ducks, a beehive, or the “Noah’s Ark” gift package ($5,000), which is a true farmyard of fifteen lady and gentleman pairs of food-producing animals and a hive of bees. Heifer International’s animals are like living savings accounts for struggling families.

All these organizations welcome full and part-time paid workers and volunteers to help with marketing, event planning, accounting, and other management skills. Learning about the many opportunities to help those in need is like discovering a Hansel and Gretel trail of crumbs; a foodie fairy tale with a happy ending. Small crumbs are transformed into loaves and fishes that feed many thousands.

Food Job: Advocate/Volunteer

Food for Thought

“FoodCorps places motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service.” Explore the possibilities at FoodCorps.org.

 

Success Story

As a 21-year-old, Wendy Kopp raised $2.5 million of start-up funding, hired a skeleton staff, and launched a grass-roots recruitment campaign. During Teach For America’s first year in 1990, 500 men and women began teaching in six low-income communities across the country. TeachForAmerica.org.

 

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

—Winston Churchill

This is an extract from Food Jobs 2

Finding Your “Bliss”

blissA goal is a dream with a deadline. There are so many choices and this too often results in paralysis.

My website designer, Randy Caruso, asked me to describe myself in just three words. I decided I am a writer, teacher and mentor. These are the three things I most enjoy.

If I may, I’d like to give you an example for my own life. For two years, I taught a course in Gastronomy but I was passed over when I applied for a full-time position on the faculty. The evaluations from the students were spectacular and I loved teaching the class.

There was just one problem. Continue reading

My NAME IS…

I just heard a politician say that he is reintroducing himself. (He had recently been released from prison.) “What a good idea!,” I thought.

I’ll do the same thing: the introducing part, not the prison bit.

To begin at the beginning, my name is not Ilona Chompers. It is Irena Chalmers.

I began my professional life as a British nurse and have been caring about the food and the people who eat it or need it for many years.

I’ve worked in and around restaurants, and recreational and professional cooking schools for what seems like forever. Continue reading

Sustainable Cuisine

Food is the common thread that unites us all. It is love made tangible.

No matter what our physical surroundings or our religious and cultural beliefs, we all have many things in common. We all experience the emotions of sorrow and joy, rage and repentance, love and hate, fear and, occasionally, courage.  And everywhere, throughout every part of the world, we gather together to eat and drink at the end of the day. It is this sharing of food that defines us as family and unites us as members of the human family. Continue reading