The Making of a Menu

Posted & filed under Dishin' with Annie, Personal Chef.

One might assume that creating a client’s menu is the easiest part of being a personal chef.  Wrong!.  It’s not as easy peasy as one might think – just slapping a variety of meals on a piece of paper and off it goes.  There is so much to take into consideration, and sometimes, making a menu – really, a weekly meal plan – can be very time-consuming. 

Allergies, Likes and Dislikes

Why is that, you say? First and foremost, I need to be aware of any food allergies or intolerances.  Secondly, and just as important as the first consideration, I need to know the client’s likes and dislikes.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that if you and your family don’t eat beef, you probably wouldn’t enjoy my Balsamic Beef Roast (look at that high-level connection I made there, HAHA).  When it comes to allergies and intolerances, likes and dislikes, I have to make sure the meal plan is individualized for each family member.  If one member is intolerant to gluten and another family member doesn’t like onions, I make sure those meals are prepared as such.  Sometimes that means coming up with an entrée and sides for the family, and then an alternate side for one or more members.

Grocery Costs

Next, I have to consider the cost of groceries.  If you are someone who is trying to keep the grocery bill as low as possible, I won’t be making you Surf & Turf on a weekly basis (at least, not if I want to keep my job!  LOL).  Along with that, I need to make sure the dishes I am choosing include food that is in season.  If a particular food isn’t in season, it won’t taste as good and will cost the client more money.

Variety of Meals

Last but certainly not least, I like to make sure the client(s) is offered a variety of meals, rather than having “the same old thing” every week, while still making sure I include their “oldie but goodie” favorites.  And, those meals also need to store well, whether in the freezer or refrigerator.

Throwing it all into the pot

Once all allergies, dietary likes/dislikes, seasonality of groceries/produce, client’s grocery budget, client’s requested method of storage/re-heating (frozen vs. non, oven heating vs. microwave), and time frame of a typical cooking day (can’t plan on preparing 4 casseroles and slow cooked pulled pork all on one cook-date, I’d have turn it into a cooking-sleep-over) are all thrown into the pot (pun intended LOL), the most important thing to me is that I LOVE what I am preparing.

This really is the most important factor for my clients too, whether they know it or not! Because if I do not feel 100% in love with the recipes I am preparing for my customers, if I am not excited to make a dish, or to watch my client’s faces when they stroll through the kitchen for a taste, then my heart and creativity will just not be into it and in the end, they won’t taste my love…and they won’t eat their hearts out!

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