7 Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef for Your Holiday Party

With holiday gatherings fast approaching, you may be considering whether or not to cater an intimate meal or spend your time in the kitchen cooking and preparing lavish courses of food to feed the family and friends with whom you’ve chosen to spend the holidays.

Before you start Googling recipes or writing out a shopping list, consider the following 7 benefits of hiring a personal chef for your holiday party. And then relax.

Holiday Meals Cook Up Memories

Looking back upon your childhood, you may recall those warm and fuzzy moments of being in the kitchen, surrounded by loved ones, while watching your family prepare and baste the holiday turkey. The kitchen was loud, with the clatter of pots and pans, and the aftermath was a mountain of dirty dishes that nobody wanted to clean up.

Usually, the adults would ration the duties and divide and conquer the task of after-holiday party clean-up. Although many of these memories evoke happiness, cooking and cleaning took quality time away from the company, leaving the person responsible for cooking with all the worries of making everything perfect.

Today, the convenience of hiring a personal chef for holiday parties allows the host an opportunity to take a revered backseat and enjoy unforgettable moments at the dining table, rather than in an apron or with their hands in a sinkful of soapy water.

If you want to take the time to enjoy the season, hiring a personal chef truly is not an indulgence. It makes perfect sense for all of the following reasons.

Is a Personal Chef Right for Your Holiday Party?

Take a look at all the reasons for hiring a personal chef. It may just be the best decision for your holiday gathering this year.


#1. Perfectly Prepared Courses


No more dry turkey or stuffing. You don’t have to worry about burning the dinner rolls. An expertly trained personal chef has mastered the art of creating the finest of dining experiences. If you want to impress your party guests, a culinary professional will ensure that every course is delightfully tasteful and cooked to perfection.


#2. Adaptive to Dietary Concerns


Whether your guests have food allergies, gluten-free requests, or stick to low-carb courses, a personal chef understands how to prepare a menu that satisfies all palates without sacrificing taste. Take the worry out of accommodating dietary restrictions and allow a professional to map out a holiday menu that carefully fills every belly with satisfaction.


#3. Less Stress


Not only is preparing and cleaning up after a holiday party stressful in itself, shopping for the ingredients means running to several different crowded stores, all while battling the holiday traffic. A personal chef provides the freshest of ingredients, and the only thing you’ll need to worry about is what to wear and where to seat your guests.


#4. Time-Saving


The holidays are our moment to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones. If you’re in charge of planning and cooking for your holiday event, you miss out on precious time that you could better spend doing other things, like trimming the tree or hanging seasonal lights.


#5. Create Memories


The holiday season often makes us feel like the more presents we buy or stockings we stuff, the more we make memories. But the truth is, some of the best memories are those intimate moments that feel special, simply because everything turns out perfect. There is comfort and ease in hiring a personal chef for any holiday event. Everything turns out perfectly, and your family and friends are worth it.


#6. Intimate and Safe At-Home Dining


The current pandemic has kept many of us home and limited our exposure to the public. Rather than go out and risk any possible repercussions, at-home catered events keep your family and friends feeling safe and adequately socially distanced.


#7. Increased Options


With a personal chef, you not only get to enjoy exquisitely prepared meals, but you also have more variety. A chef brings new ideas, flavors, and courses to the table to make a memorable impression on your guests. Rather than rely on recipes from days past, a professional will pamper you with a creative blend of flavors, seasonings, and preparations that are stunning as they are sumptuous. What better way to celebrate the holiday this year than trying something new?

Treat Yourself This Season

If you’re ready to step out of the kitchen and enjoy your dinner party mingling, contact us. We can accommodate dinner parties and dietary requests while helping you create a memorable holiday dinner that nobody will forget. Book your holiday party today!

5 Reasons to Continue Prepared Meal Services Post-Pandemic

Life changed on a dime for all of us, and it doesn’t look like it’s going back to normal anytime soon.

With 42% of us working from home, and studies predicting a need for a degree of social distancing into 2022, prepared meal delivery services will continue as a viable option for busy households.


#1. Your personal chef cares about you and your family.


Because of COVID, many families experienced their first taste of prepared meal services from a personal chef. If one of those families was yours, you know the joy and convenience of a delicious, custom-designed meal explicitly matched to your family’s preferences.

Creating a meal with ingredients and flavors you love is only possible through clear, ongoing communication and feedback. And that feedback doesn’t just ensure you keep returning for more and more delectable dishes. It also allows us to get to know you and your family better.

And it means we make it our responsibility to avoid ingredients that trigger your daughter’s allergies or your partner’s food sensitivities. It also means we remember how much you liked the local herb-grilled summer squash, but next time you’d prefer that we hold the feta cheese.

Cooking is personal.

Over the last few months, families like yours trusted personal chefs like us to safely feed them through all the hurdles of social-distancing, not to mention the stressors of sourcing healthy meals in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

You opened your home to us, and in return, we provided exceptional care, being diligent in delivering great tasting food in the safest way possible.

Unlike fast-food franchises or large chain restaurants, personal chefs intentionally build relationships, which means we will continue investing personally to keep you well-fed, healthy, and safe.


#2. Your personal chef sources healthy ingredients (even when your grocery store’s shelves are empty).


If there is one thing COVID made abundantly clear, it was that safe, easy access to healthy food is something we take for granted.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture assured us there was no shortage of food in the United States, a quick peek down your grocery store aisles made obvious there was considerable, unanticipated disruptions in the food supply chain.

It’s inconvenient (and uncomfortable) to substitute your Cottonelle toilet paper with a generic brand. You’re looking at another level of anxiety altogether when purchasing your essential grocery list requires the skills of a military tactician.

Thankfully, sourcing food is always a top priority for personal chefs.

Many of us have spent years developing relationships with a blend of global, regional, and local suppliers. This allows us to buy in-season produce locally while sourcing other produce from vendors outside our region.

When supplies run thin, a personal chef will have multiple resources, which means there may be a slight menu shift, but your prepared meal services continue.

And that’s important, especially during a pandemic when the kind of food you eat either strengthens or diminishes your body’s ability to fight anything that comes its way.


#3. Your personal chef makes dining in a more relaxing and satisfying experience than dining out.


While 39% of U.S. adults said they are comfortable dining out right now, the experience they seek may prove difficult for restaurants to provide for the near future, at least.

When you go to a restaurant, you want to feel relaxed, taken care of, pampered even.

Unfortunately, because of mandatory safety regulations and social distancing, the luxuries, ambiance, and service you desire is no longer available.

Restaurants limit staff interactions with customers as much as possible, reducing the human connection that makes dining out unique.

  • Gone are the menus, now you scan a QR code to access a digital menu.
  • Gone are quick payments, now your post-meal activity is wrestling a Ziosk or other annoying third-party payment processor.
  • Gone is the ability to hear your waiter make menu recommendations. Why? Because there are no physical menus. And next, because you can’t hear his voice from behind his mask 6-feet away.

When you dine-in on food prepared by your chef, you get to set the tone.

There are no wobbly tables, no loud music, and the only misbehaving kids might be your own (but you can send them to another room if you want).

Comfortable in your favorite leisurewear, you pull your most requested dish, perhaps the Pan-Seared Redfish, from the fridge, heat it per the directions, and plate it just like a chef.

It’s an easy win.

The exact opposite of what you can expect from prepared meal services is declining service, rising food costs, reservation hassles, limited capacity, and reduced customer experience.

Beautiful, high-end food that tastes as good as you feel is an alternative worth considering.


#4. Your personal chef maintains the highest safety standards in their commercial kitchen.


Food safety is of utmost importance to those serving in the food industry, and personal chefs are no different.

The extra precautions initiated by the CDC and WHO during the pandemic emphasized the future of food safety. As a result, many personal chefs took this time to tighten up their commercial kitchen’s standard operating procedures.

Our commitment to maintaining the highest measure of food safety standard possible in our commercial kitchen means we’ve reinforced personal hygiene practices, initiated more strategic food prep, and stepped-up our handling and packaging protocols. We’ve also created more in-depth cleaning/sanitizing practices to ensure the kitchen and delivery chains remain as safe as possible.

You can also request “contact-free” delivery to your building or door for your weekly prepared meal services for your added peace of mind.


#5. Your personal chef allows you to feel good about outsourcing yours and your family’s meals.


Even before the pandemic, you were pressed for time and juggling a busy family schedule.

Now that things are a little less crazy, you don’t have to compromise on your food choices for you or your family.

Hiring a personal chef alleviates the stress of planning, shopping for, prepping and cooking meals. Instead, you can tick off the “Serve up healthy delicious, immune-boosting meals to my family” check box in your daily bullet journal.

Choosing to outsource 3 comforting, healthy meals a week is not just budget-friendly, but it removes the fast-food option from the equation and sets up a pattern of eating for optimal health.

There has never been a better time to get started customizing a weekly plan that works for you and your family.

Making the Best of Difficult Decisions

2020 has been a year of stress, challenges, hope and unity. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and our business this year and with every challenge we have faced during all this craziness, we’ve always been able to remain centered around our brand mission. We do more than just serve food; we build connections between people and we nurture our community.

Our latest challenge recently arose with a situation that happens from time-to-time: we had a disgruntled client. While we pride ourselves on always being on point, the reality is that we are understaffed and a last-minute request got lost in the shuffle. We immediately corrected the issue as soon as we became aware of it, however, the client continued to maintain a particularly combative attitude with our staff members every step of the way.

At the summation of our dealings, the client was still prepared to maintain their meal delivery service with us. However, after putting much thought into the situation we ultimately decided to discontinue our services with them.

This was a very hard decision to make. We’ve been luckier than many, however, the effects of this year’s pandemic have not left us unscathed. Turning down business is not an easy thing to do when times are hard. At the end of the day, we decided that we have to take care of ourselves first so that we can best serve you. We maintain a high standard of respect with everyone we do business with and expect the same of our vendors, our partners and our clients.

Even so, it breaks our hearts to lose a client. We don’t know what else was going on in their lives that may have had an impact on our communications. We’ve all been there, getting too surly with a call center employee or otherwise because we were having a particularly bad day in other ways. This is certainly the year of bad days and we’re nothing if not understanding.

However, just because we’ve been there doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

We understand that everyone is a bit on edge these days. We are experiencing trying times. However, we are working tirelessly to uphold our standard of excellence, respect and patience as we forge on through the year. We may have lost a client, but we’ve gained something more: a greater perspective on who we are both as people and as a business.

Lastly, thank you to each and every one of you that continues to support us through these trying times. We appreciate you and hope you appreciate us in kind.

Staying Healthy in a Post Covid World

“Quarantine 15” doesn’t just rhyme; as we all obeyed our shelter-in-place orders for the better part of 2 months many people have emerged with slightly tighter pants. It’s not that surprising; the uncertain times have been perpetually unsettling at best, leading to a lot of anxiety and stress. When we’re stressed, we reach for comfort foods. High-fat, high-sugar (or starch) foods give us a jolt of energy and have a bit of a tranquilizing effect that can alleviate some of that anxiety, albeit only temporarily. Add to that the complete disruption of our routines, which for many also meant a disruption in our exercise routines. Gyms, parks, even some state and national parks remained closed months.

So here we are. As communities open up we emerge like plump little butterflies. Except we don’t want to be plump. Most of us just want to get back to where we were when this whole thing started. Here are our tips for staying healthy in body, mind and community.

Ditch the Comfort Foods

We think it goes without saying to do your best to bring your daily eating routine back to where it was before COVID-19. This means eliminating junk food, sugar and practicing a little more moderation with those simple starches, like white rice and pasta. At least to the effect you were already doing so pre-pandemic.

Move More

Returning to your prior exercise regimen may not be possible depending on the availability of open gyms, operating sports teams/centers, or your level of comfort in going to them or participating in team sports. However, exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also help alleviate some of that anxiety that had you stress eating in the first place. The strategy here is routine. If you can’t participate in your old one, build a new one.

Maintain Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Let’s face it – we know you’re not out partying these days. Now is a great time to focus on sleep hygiene. Adequate sleep is important for both physical and mental health as well as for maintaining a healthy immune system. Key takeaways are to establish a bedtime routine, keep it consistent and avoid drinking too much alcohol, particularly right before bed (Yes, we know. The struggle is real but you will sleep so much better.)

Buy Local

No, locally produced food doesn’t have fewer calories necessarily than something commercially produced. The point here is to embrace the community around you. Support your local businesses, artisans and suppliers. Not only will you be helping your local economy, but you’ll also likely build some new relationships. Community is important, especially right now.

Let Us Help You

Do you know what makes healthy-eating easy as pie? Personal chef services. We create a custom menu just for you and deliver healthy, chef-prepared meals every week. Our prepared meal delivery comes with all kinds of perks like no contact delivery, limited grocery store outings (we provide all shopping and can even supplement our clients with grocery staples), and a custom menu. We also utilize as many local vendors as possible so you know you’re supporting the central Texas community. If you’re ready for custom, chef-prepared meals to help you kick start or continue your health journey, fill out our food profile to get started!

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. For more information on coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC also has valuable recommendations.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Intimate Dinner at Home

There’s a difference between staying in to “Netflix and chill” and creating a wonderful night out at home. You can take your weekend at-home evenings beyond snuggles and popcorn with just a little extra effort. While a special occasion often begs going out, staying in can be just as special, whether you’re getting over a cold and don’t want to head out into public or simply don’t want to book a babysitter.

Create Your Own Ambiance

There’s no reason you can’t snazz up your patio or dining room into a space with ambiance and flair. Break out the tablecloths, candles and that fine china you almost never use to create a restaurant feel at home. And our biggest tip: properly set the table to give your dinner an air of fancy! You can even leave the kids to their own devices indoors while you create a bistro on the patio. (Note: we mean electronic devices…)

Plan a Special Menu

If you don’t want to deal with cooking and cleaning, consider reaching out to a personal chef for a “dinner for two.” A personal chef is more than happy to come cook for you in your home. Often they’ll even deliver a 3-course menu. Don’t forget to procure a special bottle of wine to pair with your dinner, or ask your preferred meal delivery service if they can deliver wine, too!

Start with an Aperitif

Every great night out starts with a cocktail. Put on a little music and shake up a craft cocktail (or mocktail) to start the evening off right! The best part is this can last as long as you want – there’s no hostess disrupting your pre-dinner drink to let you know the table’s ready, so take advantage and take a leisurely approach!

Don’t Forget Dessert

Dessert is often put aside when dining at home, but a special night calls for a little something sweet at the end of your meal. It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate. Consider sharing a piece of cake or pie a la mode! If you don’t have a sweet tooth or if you subscribe to a keto or other low-carb dietary plan, do dessert like the French and have a small cheese board.

Include the Kids

One of the advantages of a night out at home is not having to get a sitter. While your options may vary depending on the age of your kids, consider including them in your fancy dinner! Set the table for everyone, ask for their input on a centerpiece, or even get them some sparkling cider to put in a wine glass. They will have just as much fun as you will, and you’re creating a family experience to remember.

Staying in doesn’t mean you have to have a buffet-style, casual affair every time. Whether you have a special occasion or your reason is no reason at all, we can help! We have a special Date Night Delivered package featuring a 3-course meal delivered to your doorstep. Contact us for more information on how we can help you create an in-home dining experience to remember, or order our Date Night Delivered™ online!

How to Plate Like a Personal Chef

Plate at Home Like a Personal Chef

When it comes to any dining experience, we feast with our eyes before even picking up a fork. There’s nothing better than when the server sets down a perfectly plated dish and getting that “wow” effect right before you dig in. While you may not have honed your own technique with foams or sauce drizzles, there are a few things you can do to dress up your mealtimes at home. This is especially fun for our personal chef clients in Austin that get our prepared meal delivery services. We take a lot of care in curating your weekly menus, and while we carefully “plate” them in your containers, just a little thought and effort goes a long way into creating that restaurant-style experience in your home. Practicing your plating skills regularly also makes for an impressive presentation when you have dinner guests.

Here are a few simple tips and tricks we use that you can play around with at home!

Use White Plates

Have you ever noticed that most restaurants serve their food on white plates? Using white plates is one of the oldest chef tricks in the book. Everything from colorful vegetables to a perfectly seared piece of meat really pops on a bright white background.

Noodles plated by personal chef

Embrace Negative Space

Your entrée needs a little bit of breathing room. People often tend to grab a plate and fill it up, particularly when eating at home. “Negative space” is the artistic term for the blank space around the subject. Think about the plate as your canvas and the different food components as your paint. Does the dish just beg to be centered, or a little bit askew? Consider how the blank part of the plate plays into the whole presentation.

Utilize Height

Layering and stacking ingredients can add another element of interest to your dish. Consider putting that purée under your protein, or stacking and leaning the ingredients against each other. Sauces can also be used as a base layer of color instead of being drizzled on top.

Stacked pork loin plated by a personal chef

Thoughtfully Garnish

A garnish always helps a dish pop, particularly if your main entrée is a bit monotoned and/or brown (like meat). Always garnish. However, garnish thoughtfully. Less is more. It’s also worth a mention to consider your dish and complementary flavors when garnishing. Don’t just throw some red pepper on there for a color pop unless it will actually lend itself to the flavor of the dish.

We think meal times are special. Gathering around the table (be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner) is a time to connect, reflect and take a breather from our busy day-to-day. Whether you’re experimenting as your own chef at home or taking advantage of our prepared meal delivery services, putting a little time and care into your weekly meal routine makes every meal a special occasion.

To learn more about our personal chef delivery services, fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch shortly!

Why Family Dinnertime is More Important Than Ever

Growing up, did your mom put dinner on the table five or six nights a week, complete with a salad, place mats and ironed cloth napkins? 

Times have changed.

Today, with working parents, long commutes, and children’s sports and homework that stretch into evening – there is not always a simple recipe for making family dinners work.

In the midst of our hectic lives, numerous studies show that one activity that really unites busy families is dinner time. This precious time together provides families with a break from their fast-pace lives, time to talk, laugh and re-connect after a long day.  Researchers have discovered important science-backed reasons why we need to limit meals on the run and schedule more family dinners at home.

Kids who eat with their families on a regular basis, have been shown to have higher self-esteem, better grade-point averages and larger vocabularies, and lower rates of obesity, eating disorders, and depression.

Family meals offer parents a chance to be role models. They can set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners. Time around the dinner table provide the perfect opportunity for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes. When families eat together, children are less likely to be overweight and obese because they are taught portion control, and how to eat nutritious, balanced meals.

Another advantage of family dinners at home is cost savings.  In 2017 the average spent on food away from home was $4,200. Even more, the average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal. 

If making family dinners seems like another chore on your to-do list, The Austin Artisan provides a perfect solution! Our personal chef-style meal delivery service requires  no sautéing, blending or chopping. Simply turn on your oven and insert your meal. In 5-15 minutes your meal is ready, and you haven’t dirtied a single pot or pan!

The Artisans cook your meals in our certified commercial kitchen and deliver delicious “reheat and eat” foods right to your refrigerator. It really couldn’t be easier. Not only are we dedicated to making your meals as fresh as possible from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, we personalize each meal to your flavor and dietary preferences. The Artisans pride ourselves on our ability to provide healthy meals to those busy families.  We’re ready to help you reignite family time around your dinner table.

Contact us to complete your flavor profile and get started with The Austin Artisan’s personal chef meal service.

Pair wine & food like an expert!

Not sure how to properly pair food with wine?

With holiday entertaining upon us, there’s no better time to talk about pairing wine with food. And the question we get from so many of our clients is, “Which wine goes with which food?”

Texture and flavor elements in foods and wines interact with each other, so finding the perfect match can be essential to properly highlighting flavors and notes from a carefully designed menu.

Years of personal experience pairing fine foods and wines, as well as close collaborations with the best sommeliers in town allow The Austin Artisan to bring you the best of both worlds. We build innovative menus and source the ideal wine partners to complement your chosen flavor profile and deliver the most well-rounded culinary experience possible. See how we do it!

Another great way to discover new wines and experience how they interact with food is to host an in-house wine tasting. Wine tastings are a casually classy way to gather small groups and intimately engage them in the world of wine. Our knowledge and selection of world-class wines can create a memorable sipping soirée for everyone, from novice to connoisseur. Ready to turn your living room into a tasting room?  Check out our wines.

 

Host a high-end dinner party!

Planning a dinner party soon? Don’t want to be the stressed-out host?  

You’ve probably thrown a few dinner parties before.  The scenario usually looks like this: you spend all day in the kitchen, stressing about the menu, food preparation, cleaning up, in addition to having to play the perfect host. Sure, you can hire a caterer to prepare a meal for your next dinner party, but…Have you thought about hiring a personal chef,  a creator of unique, luxury culinary experiences?

We all want to impress our dinner group, especially around the holidays. Imagine elevating your dining experience by preparing a meal that makes everyone feel special in some way, which is The Austin Artisan’s specialty!

Using food as a vessel for that special gathering, we ensure each dinner party is customized to your specific event and guest of honor. Whether you want to host a five-course meal or an elegant cocktail party, our passion for outstanding food, genuine hospitality, and culinary entertainment is the cornerstone of each event the we cater.

Our Artisans pride themselves on selecting only the best ingredients, and that means eating in season. Seasonal, local produce is better tasting, easier to source, and aligns with the natural harvest cycle. With fall upon us and the changing weather means a shift in the produce that is available. Together, we will design the perfect menu for your gathering using the freshest, local ingredients. When we are at your home, our chefs encourage your guests to come gather around the kitchen and watch us prepare each meal, ask us questions, and participate in a lively dialogue.

Michael and his Team will help you handle (almost) everything. Our Artisans are a professional team of servers, bartenders, chefs, and support staff. We can even help you source the right china, barware, glassware, and linens.

Give your guests the ultimate dining experience. Our Artisans can assure the most exclusive dinner reservation in town is at your own table. Contact us to schedule your premier private dining and personal chef experience for your upcoming gathering.

More Local Foods: What This Exciting Change Means for Your Menu

Do you know where your food comes from?

Sure, we all know produce like oranges and avocados can be grown in California. But have you ever noticed that at certain times of year, your oranges come from New Zealand, and your avocados have flown all the way from Peru? Take a closer look at the stickers on your fruits and veggies. You might be shocked to learn how far food travels to get to your plate. And what a shame it is when that food goes to waste.

We at The Austin Artisan are dedicated to making your meals as fresh as possible—which means emphasizing local foods and supporting nearby farmers and distributors. That’s why our menus are changing to include more ingredients originating 150 miles or closer to Austin, Texas.

Our New Partners

We’re excited and proud to announce we’ll be working with these producers:

We’ve always thought of ourselves as stewards of the Austin community. It’s only natural that we walk our talk by increasing our support of local foods and their hardworking producers.

Don’t worry—this change isn’t a setback. It actually allows us to better serve you and the community. We consider it an upgrade to be sourcing more local, sustainable ingredients.

Why Eat Local?

Eating locally-produced food has a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Fresher, more flavorful and nutrient-dense ingredients
  • Less environmental impact and reliance on fossil fuels
  • Strengthening of the local economy
  • Encouraging more sustainable farming practices
  • Eating in sync with the rhythms of Mother Nature
  • Eating a greater variety of foods (and maybe introducing some new favorites to your palate!)

Our new schedule requires a little more lead time for ordering, and we’ll need you to approve menus a little earlier, but we believe the benefits will be well worth the adjustment. Your meals will be even fresher and better-tasting than before.

The New Schedule

Here’s how it’ll now work:

  1. We’ll send you the following week’s menu on Wednesday
  2. You approve the menu by Thursday night
  3. We order ingredients on Friday for delivery on Saturday
  4. Your meals get prepared and delivered fresh on Monday and Tuesday

We hope you’ll join us in embracing this new commitment to sustainability, local foods and community support! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the new schedule.

If you’d like to get started with us, fill out our Food Questionnaire.