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​For over 10 years, The Chef Alliance worked with a variety of retail vendors, online vendors, marketing companies and businesses to promote Personal Chef services for member chefs.  This helped hundreds of Personal Chefs build their businesses by introducing them to guaranteed clients.

It seems that every business sector is undergoing dramatic changes these days - from Uber and the taxi industry, to AirBnB and the hotel industry. 

The Personal Chef and restaurant industry are no different.  In recent months, we have seen a growing trend in 'home-cooks' trying their hand at selling dinner-time spots at their kitchen table, offering home cooked meals in their own home.  This is the opposite of what a Personal or Private Chef would do by cooking a customised meal in a client's home.

These home-cooks, in most cases,  have not had their kitchens inspected by the health department or had formal food safety training, putting the health and safety of their customers at risk.  

Few home-cooks have had any training in food safety practices or in professional cooking.  They simply enjoy cooking and want to make money for doing something that they would have to do anyway - cook dinner.  The only difference is that they just cook a few extra portions, and get paid to do so.

Since they have few real overheads, they can offer meals at a much lower price-point than restaurants and Personal Chefs.  

To an uninformed consumer, this could look like an attractive alternative.

The most concerning fact is that the majority of these home-cooks have no liability insurance, which professional Private and Personal Chefs should have (and all members of The Chef Alliance have as part of their membership fees) in order to protect their clients, themselves and their families.  Many consumers still don't understand the importance of checking that these home-based or pop-up 'restaurants' have the proper insurance until it is too late.  If there was an accident on the premises or there was a case of food poisoning, for example,  in the absence of liability insurance, the cook would likely not have the funds to deal with any claim for compensation.  Even their home insurance would likely not cover claims arising from a business run out of their home.

Until tighter controls are implemented by government to address these marketplace changes and the sale of prepared foods , Personal Chefs and the industry will have to adapt.

To address this emerging competition, for the benefit of our members and the growth of their businesses, we are now encouraging members to market themselves directly to consumers with companies such as Life Experiences and Samba Days*, as opposed to booking jobs through The Chef Alliance.  This will allow members to create unique packages to showcase each individual Chef's talents directly to consumers on well-established platforms.  Chefs can set their own catchment area, their own terms and conditions, and have control of their own price-point.  

Changes will be coming to our online Chef profile websites (such as Top Chefs 4 Hire) in the coming months to improve the marketing of professional Personal Chefs.  Our focus will be on helping Chefs reduce their business costs and mentoring and guiding our members, rather than acting as a booking agency.

Please feel free to contact your Success Manager by email should you have any questions. 

*Life Experiences and Samba Days will require their companies to be added to your insurance coverage as a 'named insured.'  It's simple to do and costs nothing more - for further details on how to do this, please contact us.




The Chef Alliance has relaunched one of it's websites, geared to Canadian Personal Chefs -

The Chef Alliance has been working with Personal Chefs in Canada to grow their businesses since 2001.  They provide Personal Chefs with marketing support, peer mentoring, training, clients support, chef jobs.

They have also been working to add professionalism to this unregulated sector of the foodservice industry, by ensuring that their members have liability insurance* to protect the Chefs and their families, their clients and the Chefs' businesses.

Read more information on our Chef Insurance!




Ajeen Beckford was recently in Madrid, Spain to accept the prestigious International Hotel & Restaurant European Quality Award for Gastronomy.
“I came home from work and there was a letter there that said I’ve been selected,” said Beckford. “I was stunned. I was shocked, I didn’t expect it.”
Beckford, who lives in Scarborough’s McCowan Road and Sheppard Avenue area, has hosted various cooking shows around the GTA including appearing on the Food Network stage at Good Foods Canada, and the French Regional Gastronomy Festival in Guadeloupe.
He was honoured in Spain for his culinary skills in creating French-Caribbean fusion cuisine such as ackee soufflé.
This cooking combination has grown in popularity in the culinary world, according to Beckford.
“I was trained in classical French cuisine like every chef, really, for basic cooking. And coming to Canada sort of provided a notion that it would be very competitive cooking only French food because there are many trained chefs here,” said Beckford.
“So my approach to it was fusing Caribbean with the French (cuisine) and do it aggressively.”
Originally from Jamaica, Beckford got his start in the kitchen at a young age. He’s been submerged in the culinary world since he was 15 years old when he accidentally got a job in the kitchen at the Morgan’s Harbour Hotel in Port Royal, Jamaica while sneaking around the pool area one summer.
“A guy sitting around the bar called me over and asked me what I was doing there. And I said I was looking for a summer job,” recalled Beckford.
“He laughed and told me to go in the kitchen and see what I can do and maybe he’ll take me on for the summer. I went in and saw a person doing flambé, with fire coming out the pot and people cutting with knives so fast and I was like ‘whoa!’”
He started working in the mornings and as the years went by he was already working the evening shifts as well.
Beckford worked in the kitchen there for four years until he decided to work as a chef on a cruise ship for six months. An experience he credits for his foray into fusion cuisine.
“When I was there I saw Thai cuisine, French cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine and different variations of cooking and even cooking in bulk” said Beckford.
“It reshaped me and allowed me to shape the way I cook, now. (Working on a cruise ship) It’s no joke, really. It’s a lot of work.”
All that dedication and hard work has paid off, not only has he become a successful chef in his home country of Jamaica, becoming the personal chef for boxing legend Lennox Lewis from 2006-2008. Beckford said he had applied to work at the Tryall Club in Montego Bay, and was called in for an interview, or cooking demo.
“And right on the spot I was told, ‘You nailed it’ and I was hired,” said Beckford.
He was there seven days a week for Lewis who had one challenging request. He had no desire to eat the exact same dish twice.
He wanted Beckford to be creative with his meals and do variations.
“He’s spontaneous. It was challenging at first, but it has helped me to be more creative and master my craft. So it kept me on the edge to keep creating dishes as I go,” said Beckford. “Garlic filet mignon with a cream sauce was his favourite dish.”
Since then, Beckford has created his own catering business entitled Professional Caterers that focuses on French Caribbean fusion cuisine.
He said he plans to work on a GTA tour this summer, giving people a chance to get a taste of French-Caribbean cuisine through classes and shows.

Scarborough chef honoured for his French-Caribbean fusion cuisine  
Scarborough Mirror By HILARY CATON, 
Posted on, Feb 4th 2014




The 4th Regional Festival of Culinary Arts in Guadeloupe: Honouring Cuisine from the Caribbean
With the participation of Guadeloupe Chef, Claude Strazel of "Table of Lena,", and the presence of two big names in the gastronomy of the Caribbean: Ajeen Beckford*, Jamaican talented young chef and Jose Enrique, Puerto Rican leader known, the Regional Festival of Culinary Arts and Gastronomy intends to register strongly in the quality and refinement this year .
The festival will also be honoured with the Guadeloupean finalist in the second season of the show "Master Chef" of TF1,  Jeff Antus.
This very popular event will be particularly rich in entertainment and culinary arts. Indeed, everything will be implemented to the delight of many visitors who, like previous editions, will rush to the gates of the festival. 

Avec la participation du chef guadeloupéen, Claude Strazel de « la Table de Léna », parrain de cette édition, et la présence de deux grands noms de la gastronomie de la Caraïbe : Ajeen Beckford, jeune chef jamaïcain de talent et Jose Enrique, chef portoricain réputé, le Festival régional desArts culinaires et de la Gastronomie entend, cette année,s’inscrire résolument dans la qualité et le raffinement.
Le festival aura également l’honneur de recevoir le Guadeloupéen Jeff Antus, finaliste de la 2e saison de l’émission « Master Chef » de TF1.
Cette manifestation très prisée sera particulièrement riche en animations culinaires et artistiques. En effet, tout sera mis en oeuvre pour le bonheur des nombreux visiteurs qui, à l’instar des éditions précédentes, se bousculeront aux portes du festival.




The Chef Alliance has been booked for 3 events in 2010 at Bass Pro Shops, located in Vaughan, ON at the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre.

Bass Pro Shops is a specialty store geared towards the outdoors, selling products such as boats, hunting, fishing, camping items and much more.  Their Vaughan location is one of only two locations in Canada.

On May 15th 2010, The Chef Alliance will be demonstrating a pig-roast & BBQ seminar.  August 6th, 7th, 21st & 22nd 2010 is the first & last weekends of their Fall Hunting Classic, and will showcase The Chef Alliance holding a corn roast, featuring their 'secret seasoning!'  Come on out & join in the fun!

The outdoor events at Bass Pro Shops showcases the diversity of The Chef Alliance's services.  Renowned for their in-home events, The Chef Alliance is becoming known for their unique & unforgettable outdoor events & products - perfect for backyard parties to corporate events.

As part of the events, The Chef Alliance will be giving away the Grand Prize of In-home BBQ Chef Experience for 10 people, as well as thousands of e-vouchures which may be used towards the purchase of a Chef Experience.  




Gift Experience Boutique, a range of gift cards now available in stores across Canada, including WalMart Canada, will prominently feature The Chef Alliance on their ‘Dining’ Card.

The range of certificates also includes those for Indulgence, Family Fun & Entertainment and Inns, Resorts & BBQs.  The Giftex Prepay Report indicated that “Experiential gift cards are becoming more desirable than retail goods, especially when the experience can be shared with the giver”.

Angelica Knowles, who purchased ‘An Intimate Dinner for 2’ Chef Experience wrote “Chef Kevin made our 10th anniversary dinner one of the most magical nights ever!  Why we ever celebrated at a restaurant is beyond me!  This was just perfect.  We will do it again and again... Thank  you, Chef Alliance!”



The Chef Alliance is proud to announce the launch of their website, which will allow chefs across Canada to purchase liability insurance at affordable rates.

Liability insurance is an essential part of running any business, but is vital in the foodservice industry, where chefs are working with food which could affect the health & wellbeing of their clients.  Failures to invest in liability insurance could mean financial ruin for a chef should something go wrong while working.

Sharon recently joined The Chef Alliance. "I got quotes from a few different insurance companies. The quotes that I was getting were around $1000. I then went online to see what other options I had, and came across The Chef Alliance. I now have insurance and the benefits of membership, and still have a few hundred dollars left for other things. What more could you ask for?"

For more details on the cost of liability insurance and policy coverage for Personal Chefs, Private Chefs and Caterers, please visit our website or contact us.  

Read more information on our Chef Insurance!


Published in life, etc magazine, RBC Rewards Magazine
Written by Anita Draycott

 Millions of Royal Bank Visa Cardholders are familiar with the 'life.etc with RBC Rewards' magazine, the glossy magazine highlighting the very best rewards offered through the program.  

The Fall/ Winter 2008 magazine featured 6 of the 20 Experiences by RBC Rewards on pages 14 and 15, including The Chef Alliance’s Personal Chef Experience.  

Editor, Anita Draycott, experienced the services of one of our Chefs over the summer, when she invited 4 of her friends and colleagues to join her for dinner.  She wrote, in her opening article ‘From the Editor,’ “Never have I enjoyed one of my dinner parties so much.  Why?  Because instead of jumping up and down all evening, I sat and ate and laughed with my friends...”  

Giving ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’ is fast becoming the trend during the main gifting occasions, such as Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, baby and wedding showers, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  “Chef Experiences appeal to everyone,” says Chef Sonia, president of The Chef Alliance.  “Everyone likes to eat great food.  Having your own Personal Chef for the evening to design a menu just for you, to shop, cook and clean up, are the perfect ingredients for an unforgettable evening with friends and loved ones.”



NOTE: The Chefs mentioned in this article are no longer members of The Chef Alliance; we do not vouch for their services nor do we have any knowledge that they have liability insurance to protect their clients.

​This year, The Canadian National Exhibition, with an expected attendance in excess of 1.25 million people, will take place from August 17th to September 3rd 2007. We are proud to announce that 2 of our Chef Alliance members will be conducting demos on the Cooking Stage. 

Chef Jono McDonough will be on stage on August 22nd, making a Wheatberry Salad. Chef Shawn Rocchi will be demonstrating a Sweet Crab & Shrimp Cake with a Pear & Cabbage Coleslaw and a Sweetcorn Puree. He will be on stage on August 30th 2007.

"The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is an 18-day fair taking place every August concluding on Labour Day. Over its 128 year history, the CNE has grown to be the largest annual fair in Canada and the fifth largest in North America attracting approximately 1.3 million visitors each year. 

The programs and exhibits of the CNE encompass the 192 acres of Exhibition Place in Toronto including eight buildings and structures designated as historical sites under the Ontario Heritage Act."


Chef Sonia, President of The Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, will be one of the judges at the upcoming IRON CHEF competition at the 10th annual Hot & Spicy Food Festival.

Chef Sonia started out in the Personal Chef industry with her company Sonia's Spicy Secrets.  Chef Sonia, who was born in Northern Ireland, specialises in Indian-fusion cuisine, blending her Indian background with her love of European cuisine.

"The Hot & Spicy Food Festival is just one example of the wonderful events in the city that glorify food and the diversity of cultures that make it a great place to be," commented Chef Sonia.

"I am proud to support the Iron Chef event once again. Last year, our Personal Chef representative, Chef Sean, came a very close 2nd in the competition. The fact that a Personal Chef can compete against some of the city's top restaurant chefs highlights the level of excellence that our Personal Chefs strive to maintain. 

Most of our Chefs have come from the restaurant industry, and now offer more specialised in-home catering services or customised meal services, cooking classes and recipe consultation/ menu planning services."

The Festival, which runs from August 10th -12th 2007, at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre (Brigantine Room), will hold its 4th Iron Chef event on Saturday at 1.30pm and 3.30pm, with the finale on Sunday at 3.30pm.

The competitors are as follows:
1.30pm, Saturday
Phil, The Rhyming Chef
Vicky Cheng, Auberge du Pommier
3.30 pm, Saturday
Federico Lopez, visiting from Mexico
Duff Lampard, Westin Harbour Castle Hotel

The winner of each round will proceed to the final on Sunday.



Check out the next couple of issues of Canadian Living Magazine for a competition run by "Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi."

The winner will receive a dinner party conducted by the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, as well as a selection of Waterford Crystal glasses. 

Good luck to all who enter! We look forward to serving you!

This highlights the growing trend within the wine industry and beyond, to use Personal Chef Experience packages for prizes. This competition follows those conducted by Naked Grape Wines, Santa Isabella wine, Toasted Head wine, and Sawmill Creek wine.

The Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, which is Canada's premier personal Chef organisation, has also conducted Chef Services which were provided as prizes for Sobeys & Scott Paper and TELUS.

"The interest in our Chef Experience packages by the corporate sector has increased dramatically over the past 12 months," commented Chef Sonia, President of the Alliance. "It is a very exciting time for our chefs and the industry as a whole. 

"People are starting to realise that hiring a Personal Chef is not just for the rich and famous, but is akin to hiring a cleaning service or a gardener; Personal Chefs save their clients time, energy and money!"

Yes, believe it or not, Personal Chefs can save their clients money!! There is no longer a frantic rush to decide what to eat for dinner, so people are less likely to purchase fast foods, processed 'meals' or dine out at a restaurant. Instead, they can stay in the comfort of their home, and enjoy a meal that has been lovingly prepared just for them!

For dinner parties, Personal Chefs cook right in the client's kitchen. "We had a wonderful time watching Chef Cheryl prepare our dinner," said Diana, a client in Calgary. "We are a group of Foodies, but even we learned a thing or two!" 

Updated: These experiences are no longer available.




NOTE: Joanna Smith is no longer a Member of The Chef Alliance and we cannot vouch for her services or if she has liability insurance coverage to protect her clients.

The Canadian Home & Country Show (Toronto) will be launching their 2006 Show with an ‘exclusive shopping event and auction’ in support of the Canadian Cancer Society & Breast Cancer Research on October 26th 2006 from 6.30 to 10.00 pm. The Canadian Personal Chef Alliance has provided their full support to this worthwhile cause, by promoting it to chefs and clients. 

Alliance member, Joanna Smith of ‘Simply Good Food,’ has generously donated her time and delectable dishes in support of the event. Stop by Joanna’s table and try some of her mouth-watering samples. 

Simply Good Food offers several food experiences and personal chef services: from stocking your home with personally tailored meals, to "living life, loving food" experiences which include Spa at home parties, special occasion dinner parties, cooking demonstrations and much more. All of these great food experiences help the client's of Simply Good Food take back their precious free time and live life to the fullest. A Personal Chef is for everyone, it's a much deserved and affordable service: you will wonder how you ever lived without.

Update:  Chef Joanna Smith is no longer a member of The Chef Alliance


Printed in The Paris Star, November 29th 2006

Have you ever wished you could simply go home after work and find a delicious home cooked meal ready to be served at the table?

Or perhaps you are a retired person who is looking for ways to make it easier for you to live independently. You want tasty and nutritious food, but you find it harder to shop and prepare meals.

You might be planning a dinner party for friends, and don't particularly relish spending most of the evening in the kitchen.

Or maybe you just love to eat and hate to cook.

You are the person that is fuelling the astronomical growth in the home and personal chef industry.

Nancy Rowley-Panasiuk introduced herself to the town of Paris as a personal chef two-and-a-half years ago.  She finds herself meeting an ever-increasing need for home chef services. Busy families, seniors, people recovering from operations and new mothers have all availed themselves of Forks of the Grand services and the results have been delicious.

"I love to cook and I love being my own boss," says Nancy, who has a number of cooking and cheffing diplomas and certificates. In fact, Nancy got her start cooking at the Trading Post Restaurant on Dundas Street when she was 15 years old.

She might have started frying potatoes and flipping eggs, but her repertoire has definitely expanded over the years. The Forks of the Grand menu includes entrees like filet mignon with Béarnaise sauce, beef pot roast, lasagna, lemon rosemary chicken, coq au vin, Cajun catfish, east coast lobster in lobster sauce, grilled pork loin, fettuccine alfredo, vegetable and tofu stir-fry and vegetarian stuffed peppers. Nancy also makes homemade soups - butternut squash and sour cream, roasted plum tomato and wild rice and chicken to name a few.

Hungry yet?

Clients choose from entrees from Nancy's extensive menu for one to two weeks. For example a family of four receives 20 entrees for one week, and the cost is $200 plus the cost of groceries and freezer containers. "It works out to as little as $10 a day per person," says Nancy. "I try to keep the cost as reasonable as possible. Nancy has prices for six-person families, as well as couples and retirees. She has a wide vegetarian selection, and can cook for people following low-sodium, low-cholesterol or diabetic diets.

There are many prongs to Forks of the Grand. Nancy does in-home catering for dinner parties, providing cooking, set-up, serving and cleanup. Her Christmas catering menu is mouthwatering, with a choice of five entrees including tender roast beef aus jus and salso veracruz salmon.

Nancy will cater just about any occasion where people want to eat. She has cooked for numerous retirement parties at local halls and prepared trays and served at bridal and baby showers. She even makes picnic baskets to order. She is also happy to provide pick-up service for someone who wants a casserole or lasagna prepared for a potluck or busy night.

Nancy also offers cooking classes for groups or individuals.

Update: 2009 - Chef Panasiuk is no longer a member of The Chef Alliance

February 16 2006
By Pauline Braithwaite

‘Who’s making dinner tonight?’  Who hasn’t heard or said this before?  I heard it myself last night!  It is a question that’s reverberating in households across the country.  Dual income households, increased commuting time and demanding work and home schedules, has led to an acute need to find ways to eat healthy meals and spend more time with family and friends. 

 An enterprising professional and entrepreneur, Chef Sonia Thapar and her company the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, offers a long overdue solution.  More Canadians are turning to Personal Chefs to take charge over of their meal planning and preparation.  Personal Chefs consult with their clients about their health and dietary restrictions and food preferences, and will then develop a customised menu; they take care of the grocery shopping, attend at your home and prepare custom entrées for that evening and the rest of the week.  They even clean the kitchen afterwards!  Yes!  It sounds too good to be true!

Helen, a busy mother of 4, juggles their after-school activities, a part-time job and maintaining a home.  She uses a weekly personal chef service to avoid the fast-food cycle that they were in a year ago.  “I would buy groceries every week, but never had time to cook.  We would eat take-out most nights and ended up throwing most of the groceries away.  The service has saved us money and brought our family closer together, since we now have more time for each other.”

Once thought of as only for the rich and famous, it is now becoming a staple in many average Canadian households - as essential as a vacuum.  Not only does it free up approximately 15 hours per week, that a typical family would otherwise spend on meal planning, preparation and kitchen clean-up, today’s educated consumers have realised the immeasurable health benefits that a Personal Chef can provide. Meals are prepared without added preservatives, additives, and colours etc. – just fresh, wholesome ingredients. 

Andrew, a young, single Toronto executive, didn’t want to cook for himself after a long day at the office, and he was tired of eating take-out or at restaurants.  He found that he was quickly gaining weight, and lacked energy.  With the help of his Personal Chef, he now comes home to a healthy meal.  “My food allergies are accounted for, the meals are delicious, and I have been able to maintain my weight without any other changes to my lifestyle.  I feel and look great!  I warm up my dinner, eat and have the rest of the evening to do as I please.”

The Personal Chef industry has been recognised as one of the fastest growing small businesses in North America.  In the United States, it is projected that by 2010 there will be over 10,000 Personal Chefs serving over 300,000 clients, spending over 1 Billion Dollars.  “The socio-economic climate in Canada isn’t that different here,” says Chef Sonia.  In only a few years, her company now has over 200 Chefs across the country, and expects to have nearly 5000 Chefs in the next few years.

Chef Sonia credits the dramatic explosion in her company not just to the need for Personal Chefs at home, but the fact that Personal Chefs also cater Intimate Dinners for two, private dinner parties etc., and are the perfect gift for weddings, birthdays, Mother’s Day, new moms and the ill or elderly.  It is the ultimate in luxury and pampering, without a high price tag. 

More recently, her company has developed special packages for businesses.  It is no secret that the average work day has increased for many Canadians.  Across Canada, Human Resource departments are waking up to the costs associated with disgruntled employees and their high turn-over – a recent study commissioned by 10 leading law firms in Canada, found that each time an associate lawyer left, it cost the firm approximately $315,000.  End-of-year bonuses partly make up for the long hours, but it doesn’t come close to fixing the work-home imbalance.  Many firms are now incorporating Personal Chef Services into their benefit and bonus structure.  Rewarding their employees with the ‘gift of time’ to spend with their friends and family, is worth more to the average Canadian than extra money at the end of the year, since much of that is lost in taxes anyway.  It is a step to putting added quality into their lives, and making the family feel rewarded for their sacrifice.  It also puts a kinder, friendlier ‘face’ on firms.

Corporate gift packages are also popular.  Gift baskets and bottles of wine have become passé, and no longer help to differentiate your firm from your competition in the minds of your client.  By gifting a Dinner for 4, for example, the ‘experience’ can last for several months – from the receipt of the giftcard in an elegant gift box, to planning a date with friends or family; from discussing the menu with the Chef, through to the actual dining experience.  Each step will keep you at the forefront of your client’s mind.

Since taking over in May 2005, Chef Sonia has taken the industry to new heights.  With a Bistro Dinner for 4 and Culinary Adventure gift package now available in over 600 Shoppers Drug Mart stores under their lifeEXPERIENCES banner, the Alliance is receiving unprecedented exposure.  She has also formed partnerships with many well-known companies, such as the Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery, IVO Cutlery and Calphalon.  No other Personal Chef organisation has taken such pro-active steps for the industry and its members.

In addition to the corporate partnerships, Chef Sonia has introduced mandatory liability insurance, and will be introducing mandatory Food Safety and Sanitation Certification for all members – training that is not required in the restaurant industry. “The Alliance developed the only Ministry of Education approved Personal Chef Diploma Program, and we are now working on a Certificate program to teach cooks and chefs the business aspect of the industry.  Providing a high quality service is our goal, and these requirements are just a part of that.  They protect the client, the member chefs and the professionalism of the industry. 

The way to every Canadians heart might well be through their contented stomachs!


Kitchen confidential: call in the pros; Personal chefs aren't just for the Westons anymore — more and more busy Torontonians are ready to pony up
Jan 31st 2006

For most of us, a typical week is one of painfully early mornings and overflowing inboxes. This year, Aisha Umar found a way to make those back-to-work stresses much easier to swallow. Her secret: the multitude of magnificent meals sitting in her freezer.

“Tonight, we'll have a fish casserole. When we wake up tomorrow, we'll eat a spinach and cheddar quiche for brunch. And then for dinner, we'll have a beef stew with a baguette. I love it — it's all home cooking, but I'm not the chef.” 

Rather, like a growing number of Torontonians, she invited a professional into her kitchen. On Christmas Eve, Ms. Umar's personal chef came to her house, cooked Christmas dinner — turkey, sage stuffing and candied yams — and froze meals for the next two weeks.
Whenever Ms. Umar or her six-year old daughter Yasmin are hungry, they simply choose a dish and heat it up.
Personal chefs were once considered the domain of the fabulously wealthy. Today, as the stock market hits new highs and house prices continue to rise, a growing number of Torontonians are choosing to spend on this time-saving luxury. Like Ms. Umar, a sales director at Microsoft and a single mom, most are working professionals who value their time, and are prepared to a pay a premium for the hours they gain. 

Ms. Umar, who lives in a four-bedroom house near Don Mills and Lawrence, says she used to think that personal chefs were strictly for the affluent — a group she didn't consider herself a part of. When she first called Terry Henderson, who runs Chef by Nite, “I thought Terry would laugh and hang up on me when I told him my budget,” she recalls. “Now, I depend on his service, and my life would be much more stressful without it.” 

For a family of four, Mr. Henderson charges $300, plus the cost of groceries, to prepare enough dinners to last two weeks. The dishes, like portobello mushroom lasagna with garlic bread or beef Stroganoff, are designed to freeze well and microwave easily. Clients can also choose or modify their own menus. 

Many personal chefs have moved on from catering parties and other special events — still a prominent part of the business — into creating meal plans. 

Ms. Umar felt that her time was worth the money; she first hired Mr. Henderson six months ago, when she decided she wasn't spending enough quality time with her daughter. 

Mr. Henderson says her attitude reflects a significant shift in his client base. “When I first started in this business in 1998, I would cook for very affluent people — dentists, doctors and lawyers,” he says. Today, his clients are “people from all walks of life,” including a teacher, a massage therapist and a computer programmer. “What they all have in common is they are busy, hard-working people who care about eating right, and don't mind spending a little bit more to do it.”
The number of Torontonians prepared to hire a personal chef has rapidly grown in the past year, Mr. Henderson says. With 100 people on his books, the chef cannot take on new clients at present, and has a two-month waiting list for first-time consultations.
His company's growth is typical of the industry at large, says Sonia Thapar, president of the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, the largest organization of its kind in the city. Its membership is up 50 per cent this year, to about 100 members in the Greater Toronto Area from single figures five years ago. 

“The industry has really taken off this year,” Ms. Thapar said, citing successful promotions to middle-class consumers through the Canadian Automobile Association and catered dinner party packages sold at Shoppers Drug Mart. “We are really seeing the benefits of that marketing. The service is becoming much more mainstream.” 

Customers such as Jennifer Farkouh, who uses chef Janet Craig of The Satisfied Soul, see it as a matter of convenience rather than a luxury. “If you say personal chef, people think it is really elitist,” said Ms. Farkouh, who looks after her three children full-time and is busy renovating her 2,200-square-foot house near Yonge and Eglinton. “They think it means you must have your own chef who cooks just for you. But it's not like that at all.” 

Indeed, some clients never see their meals being cooked; they'll leave the keys for their chef, who arrives to spend four or five hours in the kitchen while they're at work. Others will have chefs come in the evening, Ms. Craig says; some are territorial about their kitchens, and will hover over her or try to help cook. 

Joanne Sedlacek, another client of Mr. Henderson, heard of his services by word of mouth. Ms. Sedlacek does not have children, but found working long hours managing a customer-service department left her little time to shop and prepare food. Prior to hiring Mr. Henderson, she tended to eat takeout or pizza. 

“I enjoy good food, and that's why I would not be satisfied with a frozen TV dinner every night,” said Ms. Sedlacek, speaking from the two-bedroom house in East York where she lives with her partner. “That's why I spend the extra money.”
She relishes the service, but does not discuss it among her friends. “I'm an average person,” said Ms. Sedlacek, who works for a U.S. bank in Toronto. “But if you are a humble person, then saying that you have a personal chef can come across as quite pompous. So I don't really think of it as having a personal chef. I think of it as just another way of buying healthy, delicious food.” 

Both Mr. Henderson and Ms. Craig are keen to appeal to more middle-income earners. For Ms. Craig, targeting the masses is a matter of marketing. When clients are hesitant to spend the extra money, she encourages them to use their time wisely, and compares herself to a cleaner, albeit a highly skilled and fairly expensive one. 

Mr. Henderson goes one step further. When his clients are uncomfortable about his service, he removes the magnetic signs advertising his personal chef business from his van before reaching their homes. “I think some worry the neighbours might think they are too lazy to cook their own food if they use my service,” he said. “I tell them it's not about laziness. It's a matter of valuing your time.” 


Jan 7th 2006

Supper club: Time-deprived professionals are turning to personal chefs to help them eat right
By Ian Harvey for The National Post

Julie Prentice hasn't had much time lately to spend in the kitchen. Looking after an active six-year-old son and a toddler adopted just a few weeks ago from China has left her too busy to think about menus and meals. 

And that's why Robyn Goorevitch is such a godsend. The personal chef arrives at her midtown Toronto house armed with groceries and ready to prepare a week's worth of meals for her fridge and freezer. 

''It's nice, but it's more than that,'' said Prentice, who juggles karate classes between feedings for the one-year-old. ''She cooks things we wouldn't cook for ourselves and while it's nice to have pizza for a change, it's a lot nicer and healthier to be able to grab some beef bourguignon.'' 

Personal chefs are carving out a niche for themselves in homes across Canada -- shopping, cooking and preparing weekly meals for time-starved professionals and their families. 

They are one of the fastest growing groups in the personal services sector in North America and indications are the trend is expanding north of the border in a big way. 

The American Personal Chef Institute and Association says in 2003 some 72,000 clients enlisted personal chefs and that by 2010 they'll be serving up meals to 300,000. In Canada, things have also grown from humble beginnings, said Mia Andrews, of the Canadian Personal Chef Association, which offers training to would-be chefs. 

''We're training about 50 chefs a year,'' she said. ''We're about 350 members across Canada now.'' 

Even so, Andrews doesn't represent all personal chefs -- many are independents with no formal training while others are experienced restaurant chefs who want a change of pace. There's also another fledgling organization, the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance. 

''It's only been up here really for about four years,'' said Richmond Hill chef Sonia Thapar, the Alliance's executive director. 

''But it's really big in the U.S. and it is getting there here.''

Thapar said the Alliance has teamed with Gallo of California wines to offer a food and wine experience and is also selling gift cards through 600 Shoppers Drug Mart stores giving recipients a dinner for four prepared in their own homes. ''It's really taken off in southern Ontario and we're expanding to B.C., Alberta and across Canada soon,'' she said. 

Veteran chef Goorevitch has been running Dining In Chez Vous for six years and goes to clients' homes to shop, cook and leave a week's worth of food. She also caters special events and holds cooking classes in clients' homes. 

''People like to see how it's done and hang out in the kitchen,'' she laughs. ''I often get calls for corporate functions at one of the executive's homes, so usually these are big places with big kitchens.'' 

''Robyn comes in about once a month and makes up meals,'' said Prentice, a stay-at-home mom. ''It's great because when you're running around to things you don't always have time to cook a healthy meal and while having cereal of scrambled eggs for dinner is cute, it gets old quickly.'' 

Prentice says the $250 plus groceries it costs to have Goorevitch shop, cook and clean up is worth it. 

''We often invite friends over for dinner for the fresh cooked meal, then have the other meals in different portions for use later; it works out to about 20 portions,'' Prentice said. ''We find we eat out less and have less takeout. I like hanging out in the kitchen and learning things and Robyn has shown me how to make many recipes. I even have my girlfriends over and we learn from her. It's great fun and the kitchen is cleaner than before she came.'' 

Marina Kovrig, vice-president of development and external affairs at her family's business, Recochem Inc., uses Goorevitch's services mostly for parties or special events and used to have a personal chef deliver meals because she was living alone and ''found cooking a royal pain.'' 

''I was coming home from work exhausted and eating out of a can. I'm Type 2 diabetic so I had to force myself to eat a healthy meal," said Kovrig, whose busy schedule is filled further with her role as a director of the government's agency Waste Diversion Ontario, which advises the Ministry of Environment. ''I had someone delivering meals to me every week.''
Whether it's a wedding, cocktail party or dinner party, all Goorevitch needs is a fridge and a stove: ''I bring all the food in coolers and then prepare and cook it there. If it's a really big affair with 100 people, then I'll rent commercial ovens and set them up in the garage. We even wash up afterwards.'' 

Prices vary depending on the menu and level of service, but start at about $75 a plate up to about $200. The cost, of course, depends on the menu items: Lobster and foie gras, obviously, don't come cheap. 

''For a menu featuring malpeque oysters on the half shell with an oriental mignonette, seared foie gras with a sour cherry confit, wilted greens and toast points, Champagne lobster risotto and individual chocolate molten cakes with homemade vanilla ice cream would go for $150 per person up to eight people, slightly less for more people,'' chef Goorevitch said.
Alternatively, she said, an autumn salad with field greens, toasted walnuts, dried cherries and goat cheese all tossed in pomegranate vinaigrette, hazelnut crusted apple-and-sage-stuffed pork tenderloin and white chocolate creme brulee would run about $75 per person for up to eight people. ''I like personal chefs catering because it allows me time with my guests,'' said Kovrig. 

''I do a fundraiser, Bella Tuscany Garden party, and a Caribbean-themed Pisces party which Robyn catered and it worked out great.'' 

Thapar said while many personal chefs build their business catering, it's the personal weekly contracts that are the more desirable. 

''It allows you to build your business,'' she said. 

''With a party it may be once a year and not repeat, but with weekly food preparation it tends to be long term.''
Developing a relationship with a personal chef is founded on trust, said Thapar, because of the intimate nature of food, especially for those with allergies such as nuts, shellfish or gluten. 

Many clients are elderly or have food allergies or special needs, and a trained personal chef can ensure the foods meet those requirements. New moms are also a growing clientele. 

''We have clients who contract us for their ageing parents, just to make sure they have nutritious food in the house and are eating right,'' she said. 

The Baby Boomer curve is also driving the trend, with those in their 50s more likely to pamper themselves with little luxuries and receptive to the idea of fine dining at home with fine wines. 

"We even wash up afterwards," she says of her services.




(An open letter to members)
Thank you to [The Chef Alliance] members who have agreed to donate their services to Toronto's Foster Parents.

The week of October 16th is National Foster Family Week. To honour our foster parents who work tirelessly to provide a safe and nurturing environment to children who come into care, our agency is hosting a Foster Parent Tea in Toronto on October 18th.

Our foster parents rarely have the resources to engage in any pampering activity, and I know they would be thrilled to have the opportunity to have a Personal Chef provide their services to them. Several Personal Chefs from [The Chef Alliance] as well as catering businesses, grocers, and bakeries are supporting us in our effort as a community to acknowledge people who make an incredible difference in the lives of children, and we would welcome others to join them by offering dinner packages or personal chef services as door prizes. Our Foundation will gladly issue a tax receipt for a gift in kind donation to those that help.

Thank you once again,

Dawna Cramer
Foster Parent Recruitment Coordinator


Written by Betty Goodfello, Feature Writer - Roundabout- Paris Peddler
February 10 2005.

If Nancy Rowley-Panasiuk had her way, she'd be providing nutritious, home cooked meals to all the busy households in Paris.

The registered personal chef just loves to cook and considers hearty home-cooking her forte. "I love making soups, hearty meals and comfort foods," said Panasiuk with a wide grin. "I'm not a great baker, but I love getting into gourmet." She also caters private events such as parties, company functions and in-house dinner parties. It isn't hard to imagine Panasiuk working a room full of dinner guests. Her infectious laugh and warm smile quickly puts people at ease and it isn't long before you feel you've known her for years.

Panasiuk has been a life-long Paris resident. Her father, Jim Rowley, spent many years sitting on town council prior to his retirement in 1994. After 30 years in the food industry (she began washing dishes at The Trading Post in Paris at the age of 15), Nancy found herself unemployed. She eventually entered the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada-sponsored Changing Directions program where she participated in aptitude testing. The tests  indicated she'd be interested in a wide variety of careers ranging from attorney to hairdressing, but what stood out on the page was cook/chef, a direction she happily pursued. "I've always loved to cook," said Nancy with a laugh. "Years ago a former neighbour, who managed the Grandview Hotel (in the Muskoka area) told me I should be a chef."

With the full support of her husband John, in June 2003 Nancy entered Liaison College in Kitchener where she took both basic and advanced classes.  She completed her studies in January 2004, earning top honours in both the
academic and cooking components of the program. Rowley-Panasiuk jumped back into class in March of the year and by April she had completed the course for personal chef.

Nancy sings the praises of Liaison College, noting that one difference between a private cooking school and one such as George Brown College are the academic requirements. And at George Brown two year course where as at Liaison 30 weeks.

The two levels of cooking classes concentrated on French culinary cuisine, while the personal chef diploma taught various aspects of customized menu planning, food freezing and provided all the references needed for special dietary needs. In addition, as a member of the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, Nancy is only a mouse click away from all the help she could ever need. "It's great. If you have any questions you just go on-line and you can ask questions of Canada's top chefs," explained Panasiuk.

When asked about the duties of a person chef, Rowley-Panasiuk explained that a personal chef does what their clients would do if the could- plan menus, shop for groceries and prepare the meals for any number of families both large and small. Currently, Panasiuk prepares meals for elderly single clients and married client with children. "I make soups and entrees, which I freeze in individual or family servings," stated Panasiuk, "I'm even preparing a full Christmas dinner for two of my clients." She will also prepare and serve a special dinner party in a client's home, right down to serving the food and washing the dishes.

When asked about her favourite foods to make, she thought long and hard before admitting that she had so many it was impossible to decide. But it wasn't difficult for her to explains what she loved about being a personal chef and caterer. "Working with the people and creating wonderful food is great," she insisted. Panasiuk went on to describe some of her more memorable evenings, such as recently when a group she fed stood and applauded her efforts when the meal was completed.

Although her husband is very supportive of her new career, Nancy admits that he sometimes is ignored in all the rush. "Last weekend he had a bowl of ice cream for dinner because I was too busy with a number of catering jobs," she said with a chuckle, "With all the food in the house you'd think he could have found something a little better." John doesn't complain though. He gets to taste-test many of Nancy's creations, as does many of their neighbours.

Since completing her studies, Panasiuk has been kept busy catering private functions and building her client base. She also spends some evening explaining her profession to the public. At a recent gathering she was asked to address, Nancy stood proudly and announced, "Hi, I'm Nancy Panasiuk and I love to cook."

NOTE: 2009 - Chef Panasiuk is no longer a member of The Chef Alliance




Note: Sam's Club is no longer operating in Canada.

Canadian Personal Chef Alliance Chefs to demonstrate in food stores across Canada starting the end of May

Alliance members will demonstrate in food stores across Canada.
We are working with a media company based in Kitchener/Waterloo that represent four food companies promoting tomatoes, asparagus and pears, and one company promoting fish.

These demonstrations will take place starting at Sam’s Clubs at the end of May and continue in a variety of stores across Canada throughout the year.


"The Canadian Personal Chef Alliance and Shoppers Drug Mart are to partner in the "Life experiences" gift certificate campaign," Terry Henderson tells us today.

"We are extremely proud of this partnership, it is the result of much work and meetings with Shoppers to accomplish this for our members, but we feel with the demand for our services, and the appeal of Shoppers to its clients, that this is a natural match" 

"We are extremely proud to announce our partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart and Life Experiences says Henderson.

"We have been working with Shoppers to introduce the Alliance into the program, this will start in the GTA and move across Ontario over the next couple of months". The program will move to BC in the fall, and the rest of Canada in the winter, with over 250 stores in the GTA, 900 stores in Ontario and 2500 stores across Canada, Shoppers and the Alliance are very excited to be working together.

Here is how it works, the customer buys the gift certificate at his/her local shoppers, gives it to the lucky recipient. The recipient calls shoppers and activates the card, then calls our toll free number.

They give us their location and we find them a chef, at the same time we verify the card. We send the leads to our members who in turn meet with the client and set up the date!!! A wonderful experience that is sure to please!!!

Convenience, service and wonderful food all in one place!!! 



By GAYLE MacDONALD, Globe and Mail

There is no other time of year that is so joyously jumbled.

Take Sunday. I wake at 6 -- ruing the wine and boisterous carol-singing of the night before -- to ferry three little boys to hockey practice. Back home for a quick shower and change into Sunday clothes. One of the hockey guys has to be on deck for the church pageant at 10 a.m. After watching him chortle his way through Away in a Manger along with Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men, it's back home for a quick lunch, then off to the dry cleaners, the drugstore and the local gift shop for a hostess gift for the friend who is throwing her annual holiday drop-in. I make it to the party by 5:30, visit for an hour, and then hit another arena. Son No. 2 has a game at 6:30.

What else? Oh yes, I have friends coming for dinner at 8.

Normally, I'd be in a cold sweat by now, screaming orders -- "Light the candles! Put Norah Jones on the stereo! Get the dog out of the cheese tray!" -- but not this time.

An angel named Sonia Thapar has appeared on my doorstep. And with her comes holiday salvation, namely a sumptuous, I-didn't-have-to-lift-a-bloody-finger meal.

Thapar's catering company, Sonia's Spicy Secrets (her specialty is Indian fusion cuisine), is one of several businesses in Toronto and Vancouver that have teamed up with Shoppers Drug Mart to offer harried consumers a rather existential gift: the gift of time. Called Life Experiences, they come in the form of buy-them-at-the-cash credit-card-sized certificates that are the ultimate in last-minute shopping.

"They're designed so you can catch your breath and enjoy a personal indulgence," says Murray Milthorpe, brand champion for Shoppers Life Experiences.

Milthorpe, who believes that the program is an ideal fit for the 150 million customers (the lion's share women) who go through Shoppers' doors annually, now offers 47 different "experiences" in Ontario and more than 20 in British Columbia, sold through 480 stores. Shoppers is planning to expand the program into Quebec early next year. There are four categories -- Romance, Pamper, Family Fun and Adventures.

They include a three-hour Merry Maid sweep of your house ($199), a trip to Algonquin's Eco-Lodge to howl with the wolves ($199), a home spa service ($129), a customized love song ($199), and dinner and a tour through a Niagara winery ($199).

"The most popular are the pampering and romance sections," Milthorpe says.  "But these are gifts that keep on giving because you give them, but you also get to experience them.  They are different and unique.  And they say to the people you give them to, 'I cherish you, and the time I get to spend with you.'"

Milthorpe is on to something, according to Canadian style maven Lynda Reeves, publisher of Canadian House & Home and Gardening Life. 

"We simply don't have a lot of quality time any more to spend on ourselves, give to our friends or share with our husbands or kids," Reeves says. "A gift like this forces you to stop and unplug from the technologies that keep us running full-tilt."

Shoppers is not alone in offering ready-made escapism. A three-year-old Toronto company called Big Day Out also packages adventures or pampering excursions. Ranging in price from $99 (fly a Cessna) to $149 (behind the scenes at Stratford) to $499 (herd cattle and camp under the stars), Big Day Out also offers another quality prized among the target boomer audience: a sense of exclusivity.

How exclusive? Well, if you've got $15-million to spend, the company says it can send you into space with a Russian cosmonaut (no takers, so far).

Josh Dawson, director of Big Day Out, says his company offers 150 "unforgettable" experiences, designed for clients who are sick of "getting their wife or husband earrings or a watch. In this time-pressed age, it's better for the soul to give someone an experience that makes them feel invigorated or special."

Like Shoppers, Dawson declined to say how many packages he has sold, but said sales have doubled from last year.

Reeves believes that women in her age demographic, 45 and older, are the most powerful consumer group, with great spending power. These types of gifts, she adds, will have great appeal.

"When a woman reaches her middle years, she wants to be made to feel special," she says. "To feel like a VIP, that she's appreciated, still sexy, that she's relevant. There's room for men to treat women that age as if they're newly discovered. Nothing could be better than to take her on some sort of adventure, to try something unusual and wonderful."

Of course, for women of the hectic generation, the unusual and wonderful can be as seemingly simple as having someone cook dinner.

Thapar pulls up in front of our house in her van at 6:15, unloads three coolers, and gets to work. When I pull into the driveway at 7:45, the house smells sumptuous. Our friends knock 15 minutes later, and Thapar is ready with a tray of crab and brie phyllos and Indian fusion canapés. 

That's followed by a mixed green salad with fennel and nigella seed vinaigrette, a main course of filet mignon on a bed of cumin-scented basmati rice, and seasoned okra. Dessert includes Sonia's Secret Kisses (bite-sized ice creams coated with milk chocolate).

My school friend says she loves the food, but especially appreciates the fact that I get to sit and really visit with her the entire night, instead of jumping up every five minutes to grab something out of the oven, or whisk away dirty plates.

"It was a treat to be able to share an uninterrupted evening, where no one was rushed or stressed about the food prep and cleanup," she says later. That's right: no cleanup.

In terms of gifts most appreciated in my lifetime, this ranks right up there with my Easy Bake Oven (circa 1972) and last year's handmade Christmas card from my youngest son, who wrote, "I love you as much as I hate mashed potatoes."

It's a lovely ending to what had been an absurdly harried day.

"I find that most people are just so busy they don't have time to cook and enjoy meals any longer," Thapar says. "They're busy at work, their kids are in so many programs. This is an investment in a simple pleasure. And you're telling someone you love that they have your undivided attention."

It's also a more intimate setting than a restaurant.

"We give them a bit of extra time so they can actually sit down and eat together, talk. We give them that extra two or three hours of pure peace," says Thapar, a 32-year-old mother of two young kids.

Reeves says the "experiences" programs are about giving yourself permission to spoil yourself, and others. "Boomers -- as a collective demographic group -- are more affluent than any previous generation in history. So we're looking for meaning in other areas, not just by being consumers. The only way we're going to get it is if we connect to other people through experiences."

At the other end of the spectrum from the intimate dinner is what may be termed the adventure experience. One of Big Day Out's most popular attractions, for example, is the so-called Covert Operations, where big boys get to pretend they're James Bond. 

Big Day Out flies you to Tucson, Ariz., where you are selected by an ultra-secret paramilitary unit for a covert mission in hostile territory. "A secret agent picks you up and flies you to the middle of the desert, where a base of ex-Navy Seals and special forces people take you through training to rescue a hostage in a real life type of setting," the 29-year-old Dawson explains.

Shoppers also offers several "boys-and-toys" experiences, such as tandem skydiving ($269) and fly fishing ($189). But even the boys are time-crunched, as I discover when I sign up for a few personal training sessions ($299) with 1992 Olympic gold hurdler Mark McKoy.

"People's lifestyles have changed dramatically in the last 10 to 20 years," McKoy says. While many want personal training sessions like his (he works you out, and then shows you how to do a similar regime at home), they don't have the two hours to get to a gym.

"They want to be healthy, but they're often too busy to take care of themselves. They take care of the almighty dollar, but if you don't have your health when you retire, then what's the point?"



Jan 1 2003
Author Unknown

Don't we all love to be pampered? The ultimate dream, for me, has always been a spa week-end --staying at a beautiful inn somewhere with nothing to do but relax in a hot tub, eat wonderful gourmet meals and wile away the hours with a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, a mud wrap and a facial.
That was the ultimate until, that is, a press release crossed my desk extolling the virtues of hiring a personal chef. It specifically talked about Chef Terry Henderson who has operated ChefByNite in the Toronto area for the last few years.
"For many, hiring a personal chef is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. People who hate to cook, want to spend more time with their families, or spend a fortune on fast foods, are turning to personal chefs for the convenience and healthy home cooked meals these chefs provide," the release said.
I like to cook, and often do on the week-ends, but planning menus and making healthy home cooked meals after working all day is simply too daunting of a task most days. Instead of planning ahead, we'll often eat whatever we can find; sometimes that means potato chips or microwave popcorn.
Maybe I do need a personal chef ...
Mr. Henderson comes to your home with the goal of making "every meal the best meal you have ever tasted ... by preparing most any style of food or cuisine to your specifications as well as preparing any favourite recipes you may have."
"Once a week, personal chefs shop for the groceries, come to the client's home with their own utensils and equipment, prepare several entrees at one time in the client's kitchen, then package and store those meals in the refrigerator or freezer and provide the clients with re-heating instructions." the press release said.
It gets even better ...
"Your kitchen is left clean and your home smelling wonderful, and Terry also leaves you fresh flowers." the release continues. "You simply heat the meals and enjoy the free time, the clean kitchen and the fabulous food.
A working couple can expect to spend about $200 plus the cost of groceries for 20 home-cooked dinners.
"At first clients may be concerned that a personal chef could be considered a frilly expense. But when you factor in the time it takes to plan menus, do the shopping, do the cooking and then do the cleaning, it starts to make sense to people," Mr. Henderson says.
Since ChefByNite only operates in the Toronto area, I wonder if I could talk my mother into being my personal chef. My favourite dishes are, after all, the ones she made when I was a kid.

Update (June 2005) : ChefbyNite no longer provides services in Canada, and is no longer a part of The Canadian Personal Chef Alliance/ The Chef Alliance.


The Foodservice Industry reaches 1 million employees... 

The CRFA (Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association) reported recently that the hospitality industry has reached a record number of employees making it one of Canada’s largest employment sectors. Human Resources Development Canada continues to fear a shortage of skilled labour; they recently held their annual Skills Canada competition in Kitchener, ON. These headlines have a common theme: A Growing Demand for Chefs!

When you consider becoming a Chef, consider the following career opportunities:
· Personal Chef (
· Food Stylist
· Caterer
· Recipe Development/Test Kitchen
· Food Promotions and Demonstrations
· Special Events Chef

The culinary industry has never been this exciting.

At their recent convention, the Canadian Federation of Chefs and Cooks voted to change their name to the Canadian Culinary Federation in keeping with the growing list of culinary careers and diversity in the industry. Although the traditional careers continue to grow, these new and exciting possibilities in culinary arts open countless doors to new graduates.

The newest face in the culinary scene is the Personal Chef. Terry Henderson (President of the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance) is breaking new ground in Canada. Having “cheffed” for such celebrities as Denzel Washington & Brittany Murphy, Henderson sees a huge opportunity in this field. Personal Chefs are a staple in Europe and the U.S., but are just making their entrance into the Canadian culinary world. Recent articles in Canadian Business and Flare (among others) have increased awareness of the Personal Chef.

What does it take to foray into this dynamic career path?
A Personal Chef must be a great cook and an astute businessperson.
Along with a solid culinary background, Henderson is committed to increasing the professional level of his member Chefs. Henderson has, in partnership with Liaison College, developed Canada’s first and only Personal Chef Diploma Program. The program is designed to enhance a Chef’s culinary skills by giving them the additional skills they will need to succeed in the Personal Chef business. Included in these skills are marketing and promotion, in-home safety and food handling, food packaging and presentation, effective menu planning, proposal writing and much more. In addition to culinary training, the Personal Chef Diploma Program will enable the graduate to confidently enter into their new career as a Personal Chef.

For more information about becoming a Personal Chef, contact us.



Dec 31st 2002
Excerpts: The National Post

Who says things aren't tough in Toronto? Personal chefs are so busy in the metropolis that it's hard to find one who can take new clients.  After a long day at the office, the last thing on most people's minds is whipping up a gourmet meal from scratch.

Hiring a personal chef might sound more like an extravagant daydream than a viable solution, but a growing army of home cooks and their clients are working to dispel that bias.  "People would be surprised at how much they spend on groceries and how much of that food actually gets wasted," says personal chef Michelle, vigorously slicing a row of leeks into thin ribbons at the home of client Margot Jones.

At a recent cooking session, both touted personal chefs as an affordable and increasingly popular alternative to restaurants or prepared gourmet food for time-strapped families wanting to eat healthy fare.  "I think it all budgets out," says Ms. Jones, who runs a management-training company with her husband and is the mother of two young girls.  "I rarely eat out, and if you look at the prices at Whole Foods [a U.S.-based natural foods supermarket new to Toronto], it's pretty reasonable"

For example, Chef Michelle... charges a fee of $300, which involves coming up with a menu with the family, shopping for groceries and then spending a day in the client's house preparing the meals.  The $300, which includes the price of the groceries, buys 10 dinners for two. So from Monday to Friday, a couple can enjoy a feast of rolled turkey breast with apricot and cranberry sauce or cabbage rolls stuffed with fennel and chicken smoked in peach wood. Dessert is optional.  Compare that to a prepared dinner entree at Whole Foods, such as grilled salmon with caesar salad. That runs $12 plus tax and requires a trip to the store.

"In the United States, it's become huge -- it's as popular as having a cleaning lady," said Mia Andrews... There's a lot of demand for the service. We need more chefs. Although we have members across the country, there are certain areas, such as Toronto, where it's hard to find a chef that can take a client."

Those who seek out the services of a personal chef tend to be middle- to upper-middle-class urban families and working couples, Ms. Andrews said, with family incomes in the neighbourhood of $80,000 to $120,000.  Personal chefs keep their overhead costs low by cooking in clients' homes. They arrive on an appointed day, groceries and cookware in tow, and leave behind freezer-safe containers filled with savoury dishes, complete with heating instructions.  Chef Michelle, who has numerous clients with allergies and dietary restrictions, includes detailed nutritional breakdowns of her cuisine.

Toronto-based personal chef Terry Henderson, who has worked for celebrity clients such as Denzel Washington , agrees personal chefs are becoming more popular for busy professionals.  Last year he formed his own organization, the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance, which has already grown to 90 members.  "People are supper-stressed," said Mr. Henderson, who charges $225 plus grocery costs ($110 to $160) for 10 meals, basically two weeks of weeknight suppers.  "They find themselves eating out in restaurants all the time. In Canada, there is not that great a difference between prepared food and restaurant food in terms of price. It's not like Europe, where food can get quite expensive and people only eat out for special occasions." 

Other than price, the key divide between prepared and restaurant fare and meals cooked by personal chefs, Ms. Andrews and Mr. Henderson concur, is fat: most restaurants eschew leafy greens and fibre, loading up their staple dishes with oil, cream and butter. Chef Michelle notes even the higher-quality prepared frozen foods are full of starch and fat.  Personal chefs tend to cook lighter fare, and many of the clients who seek out their services are looking for an alternative to frozen dinners or greasy take-out food.

Their services are distinct from those offered by private chefs, who work full-time with one family or individual and usually live in their homes.  In Canada, private chefs are the purview of wealthy families, typically earning between $50,000 to $100,000 a year -- a fair sum given that living expenses are covered, but a far cry from what private or personal chefs can make in Los Angeles. The latter are de rigeur for celebrities such as Jim Carrey and Gwyneth Paltrow, and charge fees that are closer to $200,000 a year. 

Mr. Henderson says he has charged celebrities considerably less during his time on movie sets, about $700 per week for all meals and grocery costs.  "I've been told that I could get away with charging them a lot more," he says, chuckling. "But celebrity work is just gravy. Most of my clients are families."

Information about personal chefs and how to find one in your neighbourhood can be found at []

Update: 2005.  Mr Henderson no longer provides his service in Canada, and is no longer involved with The Chef Alliance.



Published on W Network's website,, January 14 2001
Written by Julia Rim

How many times have you slaved over a culinary creation to find it was missing that certain something? Skip the salt and instead add some savoury spices to transform the dull to the delectable!

Lisa Slater, Bakery Team Leader for Toronto’s Whole Foods Market, says people overlook spices because they’re afraid they won't like the taste or will ruin a dish with too much of it.
“Add them bit by bit to your dishes,” she says. To use spices effectively she says, “Trying herbs in eggs first enables me to sample them in an inexpensive medium, and baking spices in hot milk is another interesting way of getting familiar with them.”

Slater has been a Bakery Team leader for the Whole Foods Market for over a year. Founded in 1980 as one small store in Austin, Texas, it is now the largest purveyor of all-natural and organic foods in the world. Slater has also owned and operated various restaurants as well as co-founded Eat to the Beat, an all-women chef breast cancer fund-raising event.

She says if you come from an Asian or East Indian household, chances are you will have a larger array of spices in your kitchen than Italian or French. You can, however get spices almost anywhere but look for a busy store where turnover is high so spices are freshest. Especially if the spice is too obscure, it probably means it has been sitting on the shelf for months. The best time to buy spices is right before use.

Slater says spices lose their flavour as soon as air hits them. Light is also bad for them. For these reasons, one should keep them tightly covered and in a dark cabinet.

Terry Henderson, personal chef and founder of the Personal Chef Alliance, says he gets spices in small amounts at a bulk food store so he can get the freshest ones. The Personal Chef Alliance, formed in 2001, helps personal chefs exchange information as well as help potential clients locate them. Henderson has a wide range of clients; he has also cooked for actors Denzel Washington, Jim Caviezel and Brittany Murphy.

He says you can get familiar with spices by adding something different to your dishes, for example, to a sauce or gravy. “Most chefs get to be where they are because they experiment,” he says. “So it’s really just a matter of getting into the kitchen and playing around with flavours. Just a little, and what a difference in flavour! This is how you will learn!”

Broaden your scope for spices and enhance the flavour of your dishes by considering these suggestions:
• white and black pepper for general seasoning
• thyme, oregano, basil for sauces, stews and salad dressings
• bay leaf for soups and stews
• rosemary for soups, stews and baking bread
• cumin for Tex-Mex, Mexican, Indian and Middle-Eastern dishes
• curry powder for soups, carrot or sweet potato dishes and Indian-inspired dishes like curries
• turmeric often for curry dishes; root has an aromatic and spicy fragrance
• chili powder or chili flakes for meat sauces; hot and pungent
• paprika for chicken, beef, potatoes and eggs; adds colour without too much heat like cayenne pepper
• tarragon is nice for fish and egg dishes
• mustard seed for broiled or boiled meat and sauces; commonly used in paste form
• garlic harmonizes perfectly with ginger, pepper, chilies; subtle flavour when cooked or fried
• ginger is refreshing, lemon-like, pungent taste; finely chopped and soaked for hours before use
• saffron for rice dishes; slightly bitter in taste
• cloves for meat dishes, aromatizing rice dishes, also for baking
• cinnamon bridges the gap between sweet and sour flavours e.g. Apple Strudel
• nutmeg generally for baking; best when grated from the nut, not powder form
• vanilla for desserts and sweet dishes; aromatic

Don't forget many herbs have their fresh equivalents (like basil, thyme, and oregano) that taste different from their dry equivalents. They enhance the distinctiveness of a dish and make it taste vibrant and fresh.

Note: The Chef Alliance (formerly the Canadian Personal Chef Alliance) has been under the helm of CHEF Sonia since 2005; Chef Henderson is no longer a member of The Chef Alliance.

The Chef Alliance is the leading organisation of Private & Personal Chefs & Caterers in Canada offering Chefs a place to locate jobs, meet new clients, grow their business, benefit from peer support, discounts to lower their business costs, marketing services & much more.  This allows Chefs concentrate on what they do best - cook great food! 

With The Chef Alliance, a rewarding culinary career is within your grasp!

TEL: 1 877 402 3221







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