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    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

Need a Grant? Hospitality Action Could Help

Friday, December 27th, 2013

For 5 years each May, Hospitality Action (HA) has run their fundraising week with participating restaurants and employees across the country. Hospitality Action is the trade charity offering a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. Whether they are approached by a chef, chambermaid, school cook or bar staff, Hospitality Action will endeavour to support, whatever the difficulty. The charity receives no government funding and so is dependent on individuals and corporate bodies from within the industry.

HA Week, took place on the 13th -19th May this year and involved a whole host of fundraising activities across the entire hospitality industry. These funds go towards providing vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK and who find themselves in crisis.

To learn more about Hospitality Action visit their website www.hospitalityaction.org.uk or follow them via twitter: @HospAction

One way Hospitality Action assists is by providing grants to industry members. The three types of grants the charity offers are: 

  1. Essential Needs Grants

These are awarded for assistance towards the cost of an item or need considered essential for the wellbeing or improving the quality of life of the applicant. For example cookers, medical equipment, fuel bills.

  1. Crisis Grants

Crisis grants are awarded to applicants of working age who have suffered a sudden loss of income due to bereavement, illness or injury. Awards are usually for a maximum of one year. This grant aims to help the applicant to adjust to their new circumstances before returning to work.

  1. Top-Up Grants

These grants are awarded to people who have spent most of their life within the hospitality industry and are now on a very limited income.

More information about these grants can be found at: www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/what-we-do/grants/

Penny Moore CEO, Hospitality Action said: “Sometimes all it takes is a very small change in circumstances to tip the balance and turn a manageable situation into an unmanageable one. An extended illness such as cancer can lead to a drop in pay. Other circumstances such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement or redundancy can also put a strain on the household budget. Whatever the crisis we will endeavour to be there for industry members in need.”

For further information about how you can apply you can download their application: www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Application_FinancialAssisNew.pdf or please call 020 3004 5500 or email info@hospitalityaction.org.uk

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Eat my Words – Sean Bone

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

This week we talk with Chef Sean Bone. Sean is a Private Chef in Vancouver, Canada and has worked on large Estates and Private Yachts for wealthy clients and also works as a ‘TV station Chef”.  He talks with us about his current work and what it takes to be a Private Chef.

Sean you are a Certified Private Chef working for a large family in Vancouver on their motor vessel. Is this a full time job for you or do you have other clients you attend to also? 

I am a Red Seal Certified Chef who has worked in the private industry since 2009.  I have worked both on an estate and on yachts.  I recently retired my position working for a large Canadian family and am now focusing my efforts on building my personal business – which exclusively aims to provide private chef services.   At present I have numerous clients and have recently been picked up by a local television station as “station chef”.

What is one thing that you need to be aware of or prepare for when working in a non-standard environment like a boat?

Excellent organization, time management and pre-planning are vital to your personal success.  It is also always important to expect the unexpected.  Last minute changes are commonplace in this industry.  

You started cooking from an early age with a heavy influence from your Mother and Grandmother both of Italian descent. What is one thing they taught you that you still do to this very day?  

I still use a number of skills that my mother and grandmother taught me.  One that I hold dear to my heart is incorporating courgette flowers into summer cuisine.

Who in the industry is your favourite Chef or is there anyone in the industry you would like to cook with? 

I have a number of Chefs that are my favourite, but if I had to choose one – I would have to choose David Everitt-Matthias.  He has had a humble, yet rewarding career.  He works with his wife and he is an advocate of foraging. 

What’s one piece of advice you valued receiving in your career from your mentors? 

The best piece of advice I ever received from one of my mentors (Chef Michel Jacob) was to always work as though you had a video camera on you.  This helped me to always be aware of my demeanor, cleanliness and overall organization.

What tip/s would you give to those who are looking to be a Private or Personal Chef? 

The list of advice that I would give is very large.  However, the top three tips would be: 1). You must love your food first before anyone else can love it, but you shouldn’t be arrogant about your food, you also should learn to accept that you cannot please everyone, 2). Your job is to please your client and guests first and foremost; therefore it is extremely important to create thoughtful and nutritious food, 3).  Always be organized by knowing your menus in advance.

What is the strangest request you’ve had from one of your Private clients?   

I suppose it’s not really THAT strange, but in my entire career as a Private Chef, the one thing that stands out is that I was asked to prepare potatoes as a side dish for every single dinner for 3 full years.  Let’s just say that I have a “large” repertoire of potato recipes under my belt.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you love to prepare? 

I love to prepare braised meats (traditional and sous vide methods), stuffed pastas and breads made from natural starters.

If you could prepare a full course menu for anyone in the world, who would it be? 

I would love to prepare a full course meal for someone who is underprivileged.

Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers? 

You can find a few of my simple (homestyle) recipes online at www.chefseanbone.com/blog

Anything else you’d like to say or share? 

Being a Private Chef seems glamorous but it is equally as challenging as being a restaurant chef.  Be prepared to be the first one awake and the last one to leave your post.  However, receiving compliments from your guests can make any long day worth every minute.  

Many thanks to Sean for taking time out of his very busy schedule to take part in our interview. Sean’s website can be found at www.chefseanbone.com and you can follow him on Twitter @ChefSeanBone as well as Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SeanBonePrivateChefServices

 

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Eat My Words – Stacie Pierce

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Today we talk with Stace Pierce a Private Chef who serves the very wealthy in Manhattan and the Hamptons in New York, an exclusive holiday destination for the elite.

Stacie was in great demand when we spoke to her therefore due to time constraints,  she sent a short bio of her career so far, which will give you great insight and inspiration…

I knew I wanted to be a chef since I was 14 years old, I am now 46.

I worked in a French restaurant and pleaded to get a job at 15 years old.  They finally gave me a shot  as a dishwasher and I had to work for free for two months to show that I really wanted it.

After two months I was given a prep job… no more dishes for me!  I loved the feeling of family within the kitchen and it feels very much like a team of any type such as sports, acting etc… 

I began to change my classes around in High School  to allow me to get to the restaurant by 1:00.

 By 17, I was accepted into the prestigious Culinary school “The Culinary Institute of America“.  I was one of the youngest at the time to be accepted! 

After CIA I went straight to New York and pounded the pavement and showed up over and over to the restaurants I wanted to work in. My first was “The Four Seasons”.

From there I had a 15 yr career in New York City as a Pastry chef to Union Square Cafe , Monkey Bar, Gotham Bar and Grill, to name a few.

I’ve been in many magazines and on T.V.  I’ve been lucky to have been given many opportunities to cook for movies and photo shoots.

I ended up (unfortunately)  going through a divorce. My husband and I had a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn as well as Sag Harbor, New York. I stayed in Sag Harbor and literally fell into becoming a private chef.

I’ve been doing this for years now and work with clients who ask me to help them celebrate their most special moments.

When I cook I allow the food to be the focal point . I live in an area that is filled with farm stands and artisanal shops.

The clients I have eat at the Best Restaurants in the world. They own planes, trains and lots of automobiles, not to mention the Yachts!  They do nothing small and entertain big. They have butlers, chauffeurs and lots of “people” (which is also a big part of the job). 

A couple of years ago I bought a large catering company 185 employees. We did Big clam bakes on the beach , huge soirees, benefits etc.  Although it was fun, I missed the personal relationship between myself and the client. I sold the company to work on two other projects I am now pursuing presently.

Stacie’s projects are specifically working on a small restaurant where it will be more like a home environment it is very unique and she has wanted to cook in this type of setting forever. Stacie is also working with a woman who wants her to help roll out a dessert line,  mostly frozen cakes.

The above along with beginning to book up for the holiday season is a challenging yet exciting time for her now. For more info about Stacie visit her site: www.beautifulfoodbystacie.com

Thanks Stacie and all the best wishes for your business!

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Eat My Words – Ameerah Watson (Creole Peach)

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

This week we talk with Ameerah Watson, aka ‘Creole Peach’. Chef Ameerah was born in New Orleans where she received the foundation of her flavoring style. Later in life her mother, who was raised vegetarian, moved the family to Atlanta where Ameerah was primarily raised but still spent her summers in New Orleans. Each of these two southern cities are well known for their unique styles of cooking and flavours.

Paired with her Culinary Arts degree, she completed her Naturopathic Medicine certification in 2008 through the Phoenix Rising Institute to support her focus on the true root of food and what it can do for the human body. These two backgrounds, along with her upbringing, have resulted in Chef Ameerah being well versed in meeting every dietary need with flavour and colour.

We contacted Chef Ameerah during a very exciting time. She has been chosen as one of 9 Chefs to take part in a new TV reality competition show called “Restaurant Express” which aired in November.

Ameerah, you fell in love with cooking at an early age and eventually became a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, worked at amazing places such as The Marriott and Ritz Carlton and appearing very soon on The Food Network on TV. What is the main message that you want to give to others through the food that you prepare & make?

I would like people to respect food and love it for its qualities. Cook food in a way that praises its original flavor. Be simple yet creative. Most of all put your soul and heart in every dish.

What is the story around your nickname The Creole Peach?

I was born in New Orleans and the smell and taste of this unique place has always been in my veins. My upbringing has mostly been in Atlanta which is also a place that embodies Southern Hospitality. My flavor style matches this history. It was my sister who began calling me Creole Peach as one on my biggest fans of my food.

You specialise in vegetarian, vegan and raw foods, what was the main driver for you to focus in these particular areas and what is the most memorable comment from a client/customer who has eaten your food?

My mother’s side of the family has always been mostly vegetarian and my father’s side excellent farmers. All though I do cook for all diets, fresh food and health has always been my foundation. Food should feed your mind, body and soul.

Most of my clients are pleasantly surprised by fusion of seasonal ingredients. I pride myself on perfecting the basic and layering colorful jazz on top. The most memorable response from a client was a woman’s expression to me that she was in shock and amazement at my talent for cooking, and then she begged for a picture and my autograph.

You not only have your business as a Personal Chef but you are now commencing a new adventure by appearing on a Nationally televised show called ‘Restaurant Express’ where you and 8 others travel around the country cooking and competing on a large bus to win a chance to be Executive Chef at an exclusive resort. Congratulations on being part of this project! Do you have any game plan that you can share and what is something you’ve learnt so far on this project that is a good piece of advice to other Chefs? 

Always set a standard for each dish you create to be to best that someone has ever tasted. With this you will always be remembered. It was word of mouth that got me noticed and my passion that landed me there. I can’t go too far into the show except to say I am on it. I am also on season 2 of Cutthroat Kitchen.

Who in the industry is your favourite Chef or is there anyone in the industry you would like to cook with?

My favorite Chef is Todd Richardson. He is the chef that invested so much care in to me and still does. He is an excellent man with a lot of talent.

What’s one piece of advice you valued receiving in your career?

Always do your best even when you feel the job is too easy.

What tip/s would you give to those who are looking to be a Private or Personal Chef?

You have to always be looking for opportunities. Do not get caught in a box, listen for the needs and wants of people. The market is changing and you can make it a fun challenge or stressful failure.

What is the strangest request you’ve had from one of your Private clients?

In this field if there is no strange request then something is wrong. So there are too many to call one out.

What are 3 favorite places/dishes you love to prepare?

I love making simple biscuits it brings warm memories and comfort. My favorite place to visit is my grandmother’s farm in Louisiana. Soon as I get there I lose my shoes on purpose and cook up all of her fresh eggs.  The country girl in me gets fed.

If you could prepare a full course menu for anyone in the world, who would it be?

My  Mother, I find her to be the most amazing woman I know. I’m her biggest fan.

Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers? 

Blackened Shrimp with avocado grapefruit salad and chili powered vinigarette

blackened-shrimp-creole-peach

1/2 lb 16/20 shrimp, butterflied
2 tbs blacking seasoning
2 tbs olive oil

Salad
2 avocados large dice
1 grapefruit segmented
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
Chilli Powder Dressing
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tbs chives
2 tbs honey
2 tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the dressing. In a medium bowl place vinegar, chives, honey, chili powder, and mustard.
Whisk ingredients together then slowly add olive oil until fully incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.
In another bowl gently mix together diced avocado, grapefruit segments and cut cherry tomatoes. Little by little and dressing and gently toss.
Place in refrigerator for holding.
Take shrimp and drizzle with olive oil and then dust with blackening seasoning. Sear in a skillet on medium high until cooking just right, blacken yet juicy!
Dish out chilled avocado grapefruit salad among 4 bowls and serve hot blackened shrimp on top. Let your guests enjoy this full flavoured unknowingly healthy dish.

Many thanks Ameerah, we wish you all the best with your TV projects and good luck! If you want to follow Ameerah’s progress, she is now on Facebook and Twitter @CreolePeachChef.

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Eat My Words – Terri Moser

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

If you think you could never do a career change, then you will enjoy our interview this week from Terri Moser, who runs her own In-Home Custom Catering service in Baltimore &  Harford areas in the state of Maryland the USA. Terri had a career of nearly 27 years in public health before retiring and starting Terri’s Table, a personal chef company.

1. What do you love in particular about being a Private/Personal Chef?

My favorite part of being a personal chef is the cooking! I love being able to provide healthy, home cooked meals for busy families. I grew up with that tradition in my parents’ family, and made sure that my kids grew up with home cooked meals. The slow food movement and the other efforts in this country to direct kids to healthy, whole foods rather than fast food is the way I grew up and the way I believe kids should eat.

2. Who in the industry is your favourite Chef or is there anyone in the industry you would like to cook with?

In terms of celebrity chefs, I use many of Giada DeLaurentis’s recipes in both my personal and professional meals. I love how she combines simple ingredients in healthy combinations, and I’m a big fan of the Mediterranean style of eating. I would love to cook with Ann Burrell because I love her attitude and passion. Alton Brown appeals to the scientist side of me. On the non-celebrity side, we have a wonderful local restaurant called Pairings in Bel Air, Maryland, and I would love to cook with their chefs and learn how they make their killer butternut squash soup! 

3. What’s one piece of advice you valued receiving in your career?

Another personal chef told me, after I confessed to feeling uncomfortable with “Chef” in my title (since I am not professionally trained), that the definition of a chef is someone who cooks professionally for other people. As I gained more experience and saw how my meals were valued by my clients, I realized that she was right. 

4. What tip/s would you give to those who are looking to be a Private or Personal Chef?

I would tell people to jump in and do it. I began by cooking for friends and neighbors for free – they paid me for groceries, but my labor was free. This allowed me to get my timing down (important when making 20 meals by yourself!), figure out the most efficient way to tackle recipes, get my “gear” pared down to the essentials, etc. It also allowed me to get those all-important references for future clients. 

5. You also say on your website that you look forward to continuing your education through culinary classes and experimenting with new flavours and dishes. How regularly would you do extra classes to skill up further on your craft?

Although I’ve not had the opportunity to take formal classes, I continue to experiment with new recipes and foods – pomegranate molasses is my current favorite new ingredient! I’ve also attended a great annual event in Baltimore for the past few years – “The Foodie Experience.” It’s a symposium/tasting event that involves many great local restaurants, and includes a keynote address by a celebrity chef. My favorite was Alton Brown. 

6. What is the strangest request you’ve had from one of your Private clients?

The strangest request was to provide all of my grocery receipts so that my client could verify that I was really purchasing organic ingredients! 

7. When preparing for a client’s menu, what would be something that you need to be aware of or prepare for that you would never need to consider in a typical restaurant setting as a Chef?

If you will be preparing more than, say 3 meals, you need to ensure that your recipes will retain quality after freezing. You always need to be mindful of how reheating will affect the food quality and cook the food accordingly.

8. What are 3 favourite places/dishes you love to prepare?

I love to do risotto in my pressure cooker – the other day, I did a chicken and asparagus risotto that was awesome. I love Vietnamese food, although I don’t commonly cook that for clients. I love a good grilled salmon – I lived for a time in the Pacific Northwest and wild salmon can’t be beat. 

9. If you could prepare a full course menu for anyone in the world, who would it be?

I would prepare salmon for my son, Casey. We lost him 6 months ago and it would be wonderful to prepare him a meal he loved. 

10. Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers? 

Absolutely! Every summer, I plant several pots of basil. In addition to using it fresh, I make many batches of pesto for the freezer. There’s nothing better than that taste of summer on some pasta in the dead of winter!

Pesto
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 C olive oil
1 C firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 C freshly grated parm
2 T pine nuts
1/2 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper

Heat garlic gently in the oil for a few minutes – don’t brown.
Cool oil for a few minutes.
Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor with metal blade.
Pulse several times to chop, then process while slowly drizzling oil/garlic mixture into the processor.
Process to a paste like consistency.

Freeze in zip-top freezer bags.

Personal cheffing is a great career! I get to do what I love while making my own schedule. And I get to make people happy, which is always a good thing!

Many thanks Terri for your inspiring story and for your Pesto recipe! For more info about Terri and great tips, visit her website at www.chefterristable.com

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Thinking about Hiring a Personal Chef? It may not be as expensive as you think!

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

There can be many reasons why families may hire a Personal Chef and although it is generally seen as a service that only wealthy families secure, surprisingly enough it is now a service being considered by many families of various income levels.

In this day of busy lifestyles, many families are time poor and although eating out does have its benefits, it is not only the cost of the meal but associated costs of transport, child care, entertainment that all add up to a hefty bill at the end of the night.

Many Personal Chef Services are now becoming available where you can organise for the Chef to cook a number of meals for you and the family per week where they pre-cook a few meals for you to heat up later. You could also save more on costs by asking other family and friends if they want to share the cost with you so that the Chef can keep their fees down for you overall.

From discussing the types of meals and food that you like according to your diet requirements, the Personal Chef will usually not only prepare the meals but also do all the shopping of the food for you too!  The meals can work out to a similar price to a good restaurant dish of between £5 to £20 and if you share the meals with other friends or family the price will be at the lower end. This saves you a whole lot of time which you can ultimately use as quality family time while eating delicious and nutritious meals.

Another situation where families can consider the services of a Personal or Private Chef is during a family holiday where you are staying in a self contained room or apartment. The time spent cooking while on holiday is not that appealing for many and you’ll ensure the whole family enjoy a well deserved break without having to spend up big by eating out every day and night.

The benefits of hiring a Personal or Private Chef don’t stop there. You can also:

  • Lose weight by enjoying quality balanced food portions
  • Broaden your tastes
  • Learn to appreciate different meal combinations
  • Gain quality time as well as saving you money in the long term

Some tips for finding a Personal or Private Chef are:

  • Do you have a friend who cooks for a living? They may be interested in earning some extra money on the side.
  • Do you know a mom or someone who is in between jobs who loves to cook? They may be happy to earn some money doing what they love.
  • Think about the food you and the family like and what rules you would like your Chef to stick to. If you have some favourite recipes, make sure you share them with the Chef so they know your tastes.
  • Of course last but not least at Mise En Place we pride ourselves on obtaining the best talent for your requirements long term or short term. Contact us on +44 (0)20 7430 9811 or email us at: info@miseenplace.co.uk and we’ll be happy to assist you with your Private or Personal Chef needs.
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Eat My Words – The Critical Couple

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

When it comes to critiquing a restaurant’s food with intimate detail and with mouth watering images of the food you’re about to devour,  you can’t go past The Critical Couple, written by Nicole and David Williams. Their blog of the same name at: The Critical Couple  ranked #5 by Urban Spoon, is definitely worth a visit if you need to gain a complete picture of your dining place of choice. Enjoy this interview where you’ll learn to appreciate Nicole and David’s perspective on being passionate foodies.

From reading your blog you review food & drink with equisite detail including the beautiful photos you take. Each foodie or critic has their own style and spin for the reviews they do. What is your focus and style?

Our style seeks to take us out of the equation as odd as that perhaps sounds. While clearly a restaurant write up is a personal experience, including how you feel about the service, nevertheless, we believe people want to read about the restaurant, not about how our day was going or which friends we were meeting for lunch that day. Accordingly, it is the restaurant’s story not our own that we try to tell. With the photos, we try our hardest to get over to the reader the best representation of how the dish was. We want readers to share the experience, not simply be wowed about how clever the words are.

As the ‘critical couple’ have you always reviewed food and drink? What lead you to do this?

The blog was born of our passion for going out, eating, drinking, going places and all things related to that. When we started the blog however, we did so almost as a diary, a friends and family thing and didn’t ever think about it becoming something. At the beginning then we were freeform, and that included even things like book reviews. The blog now has a form and an identity centred around restaurant reviews but we still like to throw in unconventional posts from time to time also reflecting the fact that this remains a personal endeavour.
 
How do you choose a restaurant to review?

Very simply, do we want to eat there? If we wake up one day and feel like eating Italian, or seafood or whatever, we’ll think about where we haven’t been but think that we might enjoy. We pay our own way and if we are going to spend our own money, we want to enjoy it. Even if a bad restaurant makes good copy, we don’t make money from the blog so it’s bad economics. 

Who is your current favourite chef?

Without doubt, Simon Rogan.

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

Even when we first started the blog, we would return time and again to our favourite restaurants. The success of the blog has driven us to keep visiting new places. In doing so we have discovered two things. First, just how much great food there is in the UK right now, and we would especially note, it’s not always in London. Second, it’s not just about food, it’s as much about people. The majority of chefs we have met are massively hard working, super talented and genuinely nice people. We’re proud that some of them have become our friends.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you just need to go back to regularly? (We’re thinking one of those may be Casamia? ;-))

Can we have four? L’enclume in Cumbria is in our opinion the best restaurant in the UK currently and we try to get there as much as we can. Brett Graham’s The Ledbury is in our view the best restaurant in London. We do love Casamia in Bristol run by two super talented super humble brothers (Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias) and we have even before the blog started been returning to eat the food of Alyn Williams (now Alyn Williams at The Westbury) time and time again.

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Neglecting the importance of the front of house.

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

As odd as this may sound, genuine innovation. There is without doubt great food in London but it lacks ground breaking food. Where’s London’s El Bulli or Can Roca? London only has two 3 star restaurants and both have classical French orientation. New openings last year focussed on burgers, brasseries and steak houses. Even Bray’s The Fat Duck now seems somewhat dated while ‘new Scandi’ is now old Scandi. Awaiting then the next big original London thing.

What is your favourite food event?

We’ll be cheeky here, we’re organising a charity food, cabaret and music event called EatPlayLove2013 in September of this year. We would have to say that’s it.

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

Another relatively easy and without doubt answer: 41 courses at El Bulli. It redefines the food experience.

What is one challenge you face when reviewing food and/or drink?

Getting the ‘ordinary’ experience. It’s a small industry in many respects and several times this year with new openings, we have been recognised by FOH who had looked after us at their previous employer. That in turn can lead to extras from the kitchen and more attentive service. We have a disclosure box on our blog to alert readers as to when that happens but our value to readers is greatest when we experience it like they experience it.

Thanks to Nicole and David for an insight into their foodie experiences and style. You can also follow their delectable insights and fundraising adventures 140 characters at a time via Twitter: @criticalcouple

 

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Eat My Words – Kelvin Woo

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

What do you do when you are an expatriate settling in London and you need to find out good places to eat, exciting places to visit and learn out everything in between re setting life up in the big city? We recommend you drop by Kelvin Woo’s blog www.singaporeaninlondon.com While this blog is primarily about advice such as regarding living costs and or visiting London and its sights, it soon expanded to a second blog called  www.londonchow.com This is because Kelvin and his wife were also particular about food and interested in checking out a lot of eating spots. Enjoy our interview with Kelvin below where you’ll learn about his foodie passion!

What were the key reasons you decided to review food/restaurants?

When we (Wife and I) first arrived in London, I thought that it was a good idea to document down our experiences on a blog. It didn’t take me long to come up with the title for SingaporeanInLondon.com. Being Singaporeans, we are rather particular about food and seek to check out the eating spots in the immediate vicinity. It wasn’t long before I did short write ups on those on the website. Since we have to eat, I might as well write about it, right?

After awhile, a reader commented that we actually eat out quite a bit so it occurred to me that I should really host the reviews on a seperate website and LondonChow.com was born.

How do you choose a restaurant to review?

In the initial years, it’s really about where we happen to be at mealtimes. The Wife began reading restaurant reviews on Times and that became our defacto guide on where to check out next. It still is.

Others are recommended by friends and acquaintances. Those are trickier; the person who recommends it would look forward to my post about it on LondonChow. It does get a tad awkward if it turns out not to be a good one.

Since 2010, I have received quite a number of invitations from PR firms engaged by restaurants. I go for those that sounds interesting and doesn’t just involve cocktails (I can’t really hold my liquor). To be honest, such meals aren’t the most comfortable. Some have staff hovering over us, explaining every single ingredient going into the dish. I tend to be more conscious about taking notes and photographing the dishes for meals that I have been invited to. It does take the joy out of eating.

Who is your current favourite chef?

No one comes to mind at the moment. I was quite taken with Rick Stein when he did his South Asian tour some time back. It did bring back some memories of the food back home but I was sorely disappointed when he decided to skip Singapore in that segment. Nigel Slator maybe. He’s not exactly a chef but We adore his series on BBC where he prepares simple meals using leftover ingredients. I heard that he writes beautifully as well though I have yet to purchase his receipe books. Heston Blumenthal comes a close second. His menu at Fat Duck is a treat and I’d recommend it without hesitation. It’s just one of those things that you have to try at least once.   

Most underrated Local Restaurant?

This is a tough one. The ones that I frequent have their fair share of regular customers. I used to go to an Italian delicatessen by the name of Saponara at Prebend Street in Islington. Brothers Marco and Vincenzo run the little setup and are always friendly when we drop by. While it is not a gourmet destination, it is an easy place to eat in. They have also introduced a pizza menu some time back and is proving to be rather popular. 

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

I have come to realise that the ingredients’ freshness is the key to any good dish. Also, the entire dining experience is much more than the food on the table. It’s really the people you dine with, the service and whether you got off the correct side of the bed that day. Oh, and your expectations as well.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you just need to go back to regularly?

1. Corn fritters @ Salvation Jane

This brunch item is a crowdpleaser. With a bit of everything, it fills you up and actually is healthy. A welcomed change to the grease that comes with Sunday roasts.

2. Char kuay teow @ Sedap

Sedap manages to replicate the sought after ‘smokey’ taste in the stirfry flat noodles – one of my favourite childhood dishes. The portion has shrunken quite a bit over the years though.  

3. Meze @ Hazev’s cafe

While I like the set lunches at Canary Wharf’s Hazev, its adjoining cafe’s meze selection is the real deal. It offers a fair bit of variety and the place is quiet enough for a chat over lunch as well. 

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Trying to do too many things at the same time. Just concentrate on a couple of dishes that the kitchen is good at and every single time I think of having those, the restaurant will come to mind. 

One more if I may would be thinking that location is secondary. Morgan M is a prime example. We checked out the Michelin starred resturant when it first opened at the north end of Liverpool Road near to Highbury & Islington station. While it wasn’t mind blowing, it was decent. If you are familiar with the area, you would be asking what a full service restaurant (Michelin starred or not) is doing there. It did survive for some time before relocating to the City though.   

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

I like to tell anyone who cares to listen that London has the best of everything in the culinary world. That is the chief benefit of being a melting cultural pot. Regardless of where you come from, the first thing you do is to seek out the food that you grow up eating. If you can’t find it, you would try to recreate it. That’s everyone’s basic instinct. As a result, London isn’t lacking when it comes to the variety of food. 

There are some things that you don’t realise until you have a kid. Getting a babysitter for a meal out can be rather prohibitive. If I have to pick, I would say that London can have more toddler friendly eating places. Having some highchairs stacked in a corner just doesn’t cut it these days. I am talking about decent food as well. We got rather bored with Giraffe after some time. Blue Legume comes close but if only there are more independent restaurants like that.  

Who’s your favourite food writer/critic?

Ironically, food critics (I’m talking about those who are actually paid to do that) and food bloggers don’t really see eye to eye most of the times.

But without a doubt, Giles Coren over at the Times stands at the top of my list. I cannot stand critics who goes on and on about the food. True, they should ultimately be writing about the food but you can only say so much about a slab of steak. Coren, on the other hand, writes about the most mandune stuff. Then right at the end of the piece, he sort of mention the food. The thing is, despite that, you do get a gist of how the restaurant is like, and which to avoid. I would recommend his How to Eat Out. I love the part that he wrote about his father’s penchant for Chinese dimsum. There is even a short piece of advice from Coren on where to bring a girl out on the first date. Very pragmatic. 

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

One of the best meals that I have is at Hawksmoor at Seven Dials. It was out first proper restaurant meal after we had the kid. The staff were marvellous when she threw a tantrum and we were able to have our burgers in peace. It helped that Hawksmoor’s burgers aren’t too bad either. Ditto for its triple cooked chips.

Thanks Kelvin some great recommendations and thoughts about eating and dining in London. If you enjoyed Kelvin’s interview you can also follow him via Twitter @london_chow or Facebook

Posted by Mise En Place Private Chef Recruitment

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21 Tips for Private or Personal Chefs

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

For those who are considering being a Personal or Private Chef, there are many considerations to take into account. Below are a few tips to help you on your way.

  1. Know your client, build relationships and trust.
  2. Learn your client’s needs for privacy and the balance between being there for them but not being in the way.
  3. Research, research, research your intended client/s and food options in that area. They may have specific food needs, so its important to ensure you are completely aware of what you can and can’t make for them.
  4. 20% of being a Personal Chef will be about food and the other 80% is about running a successful business.
  5. Invest in yourself, as much as possible, keep learning new techniques, trends and go to short courses when you can.
  6. Be the ‘real’ you in person & across any public forum or platform such as your website, Facebook, Twitter and Social Media overall.
  7. Reliably deliver what matters: an experience that serves your client’s needs.
  8. Blow them away with your food. Be creative and think outside the box. Be the expert.
  9. Love people and this is often hard work, so you have to love what you do.
  10. Stretch your body regularly, wear good shoes, get roller bins for your pots and pans, eat a good breakfast.
  11. Wear your chef’s coat when you go grocery shopping; even if you are shopping for yourself. People get curious and it will make for good conversation!
  12. Work on yourself every day even if it is just something small. Always give a little bit more than expected.
  13. Enjoy what you do and protect your passion.
  14. Believe in yourself and your ability to constantly deliver top quality. This will show through to your clients and they will believe in you.
  15. How you present yourself and your business is very important, first impressions do mean a lot. Respect your clients and their homes and most important pass on your passion for food.
  16. Make sure you join at least one Professional Association so that you are in touch with the latest trends as well as network with other professionals who do similar work as you.
  17. Know that as a Private or Personal Chef you are working in the client’s personal home, this means respect of privacy and the highest integrity.
  18. You may be asked to do tasks beyond the call of duty, think about how you would handle this and discuss this with your client.
  19. Always keep cleanliness and sanitisation at the top of your priority.
  20. Consider and respect your own personal time, ensure you discuss this with your client so that you also have a work/life balance.
  21. Never, never give up!

For Personal or Private Chef services or if you are looking for work in this area please contact our office (in UK) 020 7430 9811 or (outside UK) 0044 20 7430 9811. Or email us at: info@miseenplace.co.uk

 

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Personal Chef or Private Chef? What’s the Difference?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Over the next few weeks we will be talking about and to Private and Personal Chefs. This is unique and  privileged work as not only will one be required to produce the very best meals on a consistent basis, but also will be exposed to a whole different lifestyle!

It seems that only the rich and wealthy would employ a Personal or Private Chef. Victoria and David Beckham employ a Personal Chef 3 days a week  for example but surprisingly enough, Personal Chefs are becoming more in demand and may not be as expensive as you think!

In our time-poor modern day society, more and more families are employing a Personal Chef as there is now a great appreciation for good clean food as well as the desire to balance work and life commitments.

In America the trend for employing chefs is increasing. The United States Personal Chef Association estimates that 100,000 families employ a chef, compared to only 1,000 10 years ago.

For those of you who may not be aware, there is a difference between being a Private and a Personal Chef.  They are:

Private Chef

  • Usually works for one family
  • Creates all meals fresh and are consumed once prepared
  • Works in cooperation with other house staff such as waiters, kitchen help etc
  • May live with the family or live part time at the residence/location

 Personal Chef

  • May cook for several families or individuals
  • Cooks once a week or every 2nd week
  • Shop for the groceries, may go to client’s house, prepare the meal/s
  • Prepare more meals in advance which are stored in fridge/freezer for re-heating later on
  • Will only visit client’s premises but lives at home

Along with the differences above, both types of Chefs need to have the following complimentary skills:

  • Ability to be good at a range of courses such as soups, salads, entrees, mains and desserts.
    Have a current and up to date knowledge of food trends
  • Have extensive experience of specialty diets and food preparation which include: Macrobiotic, Low Sodium, Pritikin Diet, Low protein, Low carb,  Modern European, Asian, French, Diabetic and Wheat free,  Kosher and Halal food preparation
  • Be business-minded and set realistic budgets and know where to get quality food at good prices
  • Manage receipts, inventory, minimise waste and ensure cleanliness and sanitation is at a high level
  • Ensure you know your client’s eating habits and try to ensure you keep to their preferred types of meals
  • Minimise cooking a different meal for each person unless specifically requested
  • Don’t administer any medication for clients during meal times and ensure you are always at the ready if any accidental spills or extra meal requirements are needed.
  • Keep feeding times realistic and make sure you set boundaries with regards to your free time and with respectful behaviour.
  • Clients talking down to you or shouting at you should not be tolerated and you need to address this promptly if it does occur. As with any bad behaviour, if you let it continue, it will get worse.
  • Ensure you present cleanly and respect the equipment, work quietly and take your breaks away from visibility of the family.
  • As you are working on a Freelance type basis always look at the licensing and insurances required for your area

It is also advisable to be a member of an association so you can stay up to date with trends, do extra courses and to network with others in the industry. Some of these are:

Another great resource is http://www.personalchef.com/

If you are looking or considering a Personal or Private Chef, Mise EnPlace specialises in finding the right one for you. As well as looking for a particular skill set we also place particular emphasis on  personality and character type in order to ascertain a suitable match for both client and candidates alike.

The United States Personal Chef Association also estimates that, within the next five years, there will be more than 25,000 chefs serving 300,000 clients. Entrepreneur magazine describes the personal chef industry as “one of the four fastest-growing businesses in the country”.

It will be a service for those non-extended families who also use childcare or dog washing services and certainly on the rise.

Seeking private chefs via word of mouth or employment ads is dangerous at best, whilst at Mise en Place, we can offer pre-screening for both employers and applicants, ensuring an appropriate match between chef and position. For peace of mind when looking for Personal or Private Chef services, or, if you are looking for work in this area please contact our office (in UK) 020 7430 9811 or (outside UK) 0044 20 7430 9811.

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