KINGMAN - Steam rises from a plate of seared chicken breasts framed by slices of fresh orange and covered in a sauce made of cream, orange juice and orange liqueur.
As you savor the sight and prepare for your first bite, you look across the table at your children, whose eyes are as big as saucers, as they get ready to dig into this home-cooked meal.
Imagine eating similar meals - prepared with the freshest ingredients - with your family five times a week without having to hit the grocery store or prepare the food. If this intrigues you, then Kingman's only personal chef service, InKredible EdibleS, is for you.
Business owner Kelley Schneider grew up in kitchens. Her earliest memories are of standing on a stool next to her grandmother as they cooked dinner together.
In fact, both of her grandmas cooked for a living. One of them ran a college cafeteria in Goodwell, Okla. The other ran a catering business in Kansas that Schneider helped with from the time she was a little girl to when she got married.
Schneider recently graduated from culinary school at the Art Institute of Las Vegas, and although she dreams of one day opening a bakery, she is starting her career as a professional chef with EdibleS.
Why pay for a personal chef?
Schneider makes it so busy moms and dads can eat good food with their families at the dinner table.
"People love to eat good food but don't always have the time to cook," she said. "I can give 8-10 hours a week back to moms and dads."
How does it work?
You contact Schneider, and she comes to your home for a consultation. At this consultation, the week's menu is planned based on what you like, what your family likes, possible allergies and any underlying health issues.
"The food depends on what the clients want," Schneider said.
After the menu is planned, a shopping/cooking day is arranged. On that day, Schneider goes to a grocery store and purchases the ingredients.
Schneider refuses to cook with anything that is pre-packaged or contains preservatives.
After she gets the groceries, she cooks all the meals that day in your kitchen. She brings her own equipment - other than the stove - and prepares and packages the week's meals. The cooking takes around 4 hours, and then she is done and out of your home.
"I leave you with great food in the fridge and delicious aromas in the house," Schneider said.
The menu is extensive. She can cook all the easy stuff such as meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, but she can also cater small dinners and parties.
"I will make anything within reason," she said. "A challenge does not bother me."
Even if a client busts out an old family recipe, she will try it out - after she tests it on her family, of course.
How much is this going to cost?
It is a bit expensive. She has a flat rate of $250 for the week of five meals, with four servings of an entrée and a side each. That includes the consultation, groceries, cooking and packaging. She also offers a base fee for the cooking and then provides an itemized receipt for the groceries, which the client must pay for. Schneider prefers the flat rate because going through the grocery list can be a pain.
As far as the flat rate goes, dessert is extra and if you want five days of steak and lobster it will cost you a bit more, Schneider said.
Schneider is insured, licensed and food safety certified. She is also a member of the American Personal and Private Chef Association.
The director of the association, Candy Wallace, said she started working as a personal chef 20 years ago. Instead of cooking 200 meals a night, she cooks for one client a day.
Traditionally, people who get into the culinary industry get a degree, get a job cooking on a line for 10 years and hopefully someday open their own restaurant, Wallace said. The problem with that cycle is that there is no guarantee that chefs will reach that ultimate goal.
She started her organization as a way to provide chefs with alternatives to the traditional grind, and in the last 15 years over 15,000 people joined. The organization blends two disciplines: business and culinary. That helps chefs cut through red tape and prepares them for running a culinary business.
A successful personal chef business can make around $60,000 a year, Wallace said, but she knows chefs who are pulling in six-figures.
Until the economy took a nosedive, the personal chef industry was doing great, she said. Now it is finally starting to look up again because people are realizing that eating healthy, good food is important.
"Clients can tell the difference in how they feel after just a few days of eating food prepared by personal chefs," Wallace said.
Being a personal chef is a wonderful alternative to commercial cooking and restaurants, she said. Burnout is very real in the culinary industry.
"Personal chefs are paid to shop, cook and nurture," Wallace said. "It doesn't get any better than that."
If you're interested in hiring Schneider for a week of meals, you can call her at (928) 681-7318. You can also visit inkredibleedibles.com for more information and sample menus.
"You can't get the nutrition you need from fast food, some restaurants or pre-packaged food," Schneider said. "Let's eat better."
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