Working as a personal chef in Monterey, CA

Some of my dishes

I have been getting lots of question from friends lately as to why I like being a personal chef. After much thought, I believe that I like the freedom it gives me to be creative and think outside of the box. That is why I called my business “Sarda’s Fusion Catering.” My theory is, why have a regular potpie when you can have a curry one instead? Instead of plain, regular samosa, switch it up with a taco mixture! Blending my two cultures into one concept allows me to share my history and tastes with others in the best way possible: through food.

Unlike private chefs, who cook exclusively for one family, personal chefs juggle a couple of clients at once. This also means that the demands of individual clients vary. Some want a chef to come in once a week and cook several meals, packing them up and storing them in the fridge or freezer to be eaten during the week. Other clients prefer a chef to come in multiple times a week and only prepare a few days worth of food at a time.

This is what happens when I take on a new client:

I usually have a phone interview, where I learn the client’s needs, likes, dislikes, and schedule. Then, I create a tasting session for the client to determine if my dishes are up to their expectations. Once I am hired, I create a menu each week and talk about his or her budget. I also visit their home and check out the kitchen to familiarize myself so I’m not lugging everything but the kitchen sink.

When all the details have been settled, it’s time for the cooking to begin. On a typical workweek, I go out shopping to gather all of the ingredients I need to prepare the week’s meals. This usually means going to three or four stores. My choices are: Indian-Pilipino market, Trader Joes, Safeway, and the Farmer’s Market.

The client sets a budget for meals and my service; I sometimes go over because of their high-priced dish requests. Once the shopping is done, I bring all of my ingredients to the client’s house or Flanagan’s Irish Pub. In the latter situation, I prep and cook from 6am to 11am, before the restaurant opens, if I’m not done I finish up at the clients house. I prefer cooking this way, then cooking at the client’s house because sometimes cooking fish, frying, or cooking curry dishes can leave a pungent smell. Restaurants tend to have better vent systems. I assemble the meals in oven-safe Pyrex containers because they are preferred amongst the majority of my clients and I like it because it’s sustainable.