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A Personal Chef for Moi?!

The Cooking Fairy at Work

The Cooking Fairy at Work

I am not rich, I do not have a trust fund and I’m actually a very good cook, so why on earth would I want to use a personal chef?  Well, if the opportunity presented itself, who wouldn’t? Let’s face it, I can also wash my own car, do my own pedicures and knit my own sweaters, but that doesn’t mean I want to.  For me, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cram in all the things I want to do (read stack of books on bedside table, go to Italy, have own talk show), should do (clean out garage, give away clothes that don’t fit, floss daily), and must do (exercise, send thank-you notes, empty kitty litter). In my world the days of languidly planning, shopping for and creating a delicious candlelit repast are long, long gone.

Or are they? What if, when I was really pressed for time and feeling generally overwhelmed by Life, someone else could plan, shop and cook for me? What if all I had to do was set the table and light the candles?

Enter Joanna Wallis aka The Cooking Fairy who has been cheerfully whipping up fabulous fare for Fairfield County residents for the past three years.

It all started innocently enough. Joanna, a Greenwich, CT mother of three, had a natural aptitude for cooking fantastic food and entertaining. Dinner guests were always raving about her culinary skills, pleading for repeat performances, and requesting recipes. Just as some people are gifted singers, artists, or financial wizards, cooking came easily to Joanna. And then the giant light bulb went on. “You’re supposed to do what you love,” she thought, “so why not cook for others by becoming a personal chef?”

It might surprise you to discover who actually uses Joanna’s services. Her clients are a cross-section of individuals at all ages and stages of life: busy families with toddlers, expectant mothers, seniors who have lost the desire to cook but not the pleasure of eating, post-operative patients, single parents, people trying to lose weight, new homeowners, couples enjoying a Stay-cation.  And as it turns out, me.

Day Two: Corn bread, bacon-stuffed Chicken

Day Two: Corn bread, bacon-stuffed Chicken

Admittedly, I felt a bit guilty booking the Cooking Fairy for two nights in a row, (that’s the minimum) but not so guilty that I didn’t enjoy every moment of the experience. Here’s how it works: Joanna meets personally with every new client and after filling out a comprehensive food likes and dislikes questionnaire for the family, she suggests a few menu options. My criteria were simple:  I wanted food that I would never think to make myself. I also wanted a healthy option for Day One, and a guilty pleasure for Day Two. We agreed on a menu and the following Tuesday, The Cooking Fairy showed up at my door bearing all the elements for each meal with simple and clear instructions.

Most people think of a personal chef cooking up a storm in your kitchen and The Cooking Fairy used to do that but she soon realized it was easier if most of the time she cooked off-site at a kitchen in Darien and delivered everything pre-made in simple white oven proof, stackable crockery. This proved to be a boon for clients: no cooking smells or kitchen mess; no sense of inadequacy for not owning chef quality knives or an array of exotic spices; and no interruption to one’s personal routine other than answering the door and ushering the Cooking Fairy into the kitchen. An added bonus? Joanna is a whiz at reorganizing refrigerators to accommodate her compact dishes, which she does without blinking an eye. And then Poof! She’s gone in under five minutes.

Joanna Wallis aka The Cooking Fairy

Joanna Wallis aka The Cooking Fairy

The first night, I set the table, pre-heated the oven to 400, turned on some mood music and asked my husband to make martinis. Within 25 minutes we were seated at the table happily indulging in seared pistachio-encrusted tuna, a robust quinoa salad with goat cheese and pomegranates, and lemony haricots verts.  Yum. We actually made dinner an occasion instead of a hurried duty, gulped down at the kitchen counter or (gasp! guilty confession…) in front of the TV.

The next night I moved us to the dining room and broke out the good china and silver. We indulged in a bottle of wine to accompany the cornbread and bacon-stuffed chicken (she had me at “bacon”), roasted asparagus and chopped green salad with a tomato vinaigrette. Over dinner my husband and I actually conversed and, for a change, not about work, household chores or our teenager.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the cost. Prices vary depending on the menus and needs of the household. It starts at $120 for 2 adult diners for 2 full entrée meals. Pricing for families of 4-6 starts at $160 for 2 family meals. Weekly Personal Chef Service includes:

  • Client Consultation
  • Personalized Menu Planning (very fun)
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Cost of all food
  • Cooking, Packaging, Labeling and Serving Instructions
  • Either in-home kitchen clean-p or delivery and fridge set-up

It sounds a bit pricey at first but if you do the math, add in mitigating factors such as the value of your time spent shopping, chopping, sautéing, roasting and cleaning up, and add a healthy dash of rationalization, you will soon realize that while most of us may not be able to enjoy the culinary gifts of the Cooking Fairy every week, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to indulge in this service from time to time.

I want you to think back to the restaurant bill the last time you and your significant other went out for dinner. Now imagine eating delectable food cooked to your specifications in your own home with an excellent bottle of wine or champagne that arrives at the table with no upcharge. Hiring a personal chef begins to make a lot of sense don’t you think? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sample Menus can be viewed on The Cooking Fairy

The Cooking Fairy
Email joanna@thefairycook.comTel  914 548 9379