Indulging in Luxury – Exploring the World of Personal Chefs

According to the United States Personal Chef Association, a common misconception is that personal chefs are only hired by those who are wealthy. However, did you know that a luxury dining experience can occur in your home? Whether it’s a dinner for two, a wedding rehearsal dinner, a get-together with family or friends or a birthday celebration – you can bring that luxury dining experience home with a personal chef.

303 Magazine had the privilege of connecting with four Denver-Metro personal chefs who provide clients with stellar service when it comes to assisting them with selecting personalized services that fit their social and dietary needs. The following mini-interviews will allow you to “meet the chef” and determine if 2024 is the year you will hire a personal chef for your next dinner party.

Chef Jeff Stoneking

Photo Courtesy of Chef Jeff Stoneking on Facebook

MEET THE CHEF

303 Magazine: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started.

Chef Stoneking: I began my career as a young chef at The Broadmoor Resort, where I worked as an apprentice in all facets of the Culinary program. This gave me invaluable experience, know-how, and passion at a young age. Later on, I further refined my skills by working under acclaimed chefs such as Joshua Skenes and Adam Keough at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern. After that, I served as the opening Executive Chef of LeRoux French bistro, where I gained valuable experience in developing concepts, designing kitchens, and running successful restaurant operations with the ChoLon Restaurant group as the Chef of Special Projects.

With the unique challenges of 2020, I saw an opportunity to assist people in eating well while staying safe and comfortable at home. I started my personal chef business and became obsessed with how I could help people eat chef-quality foods without having to deal with all that comes with going out to eat. I’ve continued to develop products and services that address the needs of our customers so that they can get as much of their time for themselves and their families while still getting to eat well as effortlessly as possible.

303: How do you assist clients with successful menu planning that achieves a luxury dining experience within their home?

Chef Stoneking: We love to use our knowledge of ingredients, many cuisines, food trends, and our customers’ needs to help us create memorable experiences for our customers. One example of how we do this is by offering a dynamic dining experience. We have found that not everyone is looking for 7-course tasting menus (though we certainly can, and do accommodate those requests), and not all dishes work as well in certain styles as others. For instance, charcuterie and grazing boards are very popular right now, but they do not work well as plated sit-down dishes. We like to include this style of appetizer as a part of the initial welcome/cocktail part of the meal. This allows guests to eat what appeals to them as they wish and allows for a smoother transition for our host while their guests arrive. From there, we suggest a plated salad. This gives us the chance to present a beautifully plated dish for each guest and is also a great way to help the host get their guests seated in a timely and tasteful manner. We may do another plated app after this, or move into the main portion of the meal, which we find is best-served family-style, creating a feeling of feasting and abundance. Depending on the menu, this course often comes out in a few waves. We do love to take liberties with these large format family-style dishes and utilize fun sauce techniques, stylized plating, and fun and thoughtful garnishes. We enjoy this aspect, as it allows for the guests to enjoy items at their discretion, and their own pace. The guests are then able to interact with each other over food with minimal interruptions. We often end with an elegant plated dessert to put a nice personal bookend on the dynamic service.

Additionally, I think this is often underrated. Still, the ability of our host to host through the night and spend quality time with their family and friends from start to finish, without having the looming “cleanup” to worry about, is amazing! Making good food is important, but that is sort of the obvious barrier to entry for us. The food and service need to be great and thoughtful before you engage in the trust and intimacy that comes with cooking for people in their homes. But, it’s the look of relief that we get when the guests are departing, well-fed and happy, and the host sees that their kitchen is as clean (often more so) as when we arrived. They can say goodnight to their guests, finish up their night at a leisurely pace with a cocktail, and head off to bed when they’re ready.  I think most of our customers would agree that this is where the real luxury hits.

303: If you can share, who have you had the opportunity to work with as a personal chef?

Chef Stoneking: My career has allowed me to serve a range of clients, including local families, busy companies, politicians, professionals, athletes seeking specific dietary support, and even businesses within the medical and legal fields. Each client brings unique needs and preferences, which I find incredibly rewarding to cater to. We have many local customers in the real estate and finance world. We have cooked for the co-founder of two of the larger crypto/blockchain companies in the world.  Chef Aarón Sánchez reached out to us to fulfill his promise of handling the food for his nephew’s wedding, after Chef Sanchez’s restaurants were dealing with a hurricane in NOLA.

303: Finally, what would you say is your most requested dish?

Chef Stoneking: Our Worcestershire Glazed Short Rib and our artisan focaccia bread are very popular. Even people who don’t think they love short ribs have been converted.

For more information visit Personal Chef Service

Chef Dorian Canty

Photo Courtesy of Chef Dorian on Personal Chef Service

MEET THE CHEF

303: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started.

Chef Dorian: My career started with a two-year tenure at a Teppanyaki restaurant where I meticulously refined my culinary artistry by dedicating endless hours to mastering my craft and becoming a skilled chef. The turning point came in 2018 when I tragically lost my stepfather, Kevin, to a stroke, prompting a profound reassessment of my life. Amidst the struggles of hardship and homelessness, I drew strength from the teachings of Kevin, who had always encouraged me to carve my own path.

During the quarantine, I took a leap of faith and founded my private chef venture, Kavi’s Hibachi Grill. Fueled by the memory of my stepfather, whom I affectionately called Kavi, I transformed adversity into opportunity, honoring Kavi’s legacy of hard work and a positive outlook on life.

Officially established in 2020, my culinary expertise attracted a distinguished clientele, including Chauncey Billups, Cody Latimer, Orlando Franklin, and various businesses.
With every sizzle and flip, I continue to channel the spirit of Kavi, delivering exceptional cuisine as a private chef to clients who seek a personalized and memorable culinary experience in the comfort of their homes and workplaces.

303: How do you assist clients with successful menu planning that achieves a luxury dining experience within their home?

Chef Dorian: First, I like to assist my clients with designing a well-balanced and diverse menu by suggesting a variety of cuisines, accommodating dietary preferences, and ensuring a mix of flavors and textures to cater to different tastes. Secondly, I  provide them guidance on efficient meal preparation strategies, including make-ahead options and easy-to-follow recipes, ensuring a stress-free experience and a delightful dining experience for their family or guests.

303: If you are able to share, who have you had the opportunity to work with as a personal chef?

Chef Dorian: I’ve had the privilege of preparing meals for various high-profile clients, including professional athletes. Cody Latimer, Orlando Franklin, Emmanuel Sanders, Derrick Wolfe, TJ Ward & Todd Davis are just a few.

303: Finally, what would you say is your most requested dish?

Chef Dorian: The most requested dish is my Tomahawk Steaks. Known for their flavor, presentation, and uniqueness, They have become a consistent favorite among those who appreciate my culinary creations.

For more information visit Personal Chef Service

Chef Elizabeth Fritzler

Photo Courtesy of Chef Fritzler on The Nutrivore Chef

MEET THE CHEF

303: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started.

Chef Fritzler: I was following a paleo diet (low sugar, grain-free/dairy-free) in 2015 to manage some health problems. I found myself spending more and more time in my home kitchen, experimenting with paleo recipes, rather than focusing on my work-from-home marketing job. Eventually, I decided to make a career switch to the food sector. I started a food blog and offered private cooking classes, but I quickly realized the bigger demand was for personal chef services. Within a year, I had secured five weekly personal chef clients and was able to quit marketing to pursue cooking full-time.

303: How do you assist clients with successful menu planning that achieves a luxury dining experience within their home?

Chef Fritzler: My service is fully customized for each client. Before I do any cooking, we sit down together to talk about their unique food preferences. I create a meal plan a week in advance and send it to the client for their approval. This eliminates the need for them to expend any mental energy on meal planning at all. And there’s no more picking out peas or asking for a gluten-free option–all of the food is consistent with their tastes.

For clients with multiple food allergies or sensitivities, having a personal chef is not just a luxury, but a matter of safety. I suffer from food allergies myself, so I understand how important it is to avoid cross-contamination and read labels. My clients love having convenient, allergy-friendly food fully prepared and readily available in their homes.

303: If you are able to share, who have you had the opportunity to work with as a personal chef?

Chef Fritzler: This is my eighth year in business, and over the years I have worked with clients in every field from law to major food & beverage manufacturers to the financial sector. Many of these individuals work long hours and lead very busy, stressful lives. They hire me to take the burden of meal planning and prep off their shoulders so they can focus on their careers and families.

303: Finally, what would you say is your most requested dish?

Chef Fritzler: I make a Korean dish called Japchae that’s been a hit with every client. It’s a combination of sweet potato noodles, pork loin strips (or protein of choice), vegetables and a stir-fry sauce with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic and Korean chili flakes. The depth and breadth of different flavors are perfect every time. People love it!

For more information visit The Nutrivore Chef

Chef Eric Vollono

Photo Courtesy of Chef Vollono on Private Dining

MEET THE CHEF

303: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started.

Chef Vollono: I have over 20 years of experience working in award winning restaurants in New York, Chicago and New Orleans. After serving as Executive Chef at Cavan in New Orleans, LA, during the pandemic I transitioned to running my own business, Chef Eric Private Dining in Denver, CO.

My ability to connect with people and understand their needs helps me create unique dining experiences that resonate with my clients. Building on my front-of-the-house background, working alongside James Beard award-winning chefs, and my experience working in various culinary positions, I provide a high quality of service with the support of an incredible team.

When I started my business, I became aware that many people in Denver were missing vacations and celebrating special experiences while in lockdown. Using the skills and abilities I’ve developed while in restaurants, I knew I could build unique menus and create safe, delicious dining experiences for my clients.

303: How do you assist clients with successful menu planning that achieves a luxury dining experience within their home?

Chef Vollono: I want to change the expectations of what a private chef can bring to your home dining experience. I believe in tailoring the menu to the guest, centering the reason they’re hosting their event and turning your home into my restaurant complete with custom plateware and personalized menus for a few hours.

I work very closely with my guests, and I always try to remind them to choose things they enjoy when we’re looking at the menus. I ask them about their favorite places to visit, dishes that trigger a memory, something special, and I tell them to let me worry about everyone else’s preferences and dining restrictions. My role is to take care of my clients, cultivating an exciting experience for guests while allowing hosts to feel calm and joyful.

I always offer menus full of dishes executed with thoughtful care and my style. I present my guests with a structured menu of around 30-35 dishes, allowing my clients to put their own style on display.

I frequently change my menus, working with local purveyors throughout the Denver area and beyond to balance sustainability, local availability and great flavors each season. I love what Apos and Maggie at Tom’s Seafood are doing and I’m on the phone with Alice at the Local Butcher about once a week talking about what I need.

303: If you are able to share, who have you had the opportunity to work with as a personal chef?

Chef Vollono: While living in Chicago, I was fortunate to work under some amazing industry leaders, such as Art Smith, Bill Kim and Giuseppe Tentori. I worked alongside Geoffrey Zakarian while in New York City and Nina Compton while In New Orleans. All of these chefs are either James Beard Award Winners or Michelin Star/Bib Gourmand  Recipients. While working at Band of Bohemia in Chicago, my team and I were awarded a Michelin star.

Throughout my career as a chef, both in restaurants and working independently, I’ve cooked for two presidents while they were in office, celebrity chefs, music stars of all genres, the Mayor of Chicago, many athletes, movie stars and the former head coach of the Saints.

I have provided in-home dining services, meal drop-offs, corporate christmas events, superbowl spreads, canape and cocktail parties, and wedding services for these guests.

303: Finally, what would you say is your most requested dish?

Chef Vollono: While I work within many different genres and cuisines, pasta has always been one of my staples. I worked with Giuseppe Tentori in Chicago at two of his BOKA Group restaurants, GT Fish and Oyster and BOKA. He took over the role of my Italian insegnante. In two and a half years he taught me a ton about stuffed and flat pasta shapes, gnocchi, gnudi and seafood.

I always roll my own pasta at my events, which is a great way to get guests involved. I always bring a spare apron in case someone wants to help/learn how to do it.

For me it’s about the connection between the food, the chef and the guests. When you book with me I want you to see where your food comes from and I want you to feel special about the dishes you picked that I get an opportunity to share with you.

For more information visit Private Dining

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Thank you to Chef Stoneking, Chef Dorian, Chef Fritzler and Chef Vollano for taking time out of their schedules to do these mini-interviews. 303 Magazine hopes you all enjoyed them and have been able to gain a new perspective regarding luxury dining.