Private chefs aren’t just for NYC’s uber-wealthy anymore (and they’re not as expensive as you might think)!
- Last Updated: 12:53 PM, April 24, 2012
- Posted: 11:22 PM, April 23, 2012
David Wallace is pulling off a major feat in Park Slope: He’s soothing a cranky toddler while serving his delectable crustless mini-quiches. Across the living room, mom Sara Marcus is chowing down, conducting an informal taste test — “David, these weren’t that brown last time!” she calls out.
Candidate for husband of the year? Nope. Wallace, 37, doesn’t live here. He’s the personal chef the Marcus family hired to make life easier for Sara, a 35-year-old Web entrepreneur who works from home; her husband, film editor Dave, also 35; and their son, Gabriel, 16 months old.
While the mere phrase “personal chef” might evoke images of starched white toques and meals served on silver trays, a growing number of middle-class New Yorkers are now going this route.
Though Wallace declines to list his rates, the Private Chef NYC, an independent company that offers nearly identical services, has a flat rate of $350 a week, not including the cost of groceries — and promises five dinners’ worth of food. Rates vary with skill, time and the volume of food produced, but most citywide fees tend to fall between $150 and $450 for a private chef’s labor for several days’ worth of food — not including the cost of ingredients. Wallace insists that his weekly services will cost a family of four less money than it would for them to get takeout during the week.
Families yearning for less greasy-Chinese takeout and more healthy, satisfying fare are even taking their pleas to Craigslist, where inquiries into private chefs at a bargain proliferate on the boards.
One recent posting advertised a private chef of 20 years named Katie, who would cater to any dietary need — and was willing to cook for vegans and carnivores alike: “Brazilian coconut dish that is just to die for! Stews, lasagna, meatballs!” With recession-chic prices — $120 for six hours and seven dishes — it appears anyone’s dietary dreams can come true.
“One of my best clients is a nurse whose schedule is backwards because she works the night shift,” says Rolise Rachel, a private chef who is in her mid-30s. “She tells me all the time she doesn’t know what she’d do without me.”
Rachel has worked in kitchens from the Hamptons to South Beach over the past 15 years, but she feels most gratified when she’s in this nurse’s one-bedroom apartment in Midtown, dishing up healthy fare that includes chicken and turkey burgers, and premade salads for the week. Her rates are on a sliding scale from $35 to $50 per hour — which means that dishes, including her signature tom ka gai soup (chicken stock, coconut milk, lemon juice, red curry paste, ginger and cilantro) — are very much within reach of most budgets.