Tag Archives: Healthy Personal Chef

La Dolce Vita

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As you can tell, I am not an avid blogger.  That said, I have a lot to share.  Since the start of the year, I rediscovered oatmeal, I started a private chef and catering business, I exercise regularly, I make time to enjoy my free time, I’m no longer with David, and I rekindled and improved relationships with friends/loved ones I lost touch with in years passed.

My relationships.  They have always been a big part of who I am.  I’ve maintained a strong spiritual relationship with God, meditating every morning.  I improved my relationship with myself- looked at myself from an outsider’s perspective, observing myself in my relationships.  The biggest thing I learned that affected my state of happiness is, I’ve always changed myself to be the person I thought my mate wanted me to be, losing sight of the goals I set for myself.  In my relationship with David, I wasn’t being true to myself.  He wasn’t happy with my schedule and was appalled by how much the restaurant paid me.  I learned that people/men will come and go in my life and if I don’t pursue what I truly want, I’ll have lingering and bothersome “what if” thoughts.  He felt I put my job before him and resented me for it and retaliated by being an unfit partner.  I’m grateful that God was looking out for me.  And, I am grateful that I held onto my job and didn’t give up on my training.  Working at a restaurant was a necessary training ground.  For as long I can remember, my sisters and I wanted to open a bakery/cafe.  I now have a realistic idea of what it takes.  It’s not glamorous, but extremely hard work and a sacrifice.  I wouldn’t be able to do it alone – it takes commitment, a lot of planning, stamina and a lot of capital to get started and to become successful.

I have done some very interesting things, tried out and work/ed many jobs, and dated and befriended an eclectic bunch.  Whatever I have done in my life, I have no regrets.  All my choices shaped me into the person I am today…and honestly, I am happy with the person I am today.  With every experience I learned a ton and those experiences added some color, vibrance, flair, sugar and spice to my life. These experiences have given me a clearer focus on which direction I’d like to go in my life.  I am responsible for my own happiness.  I don’t ever want to depend on another person to make me happy.  To rely on someone else for my happiness is setting myself up for disappointment.  I want to be independent before I am interdependent with a mate who is the same, that way neither of us will lean on the other too much but will be there to support and contribute to the relationship.  I never want to be alone in my life- that’s why I always talk about my relationships and work interchangeably.  Both are big parts of my life and happiness.  Both decisions are big and take commitment.  I’d like to eventually get married to my best friend, who is supportive of my goals and dreams.  Peyman is my best friend.  I’ve told him what I want up front, he is supportive, and as a result is reaping the benefits.  I practice recipes that are healthy and scrumptious and he gets to indulge, as long as he gives me constructive feedback to improve.

I’ve decided to grow up and stop living a somewhat reckless and experimental life- learning lessons through excessive trial and error.  I know what I like and dislike now and I have come to realize that I can trust my own instincts because I respect myself more and see myself as a logical and reasonable human being.  In a month I will be 32 years old.  I want to be more practical and realistic with my goals.  I feel like I have reached my midlife…and instead of having a crisis, I feel I am at my prime.

I must say that I am relieved to have a clearer picture in mind for how I’d like to live the rest of my life.  I love food.  I appreciate it.  I want delicious food always in my life.  I always want to share good food with family, friends and even strangers.  Of course, I want to entertain in my comfy but modest future home that I picture to be serene, peaceful, elegant and just lovely…fountain in the courtyard, neighboring an herb garden and citrus trees, mini English and Japanese tea gardens, berry bushes and yada.. yada.. yada,..  In my career, I want to continue to contribute positively to someone’s life.  I want the feeling of accomplishment and reward.  I want to do for others what I have started to do – to cook delicious, yet health-conscious food.

My new venture as a private chef for a very busy and successful partner at a reputable law firm in LA has brought much clarity and purpose to my life.  Her goal, as well as her personal trainer/life coach’s, personal assistant’s, and my goal is to get her living a healthy lifestyle.  This includes eating healthy yet delicious food, exercising, and sleeping more, while keeping her busy schedule and having a personal life.  So far, she told me she loves the food, “it’s delicious”, and she feels “more energized” and has “lost weight”.  If I could help people stay healthy, energized, and still satisfy their palates, I will live a happy life.  To help someone in such a way is very satisfying and rewarding.

Early last week, I made 15 quarts of chocolate buttercream and thought, wow… if someone ate all this buttercream, they’d have a heart attack.  Sure it’s their choice to eat the buttercream and usually people eat it in moderation, but it just drives me a little crazy to make it available to them.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t cook with butter (only in baking which is not often at home…and if ever I cook with butter, I reach for a butter substitute called Earth Balance), but I am a pastry cook.  I cook with butter at work and it tastes oh so good.  I taste here and there because I have to make sure it tastes good and the way it should be, and after I do, I feel so terrible.  My inner voice cries out to me and says, “why are you killing yourself?!”. My close friends and I know that I’m somewhat of a nut and, fyi, my crazy idiosyncrasies stem from not only some of my family members being very anal and constructively critical of me, but also from watching years of the Oprah Winfrey show.  First, it was the dust mites that made me scratch my back and shoulders, leaving me with marks on my skin as a kid, then it was the show on fatty plaques in arteries that can never be scraped away that lead me to eat healthy.  I know, I’ve been told I’m quite neurotic in this way, but these mental notes, along with my father passing of a massive heart attack, motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle.  When I do what I know is right, I feel at peace.

I’ve been crazy busy lately, but when I have a few hours to just relax and do nothing, I feel so good.  It would be nice to live a long time so I can do what I’d like to do in my life – eventually travel the world, eat local foods in those places, have a family, dance and sing, and just spread peace, love and happiness.  Working at Tavern though, it’s hard to stay away from cookies, cakes, and the best croissants ever mde.  I eat what’s equivalent to at least one broken cookie a day because of it.  I have little self-control there.  There is some disconnect here – with the life I want to live and the work that I do.  I love eating deliciously, but eventually, I think I’m going to have to transition out of an environment that doesn’t agree with my lifestyle goals.  I do enjoy working, but I would be happier helping people live healthier lives or at least, for now, having a steady, regular schedule where I have time off to enjoy my life.  I do want to stay at Tavern and learn from the new pastry chef, Brooke, but I don’t know if I can continue to keep working all my jobs and stay sane.  If I got paid enough, I would’ve planned on staying at Tavern forever, but because I don’t make a living wage there, I had to pick up my other jobs and experience what I now find joy in.  (I sell real estate too! And am listing my sisters house for sale in about a month..that is going to be overwhelming!).  3 jobs is tough…I’ve been losing sleep over this.  I would like to cut my jobs down to 2 or 1.5.

If I could be a private chef to another person, I will be set.   I would be stoked! If you’re reading this and know of anyone that wants a private chef that can cook health-conscious yet flavorful food, please direct him or her or them to me.  I have to be honest, there is a price to pay for such diligence, care and pleasure… but I may be reasonable.  You never know until you ask me.

Currently, I work with a healthy lifestyle coach/trainer.  She tells me how much of what a person needs to eat in order to stay energized, to lose weight, and away from bad salty, sugary, high calorie snacks.  Right now, I cook 5 days a week for a client.  I deliver on Sundays and Wednesdays.  I provide 2 meals a day, lunch and dinner, and 2 snacks a day.  Each meal usually comes with either 1-2 cups of a delicious soup or salad, a 5-6 oz. portion of a lean, flavorful protein, and 1-2 cups of a non-starchy spiced vegetable and 1 serving (1/2 C) of a hi-fiber starchy, tasty vegetable/grain.  Snacks usually consist of 2oz. of toasted almonds and 1 cup of fresh, gorgeous organic berries or homemade hummus with sugar snap peas.  Meals and snacks change all the time but follow the same guidelines.  I can custom-tailor menus and meal plans with clients so it’s not as strict or even more strict.  I would like to stay within the same health-conscious yet flavorful framework.  Please send those with a need for my services to me. I would love the opportunity to get someone on track with a healthy diet.  I can also use someone to walk/run and hike with when my partner is unwilling.  I am also willing to teach newlyweds or single people how to cook simple, healthy, and delicious food.  Just give me a holler!

I must be on my way now, to visit my very pregnant best friend, Susan.  We’re going to walk, check out some real estate and then grab lunch at an open house, haha!

Till my next post, hope you enjoy your day, make good decisions, and love what you do.  Bon appetite!

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Day-off Dinners.

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A typical day off for me consists of cleaning the house, doing laundry, hanging with my sister, Riva and her kids, and cooking.  On these days, I’m considered her family’s personal chef.  If I’m at her house the entire day, maybe I’ll braise some sort of meat and serve it with rice or potatoes and roasted or sauteed vegetables.  Lately, since I don’t have much time to spare, I make simple meals that consist of a fresh salad, rice, and pork chops/loin, fish, or chicken.  These are simple, fresh, and healthy meals that are quite easy to prepare.

The highlight of the meal, for me, is always the salad, and my favorite salad these days is a lentil salad.  It’s so hearty, fresh, and satisfying.  Let me share this salad with you.  In a large bowl, I combine black Beluga lentils (which I purchase precooked from Trader Joe’s ), one chopped red bell pepper, zest of 2 lemons, some chopped green onion, 2 cups of sliced green and red grapes, and coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts.  I toss and coat everything in a citrus vinaigrette: about 2 or more lemons, juiced, with almost equal parts of olive oil, salt and pepper.  The traditional vinaigrette is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, but I like more citrus in my salad…I do a 50:50, maybe splash in even more citrus and season with salt till it tastes just right.  It’s best served chilled.

On my dinner plate or dinner palette, I like having some basmati rice, a lot of salad, and either my serving of chicken, fish, or pork.  I cook my rice the Iranian way: Peyman’s mom’s way, where you fill a pot with water, salt it and bring it to a rolling boil, just as you would for pasta. Then throw in the rice until al dente.  Drain the rice, then place the pot back on the burner to heat up.  Add about a tablespoon or less of canola oil to coat the bottom of the pot, add 1/8″ sliced pieces of potato (or not) then add back the rice to the pot.  Wrap the lid of the pot with a dishcloth, and cover the pot with the lid.  Keep the flame on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, then bring it down to low heat so the rice cooks and reaches steamed perfection.  This takes about 10 minutes for 2 or 3 cups of rice.  The end result, if you use a nonstick pot, is a crispy rice or potato, in Farsi, “tadik” and perfectly steamed rice, fluffed nicely with a fork.  This adds texture and fun to the plate, crispy rice or potato and fluffy rice to soak up the vinaigrette from the salad.  I find this type of meal very refreshing, light, and delicious!

About an hour after dinner, I like to enjoy a bit of sweetness.  I steep a nice, hot Earl Grey tea and we drink it slowly with a lovely dessert.  My favorite after-dinner dessert is chilled almond cake with sweetened creme fraiche whip and mixed berries.  Okay, I lied, I don’t use creme fraiche, but close – I use sour cream.  I whip up about a cup or less of heavy cream with about a dollop of sour cream to medium-stiff peaks and sweeten with powdered sugar.  Peyman can eat the whip all on its own!  This dessert is so delicious and such a treat!  

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Today was my day off.  I spent the entire day looking for a second job.  Sadly, I’ve had no luck…I lack waitress experience and my schedule is limiting. No one has responded to my fruit tart business either.(waa waa waa)  As a result, I’m going to do something I should have done long ago, on the side.  Ready to hear what I’ve got?  Well here you go… I can make healthy, simple, fresh dinners as a personal chef.  

I can offer a family, single busy people, or couples my services 2 -4 times a week, as a personal chef.  Right now, I am open on Mondays and Thursdays, and I could work mornings to 2-3pm on Saturdays and mornings to 1-2pm on Sundays, depending on location.  I currently live on the border of West Torrance and South Redondo and can drive out as far as Long Beach, Pasadena, or Sherman Oaks.  

My other offerings – classes for individuals or groups, on cooking simply and deliciously on Mondays and Thursdays and the mornings/early afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays.  I specialize in Italian, Mediterranean, Filipino and Japanese food.  If interested, feel free to contact me.

When/if my schedule at Tavern changes to the 5am shift, I can work a second job more easily, by working for Lucques Catering again, which would help me out a lot financially.  I might even be able to work another shift somewhere or do personal chef-ing more easily during the day.

You know, watching the Food Network before culinary school, I thought working in the culinary world would be glamorous.  The reality is, working in a kitchen is very challenging and it’s very labor-intensive…it’s a lot different from what you see on television.  At Lucques, I’d carry heavy lexans filled with brussel sprouts and romanesco onto the top shelf (6 or more feet high), the lighting isn’t as good as it is on Giada’s show,  and if you spend all day washing and spinning greens, preparing and cooking meats and sauces, you can get a real mud treatment on your hands and face and a short rib and steak sauce facial.  I felt accomplished in the kitchen for going through all that physical pain..and I had to get down and dirty doing it.  Although I love the savory side of the business, I love that I work in pastry;  I come home smelling sweet!  The work we do in the kitchen and the pay that we get isn’t glamorous, but what is glamorous is that we’re doing what we love.

After I pay all my dues, put in all my hard work, build a business, sell it or expand it, pass it on, and reach Anthony Bourdain’s age, I would love to do what he does.  Travel and eat and drink.  He enjoys the sights, the smells, and the tastes of the world.  Now that’s what I call a glamorous life.

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