A Interview with Chef Dan
How did you end up being a personal chef?
I have worked in the culinary industry for over 10 years in many different ways, and while most of the experiences were enjoyable, they didn't give me the opportunity to be one-on-one with customers. I really enjoy being able to individualize cooking for clients. There is much greater satisfaction in making a meal for someone I know personally and having them enjoy it. Also, working with people that have specific diets and nutritional needs is a really fun challenge and something that you don't get to do a lot of in the restaurant or catering world.
What inspired you to get into health and wellness cooking?
If I can cook and help people gain a better quality of life, it's a win-win. I have always been drawn to experiences that “keep me on my toes” so to speak. Health and wellness cooking pushes me to stay current on new information and allows me the opportunity to infuse this information into my recipes. This makes me a better chef as I’m constantly evolving and reflecting on my work.
What is most rewarding to you about your job?
Hearing people say they actually feel better after starting the service… It’s pretty cool! After a few weeks of doing the meal preps with my clients, they start to see and feel the effects of eating better. It’s a great feeling. Some of the most gratifying moments have been working with clients who are having to change their diets somewhat against their will due to medical issues. Working with someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy eating healthy, but has to, can be a challenge for both the chef and client. Diet is such a huge part of our lives so when someone is told they need to change it, its life changing and can be a frustrating and scary thing. Being able to help clients through this process and create meals and plans they enjoy eating is extremely rewarding. There are so many benefits that can come from a switch in diet and it is pretty incredible how quickly you can start feeling the effects of healthy eating. It is great to hear people say that they now have more energy, their stomach pains go away, or that they don’t feel weighed down by food like they used to be. I think it's awesome to help people with that.
What type of diet/clients do you cook for?
Really, anyone. I am pretty adaptable to cooking for all types of diets: Keto, Mediterranean, Plant Paradox, Vegan, Gluten Free, Whole 30, etc. I stay current on diet trends because there is always something new coming out that clients may be interested in. Along with special diets, I am well versed in family style cooking. I have a few clients that are working professionals who live very busy lives during the week but want to be able to sit down with their family and have dinner together. I am able to help with this by prepping family meals that they can simply toss in the oven without having to worry about grocery shopping, planning, prepping, and cooking on a nightly basis.
How do you personally eat?
Healthy eating does not come naturally to me. I come from a background of heavy carb casseroles and various convenience meals. And while my mom's cooking is amazing, it is not always the most gut friendly. Sticking to a strict diet has been challenging through the years so I definitely relate to clients who do not want to sacrifice flavor for health. I usually have 2 meals a day and try my best to eat within a 6-7 hour window. My first meal of the day usually consists of a protein and simple salad. For dinner, usually a protein, various veggies, and a light starch. I portion control as best as I can, and not go overboard. I do really enjoy snacking and cutting out sweets was hard when I first started, so I curb that by sometimes having yogurt, berry smoothies, and granola. I love the food profiles in Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisines so I definitely make a point to add these to my food and switch things up.
What tips or advice would you give someone who is trying to eat healthier?
Do you best to stay consistent with it. Changing diet can be difficult, and it’s something I battle with myself. It doesn't mean that you have to eat the same meal every day, unless you are ok with that. Whatever you are trying to achieve by eating healthy - weather its weight loss, dietary restrictions, calorie intake, anti- inflammation, you have to be diligent about it. Having our chefs meal prep and organize for you really takes the guessing out of it.
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A personal chef