I recently had a request from one of my Glen Ellyn personal chef clients. She is having a houseful at Thanksgiving, and is looking forward to making a lot of the food herself, with some help from her sisters in law! She asked for my help in coming up with some healthy, bright side dishes. She and her husband are very healthy eaters, and she knew she would have to serve stuffing, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes for all of the purists in her crowd, but wanted to incorporate some nice crunchy, bright additions. I gave her some great recipes for a panzanella salad and green beans gremolata. The dish has bright quickly roasted haricots vert with fresh rosemary, garlic and lemon. It is a really welcome change from the same old green bean casserole! Everyone I’ve made that for loves it.

As a personal chef, I welcome special requests like this. My client actually really enjoys cooking a few times a year; especially at the holidays. I was more than happy to help her come up with a menu, and some time saving tips and do-ahead ideas. In years past, she is always happy to pass the kitchen duties back over to me until next time! Christmas is right around the corner!

As a personal chef, I often get calls from people who were recently diagnosed with an illness and have to change their diets. It can be so overwhelming, in the beginning, to have to break old habits and not know where to start. My very first client had been diagnosed with Celiac disease. This was several years ago, before labels clearly stated whether the product contained wheat, for example. I made many phone calls from the grocery store in those days, to find out whether a product was safe for my client to eat. I now consider myself very well versed on which gluten free pastas are good, and which ones are pasty and flavorless! There are some really good ones out now, and much more readily available than they used to be!
More often than not, people with special diets are much easier to cook for than they might anticipate at first. I focus on the foods they can eat, instead of trying to substitute the foods that are off limits now. Usually, it goes hand in hand with the way I cool most often. Healthy, lean meats, full of protein. Lots of fresh vegetables, roasted, tossed with fresh herbs or toasted nuts.

I have cooked for all kinds of special diets. I have cooked for people with diabetes, Lupus, high blood pressure, Huntingtons Disease, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, cancer, etc.
It is so rewarding to cook for people with sensitivities, allergies, or illnesses, and have them really enjoy eating, as well as helping them recover. When I cook flavorful food with lots of variety, it makes my clients mealtimes a lot more enjoyable!