As a personal chef, I’ve worked for many years for a lovely senior lady in Oak Brook, Illinois. When I first started cooking for her, she shared her recipe for a classic split pea soup that she used to make when her children were young.

What I love about this soup, is there is nothing fancy or unusual in the ingredients; it starts with a basic mirepoix, which is just onions, celery and carrots. After the mirepoix has sauteed and softened for a few minutes, next the split peas go in. The cooking liquid that she used is water; not broth. I admit, I was dubious when I first tried it. It turns out that the end result is a nice clean pea flavor; really delightful. I always add a bay leaf to my soups; I think that’s a great way to add another layer of flavor. As a personal chef, I feel it’s important to know when to stop trying to improve on something that is perfect.

As with any bean or legume soup, it’s important to not use salt until the end of the cooking time. Adding salt in the beginning makes the legumes tough, and consequently they might not soften up if salt is added too soon.

I like to use an immersion blender at the very end. (By the way, a word to the wise! Pick out the bay leaves first! Don’t ask me how I know that! You do not want hard little pieces of bay leaves in your soup, just take my word for it!)

For your reference, I have lots of other soup suggestions on my menu page, which you can’t find here:

All in all, my week’s highlight is always when I get to cook for and visit with one of my senior clients. Cooking for seniors has been such an honor for me in my 16 years in business. As you can see, when they share one of their treasured recipes, the experience is even more rewarding! Most of my senior clients have spend years and years seeing to everyone else’s needs; it is so wonderful to be their home chef who can now see to theirs!


One of the reasons I love spring so much, is that for me, it is spring soup season. To me, there is nothing better for lunch, especially. As a personal chef, I am always looking for ways to add tons of flavor and variety; and I love a soup to which  I can add some fresh, crunchy bright ingredients. 

I was in Oak Brook recently, doing in-home cooking for one of my personal chef clients. She is a healthy eater, she avoids carbs for the most part. She very loosely follows a paleo diet, which is why she hired a personal chef in the first place. (When I say loosely, I mean the occasion rice noodle is fine with her! I always get as many details as I can, because when people tell me they are paleo, that can mean a lot of different things to people!)

I have other paleo clients who really eat like the cavemen did! The paleo diet usually means meats, fish,vegetables, fruits nuts, seeds; things you could find in pre-historic times by hunting and gathering. (There were no rice noodles in prehistoric times;  But hey; if you want rice noodles to add in to your paleo diet, that is why you have a personal chef!)


I made her several portions of a really great Thai Noodle Soup, that will get her through the week for her to eat after her workouts. It’s a light broth made with good chicken stock, fish sauce, ginger and garlic.  More and more of my client’s lately are looking for more meatless meals, and this soup would fit the bill! For people who do like some meat in their soup, some shredded chicken thighs or shrimp would work perfectly. To me, the best part of this light healthy soup is the toppings: hard boiled eggs, radishes, cilantro, scallions, mint, and basil. 

I have noticed lately that everyone is trying to eat lighter. Staying in place while being at home during thos Covid-19 era has been hard on all of us, and I really don’t know all that many people who stuck to their healthy eating plan. It seemed like a very good time to over indulge! I think since warmer weather and brighter times are upon us,  light healthy soups like this will help to shed some of the coronavirus weight-gain, and not feel deprived while we are doing it! 




As a personal chef who has lots of very healthy clients, I am always thrilled to be able to cook for someone who likes desserts and sweets! It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I like to make the most of it!

In this case, my new lovely busy family in Downers Grove has a couple of kids going to school remotely from home. Seeing that they are working so hard, and this period has been so challenging for all of us, I like to make them a fun after school snack as well as a sweet treat!

Having said that, I am always on the lookout for cookie and brownie recipes that are not the same-old thing,  but also not completely unfamiliar! This recipe for Speculoos Cookie Butter Cookies fit the bill perfectly. If you haven’t had Speculoos butter (also known as Biscoff or Cookie Butter) before, allow me to describe it. It’s a paste ( or a butter, similar in texture to peanut butter) made of Speculoos spice cookies. It is delicious. The reason I rarely buy it is because I cannot resist it; I will eat a half a jar with a spoon.

I adapted this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which has never let me down!

Personal Chef Lorna’s Cookie Butter Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. flour

Half teaspoon salt

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 c. Cookie Butter

1 T. vanilla

2 cups quick oats

1 and 1/2 c. white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cookie sheet trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients thouroughly in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in the the egg and vanilla. Add the cookie butter and continue to mix. Stir in the oats and the white chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into golf-ball sized balls and place them a few inches apart. There should be 12 cookies on each sheet. 

Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Here is another pro tip from your personal chef: If at all possible, before you bake the cookies,  chill this dough for 24 hours; 3 days would be even better!





I work as a personal chef for a fun busy family in Glen Ellyn. I always try to leave the kids a fun after-school snack, as well as some cookies or brownies. For example, thiis week I made some Bacon Cheddar Dip with Crackers and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for the kids.

Everyone is home these days; the kids are working hard on their computers, Mom is on a never ending loop of Zoom meetings. On my cooking day, I come right into the garage and load up the refrigerator with as much cheering-up food as I can think of.

This time, I figured Mom, who is working from home, could use some fun too! Having said that, I thought some nice cold frozen sugary boozy grapes would be just the thing! 

Here is how you do it: Take seedless grapes and soak them in a mixture of vodka and Prosecco for at least an hour. If you ask me, the amounts don’t  really matter;  I used a whole bottle of Prosecco, and half a bottle of vodka for about 2 pounds of grapes.

Then roll them in superfine sugar. Put them in a single layer in a baking dish, and freeze them. Done! What I have found, is they are best stored in a glass Pyrex container left in the refrigerator. (Also, it’s not a bad idea to mark them clearly, so they kids know these are for mom only!)

Since these turned out so well, it got me to thinking about other fruits that might lend themselves to this fun preparation! I might give it a whirl with clementine segments next time. I am wondering how Trader Joe’s Golden Berries would work. I think I might give it a try as an experiment!

One of the reasons I have loved being a personal chef for 17 years is being able to help people by bringing some joy and fun into their lives. (Or in their garage, in this case!)





A personal chef’s tips and tricks for perfect thanksgiving mashed potatoes!


As a personal chef, I think I must have made classic mashed potatoes literally thousands of times!  Seeing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought it would be an ideal time to share my mashed potato secrets!

First and foremost, is the potato itself! To my way of thinking, it must be a russet potato. Another name for russet is baking potato; sometimes called Idaho potatoes. While it may be true that you can use another potato, such as Yukon Gold,  none have the right texture that the baking potato has. That is to say, a floury, light fluffy texture. Balanced against more waxy varieties, such as Yukon golds, or red skinned potatoes, I will opt for the russet every time!

Now that you have the right kind of potatoes, the next step cooking them.  Most importantly, cook them in liberally salted water, after you have peeled and diced them. As long as we’re on the subject of salt, I should mention that salt is one of the most important elements of great mashed potatoes. While it may be true that most blogs and the Food Network would have you beleive that kosher salt is the way to go, I opt for sea salt. The reason for this, is I like the subtle flavor of sea salt; compared to table salt, which has a harsh chemical taste. To that end, I’m not a big fan of pinching my fingers into an open container of salt either. 

So, after you have cooked the potatoes in the simmering salted water, until just fork tender. What this means is, simply pierce them with a fork and see if the tines easily go through. You don’t want them waterlogged and falling apart, so test earlier than you think you need to. 

The next step is to drain them very thouroughly. I like to put them back in the stockpot over a low flame for a few seconds, shaking the pot, so some of the water evaporates from the potatoes.

Now that your potatoes are cooked, it’s time to mash them.  To my mind, this is the most important step; you need a ricer! Nothing will give you the smooth fluffy texture that a ricer will give. For example, if you use a hand mixer, or god forbid  a food processor, your potatoes will be gluey. These are the tips that I love to share from all of my years as a personal chef! 

Have lots of room temperature unsalted butter on hand, as well as room temperature cream cheese. Put some whole milk (and cream if you like) into the stockpot (it’s not necessary to dirty another pot!) and warm it.  

After you have riced the potatoes, put in much more butter than a reasonable person would use. This is Thanksgiving, it’s no time to skimp or watch calories, if you ask me. 

For example, for 5 pounds of potatoes, I would use two sticks of butter, minimum. Also a block of cream cheese, and only enough warm milk/cream to make it the right texture. My advice is to take it easy and go slow while you are stirring the milk in; it can go from perfect to too runny in no time flat! Sprinkle more sea salt than you are accostomed to using, too! Potatoes need a lot more salt than other foods do.

So there you have it. To summarize: russett potatoes. Cook them in salted water. Drain thoroughly. Rice them. Add tons of unsalted butter, cream cheese and warm milk or cream and plenty of sea salt! These are the perfect Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes! If I keep giving tips like this, you won’t even need a personal chef! 




From time to time, as a personal chef, I love to leave little surprises for my clients. For example, if they are salad eaters, and not on a restricted diet, I love to leave a bag of homemade croutons. Once ina while, it’s nice to have a buttery, crunchy sourdough crouton to bite into! Being that most of the plate is greens and fresh vegetables, I say why not! 

Being that so few people eat croutons, much less homemade ones, this somehow seems like a special treat! To be sure, the quality of the ingredients matter! (In truth, it always does, doesn’t it?) In this case, I use good bread, unsalted good quality butter. (For example, Kerrygold or Trader Joe’s unsalted butter are both good choices!)  Lastly, the seasoning matters! Here, I used Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle; if you’re not familiar with Penzey’s spices, check them out! They have fantastic spices that will up your cooking prowess. I love using their blends; Northwoods seasoning, Fox Point, Bavarian to name a few!

Below is the “recipe”. It is meant to be adapted to your taste. The only caution I would add, is to not be afraid to se this much butter. Good croutons are made with lots of butter, that’s just the way it is.  So long as you’re not eating a diet of mostly croutons, this personal chef says you are going to be just fine with this amount of butter on occasion! 


Homemade Croutons

1 loaf of good bread (Sourdough, french, Italian, Ciabatta; whatever you like is fine.)

1 stick of unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons (at least) of extra virgin oilve oil

All purpose seasoning (any is fine; I like to use Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle. If yours doesn’t have salt, don’t forget to add sea salt.)

A few smashed garlic cloves

Fresh finely chopped parsley


  1. Cut the bread in large bite sized pieces. Toast them in a 325 degree oven until completely dry, and starting to get a little brown around the edges.
  2. Heat he butter and olive oil in a pan, on low heat. When hot, add the bread cubes and season with Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle or all purpose seasoning and sea salt. Toss around gently every few minutes, so all sides are coated.
  3. After 10 minutes or so, add the smashed garlic. Continue to cook until the cubes become golden. Add more olive oil if necessary. Add the fresh parsley toward the end, and toss gently.

That’s all there is to it! They will keep for several days. If you like, you can re-crisp them up in a low oven. 






I work as a personal chef in Naperville, and one of my clients just accepted a job that takes her out of town frequently. Of course, she is thrilled, but wants her family to eat well while she’s away on business trips. Naturally, that’s where I come in! 

We decided to kick things off by doing a few meal prep Sundays together.  Being that she had some family favorite recipes, it was my job to go shopping for the ingredients. After that, I  spent the day cooking some of these favorite tried-and true recipes!  (Of course, we maintained social distance, and the kitchen was well ventilated; we were both wearing masks as well!)  As a result, I was able to make several dinners with side dishes for her family to pop in the oven and heat very easily. 

Needless to say, her family will miss her when she is traveling, but the house will smell great in the evenings, and they will all get to eat homemade meals. This is such a relief to her and gives her a peace of mind to know everyone is eating good healthy food in her absence!  

Let me give you an example of what I am making each week for this family:

This Week’s Menu

  • Individual Turkey Meatloaf with Smashed Redskin Potatoes and Haricots Vert.
  • Pan Grilled Skirt Steak with Bacon Chimichurri, Roasted Butternut Squash and Roasted Broccolini.
  • Vegetable Curry with Chickpeas, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower
  • Mixed Greens Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • Oat and Date Bars 
  • Brownies! Lots of Brownies! 


I also decided that as an unexpected treat, I would make a big batch of snack mix, since the kids were having friends over! I made Chex Mix and Puppy Chow, and put them in individual containers. That way,  all of the kids could share snacks, while staying safe in the backyard.

It is my mission to make this mom’s life easier while she transitions into this new job and hectic busy life! It is my job as her personal chef to help her do just that! 




Working as a personal chef in Glen Ellyn for a lovely senior lady is always a highlight of my week.  To be sure, she has a sweet tooth! In light of that, I always make her extra treats like breakfast breads, baked goods, and desserts!

Whenever I am cooking for seniors, I try to allow extra time so that we can have time to visit and catch up. Now that our world has changed, that means in the yard from several feet away, while both wearing masks! 

While it may be true that we have to stay a few feet apart, we can still chat at length! She keeps me updated on her family, her interests, and her friends. I always enjoy our time together. I think she enjoys our visits as much as she enjoys the food! She has lots of homemade food to choose from in her refrigerator, as well as brownies and some mini muffins.  I know she loves pineapple, so I made her some pineapple bread, which turned out great! Very moist; the almond extract really was key here!

Sooner or later we will be able to talk inside and get caught up! Until then, I am going to thoroughly enjoy my time with her, and I think she does as well! Without a doubt, having a personal chef is more about the food, to her, and I couldnt’ agree more!


Pineapple Bread

Makes 2 loaves, or 5 mini loaves


½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

¼ t. Almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 t. Baking powder

3/4 t. Salt

½ cup chopped walnuts 

1 cup canned crushed pineapple (drained)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter and sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time. Add almond extract.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Next, add to the butter mixture. Add walnuts. Add crushed pineapple. Put into loaf pans that have been oiled/floured. Bake for approx. 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.







I have been working as a personal chef in Winnetka, for a lovely woman who has been following the Whole30 program for several years. When she is “on a round” as they say, she needs lots of portions of quick-to-heat, easy meals to make it easy for her to stay on the program. To be sure, this soup fits the bill!

This soup is bright and flavorful; with lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chiles, how could it not be? In addition, the sweetness of the pineapple balances the heat of the chiles. 

Of course, you can adapt this soup to your liking. For example, galangal would work beautifully in place of the ginger. In fact, galangal would provide more of a strong punch, if ginger doesn’t ring your bells. It would also be delicious with other fresh toppings. In fact, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos would be nice; and a combination of mint, basil and cilantro!

The recipe is below; I hope you enjoy it as this personal chef enjoys making it! In addition, I have lots of other soup ideas here:    Menus  many of them can be adapted to make them Whole30 friendly! 



Whole30 Tom Yum Soup

Serves 4

2 lbs. medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 T. coconut oil

4 stalks lemongrass (smashed and chopped finely)

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. minced fresh ginger

2 Thai chiles, sliced 

2 sliced bell peppers

6 c. water (or make a quick shrimp stock with the shrimp shells)

1 lime (zest and juice)

8 oz sliced mixed mushrooms

2 c. chopped fresh pineapple

2 t. fish sauce

1 T coconut aminos

Garnis: Fresh cilantro, lime wedges.


  1. Heat the coconut oil, and saute the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chopped chiles for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and bell peppers and saute another minute.
  2. Add the water or broth, pineapple, fish sauce and coconut aminos. Simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp and simmer until they turn pink. (It will only take a couple of minutes.)
  4. Serve, topped with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.




The perfect meatloaf recipe; does that exist? Meatloaf lovers always seem to have strong opinions about what makes a great meatloaf.  So, I’m going to share the best meatloaf I have ever had;  that probably sounds like bragging, but it’s true!  I’ll toot my own horn here!

As much as I love this meatloaf, I don’t get to make it as often as I like. The reason for that, is most of my personal chef clients are not terribly interested in comfort food; they hired a personal chef to make interesting, flavorful foods of all different varieties. Meatloaf is not usually up their alley!

However, when I am cooking for one of my senior clients, it seems more often than not, they want familiar classic dishes they have had all their lives. (That’s a pretty broad generalization; but it’s true 9 times out of 10!)

Undeniably, one of the highlights of my 16 year career is cooking for seniors. Because of this, over the years, I have often though of specializing in being a personal chef for seniors and retirees. 

Although most of my business for my in-home cooking service are busy professionals and families, over the years, I have been so lucky to be able to cook for many seniors as well!

Cooking for seniors is such a rewarding experience for me.  For instance, they sit in the kitchen with me, or nearby, as I cook. We visit and talk about food, family, and their history. It’s so interesting to get to know them, and it has been an honor to become friends with many of them.

These days, during the pandemic, I make time for us to see each other and catch up on their decks or in their yards from several feet away.

In my experience, I have found that seniors usually like a phone call before their cooking day; not an email!  Consequently, I always allow plenty of time, especially now, during Covid-19, for us to chat and catch up on the phone. Because of this, and many other reasons, this aspect of cooking for the older generation may not be for everyone. I really enjoy it; I make time for them and I slow down to listen to them.

Whenever one of my senior clients off to share their old recipes with me, that they made for their kids years ago, it’s such an honor. Undeniably, one of the best compliments I’ve ever received was when the grown daughter of one of my clients said that the meatloaf recipe she shared with me tasted just like it did when her mom made it 50 years ago!

Here’s an example: a client’s grown son told me that my cooking service has allowed his mom to remain in her home and stay independent. He doesn’t worry about her trying to cook her meals. Quite often, she asks me to make a big dish, a big lasagna or chicken pot pie, and she has her 3 grown grandchildren over for dinner.

Having a personal chef turns out to be a time-saver for the children of seniors, and I really strive to improve their quality of life in any way that I can.

The point is, my cooking days with that I have with seniors are always the best part of my week!

Indeed, this is my all time favorite meatloaf recipe.  (Despite it being much different than the one my client shared with me years ago. For example, hers included Wheaties, and green pepper. She is gone now, but I still think of her when I make meatloaf.)

Here is how to make it:


Classic Meatloaf Recipe

Mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) (available at Trader Joe’s, and other grocers; or chop your own)

Chopped Green Pepper


Sea Salt

Tomato Paste

Fish Sauce

Ground Beef/Veal/Pork. (local meat markets probably have a “meatloaf mix” with this blend.)

Fresh Breadcrumbs, crusts removed

Whole Milk


Organic Ketchup (Trader Joe’s ketchup is very good. Don’t use anything with artificial sweeteners, or HFCS.)

Then, saute the mirepoix and green pepper  (I usually hate green pepper, but here it works), in BUTTER, with sea salt, until very soft, maybe 10 minutes. Then add TOMATO PASTE, let that cook 5 minutes or so, until the raw tomato taste is gone. The next step is: I add just a little FISH SAUCE. (If that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone! But fish sauce is a great way to add umami!)  Anyway, I let that cool. Add fresh breadcrumbs, which I have soaked in milk, just enough to moisten the breadcrumbs. Next is the  BEEF/PORK/VEAL.

After that, add the eggs, mix it all up, form into a loaf and top generously with ketchup.  Bake until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees.