“Why does your food taste so good?” That was one of the most unusual, sincere compliments I recently received from my clients who I cook for as a personal chef in Naperville. He is the dad in a busy household full of teenagers and pre-teens. They wanted me to make regular weeknight meals; comfort food that the kids would love. One of the dishes I made was BBQ Meatballs. The dad thought, “Oh. Ok, that will probably be good, but nothing special.” He said he wasn’t expecting them to be so good. As a personal chef, I am always trying to bring my cooking to the next level, even if it’s a humble dish like meatloaf,  BBQ meatballs, or mashed potatoes. One of the ways I do this is by thinking how I can add Umami to a dish. If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a category of taste (in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter) that is almost undefinable. It is what makes you say “Mmmm” when you eat. It adds a depth and richness. Some items with natural umami are beef, mushrooms, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms and anchovies. There are lots of Umami items on the market now; mushroom powders, roasted tomatoes. I love thinking of ways to take the food to the next level and my personal chef clients seem to love it too!

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