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Tell me what you think about this.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've had offers by several people that would LOVE me to prepare meals a week or so in advance so they can keep them in their freezers and eat as required. I don't really want to do this because of the quality and flavor loss, but it seems like I would have a lot of business doing it. What do you guys think about it? And if you think I should do it, what kind of meals do you recommend that would hold the best in a freezer?
post #2 of 13
I don't see it as a real problem; not when they're only holding the meals for a week or so.

I do that all the time here at home. There are only the two of us, but I make full recipes, then put up our own frozen meals.

If you use a vacuum sealer, and a zero-degree freezer, there shouldn't be any quality issues at all.

Almost anything holds well in the freezer. The least worthy, though, are anything made with cream sauces. I don't think there'd be a flavor loss in that time, but the sauce is likely to break when they defrost it.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just don't see how proteins would maintain their juices.
post #4 of 13
I've seen this kind of concept a few times over up in the Seattle area. Many of the places actually have the customers help with the prep.
Erik

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid one day, lying in the hospital dying of nothing"
-Redd Foxx
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Erik

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid one day, lying in the hospital dying of nothing"
-Redd Foxx
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post #5 of 13
If defrosted correctly they do; which means defrosting slowly, in the fridge.

Sure, you have no control over how your customers will do that. But consider this: when they take home a doggie bag, more times than not they throw the left-overs in the freezer, then defrost and eat at another time. And rave about it just as much as when they were sitting out front.

The real secret is in how things were frozen. The faster this is done the smaller the ice crystals, and the less damage to the cell walls. That's why flash freezing produces a product almost as good as fresh.

Flash freezing is not a viable option for you (I don't reckon you have a liquid nitrogen tunnel handy). But a zero degree freezer, combined with other techniques, comes fairly close.

What you need to do is prepare a couple of your signature dishes, package and freeze, then defrost and reheat. You can then decide if there has been enough quality loss to matter.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 13
Basically what you're asking about is setting up a personal chef business. Do a search on "personal chef" and you'll find lots of information. Including a professional association that provides training.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #7 of 13
Chad-
They have something like that here in Sacramento, I have heard ads on the radio but do not know the name of it. It is a business (comercial kitchen)location and guest set up a session to go and put together their own meals. Everything is prepped and guests just assemble into freezer safe containers and bags. They advertise it for about $4.00 per serving, just thaw and/or cook- and "you make it yourself, so it's just the way you like it" LOL
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #8 of 13
Suzanne, I don't think he's looking to become a personal chef in the usual sense of the word.

A personal chef usually works, and often lives, on premises, and cooks all the meals.

What we're really talking about, seems to me, is a limited-edition, branded line of frozen meals that are made to order. The "brand," of course, is Chef Chad.

What we have is a group of people, number unknown, who are really in love with Chad's dishes. Rather than go to the restaurant, they want to take them out of the freezer to serve whenever they wish.

I think the concept is great, myself, which should be obvious from my posts. If I were wearing Chad's toque I wouldn't have to think twice about it.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
See that's the thing. I want to get into being a personal chef (off premises), and also cater small dinner parties of up to maybe 20, but people seem more interested in the frozen meal thing.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just don't really want to do it because of the quality loss. I want my food to be the best it can possibly be. But then again, the owner of the hotel I work at (and a bank, real estate firm etc etc.), got his starting making and selling frozen burritos, so I don't know if I should really pass up on this possible major source of income.
post #11 of 13

personal vs. private chef

Chad,
I've been a private chef for a family for the past eight years. I prep, cook and serve dinner nightly. I get much satisfaction and a great salary for doing it ultra fresh, and would find it really difficult to do it any other way ie. cook ahead meals. That said, lots of opportunities do exist for drop off type clients. You just have to structure you menus so the dishes reheat well etc. The real money is in the private world as a in house chef where you have total control over your food. The good positions are hard to come by but if you find one and the personalities are compatible etc. grab it. Or create a hybrid by finding a part time (2-3 dinners/week) private thing while filling in with catering or other drop off gigs.
I have lots of advice for folks thinking of going the private chef path. What do you need to know?

Mike
post #12 of 13
Hi Chad,

Would you make the products at your home? If so, this just requires some experimentation on your part to come up with products you are happy with when frozen and then prepared. I have done the personal chef gig and you should remember that just because YOU can reheat things properly, the people that want you to do this ahead of time for them could be culinary idiots, so to speak. Your product would have to be acceptable even if they reheat it in the microwave on high for too long. :eek:

They want your food for more than the way you season and prepare it, they either don’t know how to cook or just for the convenience of it.

Flour and cornstarch break down in freezing so you might want to get more familiar with Arrowroot, if sauces are needed.

As for specific items, White Chili works well, as well as most braised items.

Just my thoughts….

Good luck!
Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
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Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
Reply
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've never heard that about flour and cornstarch. I'll definitely have to check out arrowroot. I do really want to just do private catering for dinner parties and dinners, but it seems like I'd make more of a profit from frozen dinners. Partly because of more business, but also because if they don't mind the quality loss, chancesa are they won't notice dried herbs, choice or select cuts of meat, inexpensive cheeses etc. Thanks for your input everyone.
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