Key success factors as a home cook

30 Oct 2019

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Key success factors as a home cook

So, you’ve been thinking of exploring your options as a home cook, but aren’t quite sure what you need to have on hand. Before you go packing your entire kitchen including the sink into the trunk of your car; let’s explore what is actually needed and expected of you to bring as a home cook. it’s best to have open communication with the clients you’ll be working with. You’ll want to discuss menu preferences, number of people you’ll be feeding, and food allergies or preferences. Of course, it all starts with food, so once you have a menu set the first thing you’ll be transporting is groceries. Having a way to transport groceries is a must. Usually this can be done with a cooler, and a few grocery bags. (Remember to follow all food safety guidelines and maintain freshness of ingredients.)

The second thing you need to be aware of is the environment you’ll be cooking in. Take a moment to discuss with your clients what tools they have in their kitchen and what appliances you’ll be needing to use. Some cook’s even have clients text photos of their kitchen appliances to make sure they are suitable for completing the tasks needed. Discuss with your clients how much space you will be needing in the refrigerator. How long you’ll be in the kitchen prepping food and how much space you will need to prep. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions.

Once you have an idea of your menu, your groceries, and your work space, it’s time to think about tools. Most cooks bring a few personal tools along with them, such as a set of knives and a food processor. Others prefer a pressure cooker. Think carefully about the meal you’re going to prepare, and as you mentally walk through the steps make a list of every tool you might be needing. If there is a tool you need that you can’t complete the meal without it’s best to bring it.

Last but not least, be flexible. Inevitably things are going to go wrong. Ovens will cook slower or faster than expected, your clients may only own serrated knives. Their corkscrew might break before you get the wine opened. Things go wrong in every job, at every business on the planet. It’s your job to keep it from ruining the meal. Be flexible, have a backup plan, and continue to communicate openly with your clients about any challenges that come up.

CookinGenie can help you connect with clients who are in need of fresh home cooked food. Sign up to cook with us today & find out more about us.


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National Food Safety Month— Keys for Cooking and Serving Food Safely

24 Sep 2021

Cooking for friends and family is one of the great joys in life. But without practicing proper food safety, cooking can make your loved ones sick, or in extreme cases, even kill them. Luckily, all it takes to prepare and serve food safely is following a few simple rules and using common sense. In honor of food safety month, here are some of the most important things to remember when cooking.

Wash your hands

One of the most important things you can do to keep food safe is constant handwashing. The first thing you should do when you walk into the kitchen is washing your hands. And wash them again after every completed task or when you start handling different ingredients, especially after touching raw meat.

One of the most common ways foodborne illnesses are spread is by bacteria jumping from dirty hands to the food. So, you cannot wash your hands too often. When washing your hands, make sure you run them under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, using antibacterial soap. Scrub between your fingers and under your fingernails every time and dry off with a clean cloth or paper towel. For extra protection, turn off the knob on the sink with that paper towel instead of your bare hands.

When in doubt, throw it out

Nobody likes to waste food. But holding on to old food after it’s gone bad is a good way to get your guests sick.  If anything in your fridge or pantry is moldy, slimy, smells rotten, or is well past its expiration date, just throw it out.

When cooking with canned ingredients, beware of cans that are rusted, dented, or swollen. Swollen cans are a sign of botulism, a dangerous spore that can be fatal. If there are any physical deformities on the can, put it right into the trash. There is a chance that every now and again you may throw out some food that’s still safe to use, but it’s always better safe than sorry.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold

As a general rule of thumb, you should try and avoid keeping foods out at room temperature as much as possible, especially more sensitive items like meat, dairy, and eggs. When cooking and storing food, be mindful of the “temperature danger zone”, a temperature range between 41⁰F and 135⁰F. This is the range in which bacteria grows and multiplies most quickly.

Temperatures above or below this range are usually too extreme for most bacteria to survive. So, if a dish is meant to be served hot, you should keep it on the stove or in the oven at 135⁰F or higher for as long as possible, and if it is meant to be served cold, you should keep it in refrigeration at 41⁰F or lower until it’s ready to serve.

It may be helpful to have a digital thermometer on hand to help ensure you’re keeping foods at the proper temperatures. If any highly sensitive foods like meat or dairy are left out in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours, they may be unsafe to eat. Any cooked food that is being reheated should be heated to 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds before serving.

Beware of Cross Contamination

Cross contamination occurs when bacteria or other contaminants are passed to food from shared surfaces or through the air. For example, if you cut raw chicken on a cutting board then later use that same cutting board for fresh vegetables, the vegetables may be contaminated with bacteria from the chicken. To avoid cross contamination, use different utensils for raw meats and vegetables. Also be sure to wash and disinfect counters and other kitchen surfaces frequently.

Consider food allergies

One of the scariest parts of cooking for others can be dealing with food allergies. Allergic reactions to food can range anywhere from a mildly upset stomach to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, where the victim’s throat can begin to shut.

Before your event, ask all your guests if they have any food allergies. If anyone in your party has a severe allergy, consider serving something without that ingredient at all. For people with severe allergies like nuts or shellfish, they may not even need to actively consume the allergen to have a dangerous reaction, just an invisible trace amount may be enough to cause serious symptoms. So, just making a portion without that ingredient may not be enough to keep them safe. When it comes to cooking for people with food allergies, you cannot be too careful.

Cook proteins properly

A common cause of foodborne illness is undercooked meats, especially chicken. Meats need to be cooked to proper internal temperatures to kill the majority of bacteria and parasites that can make you sick. When cooking meats, use a digital thermometer to measure the internal temperature and don’t serve it until the meat comes up to a safe level.

For example, chicken and other poultry need to reach an internal temperature of at least 165⁰F for 15 seconds before they’re safe to eat. For more specifics, check out our complete guide to safely cooking meat.

Wash raw ingredients well

Before cooking with fruits, herbs, or vegetables, rinse them off under cold running water to remove any debris, bacteria, or chemical coating. This is especially important with cantaloupe and honeydew, which always should be washed before cutting. It’s also good practice to rinse off your eggs before cooking with them.

Be extra cautious with the most vulnerable members of your family

When cooking for older or immunocompromised people, you have to be extra careful and attentive. For someone who’s young and healthy, a case of salmonella from an undercooked chicken breast could cause a few days of illness. But for an older person or someone suffering from an autoimmune disease, that salmonella could be fatal.

CookinGenie takes food safety seriously

When you book a chef through CookinGenie, you can be sure that food safety will be the top priority. Many of the genies are professionals with formal food safety training, and others are experienced home cooks with a proven track record of keeping people safe. Food safety is stressed, and every genie knows that’s the most important thing when cooking for you.

Better yet, when you allow a CookinGenie chef into your home, you can watch them cook to be sure the food is being handled properly. Unlike a restaurant, this in-home set-up allows much more transparency and peace of mind than dining out or ordering takeout.

Author – Jared Kent

 

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save more with personal chef

01 Nov 2021

Let’s do a little exercise really quickly. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “personal chef”? More than likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of how expensive it must be or how only the very rich can afford to have their own personal chef.  

Are you ready for a little secret? 

Lean in a little. Okay, here it is. 

Personal chefs are an affordable choice that can fit just about any budget. In fact, you could be doing yourself a disservice by not using a personal chef service for special occasions or as a little treat.  

What is Included in Personal Chef Service? 

You may be surprised by what’s included when you get a personal chef service. The first is that they come to your home after shopping for all of the ingredients that they need to cook the dishes that you requested. Then, the kitchen magic happens where your regular kitchen is turned into a fancy restaurant kitchen for one night. Your selected chef will prepare the dishes so that you can enjoy a hot meal at home. Once the meal is finished, your personal chef will then clean up the kitchen leaving you free to enjoy the meal and conversation without worrying about whether or not that sauce is going to easily come off the pan or how long you’ll need to soak everything. 

Personal Chef Services are More Affordable Than You Might Think 

Are you still thinking that a complete chef service that includes so much is going to break the bank? You are about to be surprised. A personal chef service will cost you less than going out to eat.  

At a traditional restaurant, there are a number of costs to consider. Meals can cost about $20 to $25 a person. Don’t forget to add on the cost of any drinks you and the rest of your party are enjoying. Even drinking a carbonated beverage can add up to your bill. Then, you must consider other costs associated with dining out. You had to drive to the restaurant, so that’s gas along with wear and tear on your vehicle. You may have to pay to park or use the valet service depending on where you’re dining. Then, there’s the time factor. Going out to eat, especially today where many restaurants are having staffing shortages, can chew up a lot of your valuable time as you wait for an open table, wait some more on your food to be prepared, and then wait on the check to arrive at the end of the meal. 

Personal chef services like CookinGenie can be less costly and time-consuming than the old way of going out. You can pick your meal and see your price. Don’t want to have leftovers? Order exactly the number of portions you need. Want to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day? Order more portions.   

Eat Healthier with More Convenience & Less Cost 

Personalized Meals  

So, using a personal chef service is cheaper than visiting a restaurant. There’re some other benefits that also come with this option over dining out. Ever go to a restaurant and must eliminate many of the dishes from consideration because of a food allergy or not like a particular ingredient? It’s often easier to just order something else because even if you go through the process of telling the waitstaff to remove an item, there’s always a chance that it will end up in your dish anyway. Kitchens at restaurants can be loud and busy places where sometimes things get lost in translation. Imagine being able to tell your personal chef that you don’t like mushrooms or a family member has an allergy to peanuts, and feeling safe in the knowledge that they won’t buy mushrooms or peanuts during their shopping trip. That’s a great feeling. 

Be Healthy 

At the end of the day, is dinner a rushed event in your home? Do you rely on packaged meals that may not be the healthiest choice, but it’s quick and easy? That happens to a lot of people who have enough to juggle in a day on top of making sure no one goes to bed feeling hungry. Going with a personal chef service means that you’ll get freshly made and healthy meals that aren’t coming out of a can or the freezer. You do not have to feel guilty about not having time to make a meal that not only tastes great but is great for you and your family.  

Focus on What Matters More 

The convenience that comes from hiring a personal chef gives you the chance to focus on what matters the most to you, and that is worth its weight in gold. Your life is busy. It’s easy to forget how to connect with those you love the most when you have got to handle everything on your plate in a day along with getting food on a plate for everyone to eat. Imagine instead of trying to rush to the store to grocery shop, someone else handles it for you, even if just for one day a week or month. Plus, an added bonus is that you do not have to worry about handling the cleanup after spending even more time with your family. 

Convinced yet to give a personal chef service a try? Still worried that the prices are too high for your budget. You can do a little experiment. Pull out your last receipt from your favorite restaurant you like to visit for special occasions. Then, open CookinGenie website, so you can compare the two. Oh, and do not forget that you do not have to buy the groceries, do any cooking or clean-up, and get to enjoy the professionally made food hot and ready right from your kitchen without the inconveniences that come from eating in restaurants in a world still getting over the pandemic.  

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Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

22 Oct 2020

What makes us human? Some would argue that it’s the act of cooking — whether it’s boiling, broiling, roasting, baking, or barbecuing — that separates us from every other species on Earth. 

 In 1999, Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham published an article in the Current Anthropology journal called “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins. Known as “the cooking hypothesis,” Wrangham’s groundbreaking new theory of human evolution proposed that taming fire to cook food changed the course of human evolution. 

 In his article and his 2009 book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argued that cooking allowed our human ancestors to process food more efficiently — and this change had a profound impact on evolution. While all other animals eat raw foods, Wrangham theorized that our ancestors began cooking their food some 1.8 million years ago, a change that gave early man the ability to process food more efficiently. It takes a long time, and a very large jaw and teeth, to grind down raw meat and plant matter. Before our ancestors learned how to cook, Wrangham estimated that half of their waking hours were spent simply chewing enough food to subsist, leaving little time for anything else. Cooking alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down the connective tissues in meat, and softening the cells of plants to release their starches and fats. This makes cooked food easier to chew and digest. This also helpthe body to use less energy to convert food into calories. Once the cooking was introduced, he estimated that our ancestors had an extra four hours in their day — time that could be spent huntingforaging, and slowly beginning to organizinto societiesWrangham explained, “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology, and society.”  

This higher calorie, higher-quality diet lead to the evolution of bigger brains and bodies, and smaller jaws and teeth—a transformation that gradually resulted in modern man. From the control of fire and the growth in brain size, it’s not such a large leap to the development of dedicated hearths, the introduction of pottery and other tools for cooking, and the domestication of plants and animals.  

(Also ReadWhat eating healthy looks like)

 Wrangham’s theory is, of course, just that: a theory. Archaeological history to support control of fire 1.8 million years ago has not yet been found, but the recent discovery of ash in a South African cave suggests that our ancestors were controlling fire at least 1 million years ago — far earlier than previous evidence suggested. It may be just a matter of time before definitive evidence that proves Wrangham’s theory is found.  

 And If Wrangham’s theory is correct, we truly are what we eat.  

 If cooking is so fundamental to our evolution as people, it is a wonder that we don’t have time to make home-cooked meals with wholesome ingredients. Modern life has created many barriers to our ability to prepare home-cooked meals. What do we do if we don’t have time for home cookingBusinesses like CookinGenie can help you bring cooking where it belongs—in your own kitchen—even when you don’t have time to cook yourself. Check out our menus, and book your Genie today for building healthy eating habits in the family.  

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