We all know the awful truth: The key to looking and feeling great is putting the right things in your body. But with the hustle and bustle of daily life, it isn't always possible to make healthy home-cooked meals that taste good and can nourish an entire family. Enter the private chef.
While the perception has always been that only celebrities, professional athletes or the super wealthy can afford the services of a gourmet chef, the demand in Houston for freshly prepared meals and assistance with multi-course dinner parties on the regular has created a thriving market for personal chefs. Dreaming about enjoying a lifestyle of the rich and famous is only natural, but living like the other half may not be as far off from reality as you think. Meet some of Houston's most skilled cooks offering personal chef services.
With more than 25 years of restaurant experience around the globe, Philippe Schmit proudly offers his services as a private chef to Houston's elite. "The French Cowboy," as Schmit is sometimes known, is originally from Paris and a certified Maître Cuisinier de France, but has called Houston home for the past decade. The chef's services include high-profile dinner parties in private homes and extravagant catered affairs at destinations from museums and galleries to ranches and hunting lodges.
Since leaving his eponymous Galleria restaurant, a day in the life for caterer and consultant Schmit now involves creating menus, purchasing and prepping food, coordinating kitchen and service staff, and going the extra mile with printing personalized menus and providing floral or valet services. Schmit explains that what is most important to him though, is providing his guests with an interactive dining experience. Opting to cook in an open kitchen, he welcomes conversation and invites everyone to get a sneak peek of all the action.
Twenty-year restaurant industry lifer Lee White is a family man with a passion for food—and a sensitive side. "Remember, food will always bring people together and when it tastes good, they will smile, laugh and their souls will be filled with joy and grace," he says, quoting his mother. Guided by those words, White has achieved success as one of Houston's top private chefs.
A native of Spring, White started off bussing tables and washing dishes at a Northside cafe called Veracruz. Formal training brought him to the upper echelons of the restaurant business, leading to his current gig cooking for big names including the Pappas and Bush families, as well as a slew of professional athletes and high-profile business executives. White acknowledges the obvious challenge of cooking in unfamiliar kitchens, but takes it in stride and does so with grace and class. In addition to making his private chef services available to the public, White has plans to unleash a food truck on the streets of Houston in 2016.
Shannen Tune, one of Houston's rising young chefs, brings the glitz and glam of Las Vegas dining to Texas. Tune credits feeding the upper crust in Sin City's resorts for preparing him for the demands of life as a private chef in Houston.
Bayou City residents likely know Tune as the former executive chef at Revolve Restaurant and Bar at Hotel Derek, and it was while at the hotel that he began offering private services for small, but ultra-chic social affairs. But they're not all modest: One dinner involved 22 courses. Chef Tune often shares the limelight with his equally skilled other half, an accomplished chef in her own right. He proudly says of their collaboration, "People like watching the dynamic of both of us in the kitchen; it is quite the show!"
The Foodie Chef
Native Houstonian Morgan Jankovic, a.k.a. The Foodie Chef, earned her chops cooking at the luxurious Houstonian Hotel and studied abroad in Barcelona before bringing her knowledge of world-class cuisine literally to the table. Jankovic specializes in healthy, well-balanced meals that use organic ingredients.
For two years now, Jankovic has cooked in the privacy of Houston families' homes, providing them with individually packaged meals that are labeled and ready to reheat. Jankovic creates her own menus, manages all of the necessary prep work and grocery shopping and promises not a single dirty dish is left behind.