Home-cooked deal

If you can’t bring yourself to spend another evening at a local restaurant or have a hard time remembering what your kitchen looks like, help is on the way in the form of a growing industry that wants to put home-cooked meals back on your dining room table.

Although hiring someone to prepare your family’s dinner might seem most suited to the West Coast, the number of personal chefs in the United States has mushroomed during the past several years. The American Personal Chef Association boasts more than 3,000 members, and the organization’s educational arm — The American Personal Chef Institute —has trained nearly a third of those over the last five years alone. That means places such as Fayetteville, Ark., and Omaha, Neb., have entrepreneurs ready to cook your family’s evening meal.

Karen Felix of Rocky River started her Food 2 U personal chef service a little more than 18 months ago. She’s one of the first APCA registered chefs in the Cleveland area, but expects competitors to crop up as more busy executives opt to outsource their meals with hopes of recapturing a little bit of home.

“They just don’t have the time,” Felix says of her regular customers. “They are time-deprived people. All of us are. But these people just don’t have time to cook their meals. There are lots of different types of customers, but for the most part, they are business people who know the value of what we do.”

Felix prepares meals in her customers’ homes, does all the shopping and brings her own cooking utensils. She also works out menus with her clients and follows any special dietary guidelines. All the customer has to do is heat the dinners and serve.

So what’s the price tag on bringing home cooking back to your kitchen table? Felix says five days worth of evening meals for a family of four is just shy of $300.

How to reach: Food 2 U, (440) 330-2120; APCA, www.personalchef.com

Jim Vickers ([email protected]) is associate editor at SBN.