Interview With Naomi Nachman – Personal Chef for Hire
Naomi Nachman, who hails from Sydney, Australia, has appeared in her own TV specials on the Jewish Life TV network featuring her cooking demonstrations. She has also been a guest host on the QVC TV network and has been featured in cookbooks, a cooking CD and a variety of newspaper articles covering topics related to cuisine preparation and personal chefs.
In 2004, Naomi started her own Personal Chef business, The Aussie Gourmet, to cater weekly and Shabbat/Yom Tov meals for families and individuals within The Five Towns and neighboring communities. Waht exactly is a personal chef. Read on to find out.
What exactly is a personal chef?
Naomi: “A personal chef is someone you can hire to come to your home and prepare and cook
fresh, healthy meals. Rather than going to the supermarket, coming home and then having to
prepare and cook the meals and then clean up after yourself. A personal chef does this all for you.
In my business, most of my customers want me to cook for them in my own home and just deliver the fresh food without the mess in their kitchen. I would rather cook in my own home as it’s easier for me and I have all the right equipment. However, I am also happy to cook in people’s homes; for Pesach in particular, I often cook in people’s homes.”
What is your message to people who want to stay home for Pesach but absolutely don’t want to
Naomi: “It’s really the best of both worlds. You get to sleep in your own bed, you don’t have to pack and go away, and you don’t have to worry about preparing and cooking the food; you can entertainfamily and friends without the headache of all the shopping and cooking before Pesach. I do all that For my clients. I plan a personalized menu with my clients. All the worry about the food preparation is removed from my client’s life. I generally deliver the food a week or so before Pesach; each item is labeled and frozen fresh with clear heating and serving instructions. It’s so easy for my clients to relax and be guests in their own home. We can even provide waiters.”
I’m getting a little hungry hearing about all this… could you give me a sneak preview into some of your Pesach favorites?
Naomi: “I have created a very nice array of dishes for Pesach. I am always on the look-out for
exciting new recipes on the Internet or in recipe books. In the last 10 years, so many ingredients have become available for Pesach in the New York area and we can now even get mustard, pizza and non-gebroxt ice cream cones. (In Australia, where I grew up, my mother still complains they still can’t even get brown sugar!) Some of my specialties are tilapia in a sweet and sour sauce, gravlax, eggplant Parmesan, spare ribs, corn beef, coke chicken, even tiramisu. You can find more dishes and recipes on my website at www.theaussiegourmet.com.”
How does your service differ from a regular caterer?
Naomi: “I only take on a few clients. I give lots of personalized attention and the food is not cooked in huge quantities so it doesn’t lose its home-cooked feel. I also customize recipes for clients. For example, if a client wants their chicken cutlets dipped in egg whites instead of a whole egg, or chicken meats balls instead of regular meatballs, I will do that for them. I use much less oil and salt than is typical of take-out food, and I try not to use any margarine in my cooking (margarine is particularly unhealthy). Delivery is always included in my price. My prices are a little more than take-out or a caterer but my clients want quality over quantity.”
Can you give us a few examples of classes and workshops you offer?
Naomi: “I offer a large variety of classes from fish classes, to quick and easy suppers; I have given them in Australia, Israel, Florida, the Hamptons, Philadelphia, Teaneck, and Connecticut and beyond.
I love giving classes and they average 2 to 3 per month (or more). The most popular is a hands-on sushi demonstration. I’ve also done many cooking demos for Ossie’s Fish in Gourmet Glatt and Arons Kissena farm in Kew Gardens Hills, and I give many classes at the JCC of The 5 Towns. People ask me to come and do bat mitzvah classes and special birthday parties (I have recently even done a 70th birthday party).
The classes are all customized to what the audience is interested in. Tiramisu is probably the most popular dish. A lot of schools, shuls and other Jewish organizations hire me for fundraisers. I love meeting people and sharing recipes and learning from the audience too. I rarely leave a class without learning something new about food and that is definitely true for my audience. My goal is to impart to my audience at least one new cooking skill and a new recipe when I give any class.”
How did your career get started?
Naomi: “My background was in preschool teaching. I have a degree from Touro College in early
childhood education and I also started a day camp when I lived on the Lower East Side. For many years I was also involved in informal Jewish education. I gave my first sushi class at a kiruv night at the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side about 10 years ago and it was very well received.
From that experience, I got the idea that I could teach food preparation in an entertaining fashion. Cooking has always been my passion so I took my love of cooking and love of teaching and put them together. I also teach cooking classes at Camp Dina during the summer.”
Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about the media attention you’ve gotten for your Gourmet Kosher cooking?
Naomi: “I have done appearances on the QVC network and the Jewish Life Channel. I even have 4 internet webisodes of cooking shows as well as a cooking DVD called “Everyday Kosher Cooking”. I have had some media coverage about my QVC appearances and articles about my business. It’s still a new concept in the Jewish world but it’s been growing fast in the non-kosher world. I have been working to introduce to the Jewish world, through various media, the benefits of kosher personal chef services and I believe that the kosher world is starting to utilize these services more pervasively in the last few years.”
Thanks Naomi we wish you lot’s of success in all your amazing endeavors!