Holiday Helpers

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TAKE A BREAK: BRING IN A PERSONAL CHEF FOR YULETIDE FEASTS

During the holidays, it’s easy for the family cook to get caught up in the flurry of meal preparation and barely have time to relax with guests. Hiring a personal chef can solve this common dilemma for harried hosts.

Lowcountry personal chefs handle all aspects of putting together memorable meals, including menu planning, shopping, food prep, setting the table, serving hors d’oeuvres and presenting each course with a description of ingredients and preparation.

Holiday Helpers2Chef Lynn Michelle Hicks learned to cook for families in Belgium after graduating from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. After returning to the U.S., she worked for several corporations and owned her own café before moving to Hilton Head in 2000.

Hicks became a personal chef a few years ago, serving visitors and residents. She’s found that most of her customers stay in high-end rental homes, especially around the holidays. 

“I make all of their mashed potatoes, hams, turkeys and their heirloom family recipes. I do the shopping, prep, cooking and clean-up in the home,” said Hicks, whose business name is Chef Lynn Michelle.

Some of the dishes she prepares include sweet potato biscuits with honey butter; sage and thyme stuffing with fresh roasted chestnuts and maple sausage; and a cranberry applesauce that goes well with turkey and over ice cream.

One of the advantages of a personal chef is their ability to customize the menu for diners with different tastes and dietary restrictions.

“I’m doing a party with three different Lowcountry boils: one for a shellfish allergy, one for a no-salt diet and one regular,” she said.

Holiday Helpers3Personal chef Meagan Mehaffey is another Lowcountry professional with an extensive background in the food and beverage industry. She moved from Cleveland, OH, about ten years ago, and when her daughter was born, Mehaffey knew the late hours of restaurant life had to end.

“She was all I needed to give me a push to start this business,” she said. 

Mehaffey named her business Mise en Place and became a member of the American Personal and Private Chef Association. She also has found that visitors hire her when they want to enjoy a perfect night in instead of eating out every night of their vacation (or cooking for themselves). She prioritizes using local ingredients to help support Lowcountry farms and growers, and has many repeat local and vacationing customers. 

Brenda Watterson, who lives with her husband and twin daughters in Sea Pines, searched online for an in-home chef to help with the celebration for a family member’s 50th birthday and found Mehaffey. The menu included bacon wrapped scallops with cherry balsamic drizzle; a tiered cheese with a variety of soft and hard cheeses, cured meats, olives and candied nuts; chicken Greco and a salted caramel apple tart for dessert.

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Mehaffey included the guests’ names and birthday wishes in the printed menu. 

“Having a true professional handle all the details of our private dinner party so my husband and I could enjoy our guests was the best part,” she said. “It was a high-class experience.”

The cost of a personal chef varies depending on the number of diners, cost of the ingredients and number of courses, but clients should expect to spend about $100 per person before tax and tip, Mehaffey said.