What’s for dinner? It’s been a long day; you get home late, you’re tired; there’s not a lot of time to prepare dinner, give the kids their bath and read to them, let alone relax after your own demanding work day.
Options are available, of course. TV dinners, fast food take-out, eating at a restaurant. None of these work out for tonight, however. What you really need is food by dan!
Dan Vogt is a personal chef, who loves to cook nutritious meals for people. Headquartered in Hamilton, food by dan offers weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly meals, including five entrees (four servings each) with a vegetable side.
“I will do it all for you,” says Dan. “I do the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, and I stock the fridge. You have more time to enjoy!”
From the time he was a young boy, Dan loved to cook. “I always had a passion for cooking,” he recalls, with a smile. “I started to love it when my nose could reach the countertop. My mom was my inspiration. I learned so much from her. She is the foundation of this project and of what I do.”
And he learned fast. “When I was 10, I made dinner for the family. At 15, I started cooking professionally at a nursing home for priests, where I was responsible for preparing meals for 80 people. I did this after school and in the summer.”
Dan especially loved to make “golumpki” (stuffed cabbage) and homemade pasta.
After college, he worked in restaurants and hotels, as a chef and also as concierge in the hospitality industry in northern New Jersey. When he later moved to Hamilton, he decided to go into business for himself. Looking for a way to demonstrate his unique creativity and love for cooking, he researched personal chef opportunities.
A personal chef, he explains, “serves several clients, and provides multiple meals that are custom-designed for the clients’ particular requests and requirements. These meals are packaged and stored so that clients may enjoy them at their leisure in the future.”
Dan began with a few clients, and very quickly, the business grew to encompass people in Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties, providing him with a thriving operation.
“I started with a Thanksgiving dinner for a friend of my sister,” he explains. “It was so successful that I put an ad in FaceBook, and before I knew it, I did 10 more Thanksgiving dinners! One of the clients said, ‘I wish I could have you every week.’”
Why not? This fit in perfectly with his love of cooking and desire to offer healthy food to clients. A perfect match, indeed.
Helping his customers to enjoy nutritious meals, while relieving them of the shopping, preparation, cooking, and clean-up is Dan’s focus. Everything is completely customized to the client’s taste and needs, he points out. “I have an initial interview with people about their likes and dislikes, possible allergies or special dietary considerations. Do they need gluten-free? Are they lactose-intolerant? Vegetarians? Trying to lose weight?”
The entree can include meat, fish, or pasta, with a vegetable side. Dan enjoys preparing many of his own recipes for people. “I love to take classic American food and put a new twist on it. For example, meat loaf, with a balsamic glaze. I love to cook with vinegar. It adds great flavor and a whole new dimension.”
Dan’s menu changes seasonally, he adds. Currently, summer choices include summer roasted chicken with pistachio sauce; Tuscan-style salmon; schnitzel (pork cutlet); tomato and watermelon salad; filet mignon with mustard whiskey sauce, and pasta dishes. Gazpacho is a popular summer soup, and chili is always a winter favorite.
Dan emphasizes that all the dishes are tailored to the individual. Roast chicken is a big favorite with many customers, as is Spanish chicken and rice.
He points out that fresh, quality ingredients are a must, and “I try to get produce and other items locally whenever possible. It is important that people know where their food comes from. I am also a member of the Slow Food Association and the American Personal and Private Chef Association.”
Dan shops for groceries the morning of the day he cooks (which can be in his commercial kitchen or at the clients’ home, if they wish).
After the meals are cooked, he then packages (vacuum-seals), labels, and delivers them to the customers freezer, with heating instructions.
Desserts can also be provided for an additional cost. “I love to make pies,” he notes.
Catering for parties and events is another service, as are cooking demonstrations and lessons.
“On Tax Day, I did a corporate event — a ‘Thank You’ for the company’s clients, with omelet stations for 25. I have also done picnics, barbecues, and romantic dinners.”
Dan couldn’t be happier that he has so many regular customers who are eager to sample even more of his cooking. “For me, this is being able to follow my passion. It’s edible art. It’s so creative — I’m creating something from my own hands that people can enjoy. Food is much more than what we eat. It is our culture, our company, our comfort, and our inspiration.”
food by dan is also a wonderful gift for a new mom, newlyweds, anniversary, birthday, housewarming, or a get well remembrance.
(609) 649-8238; email: email@example.com; website: www.foodbydan.com.