Professional chef fixes meals on-site for busy families
By Greg Bennett, utahvalley360.com
Glen and Mindi Pincock found an idea that fit them like an oven mitt while flipping through a book in Barnes and Noble.
“We were originally researching information about starting a catering company,” Mindi says.
Glen’s background as a certified chef from the New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vt., and Mindi’s organizational skills had given them the entrepreneurial bug.
They thought they would bite off a traditional catering business, but at the bookstore they came across an association that would change their lives.
The United States Personal Chefs Association suggested a business idea that was too tempting to pass up, even if it meant passing up a catering business.
The two began cooking up ideas to start Traveling Chefs.
“So many people are so busy,” Glen says. “One of the first things to go is eating at home as a family. We help make that easier.”
The Traveling Chefs, which the Pincocks started in March 2002, come to the homes of ordinary people and create, prepare and store meals that are convenient, delicious and easy to cook and clean up after.
“Every menu is custom-designed with the customer,” Glen says. “We sit down with the family or individual and talk about what type of food they like, what they don’t like, and then work it out until they get a complete menu of things they like.”
Each menu includes 20 meals. After settling on a menu, the Pincocks shop for ingredients, bring them to the client’s home, cook the food and store the meals in the freezer, ready to use another day.
“We prepare them all in one day, but then put them away to be used at the family’s convenience,” Glen says.
Although freezer meals are good for up to three months, most of the Traveling Chef’s clients use the meals within a month’s time and then have the Pincocks back for another round of preparations.
Although the business is keeping the Pincocks as busy as they want to be for now, they still suffered from many of the common challenges facing other entrepreneurs.
“Our challenges are the same as a lot of companies,” Glen said. “Building clientele in the beginning, educating people about the business, marketing, all of those things.”
They also had the additional challenge of educating their target audience.
While a personal chef may seem like a luxury for the rich and famous, the Pincocks had to get the word out that this service is for everyone.
Ordinary families are seeing the advantages of eating quality meals at home without the pressure of shopping and cooking.
Prices vary depending on menus, but the cost generally falls between what families would pay to eat fast food and what they would pay at a fine dining establishment, Mindi says.
“Some people like us to come in and make very fancy meals. Others are more interested in healthy meals that they can share as a family,” Glen says.
On top of the convenience and health benefits, clients enjoy tasting a professional chef’s flair for food.
“Glen has such a talent for taste,” Mindi said. “I don’t have it, but he does.”
What Mindi does have, though, is a knack for the bookkeeping and office work that keeps the business in the mix.
And more than anything, it’s the family part of the business that the Pincocks enjoy most.
The Pincocks’ two sons, Tyler (6) and Jacob (3), enjoy watching their parents prepare new entrees.
The Pincocks also enjoy being part of other families and finding out what is important to them.
Some of their clients are on specific, doctor-ordered diets. For these special-needs clients, Glen researches what the diet entails — if he doesn’t know already — and uses that information when designing the menu.
Diabetics, vegetarians and others like the variety of meals Glen makes and the way he prepares them — to their taste.
The biggest challenge the Pincocks have is educating people that their service isn’t just for the super-rich.
It’s for busy people who like to stay at home every once in a while without having to stare into the cupboard and figure out what to make for dinner.
Probably people just like you and me.