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Personal Chef Candy Wallace

Celebrity Chef

Exactly what is a personal chef? Candy Wallace sums it up best: "As a personal chef I have actually replaced Mom or Grandma in my busy clients' kitchens," she says. "Making a contribution to my clients' well-being and quality of life is almost as important as the palate-specific meals I design and prepare for them. As a personal chef I have the honor to make a huge contribution to my clients' lives and livelihoods through the preparation of delicious, healthy meals, but also by contributing to their wellness through stress reduction, introduction of more time into their busy lives, and, on occasion, even bringing families back to the table so that parents can instill social skills in their children that will serve them well in future life.

"I am a professional culinarian who is paid to do her three favorite things in life: shop, cook and nurture."

After 10 years of defining the role of personal chefs, exalting their career path, training future professionals, and promoting personal chefs' contributions to society, Wallace launched an evolutionary next step in October 2006 that is reverberating throughout the foodservice industry and, indeed, the nation. The association she founded in 1996, the American Personal Chef Association, now embraces private chefs into its ranks. The new American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA) provides a home for a largely disenfranchised and overlooked - but increasingly important and influential - segment of culinary professionals.

Wallace, as the leading voice among personal chefs in the United States, was a private chef at one time, herself. Over the last decade, her organization provided support and opportunities for private chefs even though its core mission served personal chefs. Wallace thus understands the similarities and differences that characterize the needs of each group. The greatest attribute they have in common? The desire and opportunity to consistently prepare and serve "palate specific" meals to their clients, according to clients' schedules and special needs.

Although the two roles are often confused, Wallace offers a characterizing distinction: A personal chef is a small-business owner. A private chef is an employee.

Personal chefs prepare meals for a diverse clientele on a regular, occasional or one-time basis for a contracted, often negotiated, fee. In many cases, meals prepared by personal chefs are stored appropriately for later rethermalization by the client. Private chefs, on the other hand, tend to work for a single client, whether an individual or family, and are paid a salary (often with employment benefits). Most meals are prepared for immediate service. A private chef might or might not live on the same premises as his her client; many private chefs have responsibilities beyond cooking that include managing household, maintenance and grounds staffs and contractors. A personal chef never lives on-premises.

Says Wallace, unlike personal chefs who have enjoyed a decade of professional-growth opportunities through an organization dedicated to their needs, private chefs have had no such advocate. Until now, that is. Under its new brand, APPCA extends membership benefits to private chefs that mirror those awarded to personal chefs, with an emphasis on employment, professional development and self-promotion. Support will focus on helping prospective employers locate the ideal private-chef candidates anywhere in the nation.

The move by the association to embrace private chefs speaks to acknowledging similar goals and needs of professionals in each group, continuing leadership in the foodservice industry, and fostering culinary comradeship, says Wallace. To communicate to the world the special roles personal and private chefs play in American society, APPCA adopted a new tagline: "Partners in Lifestyle Solutions."

Private chefs across the country are encouraged to contact APPCA for information on how they can begin reaping the benefits of membership in the only organization that speaks specifically to their needs. To learn more, visit www.personalchef.com or call (800) 644-8389.

Candy Wallace has devoted nearly 40 years to the foodservice industry, during which she has served as a commercial chef, caterer, personal chef, private chef, teacher, mentor and, for the past 12 years, founder and executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association.

Wallace combined her years of experience at the stove with her experience in the corporate world to create an educational channel that allows culinarians to pursue a career as business owners who cook for multiple clients in non-traditional venues.

Her contributions to both the personal-chef and private-chef sectors of the foodservice industry have elevated the awareness and stature of each segment. As a result, Wallace - more than any other icon in foodservice - has helped to establish the validity and esteem of each career path.

In 2002, Wallace propelled the personal-chef segment of industry light years by signing a partnership agreement with and co-creating the professional-certification criteria for personal chefs with the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The following year, she received the International Association of Culinary Professionals' (IACP) annual Award of Excellence for her tireless efforts in building the personal-chef career path and promoting personal chefs.

Wallace is co-author (with Greg Forte, CEC, CCE, AAC) of the soon-to-release The Professional Personal Chef: The Business of Doing Business as a Personal Chef (Wiley, February 2007). The ground-breaking textbook is the first definitive, comprehensive manual on training to become a personal chef and operating a successful personal-chef business.

Wallace is a longtime supporter and member of Les Dames d'Escoffier, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, IACP, ACF and other notable organizations. She has served or currently serves as a board member of the San Diego chapters of ACF and Les Dames d'Escoffier.