When I met my fiance © and the father of my children 6 years ago, I chose to move my life and my private chef business to a small town in southern Vermont. This was risky because I'd been working in a city 4 times the size with 5 colleges within 25 miles of each other. Besides the very busy academic set, there were lots of New York City and San Francisco transplants with money to spend and a desire for good food.
It's been a challenge to find clients up here because the ones that have money also have time. Lots of folks grow their own food, or buy it and cook it themselves. What I have pleasantly discovered though, is the abundance of amazing fresh and local ingredients here.
While our thriving farmer's market offer vegetables, fruit, bread, desserts, wine, meats, milk, and cheeses, we also have 2 food cooperatives and at least 5 community supported agriculture (CSA) farms where you can purchase a share that will give you locally grown produce all spring, summer, and fall.
In the city, I used to cook for several clients at once, where I would choose the menu and cook in bulk. This worked well because most of my clients desperately needed help with eating healthy food and weren't that picky about the menu.
When I moved up here business slowed down so I changed the model. I cook for customers individually, tailoring my menus to their particular taste buds and dietary preferences. I only offer organic meals with vegan and dairy- and gluten-free options, and of course my prices have risen considerably to compensate for these differences.
The other change is that I now grow my own vegetables. I am on a serious gardening learning curve but I am 5 years in now and vow to only make new mistakes. My kale plants have just produced their "true" leaves and the herbs in the iron kettle by my kitchen door are ready to pick.