Award-winning Chef Phyllis Segura has cooked for people in all walks of life both in the U.S. and E.U. Chef Phyllis has been cooking for special people since 2000.
She attended the Apicius Cooking School of Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence, Italy; received a James Beard Foundation scholarship; attended various New York cooking schools; and watched her grandmother very carefully.
As a personal and private chef Phyllis cooks for individual clients and offers cooking demonstrations regularly. She specializes in small elegant dinner parties, and intimate dinners - plated or buffet, weekday meals and private and group culinary instructions.
The chef prepares a wide variety of cuisines. Whereas a restaurant chef might have a specialty that is served daily, as a personal or private chef Segura applies her skills to the requirements and palates of her clients. Fresh and seasonal ingredients make the best dishes. She is not shy with herbs and spices and will go out of her way to source ingredients.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Macrobiotic, Kosher, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, blood type, diabetic and other special diets are available. Chef prefers to use organic, pesticide and antibiotic free, non-GMO and local products as much as possible.
Consultations with nutritionists are recommended for special needs and diets for proper guidelines.

References and a rate sheet are available. She currently lives in Saugerties, NY.
In 2013 she offered cooking classes in her home kitchen in Spencertown,NY www.reddoorcookingworkshop.blogspot.com

Send an email: info@cookingontheriver.com

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Saturday, March 03, 2012


     After over a decade of being a Personal and Private Chef I see that clients still don't know what it is I do. Very generally, I pre-prepare meals for people in their homes. The meals are packaged, usually in reusable glass containers and labelled. They are stored in your refrigerator or freezer. Reheating instructions are offered when required. I bring my own tools and other necessary equipment.

     I also create small dinner parties for you and your guests in your home. These can be of any number of courses and are usually of a different level of cuisine than your daily foods. Usually, but not always. The big difference is the number of courses and that the food is beautifully plated and served. Often an assistant, server and dishwasher can be hired depending upon the number of dinner guests. I can usually do it on my own up to 4-6 people, again depending upon the menu. For dinner parties, gratuities are often offered but they are left up to the client and not included in the fee. Having a dinner party in your home can be a very special and memorable occasion. I simply do the cooking. You are hiring a chef. You supply the table arrangements, dinnerware and serving utensils, etc. This is different than a caterer who might bring all the food and heat it up or finish it in your kitchen and will bring all the dishes, glasses, etc. I don't do that.

     Often when I receive a call from someone who would like to hire a chef to cook for them I will go to their home and have a chat and make some assessment as to the client's needs. Often the client is not sure what their needs are except that they would like to have good, healthy food available to them. Sometimes there are health concerns.

     Though I am not a registered nutritionist I have a very strong base of knowledge about nutrition. I can also recommend a nutritionist. If someone needs a special diet because they have digestive and other issues they should definitely seek a nutritionist along with hiring a chef. Otherwise, I can only prepare the foods that my client requests, within reason. 

     Also, as part of the assessment I will give you a list of foods to determine your likes and dislikes and any food allergies, or foods you just don't want.  Often I have found that most people have a very small window of experience when it comes to the variety of vegetables and grains they consume. Sometimes I can introduce new vegetables and new food experiences. Then we review different menus to see what appeals to you or even if you have some recipes of dishes you know you like. As part of this post I show some pictorial recipes that are all meat based. I can also accommodate vegetarians and you can find many vegetarian recipes on this site altogether.

     People often feel that they do not have enough time to cook for themselves and either eat in restaurants all the time or order out from fast food places. While restaurant food is good it also can contain larger amounts of salts and sugars in order to make the food tasty enough for you to return. This is not necessarily a bad thing occasionally but not for an everyday diet.

     So first the foods are discussed, then the quantity. That is, how many meals for how many people. If you are one person you might want 2 servings of each meal for the week or for only 3 days and that would be 6 meals in all. If you are two people, you might want 2 meals for 5 days and that would be 10 meals in all. And so on.

     The minimum amount of each dish needs to be two because of the way our food markets are organized. Most foods, including vegetables, are packaged in quantities and have to be purchased that way. It is rare that one can buy one of anything except for onions or garlic or a potato. Food is sold in bunches and packages. Even a cabbage is more than enough for two servings. So 2 servings is the minimum amount that can be prepared for each dish.

     Then we discuss chef service fee. Price is determined several ways: whether it is part of a long-term program, by the hour, the number of meals being prepared,  and what is generally being paid in your area, and from an assessment of the fees other personal chefs. If you read about personal chefs you will most likely see that the chef fees begin at $35 an hour. The time is based upon: driving distance,  menu planning including grocery list, food shopping, food preparation and storage, clean-up. The cost of the groceries is a separate charge, however; you only pay what they cost and you get the receipts.  You don't even have to be home. Several of my clients over the years have been at work when I come to cook. I just do my job, clean up and leave.

Once this small variety of things are determined no more decisions really need to be made. We simply set the dates for my visits. Very often, once I am familiar with the foods you like I just go ahead and create the menus, come to your house with the groceries and set about cooking. At the end of the day your refrigerator is filled with delicious foods. 

Now, I'm going to give you a pictorial account of a recent cook date for a client I have been serving for over a year:

The menu: 
Apple-stuffed Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans
Roasted Salmon with Bok Choy, Cabbage and Shiitake Mushrooms
Chicken Hunter Style, Fingerling Potatoes, Steamed Swiss Chard & Zucchini
Vegetable Soup

Apple, celery, onion sauteing. Raisins that are soaking
will also be added.
Make a large pocket in the pork chop. The pocket will be filled
with the stuffing.
The sauteed vegetables are cooled. Add breadcrumbs, an egg,
raisins, salt and pepper.

Season the chops with salt and pepper. Dust with flour or Wondra.
Saute and brown the stuffed chops. They have been sealed with
toothpicks. Then they are covered with aluminum foil and
placed in a 350 degree F. oven for about 45 minutes.
The chops have been removed from the oven and the temperature
 checked.Though about 160 degrees would be okay, and any more
than that you risk a dry pork chop, these have been heated a little
more. Since they were covered the moisture has been retained.
Also they will be served with sauce.
Add some water to the pan and stir. I also added some sliced
apples that you don't see here. Then I strained the sauce
to remove the parts you don't want.
 The dish placed in a glass container. Don't forget
to remove the toothpicks!
 The green beans are being prepared.
The sweet potatoes are being steamed. You can see the steam!
Here is a small dish with a serving of the beans and potatoes
and the stuffed pork chop. This will be covered and labelled,
then refrigerated for your dinner.

This is adapted from a recipe by Rosanne Gold in a recent Bon Appetit article.
I found that I wanted to add a bit of sauce to this as well.
Wild Salmon without the skin.
The finished dish. Baby Bok Choy cut in half, shredded cabbage,
sliced shiitake mushroom caps, tossed with finely grated garlic and
 ginger. Place both on a sheet pan that has been pre-heated in a
 450 degree F. oven and roast briefly about 7-12 minutes.
Toss the vegetables half-way. 

adapted from a recipe by Julia della Croce

Fine chop onion, garlic, capers, rosemary, sage, lemon with the peel. 
Slice green olives.

Saute cut-up chicken in olive oil until browned. Remove from pan
and place on a plate.

Saute the onion, garlic, capers, rosemary, sage, and lemon.

Add the sauteed chicken back in to the pan along with the olives.
Add about 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar.
Toss, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
In another pan, place the stemmed Swiss Chard and sliced Zucchini
in a small amount of olive oil. Add a little bit of water and stir 
until the Chard is cooked through. Season with salt.
Check the Chicken's temperature. It should be 165 degrees. Add a bit 
of water if the liquid evaporated.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender.

Below are the dishes packed in glass containers ready
to be covered and labelled. A little garnish of parsley and sliced 
lemon adds a nice touch.

I hope this helps you to get the idea about what a 
Personal Chef actually does. Please send all your 
Comments and Questions to me. If you find this interesting 
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