It's party time in Tulsa. For some midtown wives, having their own private chef to call on for special events or weekly food preparation is the only way to go. I got the inside scoop from two personal chefs who make their living catering to the needs of these desperate housewives of T-town.
For most of us, when we think of hosting a get-together or party, we plan to cook our own food. For others it's much more fun and stress-free to give a private chef the responsibility and let them do all the heavy lifting. You pick the menu, they set-up the food and you enjoy eating and drinking with your guests. Sound fun? If so, meet Chef Jason Kendrick Vaughan, or Chef JV for short.
He's a Tulsa native who worked in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas City before coming back to Green Country to set up shop. His cooking style is southern comfort, Indonesian and Latin cuisine, but his forte is finessing the details on any given food project. He mixes his real world experience with the classical training he received at Le Cordon Bleu to bring energy to his private chef events and VIP hospitality services.
He's cooked for the likes of Tyra Banks and Vivica Fox, just to name a couple of celebrities. He got into the private chef world by accident when he started being asked to do special dinners for professional athletes in the NBA, NFL and PGA. His clientele grew from there, and his ability to meet people's food needs spread into other unique areas of the industry.
I sat down with Chef JV to get his perspective of what it's like to be a chef when the midtown wives come calling.
UTW: Tell me a little bit about your approach to your clients.
JV: One of my mentors taught me a valuable perspective many years ago when I was first starting my private chef business. He said you have to be able to customize your skills and give the client what they are looking for rather than set-up shop and wait for people to get on your program. It's not about what you have to sell or your food. It's about what vision your client has for their event or special occasion.
UTW: Your style of cuisine is very specific. Who influenced your food style?
JV: I've had the privilege of working with some amazing chefs, but my friends and colleagues have influenced me the most in my career. I had a close friend that cooked and ate Indonesian cuisine all the time. His love for that culture rubbed off on me and inspires my dishes today. I also have a lot of Latino friends and their food culture has a huge impact on the food I tend to favor.
UTW: You do private events for people all over Tulsa, especially midtown. What is the process like when you are customizing an event or dinner for one of them?
JV: It's basically the same process. Whether you are detailing a party for a VIP at a concert or doing a five course for a private resident, it's all about finding out what that person's style is all about. Some people are detailed, some are not. Others like to have suggestions, while the rest know exactly how they want everything right down to the napkin color.
Chef Jason Kendrick Vaughn
UTW: Do you ever have drama or difficult personalities?
JV: Oh yes, there can be drama. All the stories about "bridezilla" and "desperate housewives" are true. The private chef world can be a little crazy sometimes. I have a motto though: I don't name names. And what happens at the party stays at the party. At this point though, nothing surprises me. I've seen it all. Everything from people getting pushed into the pool, jealous girlfriends keying someone's Lexus on the way out, to wigs coming off and wine glasses being thrown at someone's head. It can be a jungle!
UTW: Wow, with all that crazy action, have you ever thought about getting back into the traditional restaurant world?
JV: No way, I love what I do. I like to think of myself as a "food therapist." Whether it's helping someone entertain their friends on the weekend or making someone's favorite appetizer, I love making food that makes people happy.
One meal at a time
Chef JV is right, food does bring people together, and when you're able to solve the food problems on a daily basis, you have a pretty sweet job. However, if the party train is less your scene and learning the tricks of the trade makes you hungrier, then meet Chef Matt Louviere. Chef Louviere started his career about four years ago after several families asked him to cook weekly meals for them.
Word of mouth spread quickly, and before Louviere knew it, he was doing more than just his friend's weekly meals.
"I saw the need for new parents and double income families to have food prepared for them at their house rather than go out all the time," he explained. "It's much healthier and helps the family create more memories."
Louviere's cooking style ranges widely, but his specialty is French/Cajun and Southern-style cuisine. He decided to go to culinary school for credibility and through that fell in love with the idea of teaching.
"I started out working with families and that led into catering for small events. After that, more and more people started asking me questions about the food and if I could teach them how to make it. From there it grew into private classes in their homes," he said.
Chef Matt Louviere
Louviere now teaches a wide range of private classes for people in their homes and has recently expanded his portfolio to include working with special needs children. He starts by introducing them to nutritious concepts for meals and then expands to safety, basic meal assembly and beginner cooking techniques. "It's a great way for them to learn lifelong skills and helps them relate to the kitchen and food in a positive way," he said.
He also prepares everything from romantic dinners for couples to sit-down plated dinners for up to 500 guests. He has designed the food for weddings, events and private parties, as well as started group cooking classes for the "desperate housewife" type gatherings.
"I really enjoy group cooking classes. They are high energy and lots of fun," he said. Louviere can also customize a weekly home meal delivery plan to meet the needs of your busy family. He can arrange special diet and flavor preference menus, as well as teach you how to recreate the meals yourself. He also specializes in catering for special brunches, corporate lunches, BBQ events and meals to go. Check out his amazing website for more information, chefmattlouviere.com.
If you're looking for some "food therapy" this summer, give one of these chefs a call. They will take the "drama" out of your food world and add some classy organization and style to your next private get-together or celebration. You don't have to be a midtown wife to party like a rock star, just give Chef JV or Chef Louviere a call. They have the skills to deal with the drama and deliver food in style!
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