Good Food and Good Company: Spotlight on Chattanooga’s Personal Chef
BY AUSTIN ANTHONY
What makes a meal great?
For the French, good wine, good conversation and good food are synonymous with the ideal meal.
For Koreans, a cascade of colorful, small side dishes, an enormous communal dish and a bottle of soju, a traditional Korean liquor, constitute an essential part of the good life.
Regardless of one’s culture, eating is about much more than mere survival: it manifests a bond between people.
Sitting at the table for dinner, we learn manners, disclose our dreams, aspirations and fears with those dear to us, and learn the complexities of communication, negotiation and empathy.
We learn the importance of helping others through the customary setting and clearing of the table, washing dishes and giving leftovers to unnecessarily ravenous pets.
Indeed, in the absence of the family table, it seems probable that these vital, positive behaviors, values and understandings would fail to take root.
An adoration and respect for food, the family table and lasting relationships.
These are what inspired Jeffrey Martinez to become a personal chef and start his own business, Simple 2 Elegant.
Chefs for hire are becoming increasingly popular. Hiring a personal chef is no longer a perk for the rich and the famous; it's becoming more accessible than ever and for the skilled chef, quite an ideal alternative to burdensome restaurant hours. For clients, it provides a convenience, without prep or cleanup.
Prior to becoming a personal chef, Chef Martinez had a substantial and impressive career in the culinary world.
Showcasing his culinary prowess, Chef Martinez worked as a chef in AAA four-diamond golf resorts in Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas and Hot Springs, West Virginia. In addition, he helped prepare lavish meals for well-known individuals (Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods and former President George H. Bush) at Pinehurst Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
In terms of his educational background, Chef Martinez is a proud culinary graduate of the American Culinary Federation in St. Augustine, Florida and a classically trained French Chef.
If that isn’t enough to fill your plate, Chef Martinez is also well versed in many types of cuisine, including Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Mediterranean and American to name a few.
“Everything is prepared from scratch and cooked in the client’s home,” Chef Martinez says. “Meals are packaged per my client’s request and stored either in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on their schedule and preference. I include heating instructions with all meals. I do the grocery shopping the morning of a cook day and often times go to more than one location to shop. I want to get the best and freshest ingredients and always buy local whenever possible.”
Many personal chefs specialize in particular cuisines. So, what is the calling card of Simple 2 Elegant?
These healthy, yet delicious meal plans include Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten free and allergen free diets that support busy lifestyles. Simple 2 Elegant can offer creative healthy alternatives to include a variety of cuisines and products, consulting with you on your individual needs in order to create customized healthy dishes.
“Being in someone’s home is very personal and sacred to me,” Chef Martinez says. “This profession demands respect, and I consider what I do an honor. It’s humbling to have a family or individual put their trust in me to prepare fresh meals that will make their lives easier, less stressful and most importantly, provide them more time to spend on more important things than meal planning and shopping. There is a connection that happens where I learn about their lives, their habits and why they’ve sought someone to cook for them.”
Chef Martinez is not only passionate about crafting personalized meals, but also building personalized connections with clients through the creative canvas of food.
“I live, eat and breathe food,” Chef Martinez says. “I want meal time to be a pleasant experience for my clients, and this career gives me an open canvas for my creativity and enthusiasm with food. This industry is an ever-changing revolving door of opportunities, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Whether in times of celebration or times of great sadness, cooking allows families to come together to not only embrace food, but to embrace each other. Simple 2 Elegant understands the significance of the table, a place of communion for life’s large and small events.
Although Chef Martinez possesses a love for cooking, he also has the utmost respect for the sanctity of the table, a familiar, uncomplicated and friendly place where we can celebrate family, friends, food and life’s countless blessings.
Dining together allows us to better understand who we are and what we desire to become, regardless of culture, social status or economic situation. At the table, the food does not have to be complicated, elegant or overly fancy.