The City Magazine Since 1975

Personalize It!

Personalize It!
December 2016
Entertaining during the holidays? Take cooking off your to-do list with the help of a personal chef. A few area pros tell us how it works 

Arlette O’Rourke
IndiGenius Cuisine,

The basics: The crew, including O’Rourke’s husband and co-owner, Patrick, offers unique catering services, intimate dinners, and cooking demonstrations. They arrive an hour prior to service to get familiar with a customer’s kitchen; a package typically includes a five-course meal and cleanup.
Price: $55-$100 per person for a five-course dinner ($500 or six-guest minimum for full-service meals; $300 minimum for drop-offs); gift certificates are also available.
Cooking style: “Southern with Mediterranean flair”
Education: Culinary Institute of Charleston
Fresh catch: “We source our fish from Abundant Seafood, Geechie Shrimp Co., and Mount Pleasant Seafood. I try to deter guests from requesting lobsters because we don’t have them locally.”
Her perfect meal: “Pâté with a crunchy baguette”
Holiday favorites: “My grandmother’s chive cheese, along with whole baked apples in pie dough with spices and raisins and a little hot buttered rum to finish the meal”
Surprise guest: “At a recent bachelorette brunch, the girls informed me that two male strippers would be arriving at 10. That’s right, 10 a.m.—a breakfast stripper!”

Marcus Middleton
Middleton Made Cuisines,

The basics: New to the personal chef and catering biz, Middleton offers private plated dinners, catering, and cooking classes. All services include prep and cleanup.
Price: $50 per person for private plated dinners (12-guest minimum) and $15 per person for catering (50-guest minimum)
Education: Culinary Institute of Charleston
Culinary background: “I had my first cooking experience at the age of seven. Since then, I’ve worked at some great places, including Charleston Cooks!, Cypress, The Ordinary, Mercantile and Mash, and Hominy Grill.”
Crowd pleaser: “My Lowcountry stew: smoked pulled pork, field peas, coconut milk, roasted tomatoes, and a lot of love”
Holiday favorites: “Collard greens, smoked turkey, smoked lamb, and butter beans”
Kitchen essentials: “Normally I bring my own pots and pans with me. As long as a customer’s stove and oven works, it’s game on.”
What’s next for his biz? “I’d love to combine my background with the skills of a pit master to create sexy, smoked food. Eventually, I want to open a lounge or bar/restaurant.”

Emily Lane Kimbrough
Charleston Personal Chef,

The basics: Kimbrough and her business partner, Sarah Cooper, offer private dinner parties, cooking classes, weekly meals for repeat clients, frozen ready-made meals, vegan and gluten-free menu options, and vacation chef services.
Price: $65 per hour, plus the cost of food (includes planning, shopping, cooking, service, and cleanup)
Cooking style: “Fresh, local, Southern—farm girl-meets-professionally trained chef”
Education: Johnson & Wales University
Holiday favorites: “Any dish with apples! We serve honey-sage grilled pork chops with apple slaw, kale apple salads with toasted pepitas, braised chicken and apples with gluten-free cheddar potato gnocchi, and fried apple pies with toasted cinnamon ice cream.”
Fresh goods: “I often start in my own small garden for ingredients like herbs; tomatoes; and sometimes lettuces, okra, and peppers.”
What she brings: “My Shun chef’s knife, a Microplane, and a cast-iron skillet”
No limits: “I see home kitchens as opportunities for improvisation. It’s like being on a TV show challenge.”
Pro tip: “When groups get too big—more than 40 people—hiring a catering company becomes a better option.”


Lucy P. Collins
Haute Cooker,

The basics: Collins offers sit-down dinner service for no more than 25 guests, and heavy hors d’oeuvres for events with up to 100 people. On the day of the event, Collins and crew arrive two to three hours early to prepare.
Cooking style: “I cook with love...I learned that in Italy.”
Résumé highlights: David Chang’s Momofuku and Italian fine-dining locale Ai Fiori 
Celebrity guest: “When I was living in New York, I cooked at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house for an Obama campaign event. It felt like any other event—except for the Secret Service and helicopters!”
Crowd favorite: “Fresh pasta with shrimp and homemade tomato sauce”
Lowcountry inspiration: “I love using local, in-season ingredients and highlighting any produce from John’s Island—I think it’s the best soil in the world.”