Long days, delicious meals and a liter of olive oil

In some ways, Meredith Hayden’s mornings are pretty typical. She gets up at 6:45 a.m., puts on work-appropriate clothes, does her skincare routine, drinks a caffeinated drink, and heads to the office. Except part of her work outfit is an apron, and the office is a nice kitchen and garden in the Hamptons. Hayden is a private chef.

This summer, she’s been spending her weekends on eastern Long Island, working for a family as a home chef. “In my personal experience, I’ve been treated like one of the family members,” she said. “I have a place at the table at every meal.”

A typical day consists of preparing breakfast (shakshuka), grocery shopping (sometimes in a few places to get the necessary ingredients), harvesting produce from the garden, preparing lunch (grilled oysters with lobster rolls, salad kale and halloumi, and hot dogs for the kids), and finally dinner prep (carne asada with roasted tomatillo salsa and elote chopped salad). She also takes the time to chronicle her daily life on her TikTok channel. @wishbonekitchen.

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Sound exhausting? It’s about a 17-hour day to cook three meals for a family of five to 10, depending on the weekend. “I consume about a liter of olive oil per weekend,” she said. “Some of the olive oil will go into a marinade or grease the grill.”

When she’s not working for the family, she does ad-hoc jobs for clients, where budget isn’t even a topic of discussion. “They’re not ordering truffles and caviar, but they want wild salmon which is $60 a pound,” she said.

She was once hired to cook lunch for 15 people, and clients wanted her to cook enough food for 30-40 people. “They were like, ‘We don’t want it to look sparse. We want it to look very plentiful,’ she said. needed them, a bit like props, but that’s not normal.”

Thara Moise, a Philadelphia-based personal chef, works primarily on private dinners and small events. His days are different from Hayden’s but are just as exhausting. She often sets up tablescapes and decorations for events while doing all the cooking. That means she had to lug all the plates, decor and food up the stairs, then scour the town for the right address before putting on an apron.

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Moise likes to offer his customers personalized menu options. “I have a PDF menu with nine to 10 pages of original recipes, and you can choose your menu,” she said. It offers nearly 50 different dishes, including gorgeous grazing boards, crab meatballs in spicy mustard sauce, decadent lobster mac and cheese, and squid ink risotto. You can see many of her beautiful dishes in her TikTok Videos.

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“I go to Morocco every year to get all my spices,” she said. “They have nice outdoor spice markets there. So I get huge amounts of spices – fennel, turmeric, cumin. I spend over $400 a month.

While Moise loves the challenge that every job presents, she has dealt with some pretty tough clients. “Some people say, ‘Can you please put nothing on the countertops? We can’t get anything on them,’” Moise said. “And I’m like, What? I had to pack Saran’s entire countertop. She also finds that many more affluent customers will have high-end cookware that has never been used.

“They’re like, ‘Can you bring your own cookware?'” she continued. “Why do you have that $800 set then?”

But the long hours and difficult customers paid off. “The first year, I made $168,000,” Moise said. “This year I expect to make $234,000. That’s really good in your early years of business.”

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