In the Kitchen with Chef Terry Braggs

We interviewed Chef Terry Braggs to see all that goes into planning and executing a meal curated by a personal chef. Chef Braggs’ culinary career began 14 years ago, and for the past five years, he has been cooking in private homes bringing nourishing food to his client’s dining tables, fresh from their kitchens. Chef set the record straight on a few common misconceptions.

Myth #1: “The meal I am asking for shouldn’t really take that long.”

Before Chef Braggs hits the road to gather the ingredients, a menu has to be selected. He has built relationships with various Bay Area grocery stores and food vendors where he sources all of his ingredients. As an East Bay Native, two of those places include Diablo Foods in Lafayette and Berkeley Bowl.

Efficiency is key and a skill that is built up over years of experience. In a restaurant, a team is working diligently to produce perfection, but in a private kitchen, the Chef is cultivating each menu item on their own. To execute a menu that will meet his client’s high standards, Chef Braggs brings his own equipment and always brings his own knives.

Myth #2:” Asking for appetizers instead of a main course should be cost-effective.”

Hiring a private Chef is different than ordering off the menu of a restaurant. Chef Braggs has encountered clients that ask if the cost will be less if they decrease the menu. This may reduce the overall food budget, but you are still paying for the chef’s time. Restaurants purchase their food in bulk and calculate a profit margin. A client pays face value for their groceries, but the added cost of the chef’s time increases the overall budget. Chef Braggs is mindful of reviewing cost expectations when discussing the budget and he is mindful and efficient with his time.

Myth #3:” Don’t talk to the chef while they are cooking.”

Chef Braggs says there is an entertainment factor when cooking in a client’s home, but it is essential to read the room. Working in private homes has taught him to be conscious of his own energy. He walks into every home with an open mind. He considers the kitchen to be the heart of the home and walking into a client’s house with bad energy is one of the biggest mistakes a Chef can make.

Chef Braggs has worked in homes where he is expected to be a fly on the wall and homes where the client wants to discuss his work. Assessing the ambiance of the home helps establish an enjoyable experience for the client. One item Chef Braggs always travels with is a Bluetooth speaker. If he wants to soften the mood, he might put on some smooth jazz on a low volume and start with cooking aromatic food such as garlic or onions.

For Chef Bragg’s regular clients, he gets to know their food profiles and is able to curate menus for them. His clientele’s requests range from prescheduled drop-off meals; cooking regularly in client’s homes; intimate dinner parties; or large, up-scale events. To be a successful Chef, you need to be adaptable and creative. Behind his knife skills and a big smile, there is an entrepreneur and a father, whose goal is to put a smile on his clients’ faces with delicious food on their tables.

“Someone eating my food may never see me again, but the memory of my food will never be forgotten.”