By Sanae Nokura / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterWant a chef to cook for you at home?
Services to send professional chefs to homes or other designated places have been diversifying their offerings to meet customers’ needs, from preparing baby food to catering lunchtime gatherings at companies.
These services are popular not just because they can help save time, but also because you can learn some recipes while watching the chefs’ techniques up close.
In Tokyo, the company Share Dine started a chef dispatching service in May last year. The service for families has been well-received as its food experts can help prepare baby food or meals for children who have unbalanced diets. Of the about 400 chefs who have registered with the company, some are dietitians who have experience working at nursery schools.
“I was also bothered about my child’s diet,” said Yuki Ide, a co-head of Share Dine. “So I wanted to create a platform where people can easily get advice from experts.”
In late May, one of Share Dine’s registered chefs, Keiko Moriguchi, visited the home of Yuki Yamazaki in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo. Yamazaki, self-employed with a baby girl then 9 months old, asked the chef the amount of seasoning she should use for her daughter’s food.
“At first, it’s good to use an amount of soy sauce just enough for you to get a sense of its aroma,” said Moriguchi, who used to work as a nutritionist at a nursery school.
Speaking to the baby, the chef added, “I guess you’ll soon try to eat with your hands.” So she also prepared some small tofu hamburger steaks.
During the three-hour service, Moriguchi not only made 10 dishes — including four for the baby — but also cleaned up the kitchen. It cost ¥8,640, excluding expenses for the ingredients used for the dishes.
“The baby food she prepared has gentle flavors,” Yamazaki said. “I also can learn from the steps she took.”
For companies, various services are available, such as one run by Graatia Inc. in Tokyo called Green Dining. Under the service, chefs are sent to companies to prepare dishes for welcome or farewell parties and other events. Some clients have even used the service for working breakfasts.
“These days not all workers can go to an izakaya pub in the evening as many are engaged in child-rearing or caregiving,” said Graatia President Keiko Takeuchi. “Our service is used as a means of facilitating communication among the clients’ employees.”
Recruit Staffing Co. in Tokyo used the service for a lunch party in March, which was held after a seminar that employees on childcare leave could also attend. Cherry blossoms were arranged on tables at the company’s cafe space, while items served included sandwiches and desserts that were designed as finger food to make interacting easier among the participants.
“Everything from preparation to cleanup was done by the service,” said a Recruit Staffing official in charge of personnel affairs. “It’s a great help as we didn’t have to do anything.”
A diversity of dishes is also being provided through these services.
Tokyo-based Opt Incubate Inc. has operated the Prime Chef service since 2015, offering gluten-free dishes and meals that are halal, meaning sanctioned by Islamic law. Some clients have also asked for meals made for elderly people who have difficulty chewing. The service starts at ¥3,000 per person.
“We hope that elderly people who value the enjoyment of food will use our service,” said Opt Incubate’s Risa Miyazaki.
Food writer Atsushi Hakuo, who has used services of this kind, said the best part is giving customers an opportunity to enjoy special meals in their own home, adding, “When looking for a chef, decide whether you want to enjoy the specialty of that chef or whether you want someone to make what you want to eat.”Speech