More Inspiring Minds
Tempt your tastebuds
These Ohio University alumni and students are producting quite a variety of products. Here are some highlights:
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Premium salsas, produced year-round, include house mild, house hot, salsa verde, chipotle and habanero. Seasonal salsas, called Limited Harvest, incorporate locally produced ingredients and include such blends as apple verde and blackberry chipotle. Other products include peach jam; tomato sauce; pickled pepper strips, asparagus and cucumbers; and roasted tomatoes.
Mushroom Harvest sells chemical-free shiitake, maitake, oyster and lion's mane mushrooms.
The Herbal Sage Tea Co.
Blends include organic peppermint and spearmint, Womyn Spirit, Morning Meditation, Calming Cough, Siesta Shake-up and Pure Bliss.
The Dotty Baker
Dotty Baker offers chocolate chip, ginger crystal, pecan chocolate nougat, walnut chocolate chip and almond pecan crisp cookie varieties.
Local entrepreneurs have another opportunity to sell their products, right at Ohio University, in fact. A new store, called Food We Love, opened in February in the Nelson Mini Mall. Food We Love is a retail store that exclusively sells locally made items, including food, clothing and dry goods. It is managed by ACEnet.
By Joan Slattery Wall
Many people take a briefcase to work. Jonathan Leal brings practically everything but the kitchen sink.
The three-time Ohio University graduate started his own personal chef business in October, planning menus, shopping for food and preparing several weeks' worth of meals in one day at each of his clients' homes.
His morning starts before 7 a.m., when he loads his car with six plastic tubs and a tool box filled with everything he'll need for the job: nearly 30 stainless steel bowls, paper products for storing the food he makes, spices, pots, pans, food processors, cooking utensils, even a fire extinguisher and first aid kit. And about that kitchen sink: He does bring liners to protect those owned by his clients.
By the time he shops for the food and meticulously sets up ingredients, cookware and storage containers at a client's home, it's 8:30. He's ready to begin cooking. For his most-requested service, two weeks' worth of food for two people, he prepares about 20 entrees.
"I generally have two to three burners and the oven going fairly constantly," Leal says. Within six to eight hours, he's finished storing the food in the client's fridge and freezer and has tidied up -- using cleaners and trash bags he brings himself.
Leal, BSED '98, MA '00 and MBA '01, has 10 years' experience and training for his business, Gourmet Your Way Personal Chef Service, the idea for which surfaced while he completed his MBA.
"My industry report turned into a 60-page business plan," he says. Now, his 10 clients keep him working seven days a week. One, in fact, is a faculty member from whom he learned marketing skills he uses in his business.
Leal's service saves Catherine Axinn, chair of the marketing department and an associate professor of marketing and international business, the time she'd spend cooking for herself, and it allows her to eat healthy meals that meet her dietary restrictions.
"He'll tailor a recipe completely to my taste," she says. "They don't even do that in restaurants."
Leal's undergraduate degree in French education, master's in French literature and four study-abroad experiences -- as well as the traveling he did as the child of missionaries who spent time in Nepal and Mexico -- have nurtured a love of international cuisine that he shares with his clients.
Although their most popular requests are more on the American side -- citrus grilled pork tenderloin, spiced flank steak or baked sweet and sour pork -- he's pleased when someone asks for his Moroccan, French and Indian specialties.
Leal, who has his own Web site at www.gourmetyourway.biz, is among more than 5,000 personal chefs in the nation, according to the United States Personal Chef Association. By 2006, the association predicts, the trend that began in the 1990s will draw more than 25,000 chefs.
Organization, Leal says, is vital.
In the breast pocket of his chef's coat, he keeps a secret weapon: a handheld timer that allows him to track three things at once. He also couldn't get along without the lists he keeps for every facet of his job: what to do when he signs a new client, what he needs for his menu, what to do the night before and morning of a client visit, and what must be completed when he returns home.
"My checklist in the morning has something as simple as 'brush your teeth' because I'm so caught up in everything I have to do," Leal says. "Maybe a lot of other personal chefs don't do this, but they're survival skills for me."
Joan Slattery Wall is assistant editor of Ohio Today.