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‘Skip-the-Dishes of private events’: Chef-at-home business launches in Okanagan

Chez You connects Okanagan chefs with clients looking for the ultimate culinary experience
Chez You chef Lucas Istace prepares dinner for a private party of 10 in West Kelowna. (Chez You/Submitted)

After more than 10 years working in the restaurant industry alongside Okanagan chefs, Jeremy Cummins knew there was more to the culinary experience than just eating out.

Cummins and four others from Kelowna decided that the Okanagan was a destination that could host a type of turn-key chef-at-home concept.

For those looking for an intimate dining experience, it would be as simple as going to and booking a chef or event for their special occasion.

“We have a database of chefs based in the Okanagan, who use local food as much as they can,” explained Cummins. “The business will service all of the Okanagan, from Kelowna to Vernon, to Revelstoke and Big White.”

The business just launched this November, but the company is already booking events. Soon to come will be chef profiles, so clients can search out different culinary experiences that they might be craving.

“We will be teaming up with local wineries as well. For example, if you love Crown and Thieves food, you can book their chef to come to do a wine-paired dinner with the Crown and Thieves wine and chef,” said Cummins.

Availability will be dependent on the chefs and their schedules.

Cummins believes the chef-at-home concept is one that is truly sought after in the Okanagan but knew sourcing a chef for birthday or Christmas parties was no easy task, and that gave way to a market for a type of booking agent that could provide this service.

“We want to be that one-stop-shop for people wanting to hire for events,” he said. “We consider ourselves the Skip-the-Dishes of private events.”

Chez You chef Lucas Istace prepares dinner for a private party of 10 in West Kelowna. (Chez You/Submitted)
Chez You chef Lucas Istace prepares dinner for a private party of 10 in West Kelowna. (Chez You/Submitted)

Cummins says Chez You also provides servers, hosts, cleaning staff and sommeliers if the client is interested in hosting a larger event.

This concept didn’t just catch the eyes of customers either, as local chefs were also keen on the idea. Chez You provides a contract-style opportunity for chefs, for them to create their own schedule and work as much or as little as they wish.

“Chefs were also interested in the ability to make their own menus as well as work face-to-face with guests, which they might not have while working in a restaurant kitchen,” said Cummins.

Currently, there are about 25 different chefs to choose from within the Okanagan and Chez You is always looking for more to sign up.

Other possibilities the business is looking into is to go beyond bringing a chef to your home, such as having a chef travel on a family vacation to destinations like Mexico or away on a retreat.

The price for a private dining experience ranges from $40 a person for an intimate tapas meal to something as extravagant as $250 a person, for a four-course meal event.

Born and bred in the Okanagan, Chez You hopes to go national and then into the U.S. by next spring.

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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

I graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. I also hold a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University. I was also a reporter for Castanet and CBC. I am a volunteer with Okanagan Humane Society.
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