“I think time is the main thing people are looking for at this point,” opines Christy Hasse, a neighborhood resident and personal chef around town.

Time is certainly a major concern for parents. Trying to maintain the same quality of life our parents gave us as children, especially when one of them likely didn’t work, is proving harder to do. Most people agree that the first aspect to suffer is the time around the table together, arguably the most important for communication.

“With children, you’re so busy: All their activities going on every evening until seven, but you want to spend time with them, so you’re running around to do all of the things that they’re involved in as well as what you’re involved in. And both parents are working.

“This gives them a chance to do this part really quickly,” Hasse says.

“This” – the widespread availability of a personal chef to prepare the week’s meals – is the benefit of living in a time of diversified careers and services. Ironically enough for chefs, time appears to be a central theme as well. Todd Lindsey, a Hollywood Heights resident and former chef for Two Sisters Catering, and Jill Alcott, a former chef at such well-known local eateries as Dakota’s and Terilli’s, say they much prefer setting their own schedule and pace as personal chefs to the chaos of working in a restaurant.

“I love it after working restaurant hours,” Lindsey says. “I got burned out with the hours – working weekends and holidays. I’m my own boss. If I want to work more, I work more.”

After 26 years in the restaurant business, including a period during which she added the title of “mother” to her duties, Alcott knew what she wanted: “A Monday through Friday job – that is what this is. And it’s daytime hours, so it works wonderfully.”

The client works with the chef to craft the menu, while the chef crafts his/her schedule to the amount of clients they feel comfortable cooking for in a day.

Hasse cooks “only once a day. I’m here 9-2. I had to get up and make sure everything was packed up, do the grocery shopping yesterday, get up and pick up a couple of things at the grocery store this morning…so there’s more of a process than just the six hours that you spend at the home of a client. I’d feel like the quality might suffer.”

Lindsey has more or less set his limit at “three a day. By the time I shop, cook and clean up the client’s kitchen, you’re ready to get home. You don’t want to get sloppy.”

At the end of the day, Lindsey will have made “five things that will feed four people for five nights. If you’re a family of four, and you eat out all the time, you’re saving money, and you’re eating healthy.”

And eating healthy, the chefs say, is an important aspect of the service.

“Diets are very big,” Lindsey says. “That’s the majority of my business. I build a menu based on those needs.”

And yet, there are those clients who just want him to “put food in the refrigerator…it doesn’t matter what I cook as long as they’ve got dinners for the week.”

Alcott laughingly admits to having been asked to cook macaroni and cheese before, even though the bulk of what she produces remains low fat, healthy foods.

“A typical entree is four adult portions, very low fat, very healthfully prepared.”

For many of these chefs, a cooking career was supposed to lead to the opening of a restaurant – that is the dream. However, the disparate factors involved in such an endeavor – competition and steep investment capital – mean “your dream could be gone in two months…and when you’re in my position, you have one chance,” Lindsey says.

So, a significant number of these chefs who made their start cooking around town now make their livelihood cooking in homes.

In a home for hours at a time, they are not only chefs, “after three years, you become a friend, a part of the family,” Lindsey says.

The truth is, Lindsey says, “that there are a million good cooks in the world, but there are a handful of people that you can trust in your home.”