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A day in my life by Private Chef Mel Mitchley

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MelMel Mitchley is a private chef who first developed her passion for cooking whilst at university and then went on to train at Leiths School of Food and Wine and the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. We all think of only celebrities having a private chef but in fact Mel has many clients who are just 'normal folk'. Below, she shares a typical 'Day in my life' - all very inspiring and if you live in or near London, we're pretty sure you'll soon be in contact with her!

Most of my clients approach me because they would like the convenience of ready-meals but something much healthier and tailored to their needs. I cater for busy professionals and hectic families with a range of requirements such as vegan, diabetic and low cholesterol diets as well as meals for all ages from toddlers to the elderly. The main thing they all have in common is that they all enjoy great food and want nutritious meals that help them lead a healthy lifestyle.

08.00 am - I head out for a yoga or Pilates class to wake me up or for a run to counter balance the effects of being a chef. I spend my days tasting food so exercise is key!

10.00 am - My 'work' day started in South West London at the home of a client who I have been cooking for about 6 months. She is a busy professional who rarely gets home before 9.00 pm and is off again early the next morning! She just doesn't have time for supermarket shopping or preparing healthy meals so that's where I come in...

10.30 am - I've unpacked my ingredients and am ready to start cooking. I buy everything fresh in advance and my shop of choice tend to be Ocado because of the convenience and variety of ingredients including a very good organic range. I select produce based on what's currently available as I'm a firm believer in cooking seasonally. I usually have the food delivered to the client's home and then make sure that I am there to unpack it. Some clients do buy their own ingredients though especially if they have a local market which they like.

10.30 am - 4.30 pm - I get down to cooking but not in my chef whites as I prefer to be comfy! I have a vast collection of recipes collected over the years and love researching new recipes too - I'm a total foodie. Some popular summer dishes that I've been making are Lighter lentil moussaka, Thai mackerel fishcakes, Green gazpacho, Chicken, bean and feta pie and Chocolate courgette muffins. The latter are totally delicious - let me know if you'd like the recipe!  One of the dishes that I'm planning to make today is Quinoa and avocado cakes with a Persian tomato salad - yummy! All the client needs to do is take the dishes out of the fridge or heat them up so it really does make it quick and easy for them.

In one 'session', I usually produce 5 - 6 main dishes plus any necessary side dishes. I make the service as hassle-free and pride myself on leaving the kitchen as clean (or cleaner!) than I found it and with the addition of some new, tasty meals! I try to create imaginative dishes that are full of flavours and include ready-to-eat salads as well as dishes that can be kept for a few days or frozen.

6.00 pm - I head off to meet a new client near his office. He's been diagnosed with high cholesterol and is worried that he is not eating the right things to reduce it. He also loves his food so needs reassuring that he will still be able to eat 'properly' as he puts it. We discuss his goals and I make a check-list of what he likes ingredients-wise. We agree that I will draw up a plan of action to email him - I tend to do a 'trial run' with a new client to make sure they are happy with the dishes that I have cooked and then we agree on a timetable.

7.30 pm - Home sweet home and time to cook for myself now. I love cooking so much that it never seems a chore even after a full on day of cooking for others. My favourite food is homemade dahl because it's very comforting and filling after a busy day...!

I quite often cater for drinks parties or dinners in the evening - everything from corporate events to celebrations or to help those who are nervous about cooking for large numbers! I like this side of my job too because it allows me to play with my creative side in presenting beautiful dishes.

So - I hope that you've now seen the light about private chefs! If you'd like restaurant standard food but at a lower cost and made personally in your own home, this is the answer! Not only do my clients benefit from the health advantages of having fresh and wholesome meals but it also removes the chore out of cooking and makes meal times much more enjoyable. http://melmitchleychef.co.uk/

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