Personalizing the Menu with Chef Renee Kashuba
Many people are opting for personal chefs to customize their wedding fare. We caught up with MadeByRK’s Chef Kashuba to find out what makes the difference
Most of us associate private chefs with bespoke meals and personalized menus made with the freshest local ingredients. You wouldn’t expect a private chef to help you pick out flower arrangements, conceptualize your event, coordinate logistics, or arrange transportation for the guests of a wedding venue.
That’s where Chef Renée Kashuba, owner and chef of MadeByRK, comes in. She’s a self-proclaimed jack of all trades when it comes to helping curate a special event. Although she bills herself as a private chef, she does everything from cooking intimate dinners to planning the finer details of a wedding party.
“No two events are the same in my world. I do a lot of hand holding with my clients and walk them through every step of the way,” Chef Renée said, describing her unique party planning process. “I’m also the one who hugs you when you cry.”
Tears being optional, finding a trusted partner to help plan a big life event can make a world of difference. Though not all private chefs will also serve as designer, wedding planner, and chief organizer as Kashuba likes to, opting for their more personalized approaches to the menu in lieu of catering has become a growing trend.
Ask Cat Colella-Graham, who hired MadeByRK for an engagement party and found the experience warm and customized. “From the careful curation of the menu, to the details of setting the stage for a perfect event, Renee was invaluable in creating incredible experiences,” she said.
Danielle Flick, who celebrated a September wedding, was impressed with every aspect of the personal chef experience at her event, which included cooking, coordinating guest seating charts, measuring the venue floor, creating stationary, and arranging décor and flowers. She likened the experience to a “true partnership” and “friendship.”
While every personal chef will approach events differently, Kashuba believes a delicious arsenal of international cuisines and creative menus are only one part of the recipe. For her, collaboration is key. Without giving away any of her trade secrets, Chef Renée said she focuses on the clients’ sensibilities and what they truly enjoy in life to make the experience personal. Their favorite colors, music, food tastes, and other preferences are factored into the event.
The experience, in turn, is mutually fulfilling. Kashuba said building relationships with clients during the brainstorming and event planning process is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. She believes it inspires creativity, direction, and eventually an incredible experience for the client. “The more I can get to know them, the more I can get inside the client’s vision for the celebration and bring that vision to reality,” she said.
If you’re open to a unique and very hands on process of event planning, then the personal chef route is worth exploring. In the best cases, the experience is an indulgence in quality food, stellar service, and good old-fashioned hospitality.
Questions to Ask a Personal Chef
- -What types of food do they specialize in?
- -Will they be open to customizing the menu?
- -Can they handle dietary needs you want to accommodate?
- -Where will they prepare the food and how will they transport it to the venue?
- -Can they pair drinks with the menu?
- -What other services do they provide for events?
- -Do they have references you can contact?
Sample Menu: Cali-Italian Engagement Party
Cheese boards with olives and fruit
Red Tuscan salad with shaved summer squash
Italian succotash salad with basil
Seared beef filet & mushrooms in red wine reduction
Pork tenderloin roasted with fruits and herbs
Seared asparagus with tarragon
Honey glazed carrots
Roasted baby potatoes with olive oil and rosemary
Penne with summer vegetables and Reggiano
Salted caramel cheesecake
Tarte aux citron
Triple berry shortcake
Dark chocolate truffles
James Carsey is a freelance writer from Tarrytown. He enjoys art, photography, cooking, and the great outdoors.