Eating on the go doesn’t have to mean fast food

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Take-out service from restaurants or even ordering home delivery from your favorite fast food eatery is nothing new. But can’t we do better than greasy burgers, fried rice and tacos? Wouldn’t you just love to order a gourmet chef of your choice to come to your home and cook a meal for you?

Chances are, you could start eating healthy, home-prepared meals today thanks to two relatively new companies serving a growing niche in Queens.

This type of service is not reserved exclusively for wealthy celebrities, but has become a growing necessity for people who just want to eat better.

“We cook for anybody, it doesn’t matter the cuisine,” said chef and owner of What’s Cooking Personal Chef Service Judy Kaplan. Having spent a good portion of her life in the culinary arts, cooking for her family and friends, Kaplan decided food preparation was going to play a role in her life. “I love cooking, pretty much I have been doing it all my life,” she said.

And she still does. With a growing clientele, her service is geared toward people who lead hectic lifestyles or need a break from the “heat” in the kitchen. But it is caters to those who are tired of high-fat, chemically enhanced fast and frozen food. “We offer fresh food, nothing pre-packaged,” said Kaplan.

Once she makes an initial appointment with a client, she obtains necessary information on their choice of food. She then goes shopping to fulfill their request. “They tell me what they want and I buy and prepare everything,” she said. “I do all the shopping.” However, if the food is already purchased, then all she does is make a date to prepare it. Her service involves bringing her cooking equipment, an option the client can choose to ignore if the kitchen is already well-stocked. If there are leftovers, Kaplan is equipped to store all food in proper packaging containers, and leave detailed reheating instructions. Also, there is no need to worry about kitchen clean-up. Kaplan ensures that each kitchen is left squeaky clean, with only the tempting aroma of recently cooked food left behind.

The service is not limited to meals for individuals or families. The in-home service caters to intimate dinner parties, bridal and baby showers, birthday parties, Halloween parties, and any other gathering at a home.

A native of Long Island, Kaplan did a six-year stint in San Francisco where she worked extensively in the culinary field. On returning home she decided to put her idea into motion. Currently, working out of Forest Hills, she concentrates her service mostly in Queens and Long Island. “But I’ll travel” to meet client’s demands, she said. So far, “people love it,” and are responding positively, she added.

“My job is to provide custom designed meals in your home,” Kaplan said in a recent interview as she prepared to take on her second client for the day. Whatever the cuisine — high-fat, low-fat or no-fat — she can design meals for any taste buds.

If a chef coming to the kitchen seems like a little much, Food For Life in Fresh Meadows offers an alternative.

Another culinary order service company, Food For Life provides its clients daily delivery of a daily three-course meal, each based on the clients’ individual tastes and dietary restrictions.

“We work with whatever the needs of the client requires,” said Michael Fay, sales coordinator for the 18-month old catering service. The program, which is based on The Zone dieting concept, meets the need of clients who might want to change their unregulated diet to a strict practice, all while maintaining a healthy diet.

“Their desires are different, and we make available the best gourmet food to meet their diet,” Fay said.

Shortly before 6 a.m. each day, the food is delivered to the customer’s home. All three meals, including two snacks, come together in a single, tamper-proof package. “It comes with everything, including utensils,” Fay said. Each package contains food in the 40-30-30 percentage nutritional value range highlighted in The Zone.

Food For Life offers a variety of other plans from which a customer could choose. The price for each plan varies.

To schedule an appointment with What’s Cooking, call Kaplan at 268-8551. To reach For Food For Life call 961-7340.

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