This is a series profiling local chefs and sharing their favorite summer recipes.
Long, busy days and company changes were beginning to wear on Paula Lemay in late 2006. The 19-year publishing professional started to long for something else, and that's when she saw an ad to become a personal chef in an in flight magazine.
Armed with a lifelong love of food and the ambition to boot, Lemay looked at different options including running a franchise. The investment in a franchise seemed too lofty, but the minimal overhead of a personal chef career seemed to make sense.
Lemay also liked the idea of running her own business. "I've always had an entrepreneurial drive," said the Milton resident.
She contacted the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA), the organization whose ad she read on that flight from Chicago, and enrolled in the Culinary Business Academy in Atlanta.
The intensive course was half business class and half chef training; giving Lemay the backing she needed to start her company. She also became a USPCA member and earned a ServSafe certification. In January 2007, Lemay opened SOMEONE'S In the KITCHEN LLC.
Lemay now works for a variety of clients, some who eat her food daily, others more sporadically and some for one time-events.
For clients who want dinner everyday, Lemay goes to their homes weekly. There she cooks, packages, labels and freezes the dishes, leaving heating instructions with the client.
When she cooks for someone, Lemay brings her own pots and utensils. All she needs is a stovetop, an oven and a refrigerator. She even does the grocery shopping the day she's cooking, to keep cold items cold and fresh items fresh.
The frequency that Lemay cooks for her clients is as varied as the customer base itself. Lemay works with people who don't like to cook, those who don't have time and even parents who no longer have the kids to cook for. She also sells gift certificates for her services.
Lemay said the places she's cooking are always changing. One day she'll be in a small galley kitchen and the next she'll be in a spacious room with three or four ovens.
When Lemay meets a potential customer she meets with them to fully hash out what they're looking for. She goes through a four-page document with new clients to find out everything from their likes and dislikes to dietary restrictions. From there, Lemay proposes a menu. "Usually, I hit it right on the nail," Lemay said.
For all her customers, Lemay puts an emphasis on changing things. "Food needs to be exciting," she said. "It needs to be an event."
The changing menu is influenced by the client's palette, but it is also varied by the time of year. "I really try to use what's in season," said Lemay, who is especially fond of the fresh herbs and vegetables of the summer.
When she's not cooking in people's homes or working special events like parties or romantic dinners, Lemay is still staying busy in the food world. She created a vegan line of muffins, which can be found at the Fruit Center, as well as a line of confections. Both of these lines are made from her home on a residential kitchen license from the town of Milton.
Lemay also works once or twice a week in different stores as a consultant for KitchenAid, where she gives demonstrations and answers questions about various products.
Her workload might be as heavy as it was during her previous 25 years in the corporate world, but her life as a chef provides a much higher sense of accomplishment.
"I'm not working any less," Lemay admitted. "But it's my own and it's something I'm passionate about."
Lemay has submitted a recipe for Herb-crusted Baked Salmon, a dish that combines one of her favorite proteins with the fresh herbs that are so prevalent in the summer.
"Fresh herbs are abundant and easily found at this time of the year. They impart a variety of flavors and aromas and add great interest to this simple dish. You can always substitute herbes de provence for the rosemary, basil and thyme if you prefer; or feel free to experiment with your own special blend of herbs. This recipe is a client favorite, fresh, healthy and delicious," Lemay said.
Herb Crusted Baked Salmon
Fresh Salmon blanketed with a garden mixture of fresh herbs
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
4 6-ounce Salmon fillets (1 ½ to 2 lbs)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
2 tablespoons olive oil (or unsalted butter, melted)
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a small rimmed baking sheet with olive oil spray.
2. Combine dill, tarragon, chives, rosemary, basil and thyme in a small shallow dish.
3. Combine lemon juice and dry vermouth in small bowl.
3. Sprinkle Salmon with salt and pepper and brush with lemon juice/dry vermouth combo.
4. Press top of fillets into herb mixture to generously coat.
5. Place Salmon, herb side up on baking sheet.
6. Drizzle with olive oil (or melted butter if preferred).
7. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until salmon just begins to flake.