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Meet Katherine Haynes of Essential Chef in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Haynes.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Katherine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The day that I realized I would rather read the food pages of the newspaper than the calendar and movie section, was the day I realized I loved to cook more than my job at the time in the film and television industry. After 15 years in the entertainment industry I wanted to do something more hands on in the food world than just planning menus for crew meals. I also loved to see my friends and family enjoy the outcome of my tinkering in the kitchen. I then went to culinary school and also went to Italy for training. In school I realized that cooking was definitely the direction I wanted to go, turning my hobby into a career.

I started out doing a lot of catering and got a great client at USC School of Architecture catering a series of lectures, which lasted 8 years. I still refer to it as catering college. Not only did I learn how to make things tasty and satisfying to a large crowd and keeping it fresh and new but I also learned how to efficiently and safely pack and transport large amounts of food and to be resourceful. When catering on someone else’s property there are always unforeseen events; power outlets don’t work and you need to plug in a coffee maker (you plug them in another room and learn they keep hot for 2 hours), trash cans that you rely on are nowhere to be found (you tie trash bags, which you always bring, to a door knob and use a bent wire hanger to keep it open), the 8 ft. tables that you rely on for preparation aren’t there so you pull out the plastic tablecloth and use your buffet table. Accepting these challenges and catering wonderful food for both the University and corporate functions as well as private home events has made catering very enjoyable for me.

To coincide with the catering, I took on several personal chef clients. Each client not only has varying food tastes and likes and dislikes but many have several food restrictions and diet plans. Seeing each client as an individual and trying to blend what they can have with what they want and have great results, has made the personal chef work very gratifying.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My career is ever evolving and it can change at any time. My personal chef work is tricky from a marketing standpoint because all the traditional internet marketing platforms are really better suited for a company with a workforce. There are a lot of caterers in the Los Angeles area so there is a lot of competition. There is also a lot of competition for healthy food choices and customers often don’t think of a personal chef as the logical choice when they compare the price to a food delivery service or prepared foods at a grocery store. However, the big difference is the personalized service and having me be your dedicated chef. If you’re someone who really needs to focus on balancing your diet then you are looking for someone to focus on you when you cannot.

Essential Chef – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
A big part of my intention with this business was and is bringing healthy prepared foods to my customers, whether they are needing from scratch prepared meals for themselves or their family, office staff or event. Some customers just need a great spread with no restrictions for an event and they need me to plan the whole menu, to get something off their plate (so to speak) not only can I do it and meet and exceed their expectations but I can make sure it looks fantastic.

With the Personal Chef work, I can prepare a meal for one night or several to feed a single person or a family. We discuss what you want to eat, once I get to know you’re eating style and quantity needs, I can plan the menu and just need approvals. Some people want to plan the menu and some don’t. I do a dedicated shopping trip for each customer, grocery costs are additional, but I am happy to shop where ever you prefer.
I specialize in getting to know what you like and dislike but also keeping in mind what you can and can’t have. Communication with my customers is a must, on both ends. I am open to doing whatever I can for them, but they need to communicate with me what their diet is like. From experiences, I know diet plans can change from day to day.

I have been fortunate enough to work with some great companies; Cirque Du Soleil and The Little Door Catering, Prime Jet Private Jet, Tiger Text, USC School of Architecture and Viterbi School of Engineering.

I would like to think that what I can bring to any event planning process from first meeting to the dinner table is my level of experience at planning and thinking outside the box. Since I really do specialize in small to midsize event catering, I try to fill in the blanks and think about some of the little touches that might go overlooked with a large catering company.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Helping clients’ live healthier and happier lives. With my catering, I love helping people celebrate the finer things in life. With my personal chefing, I love working with people who want to do the best they can for themselves. With some of my corporate cooking clients, I love being able to work as a team at providing a healthy meal so they can continue to do what they need to do.

I have a client who had very high LDL cholesterol and I helped this young man reduce his level considerably. The words that can sound so bad, better diet and exercise, worked in this case and I would like to think my cooking for him helped a great deal.


  • Personal Chef – $350 day rate plus the cost of groceries for 4-6 meals in one visit to your home (4 hours in home)
  • Personal Chef – $500 day rate plus the cost of groceries for breakfast, lunch and dinner (7 hours in home)
  • Catering/Party – $500 day rate plus cost per person

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