Above: A private chef harvests fresh produce
J ack Kelly’s professional life has included stints as a theatrical agent, boutique hotelier in Sri Lanka and work in the design industry, where he paired clients with the architects and interior designers well-suited to execute their vision. Now the former Westporter is matchmaking clients looking for the perfect chef to whip up five-star meals in their home kitchens.
“Because I’ve worked in the luxury industry my whole life, I’m very client driven and understand their desire for excellence,” explains Kelly of his JK Chef Collection, which he launched with friend and cofounder Chef Jeff Purrazi four years ago. Together, they’ve cultivated a bench of talented personal chefs they hire for catering special events and more-permanent household staff assignments. “We go from helping you find someone who can make that elegant, romantic four-course meal for a special birthday to finding that person you want to have making meals for your family on a daily basis.”
After establishing a following with Hamptons- and Manhattan-based families, JK Chef Collection has branched out to Fairfield County, where Kelly says his clients are often looking for someone to become a regular part of their household dynamic. Because today’s open-floor plans mean kitchens are not tucked away Downton Abby–style, Kelly notes he’s hyper-focused on placing chefs who are compatible with their clients’ palates and lifestyles. “They are affluent and busy and, quite often, commuting,” he says of his Fairfield County clientele. “By the time 6 p.m. rolls around, they appreciate a good, healthy meal and the luxury of having someone talented to prepare it.”
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Wanted: Go-with-the-flow chefs who can whip up meals that accommodate a variety of schedules, appetites and dietary needs. “Our chefs may be asked to accommodate children who are eating gluten- and dairy-free because of allergies or other concerns,” says Jack Kelly. “The mom may be a foodie who prefers to eat organic, but the dad may be more of a simple meat-and-potatoes guy. The task for us is placing that chef who can accommodate all those different eaters in a way that makes everyone happy.”
Wanted: Cooks on the go. “They want someone who may be cooking with them at their local home several months a year, but who is then willing to come to Palm Beach…for the winter. For these clients, we are looking to place a chef who is talented and super flexible.” A private chef, who knows your likes and dietary needs, eases transitions, too.