ChefNAround provides five star food and quality service for all of your in home dining needs. ChefNAround focuses on creation dinners. These dinners require each guest to bring ingredients they love or find interesting and the Chef prepares a multi course dinner from all of the items.
Amanda Eckmann, 27, will graduate from the Midwest Culinary Institute in November and from there will be focused full time on further developing ChefNAround.
Prior to her schooling, she worked in various food establishments. Eckmann started in chain restaurants as a teenager working as a hostess and from there she moved into different roles with other companies.
She competed in her first competition earlier this year and found the experience to be very rewarding in teaching her new skills. As a chef, she has many things she would still like to accomplish including further certifications and winning more competitions.
What sets you apart from other culinary professionals?
ChefNAround doesn’t have a set menu for guests to choose from. Each menu is created specifically for each group that books a party and I strive to ensure that each recipe is different from something I have done before. I travel with a core group of ingredients which consist of flour, sugar, salt, and pepper, and I leave the rest up to the guests.
Please explain your area of expertise in the kitchen? How did you develop them?
My specialty is operating on the element of surprise. I go into each party not knowing what ingredients I will have or how many dishes I will be able to make, but I guarantee there will be no less than 8 dishes for each group of guests. I started doing this because I love the show chopped and knew I wasn’t quite ready when I began to sign up and try to be a contestant. From there I put my own spin on things and decided it is a great way to entertain and so I began to offer this style of cooking as a service in outside homes.
If you had to compare yourself to one dish, with both ingredients and presentation, what would it be and why?
The dish that best represents me is my potato leek and garlic soup with bay scallops and bacon. The dish is very simple, but with each bite the flavors become more complex. Each dish I create has a different and interesting element to it, but I always like to incorporate the basics. The presentation again is very simple, but the appearance is deceiving in regards to how much flavor the dish actually contains. I view myself as a very simple and relaxed chef. On the outside I look like many other chefs with the coat and black pants, however, on the inside my wheels are constantly turning.
With the holidays approaching, what is your favorite “traditional” dish? How would you add your touch to make it unique so it represents your style?
I love the turkey on Thanksgiving. You can eat it that day and the next on a sandwich or for breakfast in a quiche. There is just so much that can be done with it. To make it my own we inject the turkey with a mixture I create the day it will be cooked. A mix of Worcestershire, garlic, and some fresh herbs chopped very fine to inject into the turkey. Under the skin I would put whole fresh herbs such as thyme and sage, and rub the entire turkey down with kosher salt and pepper. After it is prepared I would smoke the turkey.
Where do you see yourself and business in the next five years? How do you plan to attain that goal?
In five years, I see the company expanding. At that point, I would like to have another Chef on staff to allow for multiple parties on one night, and have parties booked every weekend and possibly be booking through the week. In addition, I would like to be putting out a ChefNAround cookbook at the end of each year to provide my clients with recipes I have created throughout the year at various parties. To find another Chef I have my work cut out for me. There are many great chefs out there, but to find one that has the same goals and interests that go hand in hand with CHefNAround is a task I don’t take lightly.
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