Stephanie Berghoff was a hospitality major at Syracuse University. She took cooking classes after graduation in New York, then co-founded Culintro — a “LinkedIn for restaurant professionals.”
When she and her husband moved from Manhattan to Westport 3 years ago for the usual reasons — schools, and more room for their growing family — she continued her “chef head-hunting” business.
Last summer, she realized that her young children were not eating most of the delicious food she cooked for them.
So Stephanie decided to cook for others.
And deliver her food right to them.
She’s found a thriving market. The Home Cook has hit Westport’s sweet spot.
Every Wednesday, Stephanie sends menus to her email list. Customers order — sometimes every time, sometimes occasionally. The deadline is 10 a.m. Saturday.
She shops for supplies at Whole Foods and Stew Leonard’s (where, she says, organic meats are “really good,” fish is always fresh, and the dairy selection is great). Vegetables are procured locally.
Working out of a certified kitchen in a Weston church, Stephanie cooks 4 days a week. She does most of it herself; a local chef helps out once weekly.
She (and one assistant) deliver the meals — entrees and sides — Mondays and Wednesdays between 3 and 6 p.m., directly to customers’ homes. Stephanie follows up by email, with heating instructions.
In the beginning, Stephanie offered 4 basic options: beef, chicken, fish and grain-based meals.
Now there are more. She tries for 3 dishes that entire families can enjoy, and 2 that are “a bit more sophisticated.” Those may be for adults only — or foods that parents can introduce their kids to.
A recent Monday included:
- Honey soy chicken poke bowl, served with charred bok choy and a choice of sushi rice or broccoli rice
- Shrimp and crab or fish cakes, served with steamed artichokes and twice baked potatoes or roasted garlic Parmesan cauliflower
- BBQ grilled chicken breasts, served with a spring salad asparagus and peas, plus corn bread (options: honey butter grilled corn and steamed broccoli)
- Italian beef meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce, linguine or spaghetti squash, Caprese salad and sauteed kale.
All are healthy, using organic products whenever possible. She always offers no-carb and gluten-free options.
Favorites are Italian cuisine: chicken Parmesan, Marsala, Piccata and Scarpariello. Her pesto and chili dishes draw raves too.
Stephanie has had only had one or two busts. She thought meat loaf or shepherd’s pie would be great winter comfort food, but they did not prove popular.
This summer, Stephanie plans to add fully prepared barbecue packages.
Most dishes are freezable. Some customers order multiple meals, for later in the week.
Stephanie loves to read food magazines. They often provide new meal ideas.
Clients include working parents who want home-cooked meals for themselves and their family; stay-at-home parents with little time to cook; people who travel frequently, and those with family emergencies.
Proudly, she says, “I’ve never had a customer not come back.”
Besides cooking, time management is one of Stephanie’s talents. She has only a couple of hours after dropping her kids at school to cook, organize each individual order (with separate sides), and deliver them on time.
“If you’ve got young kids and count on this for dinner, it can’t be late,” she notes.
The Home Cook knows that everyone loves home cooking. She also knows that sometimes, people take credit for home cooking when they haven’t, well, cooked at home.
“The biggest compliment is when people take credit for my meal,” she says.
“When kids say, ‘Mom, cook that again’ — I love it! That’s my goal.
“Home-cooked meals come from the heart. I want everyone to take pride in my food.”
(For more information on The Home Cook — including ordering and getting on her email list — click here.)