More than 20 years ago, I sat down with a friend and designed a business plan where we would cater to families and offer small dinner parties. We wanted the feeling to be one of family. Small and intimate is what we were going for. We wanted to provide it all – from shopping to cooking to cleanup.
Anna’s Kitchen Catering and Chef Service is the result of that business plan, and now Anna’s Kitchen Weekly Feast meal planning and recipe service.
As busy as we all are, people don’t have the time to prepare regular family meals or entertain as much as they’d like to. That’s where Anna’s Kitchen can help. The name for the business belongs to my daughter who inspires me to carry out my dream. The kitchen is the center of our family and of our home. I want to share that Philosophy with everyone I have the pleasure of cooking for.
I knew from an early age that cooking was to be my calling. Influenced by family, cooking was something that was done together and meals were a time to share one another’s company and reflect on the day.
My education began even before I had completed secondary school working at a renovated historical Victorian home called The Elm Hurst Inn in Ontario, Canada. The chefs at the fine dining restaurant and banquet facility gladly took me under their wings to guide and instruct me. In 1991, barely eighteen years old, I left there to run a smaller kitchen at The Clog and Thistle. It was a crash course in time and staff management as well as food costing and the pressures of a full service restaurant.
While enjoying great success running The Clog and Thistle Restaurant, I knew that my education was incomplete. I traveled to the Canadian Rocky Mountains where I was fortunate enough to be hand selected to join an apprenticeship program with top European Chefs at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, a five star hotel. I was able to attend college for the Culinary Arts in Calgary, Alberta as part of the apprenticeship program. The training was emphasized by hands on practical experience led by German, Swiss, Italian and Japanese Chefs.
My classical training served me well as I expanded my knowledge base at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel in Orlando Florida in the pastry department. Working under a Master Pastry Chef I was able to gain first hand knowledge of wedding cake design, building memorable cakes for would-be brides and grooms.
I took some time away from the culinary world to begin a family and gain knowledge of the business world. Cooking however always remained my passion. While still working a 9-5 office job I began to moonlight as a caterer for friends and family as favors. I even arranged to provide cooking lessons at a local church so I could keep doing what I love to do.
Family brought me to the Central Virginia area where we enjoy life in a rural setting. We raise chickens for eggs and meat and try our hand at gardening, although we are far from green thumbs.
It is with the love and support of family that I am able to make this journey that is Anna’s Kitchen. Every experience in life is a stepping stone that leads us toward our ultimate goal. Anna’s Kitchen could not be what it is without those experiences which enables me to bring it all to the chopping block, sauté pan and pastry tray.
Whether you need a personal chef for a day, week or you’re the do-it-yourself kind of person who would benefit from the Weekly Feast meal planning and recipe service, I look forward to showing you how simple wholesome ingredients can feed your family – mind, body and spirit.
Chef Jenn Palmer