If you love good food as much as I, Deirdre Kloh is a chef you need to know. I was introduced to Deidre by a friend for whom she was cooking (on Sundays) and dropping off meals for the week. With two young kids at home, I thought- what a genius solution for my family!
Deirdre has produced many amazing meals for us over the past 10 years, and she is my #1 “go-to” when I need a chef and/or catered food for a party. Delivering classics like Chicken Parmigana and Snapper Livornese, soon-disappeared sides like (the best I’ve ever had!) Rice Pilaf and Brussel Sprouts, to killer party apps your guests will attack with gusto, Deidre delivers meals to both satisfy and remember. Below is my Q&A where we discuss Deidre’s background and how the kitchen magic happens. Enjoy!
FO40: Deirdre, how did you get into cooking?
Deirdre: I started cooking as a kid. As a family, we always ate dinner together and I would often be in the kitchen while my mom was preparing the meal. My mother did most of the cooking, but my dad had a few of his own specialties as well. I started out making breakfast food, eggs, bisquick pancakes, etc., which is, I think, where a lot of kids start cooking. Sometimes, I would pretend to be Julia Child. I’d talk to the kitchen wall as I whisked or stirred. I even had a Julia Child voice I would use! My parents would often watch cooking shows like Julia Child, Graham Kerr, The Frugal Gourmet, or Yan Can Cook. I loved those shows. When I was 10 I made my first dinner for the family. It was my favorite meal at the time- meatloaf and mashed potatoes!
FO40: What was your first cooking job?
DK: My first job was at Matthew Kenney’s restaurant, “Matthew’s”, in Manhattan. I started in the Garde Manger position, preparing mainly salads and cold apps. Then I moved onto the line, where I made the hot apps, a pasta special and a couple of the entrees. Eventually I was put on the fish station. I loved working in a restaurant- the energy and camaraderie was amazing. I really began to understand what it meant to cook professionally when I was out of culinary school and in a restaurant. It’s just something that you have to learn on the job.
FO40: You do a lot of catering jobs. What is the largest job you ever did?
DK: I once handled a cocktail party for 230 people. It was mainly bite-sized hors d’oeuvres and a few stationary platters like cheeses and crudités. I did a wedding for 125 people, which was a lot more demanding. It was soup to nuts from hors d’oeuvres to desserts. And it’s a lot of pressure to cook for that kind of special occasion- it’s definitely more than just the food. You’re creating an experience. Personally I prefer the small dinner parties where I can focus more on the food.
FO40: What is the food or appetizer people request most?
DK: I get a lot of requests that are often influenced by food trends. Right now, many people are asking that there be several gluten-free items on any menu. My clients seem to love my tuna tartare (with soy, lemon, and tabasco on cucumber), as well as my potato pancakes (with crème fraîche, chives and salmon roe). I also do a kale salad with roasted sweet potato, Sicilian olives, truffle pecorino and tahini lemon vinaigrette which has become a staple for lunch buffets as well as a first course salad for dinners.
FO40: What do you like to cook the most?
DK: I love cooking anything Asian. I love to eat and make Thai curries, Indian curries, and phos. I also make my own dashi for soups and ramen dishes. It’s fun to play with interesting ingredients. Shopping in Chinatown is inspiring- I pick up all sorts of vinegars and chili pastes to experiment with!
FO40: You also offer a meals home delivery for clients. Tell us about this service?
DK: That is how we met! I work with my clients to develop menus that work for them. Some people will have me cook several days’ worth of food, which would include a couple of proteins, a couple of starches and a couple of vegetable side dishes. That could be a salmon teriyaki with coconut rice and sautéed broccoli for one night, turkey meatballs with pomodoro sauce, spaghetti and sautéed spinach for another, and a beef bourguignon for the third night. For others, it works best when I only cook the proteins or entrées, without sides, or with starch sides only, but not any vegetable sides. I cook everything, package it up and deliver it to the client on a day that they request. Some people have me cook once a week, others schedule me for when they think they’ll be able to get the most out of it, such as when they have family visiting, or they know they’ll be home for dinner several nights in a row.
FO40: What does a typical week look like for you?
DK: Every week I cook for 4-8 different clients/families. In addition, I cater events, which tend to be towards the end of the week and on weekends.
FO40: If people are interested in working with you, how can they reach you?
DK: I can best be reached by email. Deirdre.Kloh@gmail.com. Oftentimes I’m cooking and it’s easier to read a message than it is to pick up the phone!