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From their mouths
Mike E.. February 14, 2019
“Andrea, Cathy was over the moon with the food…. Thank you for making it so easy and enjoyable for us!”
Katie C. January 12, 2019
“From Saturday “I just wanted to say "THANK YOU!!!" again for the wonderful dinner & drinks on Saturday evening. Everyone had a fantastic time and the meal was absolutely outstanding! In addition, your staff was amazing, and I thank them for making the evening seamless. Thank you again & I look forward to planning another evening with you in the future!”
James G. April 18, 2018
"Andrea cooked for 16 people for my partner's 50th birthday. Everyone loved it. Her food and staff was amazing. I appreciated her creativity. I highly recommend her and I would definitely work with her again. We appreciated how clean she left our kitchen after the evening was finished!"
Jenn K. Dec. 27, 2017
"We hired Andrea and Tres Senoritas Gourmet to cater our office Holiday Party. She was extremely responsive and accommodating to our menu requests, very professional ensuring she did a pre-event site visit, and was all around really great to rely on for recommendations.
The food was absolutely delicious and the margaritas they made were a big hit as well. It was obvious that she takes pride in her work and pays close attention to every detail that goes into each dish. I would definitely recommend Tres Senoritas Gourmet to anyone looking for authentic Mexican food and margaritas!"
Carrie D. August 30, 2017
“Chef Andrea provided us with a wonderful celebration dinner at our rental Villa in Sonoma. She was super helpful in developing an Italian Chef's Tasting menu that satisfied all our requirements. Her response time to all questions was quick and greatly appreciated! The food she prepared and served us exceeded our expectations!! Thank you Chef for a lovely meal and we really enjoyed meeting you. Cheers!”
Greg G. Aug. 25, 2017
“Chef Andrea did a nice job for an event we were trying to have last minute. Food was well prepared, she interacted well with our guests and was very professional. Our evening was very casual and flexible and her style worked well with the evening.”
Polina M. July 5, 2017
“Andrea’s cooking was fantastic! The dishes were unique and really well-made, with fresh ingredients and close attention to detail. The planning process was also really smooth. She was easy to get in touch with and very accommodating to dietary restrictions. Highly recommend!”
Liz. S June 29, 2017
“I can’t wait to hire Chef Gray again! She prepared a custom7-course meal for my husband’s surprise party – every single dish was outstanding. She was also incredibly responsive and reliable. The meal absolutely made my husband’s party a success. She also accommodated various food allergies. Her staff was also amazing. I can’t recommend her highly enough!”
Andre W. February 5, 2017
“Chef definitely went above and beyond in helping managing the event with a tight timeline and multiple changes due to the nuances of the guest of honor. In addition to great food, she gave me advice and specific examples on how to make every aspect of the event memorable.”
Bryon O. Jan 15, 2017,
“I hired Chef Gray for a 40th birthday dinner for my wife. She prepared great food and felt amount of food served justified the cost would definitely recommend.”
“Recipes have a voice,” Gray says. “The recipes were written in her voice.
The three of us were not only asked to talk about the overall history of women and the cocktail, but specifically to research three women who were basically written out of cocktail history [….] More than 150 people crowded the Victorian museum in the sold-out event to hear the panel and to sample cocktails inspired by these historic women, made by Megan Daniel, bar manager of Whitechapel SF; Nicky Beyries, bar manager of Foreign Cinema, and Eve Brenner-Alsop, bar manager of Absinthe SF.
Gillette was one of the biggest, best-selling authors of the 19th Century, and she penned the first edition of White House Cookbook, which included whole chapters dedicated to the making and serving of booze and cocktails. What Gray found particularly disturbing is that after the first edition was such a success, subsequent editions boasted a male author, Hugo Ziemann, and he took top billing over “Mrs. F.L. Gillette.” Ziemann might have been a steward at the White House, he wasn’t the author of the book, nor the recipes. “Recipes have a voice,” Gray says. “The recipes were written in her voice. She was completely written out (of history).”
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEFS WEIGH IN ON GOLDEN STATE FOODIE CULTURE
BY LAURIE HAYNES 06/13/2018
Always iconic while constantly evolving, Golden State cuisine embodies the spirit of discovery and an unrivaled agricultural foundation.
Within this limitless bounty, destination-defining chefs who share a passion for fresh ingredients, originality and diverse inspiration are playing a foundational role in making California a global food destination.
“California-style” cuisine is not limited to specific cooking techniques or methods but instead defined by shared values among chefs and served up in an endless array of sights, flavors and dishes.
Chef Tu David Phu of Oakland has worked in some of the nation’s top Michelin-starred restaurants, including Chez Panisse, Quince, Acquerello, Daniel Boulud, Breslin, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern. He was a contestant on season 15 of Bravo’s "Top Chef" and named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2017 "Rising Star Chefs."
Phu’s inspiration for Vietnamese-California cooking stems from his mother, an immigrant from the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc, also famous as the birthplace of Asian fish sauce. He thoughtfully attributes the diversity of only-in-California cuisine to the array of people and cultures who have shaped it over several decades.
“The thing that makes California so beautiful is in its neighborhoods and in its people," Phu says. "You go to any neighborhood in California, like in San Francisco, Oakland and all the way down to L.A., it’s multiethnic, it’s immigrant-based.”
Phu shares stories of how his mother nourished his family with dishes from her homeland. Out of necessity, she incorporated the ingredients that were available in California into her traditional meals, representing the foundation of the unique intercultural experiences that foodies expect and crave in Golden State cuisine today.
“[That’s how] this second generation of Vietnamese cuisine is born," Phu says. "I think out of necessity from this multiethnic culture, these beautiful things come about."
To truly appreciate the diversity and originality for which California food is known today, it is important to remember the influences and immigrants who began shaping the state's culinary identity decades ago.
Chef, food historian and author Andrea Lawson Gray shares the story of her journey through the culinary world over the past 15 years. Her experiences in combining fresh, sustainable California ingredients with the traditional cooking styles and tools from Mexico have shaped her vision of "Californio" cuisine.
“Californio food is trending: Farmers markets are filled with avocados, squash blossoms, prickly pear fruit, cactus paddles, chayote, epazote and verdolaga (purslane),” Gray says. “Mexican ingredients that were hard to find a decade ago are finding their way into America’s kitchens in new and surprising ways.”
Lawson Gray uses traditional Mexican cooking styles and tools with fresh and local farm-to-table ingredients to create unforgettable dishes with true Californio spirit, because part of what makes the Golden State a renowned foodie destination is the embrace of the freedom and originality in intercultural cooking.
“Although I offer Modern American, French, Italian, Mediterranean and several other Latin cuisines that are not related to Mexico, more than 75 percent of the dinner menus requested by my clients are for Californio fare,” Gray says.
Outside of major cities in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, farmers are the ultimate source for the ingredients that constitute the backbone of Golden State cuisine.
For more info....
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017
BECAUSE WITHOUT IMMIGRANTS, THERE’D BE NO RESTAURANTS.
MADDIE OATMAN SEP. 29, 2017 7:30 PM MOTHER JONES
Traci Des Jardins, a Top Chef Masters finalist and owner of six San Francisco restaurants including the much-lauded Jardiniere, hopes her award-winning French-rooted cuisine inspires pleasure and satisfaction above all—but knows that it’s sometimes impossible to avoid the spice of politics. The question of how far to wade into political territory—without distracting from the food she concocts—is often on her mind. “I’ve always tried not to be preachy in my restaurants,” she said on a recent episode of Bite podcast. But some causes tip the scales. On Jardiniere’s receipts, she now includes a tiny message at the bottom that reads, “Immigrants make America great! They also cooked and served you dinner this evening.”
“Immigrants are the backbone of the restaurant world,” Des Jardins says. “I think it’s incredibly important in the political climate that we’re in to really acknowledge that.” But even in liberal San Francisco, not all diners agree, she says: “We’ve had people write on the bottom of the checks: ‘I’ll never come back here again,’” after seeing the message. “There’s a lot of vitriol.”
And Des Jardins was once again drawn into a political cause. It started with Chef Andrea Lawson Gray, author of Celebraciones Mexicanas and a private chef in San Francisco who runs a group of top-rated local private chefs.When she learned that the DACA program was ending, Lawson Gray thought first of her daughter-in-law, a former Dreamer who had finally qualified for her permanent residency just weeks before.... Lawson Gray spent the next three weeks organizing a benefit dinner to raise funds for Mission Asset’s scholarship. One of the chefs who agreed to help was Rogelio Garcia, executive chef of Des Jardins’ The Commissary restaurant. He approached Des Jardins about the benefit, and she offered up a dining room at her restaurant Jardiniere. “I think Rogelio got the impression that this would happen,” Lawson Gray says of Des Jardins’ offer. “I think this is very personal for her.”.... MORE
alistir & paine
A serial entrepreneur at heart, Chef Andrea was part of the now defunct Kitchit, an on demand private chef startup. When that failed, she saw her fellow colleagues, all extremely talented chefs and suddenly without the steady stream of clients that Kitchit had provided, and had a vision for something different. A co-op of sorts, with shared costs, shared values, and shared talents. Thus Private Chefs of the SF Bay was born, an high end personal chef brand that brings fine dining to you, whether it be an executive luncheon, a special treat in your home, or just a way to take your California vacation to the next level.
Chef Andrea first owned an ad agency and then discovered her love for cooking, spiraling those marketing talents into this wild ride of a career that has led her to dominate the personal chef industry—which is saying quite a lot, considering the talent in the bay area. We sat down for a scrumptious meal with Andrea to chat about everything everything from the unique funding for the business, how to work as a collective, and the importance of keeping your standards high.
Jenna Bostock: How long have you been a chef for – was it always a dream of yours?
Chef Andrea: I’ve been a chef for 15 years. I never envisioned myself as a chef, actually. I am what I would call a “serial entrepreneur” and started my catering company because I saw a business opportunity. Little did I know that I would fall in love with cooking! I discovered a passion and talent that frankly, I don’t know whether it was always there and just dormant, or came to me as a gift when I was 40 years old.
Jenna Bostock: Have you always been entrepreneurial then?
Chef Andrea: Yes! I owned an ad agency for several years that those skills really allowed me to brand, market and promote my businesses expertly.
Jenna Bostock: Tell me about the inception of Private Chefs of the SF Bay.
Chef Andrea: It rose from the ashes of Kitchit. When Kitchit (the on-demand private chef startup) folded, I could see how hard this hit many of the Bay Area chefs who had been dependent upon this marketplace to connect with customers and find work. Heartfelt and often almost desperate comments were appearing on the Kitchit Chef’s Table (FB group) and many of us were messaging back and forth about how we needed to do something. So I did!
I mentioned above that I’ve been an entrepreneur almost my entire life; well, during much of that time I was a marketing and branding strategist. I could see the opportunity to create something to fill the void, and do it better than Kitchit had done it, at least from a marketing perspective. From there, it was just about finding the right partner (I didn’t want to start this alone as I find starting a business with someone is just better if its the right person). I reached out to Chef Rose Johnson, and Private Chefs of the SF Bay was born.
Jenna Bostock: How did you fund Private Chefs of the SF Bay?
Chef Andrea: The chefs all chipped in a small amount to get started; we really bootstrapped it (and still do). This is why we modeled ourselves as a co-op. A small percentage of each gig booked goes back to the “fund” that keeps us afloat. This way, we can offer the very best value to both the chefs and the clients. There’s no commission, which was part of Kitchit’s model and is the model for many of the platforms that connect chefs to customers.
Jenna Bostock: What do you think differentiates a private chef experience from a fine dining experience at a restaurant?
Chef Andrea: Where do I start?! In the first place, there’s the pleasure of being in your own home, the pace of the meal is of your choosing, there’s no worrying about driving home afterward, your friends can relax before dinner in your living room or out on your gorgeous deck, and you may even get a chance to use that fine china you never break out if you want to. And it makes you cool because you’re on-trend!
Jenna Bostock: Who is your typical clientele?
Chef Andrea: We get clients celebrating special occasions (milestone birthdays, anniversaries and graduations are big), executive team off-sites and board meetings usually at the CEO’s home, fundraising events, holiday dinners and parties, and even the occasion very special dinner date.
Jenna Bostock: How do you separate yourself from other private chefs, by acting a whole collective?
Chef Andrea: Each of our chefs has been chosen because of their specialties, consequently, we are able to offer a broad range at a very high level: 31 different cuisines and between our 9 chefs, we have a combined 70+ years of experience. Every chef has been vetted, not just for their cuisine but also for their skills managing service, pre-event prep and on-site kitchen organization, plating and number of years in the industry. I wear two hats, and as the concierge, I am able to match the chef that is best suited to each client request. For larger events, we often team up, so the client gets the benefit of the talent and experience of two seasoned chefs and the service level of a boutique caterer. We also have the ability to cover each other in case of any last minute chef emergency.
Jenna Bostock: Tell me about the focus on sustainably-sourced, organic and local ingredient aspect of the business.
Chef Andrea: This was one of the requirements for chefs to become part of our co-op, but it is so much more than that. It really is, for us Bay Area chefs, a way of life and cooking philosophy. We have chefs who forage for mushrooms and hunt for seaweed. We all shop the local farmer’s markets and have personal relationships with many of the vendors.
Jenna Bostock: What is the trend these days, is there a big rise in the demand for at home private chef experiences?
Chef Andrea: There sure is! Our clients enjoy opening their beautiful homes and, in many cases, this is the best way to welcome out-of-town guests and business associates. It’s just so much more personal and memorable than just taking them to dinner. We also get many clients who are visiting Wine Country and don’t want to dine out, but prefer to stay in and enjoy the beautiful villas they have rented.
Jenna Bostock: Tell me about your staff and how you create an elevated fine dining experience with Michelin experienced servers, sommelier, etc.
Chef Andrea: It has taken us a couple of years, but we now have an amazing on-call staff, whom we share. We are at an advantage here in the SF Bay area, as there are so many great restaurants that have trained support staff over the years and we pay top dollar, way better than restaurants are able to pay, so we attract and keep great people. We have a Mixologist, as Sommelier (as you mentioned) as well as FOH staff for our clients who request this, usually for large holiday parties or business events.
Jenna Bostock: What’s been a few of the biggest barriers to overcome?
Chef Andrea: There’s is a lot of competition in the marketplace, on the promotion side, it comes from platforms that are looking to connect customers and chefs but are almost always do not have a culinary background. This creates confusion, with home-cooks-turned-chefs and newbies undercutting pricing. The word “chef” gives the impression of expertise and experience, but there is no barrier to entry, so anyone can try their hand.
On the chef side, there are so many truly talented, experienced and amazing chefs in the Bay Area. I wouldn’t call it a barrier, but it does keep us all on our toes– keeping up with the latest culinary trends and constantly advancing our education in the field.
Jenna Bostock: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Chef Andrea: You’ve got to have grit! If you’re not prepared to accept that nervous feeling you get when the phone doesn’t ring for a week, or there are no emails coming in as just part of the life-cycle of your business, it that is going to make you crazy, don’t become an entrepreneur. The other piece of advice that I like to share is that you never lower your prices.
Set your prices based on the value of what you have to offer and even if business is slow and you are desperate for work, don’t cut them. This only erodes your brand and people who underpay know they are underpaying and are looking to see what corners you’ve cut to give them that discounted price so they are suspicious of everything and much less likely to be impressed by what you deliver. (Of course, this only applies to service businesses, I am not suggesting a retailer should never have a sale!)
Jenna Bostock: What is your favorite aspect of the job?
Chef Andrea: COOKING! It is my happy place… no matter how stressful the situation (cooking in other people’s kitchen brings it’s own level of stress), it all melts away as prepare my sauces, perfect my soups and place the food artfully on the plate. It’s what makes everything else worthwhile. This is something all of our chefs share, this passion. For us, cooking is a way of life!
contact me @ email@example.com or 415-716-8442 or use this form
life is in the details
“Outside Food” While I appreciate that your guests may want to bring a gourmet gift to your dinner, or your mother-in-law may want to prepare her signature dish, I maintain a strict “No outside food” policy at all my events, as this is a matter of food safety and brand perception (i.e. your guests do not know who has prepared what dishes, so all the food quality reflects back on my brand). My highest priority, as I am sure is yours, to make sure your guests have only the best possible food!.
Service Style and Servers: I serve plated (restaurant-style) and family-style dinners/luncheons and brunches, passed and appetizer stations for cocktail parties and attended buffets/food stations for larger events depending upon menu.
KITCHEN AND BBQ
(Special note for rental/vacation homes: due to high usage of rentals it is important to clarify the cleanness of the service area and workspaces in advance as to not incur additional staffing or cleaning charges. Make sure the homeowner or rental agent is aware that these changes may kick in and that you will pass on to them, if 1,2, 4 and 5 below are not met)
Dishes and dishwasher: dishwasher should be empty (and working– if your dishwasher is NOT working please let us know as we will need to hire a person to wash dishes by hand). If you have any china that you are planning to use that cannot go into the dishwasher, we will need to know and have someone available to wash dishes. In the event that we are not notified in advance that dishes/silver require hand washing, a charge of $1/piece applies.
IF ANY of your kitchen surfaces including stove top, floors, counters) require ANY special care or cleaning, please inform us immediately. We are NOT RESPONSIBLE for any damage if you do not let us know what we need to do to protect your surfaces. All kitchen surfaces should be made available, so as much as possible, store your small appliances and kitchen decor. For plated dinners, especially for larger crowds (more than 8-10) you may want to make an extra space available for plating. In some cases, this may even mean renting a table.
Make some space available in your refrigerator (more space will be needed if you have extreme perishables on the menu, like seafood).
BBQ grill (if appropriate to the menu) may need to provided by a party rental provider. Unfortunately, we are often unable to use any grills on the premises as our experience has shown that these may cook unevenly.
Provide large garbage bags, make sure your receptacles are not too full to receive the refuse from your event. We strongly prefer to have: recycling/compost/garbage.
DON’T SURPRISE THE CHEF! (GUEST COUNT, LAST MINUTE MENU CHANGES & OVERTIME CHARGES)
In most cases, the event duration as stated in your contract is based on the average time required to set-up, cook/serve and clean-up for your particular menu, service style and party size, plus your stated expectation of how long your party will last. Overtime charges may apply when the stated event duration, which is specified in your Catering Agreement, is exceeded. This is particularly common when guests arrive much later than anticipated and service is delayed. While this doesn’t mean you need to impress upon your guests that they arrive on time, it does mean that you communicate clearly with us. After all, you know the crowd! If there is going to be an interlude before or during dinner (toasts, dancing), please advise us as this can affect food service and quality.
If there are additional people who need to eat (i.e. your musicians, your babysitter) please advise us in advance and we will gladly increase your guest count.
If the actual number of guests at your event exceeds what is stated in your contract, you will be charged for those additional guests (even if no additional food is prepared). A minimum guest count policy is in effect, which means you will be charged for the number of guests in your contract even if they do not all show up.
If your guest count INCREASES less than 72 hours prior to your event, we are happy to add your additional guests and provide additional food, rentals and if required and available, additional service staff, so please do let us know. There is a 20% upcharge, in addition to the per person charge, for these last minute guests.
We work with a guaranteed minimum count: If your guest count DECREASES less than 5 days prior to your event, or the number of guests who attend is less than your contract, you will be charged based on the guest count in your contract when final payment was charged (5 days prior to your event).
We reserve the right to make minor changes to the menu based on seasonal and market availability of ingredients.
PETS, SHOES AND GUEST TRAFFIC THROUGH THE KITCHEN
We all love dogs, but not in the kitchen. For the safety of your pets and catering staff, it’s best if you can keep your best friend elsewhere during your dinner party or catered event.
Although it may seem obvious to you, it may not be to some of your guests, especially if they are friends and family accustomed to making themselves at home in your kitchen; it’s not ideal to have guests opening the refrigerator to look for beverages, trying to be helpful by serving themselves seconds, or looking for a snack. Catering staff is there to attend to your guests’ every need and are happy to do so. A little extra planning (like having a cooler full of bottled water somewhere where people can easily help themselves) goes a long way towards preventing kitchen accidents.
We must wear shoes, as this is a safety issue. We are happy to clean the soles of our shoes thoroughly upon arrival. We will not use shoe covers, they are slippery and hazardous. Please advise in advance if there is an issue with your floors and we can bring shoes that have only been used indoors.
RENTALS, GLASSWARE & BAR & COCKTAIL NAPKINS
If your event is a sit-down dinner, you will need glasses for the table (water and wine) as well bar glasses and/or wine glasses if you are having a cocktail hour, or champagne glasses if there is a toast. You should figure 2 glasses per guest for the bar. Due to breakage liability, we regret we cannot wash your crystal or wine glasses.
You are responsible to provide cocktail napkins and ice, one bag of ice per each ten guests is recommended (plus additional ice for cooling if you are having beer, soft drinks and/or white wine).
It is best to either have water pitchers for the tables or ask us to add them to your order.
In some rare cases, it’s most convenient if we leave some of our rental items with you for pick up within a couple of days, for example, if your guests are still sitting at the dinner table, we don’t like to remove the tablecloths, or if they are still drinking, we may offer to leave behind the glasses. These items then become YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, until pick-up. If, for any reason, these items are not there when we come to pick them up, you will be asked to pay for replacements.
LEFTOVERS & BACK UP FOOD
BACK UP FOOD: It is understood that we may prepare more food than is necessary for the number of guests on-site to anticipate unforeseen circumstances and to feed the staff. Due to health and safety considerations, all food items prepared remain under the control and ownership of Chef Andrea Lawson Gray unless consumed on the premises at the time of service. Therefore, to ensure safe handling, food left at the end of the party is not the property of the client unless prior arrangements have been made.
For larger parties, we donate leftover food to FoodRunners, feeding San Francisco’s homeless.