Erin Muggivan has found her niche in New Orleans as a chef to busy families with bustling households. Nola Belle personal chef service is a one-woman operation, offering gourmet meals created in clients' kitchens, complete with menu planning, grocery shopping, clean up and packaging.
"People get sick of ordering pizza, sick of eating out, sick of having to tip," Muggivan says. "When they call me, they just come home and bang, dinner is in the fridge."
A former Latin teacher, Muggivan founded Nola Belle after the birth of her son. "I wanted a job where I could set my own hours and spend time with my family," she says. "Going back to teaching wasn't feasible, so I researched personal chefs."
People are often confused about what personal chefs do, she says. Chefs like Muggivan practice small-scale, in-house cooking for a variety of clients, unlike private chefs, who cook for one household, or caterers, who do large-scale commercial cooking for events.
Muggivan didn't go to culinary school, but she says that only about half of personal chefs have received formal training. The rest are just naturally talented in the kitchen.
"Like most people, I learned to cook from my mother and grandmother," she says. "And I'm self-taught. I did a lot of messing around. There were a lot of disasters when I first started cooking."
Now, Muggivan is a veteran cook and can create dishes to suit any palate. Most Nola Belle clients already have ideas about what they want prepared, so Muggivan goes to each job with an open mind about menu selections. She prepares everything from Thai-style entrees to hearty soups. In her own home, however, Mediterranean dishes are her favorite to prepare. "I studied in Rome for seven months as an undergrad, pursuing my Classics major," she says. "I fell in love with that kind of cooking. People usually think of Italian food as heavy, like lasagna, but really that's not always the case."
Nola Belle offers cooking lessons and cooking parties in addition to its basic cooking service. A lot of clients will invite friends over, pour some wine and learn by watching Muggivan cook, she says. Her personal chef service is also popular as a gift or for people trying to stick to a special diet.
For more information, call 723-7234.
- Personal chef Erin Muggivan cooks healthy meals for busy families.