We had the good fortune of connecting with Heidi Weisman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Being able to give back to the community makes me so happy. Thru my work, I’ve come in contact with C-CAP LA (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) a phenomenal non profit that empowers underserved youth through the culinary arts. It’s been a great pleasure to give nutrition talks to the students in the C-CAP summer job program and to hire the students to assist me with catering jobs. It’s so gratifying to be able to act as a mentor to the kids. That said, nothing makes me happier than when someone sits down to enjoy a meal that I’ve prepared. There’s actually something spiritual about the act of cooking for someone; the cook and the person eating become connected. My work makes me feel like I’m helping someone, that I’m making a difference in their life when they eat my food. I feel like I’m nourishing my clients thru my creative process and that gives me a sense of purpose. That, and when someone walks into the kitchen where I’m working and says that it smells good, now that makes me happy!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
At Heidi Cooks my personal chef service, I make delicious real food that just happens to be good for you. I have a roster of weekly clients and I prepare them flavorful healthy meals made from scratch. Pre Covid, all of my work took place in my client’s homes, but now, I’ve had to pivot my business and am offering drop off and meal delivery. Since there’s no one size fits all when it comes to food, all of my menus are customized based on my client’s dietary needs and preferences. This is what sets me apart from other cooking services/caterers. I really strive to put the personal in personal chef – and want to cook my clients exactly what they want to eat (and I do cook everything- from Vegan to Whole30, Low FODMAP to Keto and everything in between!) Heidi Cooks grew from my love of food and the joy I get cooking for others, BUT, it took years to get here… I’ve had many jobs (mostly creative, feature film development, magazine publishing) but it wasn’t until I was 45 that I allowed myself to follow my heart into the kitchen. I’ve always been a foodie, and a great home cook, but I knew nothing about cooking professionally when one of my best friends asked me to help throw a cooking party for her then 7 year old daughter. We had a blast and turned that into the first iteration of my business where we cooked with people’s kids. The universe always reveals itself, and this was a true aha moment for me; I knew that I needed to turn my passion for food into a career. As luck would have it, another friend introduced me to a Chef/Restauranteur that needed an assistant for her private cooking classes. The teacher took a chance on me, and what I lacked in classic technique, I made up for in drive. I prepped and cooked my heart out, and learned so much from her in these demo classes. It wasn’t long after that, that the people from the classes began to reach out and ask me to cook in their homes, and without knowing a thing about cheffing, I said yes! It was challenging and I made a lot of mistakes, but I also learned so much. I learned to say yes first and then figure things out, I learned to ask for help and have been fortunate to have found true chef mentors. I’ve learned that not all journeys follow a straight line, and that’s ok. Not to mention, I get to express my creativity everyday thru my cooking, all the while creating a meaningful connection with my clients. Twelve years later, I’ve cooked for A-list celebrities and families on the go and busy professionals. I’ve catered weddings and cooked intimate dinner parties, meal prepped for brides and taught Zoom cooking classes. They say that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and they’re right!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I really miss people visiting and look forward to the pandemic being behind us. Of course as a personal chef, every adventure involves food! I love to take visitors for: a day at the beach in Malibu with Sushi Burritos from Howdy’s; an art crawl in DTLA and lunch at Grand Central Market; a hike in Runyon Canyon, and Pizza from new comer La Morra; window shopping on Melrose Place, but first coffee at Alfred and then Vegan Mexican food at Gracias Madre; a hike in Griffith Park to the Observatory, a latte at The Trails and breakfast lunch or dinner at All Time; a walk along the LA River in Frogtown and margaritas at Salazar; we’d visit a few food trucks -The Original Herbivore (Vegan Fried Chicken!), Acasa for Vegan Burritos and The Frozen Fruit Truck; walk on Abbot Kinney with lunch at Gjusta; and somewhere in the visit we’d head to Kenneth Village for frozen yogurt at Yogaurt (Not just the best Vegan yogurt, but THE BEST yogurt period). However, my most favorite place to take out of towners is The Hollywood Farmers Market, where we can stroll and shop and bring home our gorgeous bounty for me to cook a delicious farm to table meal!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m eternally grateful to my friends and family for their unwavering support in my cooking journey. There is incredible power in someone believing in you. When I decided to leap head first into a career I knew nothing about, my husband Dave, whole heartedly and unconditionally told me to go for it! I could not have gotten to this point in my business without the love and inspiration of my friends – they’ve hired me to cook, shared all of my social posts, referred me to their friends, talked me off the ledge, and helped me pivot when Covid hit and it felt like I’d never work again. “It takes a village.” Three special shoutouts that are all strangely connected to my first job as a cooking class assistant – I can’t thank my dear friend Danielle Eber Bloch (eberinteriordesign) enough for introducing me to the cooking instructor that hired me for my first food job and set the wheels in motion for all that followed. I first met Chef/Caterer Michele Gan (Serves You Right Catering) when she was a guest at one of the cooking classes I assisted. When we met, I mentioned that we shared a mutual friend and then I proceeded to grill her about her very successful catering company. She graciously listened, and shared her career story and offered to help me however she could. She’s since referred me clients and answered tons of questions. I consider her a mentor and the way she runs her business with exceptional attention to personalized customer service, has become a key component of how I run my business. Elissa Goodman is a Holistic Nutritionist and Cleanse Expert whom I first met at the very first cooking class I assisted. As my business grew, I reached out to Elissa and her team at the time (Superstar Personal Chef Amber Wilson of maddoxlaneaz). We had an open and soulful conversation and it turns out we share a very similar perspective that food is medicine. I’m beyond appreciative of Elissa’s positivity and for her willingness to help me grow my business by generously trusting me with countless client referrals.