FAQ

Questions? Ask Away.

Getting Started

What is The Culinistas?

  • We are a full-service, in-home private chef company committed to hospitality. We facilitate and enhance private chef services, making healthy eating with friends & family easy and accessible.

Why should I use The Culinistas?

  • We provide all the benefits of a full-time chef without the cost and time required to manage a full-time employee. We recognize that every household is different and personalize the experience from start to finish so your household is getting the food they want, the way they want it.
  • We are experts in private chef services & culinary innovation and have been vetting private chefs for over a decade.

How you are different from traditional staffing agencies?

  • With The Culinistas, you aren’t just hiring a chef. You’re working with a full-service private chef and culinary company that has experience developing recipes, designing menus, vetting chefs and personalizing the service every step of the way. Our dedicated hospitality team is handling the entire experience and tailoring the service to fit your needs.

Weekly Service

How do I get started?

  • The process is simple. You can create a profile online or give us a call and we’ll select a menu together.

How does the weekly service work?

  • After you select a menu and service date, we’ll personally source a chef for your household. Your chef will shop for groceries, prep the dishes in your home and leave your kitchen spotless.

What does the weekly service include?

  • The weekly service includes 6 dishes that can be mixed and matched for 3-4 meals throughout the week.

What size should I order?

  • We know that everyone eats differently. Our portions are based on household size, but you should adjust your selection based on household appetites (big eaters / small eaters) and frequency (how many times a day you'll be relying on the service).
  • Typically, our portions serve:
  • Small: 1-2 person household
  • Medium: 3-4 person household
  • Large: 5-6 person household
  • You can always change the size to reflect your desired portions.

How often should I use the weekly service?

  • This depends on your lifestyle and health goals. We recommend 1-2 times per week.

How does the subscription work?

  • We assume that you want your chef to cook on the same day, at the same time every week, but you can skip, pause or cancel your service at any time. You can make changes or cancel your service up to 48 hours prior to service without penalty.

How do I modify the service?

  • You can modify from your dashboard 48 hours prior to service or by emailing us.
  • If you need to modify your service within the 48 hour window, please email us and changes will be made on a best efforts basis.

How do I cancel the service?

  • You can cancel the service at any point from your dashboard or by emailing us. All cancellations must be made 48 hours before the intended service to prevent being charged the service fee.
  • Our cancel and change policy is in place to respect our chef’s time and we hope that you understand.

What is the cutoff time to schedule a service?

  • We need 48 hours to source and prepare your chef for service. If you have a last minute request, please email us and we’ll try our best to accommodate your needs.

Will my chef serve my food?

  • The in-home weekly visits do not include table service. If you'd like to host dinner party or needs a chef for a special occasion, please submit a request.

Are your dishes good for me?

  • Absolutely. We focus on balanced, healthy meals made with the freshest ingredients. This is not a diet; we focus on moderation and well-balanced meals.

Can you accommodate larger families?

  • Yes, our goal is to make it easier for you and your family to enjoy dinner together. Our large offering accommodates families up to 6 people. If your family is larger than 6 people, please reach out and we will do our best to accommodate your household.

What time will my chef arrive?

  • Our chefs start as early as 9AM and as late as 3PM. Chefs are available 7 days a week.

How long does the service take?

  • The service takes up to 5 hours, from start to finish. This includes the shop, prep, cook and clean.
  • You can expect the chef to be in your home for 3 to 4 hours.

What if my chef is late?

  • Your chef is personally shopping for groceries before arrival. Traffic or long lines at the market may cause a delay. If your chef is going to be more than 30 minutes late, we'll address immediately and propose a solution.

How should I prepare for the service?

Can I speak with you before my first visit?

  • Of course. Every household is different and we may need to alter the service to fit your household needs. Give us a call and we can start the process together. We’re available to discuss dietary restrictions, allergies, portioning, child-friendly modifications and household preferences.

What if I am not home during the service?

  • No problem. Many clients request chef services during working hours. While not required, we recommended greeting your chef for their first visit and introducing him/her to your home and kitchen. If that's not possible, detailed instructions via text & email work just as well.

Should I tip my chef?

  • Please do not tip your chef. We want your cooking visits to be seamless and The Culinistas will handle all payments.

What areas do you service?

  • Currently, our service is available in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Hamptons. If you are outside of these areas, please email us and we’ll try our best to accommodate your household.

Do I need specific kitchen tools or pantry items?

Do I need my own containers?

  • We will supply you with a set of containers prior to your first cooking visit. Our beautiful glass containers ensure that your food is properly stored to stay fresh throughout the week.

Dinner Parties / Occasions

Can I request a chef for a dinner party or special occasion?

  • Absolutely. We also design menus and curate chefs for dinner parties and special occasions. Please submit a request to start the process.

Do you coordinate waitstaff, rentals & decor?

  • Yes, we are full-service. If your dinner requires an extra set of hands, we’ll staff a reliable server or bartender from our trusted network. We can also coordinate rentals, wine pairings and decor for an additional fee. Submit a request to start the process and we’ll come back to you with a proposal.

Do you service over the holidays?

  • We create special menus to make the holidays as seamless as possible. Chef availability may be limited during those times, so it’s best to book these requests in advance.

Should I tip my chef?

  • It’s up to you and we can guide you based on your specific occasion.

Chefs

Who will be cooking my food?

  • Our chefs are culinary trained and have an active interest, passion and talent in culinary arts. When they are not cooking for you, they are on set producing culinary content, styling for the next New York Times bestselling cookbook, writing for Bon Appetit or cooking in one of New York City’s top Michelin Star restaurants. They are hospitalitarians with expertise and flourish in the home kitchen.

Do you vet your chefs?

  • Our interview process is extremely thorough. It includes a personal interview, in-person kitchen interview, background check and on-boarding session. We have been interviewing chefs for over a decade and will never send a chef to your home who hasn't cooked in our kitchen.

Can I meet my chef first?

  • We won't send a chef to your home before the day of service, but trust us, we've met him/her in person and tested his/her food, and we're confident you won't be disappointed. As a best practice, we recommend that you are home during the first visit to greet your chef and introduce him/her to your home and kitchen.

Is my home safe?

  • We are committed to creating a community that households trust. Your home is protected up to $1,000,000 when you hire a chef via The Culinistas and we have implemented a strict vetting process to ensure we are placing safe chefs in your home.

Can I choose my chef?

  • We thoroughly review your preferences before your first cooking visit and personally curate a small group of 2-3 chefs for you. We keep the group small to ensure consistency but large enough to ensure availability at all times. Whether you’re requesting a chef for weekly meals or an intimate weekend dinner party, we want to send you a chef who’s familiar with your kitchen and preferences. If you are happy with a particular chef, let us know and we will prioritize that chef for you on a going forward basis.

What if I want a different chef?

  • We’re happy to source another chef who is a better fit. Reach out to start the process.

Are your chefs insured?

  • Yes. Our chefs are protected under our insurance policy. Please continue to engage with our chefs through The Culinistas for ease and safety.

Cost

How much does the weekly service cost?

  • The weekly service fee is $250. Additional costs include groceries (dependent on size & dish selections), a travel reimbursement & tax.
  • Estimate total cost for small household: $365-$385
  • Estimate total cost for medium household: $400-$435
  • Estimate total cost for large household: $435-$450
  • Households larger than 6 people need more time with their chef so we will need to assess the request on a case by case basis. Please reach out and we'll try our best to find a solution.

How much will the groceries cost?

  • Groceries depend on your household size and dish selections. For a well-balanced menu of vegetables, grains and proteins, you can anticipate the following grocery costs:
  • Estimate cost for small household: $80-$100
  • Estimate cost for medium household: $110-$150
  • Estimate cost for large household: $130-$160
  • We will send you a spice set, glass containers and olive oil prior to your first visit. This will increase your first grocery bill but will save you money in the long run.

How much do dinner parties cost?

  • The service fee starts at $1,000. Additional costs include groceries, a travel reimbursement & tax.
  • Please submit a request to start the process and we’ll provide a proposal for your special occasion.

How will I be billed?

  • We will authorize the transaction when the service is confirmed. The charge includes the service fee, estimated groceries, travel reimbursement and tax. We will finalize the charge once the service is complete. The final charge includes the service fee, actual groceries, travel reimbursement and tax.

How do I change my payment information?

  • You can update your payment information through your dashboard or by emailing us.

Food

How does menu selection work?

  • You can view and select menus up to 4 weeks in advance and menu selections are due 48 hours prior to service. We will send you a reminder email 72 hours prior to service, reminding you to select your menu, if you have not done so already.
  • Let us know if you’d like us to select your menu and we will select 6 dishes for you on a weekly basis.

Can I modify the dishes?

  • Absolutely. This is a personalized service and special instructions help us tailor the service for your household. You can modify dishes by exclusion (hold the cheese/nuts; no olives/cilantro/fennel) and also include child-friendly and specific grocery instructions (sauce on side; plain components; bite size; easy on spice; strictly organic/non-GMO).

Where do you source your ingredients?

  • We shop local at our favorite grocers and fresh farmers markets. Our chefs are hand selecting the freshest and most delicious ingredients for you. We also provide you with a spice set that we have hand-selected with La Boite, a boutique vendor who procures spices from around the globe.

Are your ingredients local and/or organic?

  • Our chefs shop specifically for you to accommodate your preferences. As a general rule, we always source the freshest and most nutrient-dense items, striving to use organic and non-GMO produce whenever possible.

Can you accommodate food allergies?

  • We recommend you use your best judgment when considering dietary restrictions. You can also accommodate dietary restrictions by excluding ingredients from our dishes.
  • Transparency is important to us. To help you make as informed a decision as possible, every dish includes a breakdown of its ingredients.

Do you offer gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free options?

  • Please review listed ingredients to determine which dishes best meet your dietary needs. Many of our dishes naturally fall into these categories since we promote healthful and balanced eating.
  • When dishes are free of common allergens, they are labeled as such.
  • If you see a dish you like, but an ingredient you avoid, include this detail in the special instructions and your chef will modify the dish.

What dishes / cuisines do you offer?

  • Our dishes are healthy, fresh, balanced & vibrant. We believe everything should be eaten in moderation, with a focus on veggie-forward dishes and mediterranean flavors.

How long will my dishes stay fresh?

  • Our dishes are developed to stay fresh, marinate over time and last 3-4 days in your refrigerator. This is a top priority during recipe development.

How should I reheat my dishes?

  • Reheating and dinner prep should never take more than 15 minutes. Please review our Reheating Guide for more details. Many of our dishes are delicious room temp as well.

Where can I find nutritional information?

  • All of our dishes are healthy and fresh. We're focused on a well-balanced diet, with an emphasis on natural and fresh ingredients. We don't believe in counting calories or omitting foods from your diet. All is fair game in moderation.

How often do your menus change?

  • We rotate dishes on our menus weekly. We'll bring back favorites frequently and always introduce seasonal ingredients.

How do you develop your recipes?

  • Our test kitchen is innovating 7 days a week, focusing on flavor, nutrition and seasonality. If you have any requests, we'd love to hear from you.

What should I do if one of the dishes is damaged or missing?

  • This is definitely not acceptable and we apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact us so we can make this right ASAP.

How are the dishes presented?

  • We aim to package each of your dishes fully composed so your refrigerator is not overwhelmed with containers.

What's in my spice set?

  • We are so excited to introduce you to our spice set. These 9 spices come from farms around the globe and we partnered with La Boîte to create a set that provides a depth of flavors to enhance every dish.
  • Urfa: Urfa chili peppers ripen fully on the plant, sun dry, and then get wrapped at night to infuse flavor back into the dried pepper. This yields an earthy, malty, raisiny flavor with incredible depth and complexity.
  • Sumac: This tangy, citrusy spice is ground from red berries that grow on small trees in the Middle East. They are in the same family as cashews and pistachios but it is the flesh of these fruits that gets dried and pulverized to be used on fish, vegetables, and salads.
  • The Culinistas Solstice Blend: Our sweet blend plays off the warm and aromatic notes of cardamom. Bold allspice and tart sumac offset the floral nuances of cardamom making this a versatile blend.
  • Allspice: This sweet berry is one of the few classic spices indigenous to the new world. Its flavor combines sugar and spice and has a smoky warmth reminiscent of toasted almonds and baked fruit. It is used to create a depth of flavor in both savory and sweet dishes.
  • Za'atar: The truest za’atar comes from a za’atar plant, but on the verge of extinction in 1977, the Israeli government passed a law making it a protected species. This blend uses dried za'atar leaves along with wild herbs like oregano, sesame seeds, sumac berries and other local ingredients like olive oil and dead sea salt.
  • Cayenne: This pepper is indigenous to Central and South America, having been used for thousands of years as food and medicine. It is one of the treasures brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus.
  • Onion Powder: Our onion powder accents any dish with an extra kick of sweet and earthy undertones.
  • The Culinistas Finishing Pepper: A blend featuring cayenne, cumin, garlic, and citrus-leaning timut peppercorn at the helm. Hailing from Nepal, they are closely related to citrus fruits, yielding a grapefruit aroma with a slight tongue-tingling feeling similar to peppercorns of the Sichuan variety.
  • Cumin: This kitchen staple is used widely across the globe — from Mexico to the Mediterranean. It is the seed of a flowering plant in the parsley family. It is the backbone of curries and chilis as well as some pickles. Cumin gives dishes a warm, earthy undertone.

General

Do you offer gift cards or packages?

  • Please contact us if you'd like to gift someone our service or purchase a package of dinner parties.

How do I redeem a promotion / gift card?

  • Please include the promotion / gift card to your profile.

Do you have a referral program?

  • At the moment, we do not have a referral program.

I had a problem with my service, who do I contact?

  • If we didn't live up to your expectations, please let us know immediately.