Ken Rizzo has been the Charlotte Chef for 10 years.
Charlotte Chef is a personal chef service and catering business. As a private chef, Rizzo's clientele has included some Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Bobcats. He also does corporate catering and specializes in dinner parties in people's homes. "I personally do every single one of my events," he says. "It's one thing I like about not having staff. It's my hands-on; therefore, I can control and guarantee food, food quality and the service."
Creative Loafing: How did you get into the food industry?
Ken Rizzo: I did not choose this business; it chose me. I started washing dishes at age 15, by age 16, I was a prep cook, and by age 17, I was doing weddings at this wedding/catering house that I worked at in Long Island. If the brides and grooms knew that a 17-year-old was actually doing the food for their wedding, they would have freaked out.
Which of the services you offer do you enjoy doing the most?
I do something called demonstration cooking. That's where you come into the home and do everything from start to finish in front of the guests. It's done in a fun, instructional-type format. It's really more for a woman's night out type event, but I've also done them for corporate Christmas parties. I leave a stack of business cards, and if a guest ever attempts one of those dishes and they get stuck, they can call me and I walk them through it.
What does being a private chef entail?
Currently, I cook for a doctor four nights a week -- a chiropractor and his family. I cook, serve, clear and clean, which takes about an hour and a half a night. I've been in the business for 30 years. I've been an executive chef for hotels, country clubs, things of that nature; I've paid my dues, and to go in there and knock out a dinner for three people is not a big deal.
For more information, visit www.charlottechef.com.