Put a Chef in Your Kitchen

Creative Kitchen offers healthy, chef-prepared meals in your home

Tracy Bishop of Charlottetown, like many Islanders, is trying to juggle healthy eating with the demands of a busy life.

“We have a pretty active life and are on the go a lot,” Bishop said. “Healthy eating is a priority for us, but it was challenging to make that happen and be able to do everything else.”

Mealtime became a predictable routine: the family often ate the same meals “all the time,” and Bishop didn’t have much time to prepare.

But all that changed once she signed up for a food service offered by Creative Kitchen. Owned by Jen McKenna, a Culinary Institute of Canada graduate based in Hunter River, Creative Kitchen offers personal chefs who will come to your home to prepare and cook meals based on ideas provided by the client. All you need to do is buy the groceries from a list provided by the chef.

While Bishop’s husband suggested they sign up for the service, she admits to being hesitant to get in touch with McKenna. “Only because I was still holding on to the thought that I should be able to ‘do it all’,” she said.

But she and dozens of others have become satisfied customers of Creative Kitchen, which McKenna established in 2016 after five years working in the local restaurant scene. With that experience under her belt, she’s able to whip up virtually anything a client desires, including many down-home classics such as shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie and stew.

“I cook meatballs all the time,” she laughed. “And I get told ‘you make the best chicken pot pie I ever had’.”

McKenna wasn’t bitten by the cooking bug until grade 12, when she took the Co-operative Work Program at Bluefield High School. That’s when she had the chance to check out the programs at Holland College. It was the culinary program that struck her interest.

“I didn’t have to sit all day, I’m in the kitchen all day– it’s more interesting than just reading books all day,” she said.

Submitted Photo

The idea of Creative Kitchen came about because McKenna needed extra work during a slow winter season. She tested the waters by posting ads on Kijiji and Facebook, offering up her services as a personal chef.

“Three people messaged me and I decided to just keep on going,” she said.

Since then, Creative Kitchen’s popularity and reach have expanded to the point where she needed to hire other chefs to handle the demand. Besides covering the Charlottetown and Summerside areas, there is a growing customer base in Moncton, New Brunswick.

McKenna says one of the first misconceptions people have about her service is the belief that it will be too expensive. Most of her client base is busy young families with little time to cook proper meals, and McKenna suggests it’s more affordable than alternatives, even fast food.

“It’s healthier and much cheaper,” she says. “At Wendy’s, for six people, you’d spend almost $70, easily, for garbage.”
She adds that customers are also saving money and reducing food waste because they’re following a prepared grocery list.

“You end up not using [some of the food] because they have no meal plan, or they don’t know what recipes they can do with it.”
Bishop says hiring McKenna on as a personal chef has been “the best decision” she’s ever made.

“We are now eating better, with a huge variety of healthy meals. We always have meals ready to go when we need them[…]and we have a lot more time in our lives for the things we love to do.”

McKenna’s rolling with the momentum she’s built. She recently hired another chef to handle the Montague area, and has also developed online cooking classes. And she hopes her business concept will spread far beyond the region.

“I’m going to be like Molly Maids all over Canada,” she said jokingly.