The Great Hall
Looking for suggestions The Great Hall: Looking for suggestions
By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 03:54 pm: Edit

Hi, all. There seems to be a growing market around here for folks with more money than me to have chefs come into their homes and cook for their dinner parties, explaining each dish to their guests as the chef serves them. This actually sounds like a lot of fun to me (not to mention a good way to pick up some extra cash, of course).

I'm trying to think up some good avenues to drum up interest among the right people and drive some traffic to my new website so I can try to build this up a bit, but I don't appear to be the sharpest knife in the roll on this one and I can't think of anything good. Any thoughts?


By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 05:21 pm: Edit

I did this for three years in Monaco, 1) interview the prospective client in thier home so you can see what you will have to work with. 2)Develope a clientel base by first establishing yourself with the best caterer or deli in the area that with sell a speciality of yours providing they let you advertize your in home catering with cards or a three fold brochure.
3) think up a list of key words to embed in your web site to get as many hits as possible and 4th us a search engine submission company to re-submit your site every month to keep your site closer to the top of the heap.

Good Luck


By George (George) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

I’m not a big fan of the submission services; they generate more spam and ads than help on the engines. Your first step is to get listed with the DMOZ-

Use the Submit Site on that page and then wait patiently a while until it is listed. Make sure your site is complete with no broken links or “under construction” pages.

Your webpage should have a listing of all the towns, cities and counties that you serve, both on the pages themselves (possible on its own page) and in your Meta tags. That way when a savvy searcher enters your search terms and their town you’ll have a better chance of getting found.

You should have a links page and try to exchange with local sites frequented by your target audience, focused on your region. When they link to you submit the page that links to you to the search engines, that way when they spider those sites they will find a link to your site and spider you.

You might also want to put together a brochure with your menus and see if a local wine store would let you post it or leave a couple.

In the long run there is nothing better than word of mouth for this kind of thing. Get your first party and schmooze all be guests being sure to have cards available.

Good luck!


By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit

Great suggestions, Mike and George -- thanks! I'm already onto the brochure idea, and I've been in touch with the homeowners' associations at a couple of gated communities nearby. I think you're right about word of mouth, George, so we'll see how that goes.

One question, though: My technical expertise does not extend to web design, so I used templates provided by my hosting company. The site looks pretty good, I think, though I'll be adding lots of images in the next week or so to make it look even better ( But I don't know how to do meta tags, and I'm also not familiar with the whole spidering thing.

By George (George) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 03:51 pm: Edit

The site looks great.

Meta tags go between the <head> </head> tags. I'm not familiar with the yahoo site bulider but there must be a way to insert them.

The two you will want to include are description and keywords. Here is the format for them-

<META Name="description" Content="###">
<META Name="keywords" Content="###">
you replace the ### with a deacription of your site, normally arround 200 characters and put keywords, separated by commas in the keywords one.

The SE's are a dark art but with a little time you can do OK. Go to google and type in "chef jobs" "chef forums" and see what you get. ;<)


By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 05:12 pm: Edit

Of course George has an advantage because he's been around since machines ran from line command interfaces.

The site looks great. I like the colors and use of images.

A few comments.
Getting listed on DMOZ requiers that you Have something that the other 200 submissions the editor got that day didn't have. Have relavent content, give some information not just a sales speal and make it easy for the editor to understand what your site is about, location, type of clientel, expetise and so on. This stuff has to be up front.

While the site builders host provide do make it easy to get a site up, the code it creates dosn't help in getting listed in search engines. Ten percent of your code is content the rest is mark-up much of it redundent. there are over 2500 characters the search engine spiders would have to wade through before the first text appears.

Search engine rarely use site discribtion any more, unless that has changed in the last few months. They either use the discribtion from DMOZ or the text in the first few lines of your page.

Taking a look at your code, because it use absolut positioning, you could take your text
"Haven't you had enough of the same old thing?

Steve Perlstein is a classically-trained chef with a difference. His
originality, enthusiasm, and customer-focused approach mean that if
you need culinary expertise in the Chicago or Milwaukee area, you're in
for a treat."

and put it as the first things in your html file and it wouldn't alter the look of your page. then that would be the first thing read by the search engine spiders

By George (George) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:15 pm: Edit

Ahhh, I remember working from punch cards, manually entered from a punch machine. Boy did that suck ,but we thought it was pretty cool at the time.

BTW ChefTim is a DMOZ editor so he knows of what he speaks.


By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

Thanks, all, for the great feedback. I'll spend some time over the next few days taking care of all of that. (By the way, I did find the place where I could enter keywords.)

I'm also going to add some really cool images. My inlaws are in town and my father-in-law, a professional nature photographer, took a bunch of shots of me doing the pasta station at Sunday brunch last weekend. Lots of blurred action, very cool stuff.

- Steve

By George (George) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 08:11 am: Edit

Only use the best pics, less is more.


By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

I put the new photos up. Let me know what you think.

It's amazing how easy they make it to build and upload a website these days. It's a long way from my first, largely unsuccessful cracks at it years ago.

By George (George) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 07:00 pm: Edit

The ones of you work fine but I think using the pizza sends the wrong message. (I could be off on this). A great plate or plater would give a more upscale representation of your offered services.



By Jonesg (Jonesg) on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 03:57 am: Edit

It really needs some food pics, close ups too.

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 02:36 pm: Edit

Hi Steve,
Nice site, and I love the action shots of you at the pasta station. At the risk of raining on your parade, your close up food shots could use some thought. If your main selling point is your creativity and innovation, pizza and salmon obscured by pithy lemon slices do not emphasize this attribute of your services very well.
Food shots need to look VERY yummy. It should make people want to lick the computer screen. Less garnish, more caramelization on the salmon, for example. If you use pizza it should be very upscale with easily recognizable toppings. It should look hot, not greasy, with lots of color and textural contrast. Think critically about what food pictures will pique potential clients' interest in you, as a person AND someone who will solve their problems of feeding their family. Invest in the services of a food stylist, or at least ask for advice and perspective.
The other thing you may want to consider in your photos is showing happy people enjoying your food, company and expertise. The interpersonal relationship between you and your clients is as important as the flavor of your food. Remember, they are hiring you to come into their homes and interact with them in a very personal and intimate way, ie. their daily sustenance. You must sell yourself as trustworthy, enjoyable to be around as well as creative and flexible.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 01:36 pm: Edit

You all are right about the food pix. All the shots were taken by my father-in-law, and the pizza (tarte flambe, actually) and salmon were what I served for dinner a couple of nights, and he just snapped those. I'm working on getting better ones.

By Chef4u (Chef4u) on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 01:19 pm: Edit

I have also have done private catering in peoples homes and it is alot of fun. I actually generated alot of my contacts by placing brochers in private function venues which dont do out of house private functions if they will let you so far so good. They appreciate the referells for the ones I didnt do and have on occasion let me rent the venue and use their kitchen for an event or two either way it's money in their pocket. and they have refered clients to me also! I recieved alot of jobs this way. Also check into to joining you states Bridal association alot of people like the idea of having the rehersal dinner in their homes. Good luck on your venture!!!!

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 09:07 pm: Edit

Steve, the website looks good. I agree with jonesg about the food pics. I have done some private chef work in Aspen and I love it. I am trying to get something like that going in Winter Park but the money people are just starting to move into the area. I suggest going to the Real Estate offices that sell the big money houses and let them know about you. Also some of the places that do vacation rentals. Alot of people spending a few thousand a night on a house or condo want a nice meal after sightseeing all day.

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