When cooking enthusiast and new mom Angel Anderson started posting her recipes and time-saving techniques to Instagram, her comment box was instantly flooded with the same request on repeat: “Can you come and cook for us?!” At first she was simply flattered, until she recognized a unique business opportunity. Busy couples need a lot of help in the kitchen, and Angel discovered that they’re willing to pay for it too.
A year ago, Angel launched her new business, DinnerDate, through which she offers Washington, D.C. metro area couples an intimate, gourmet dinner, prepared and served by her, right in the comfort of their own home. Today she’s booked solid helping couples celebrate everything from special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries to just a little “alone time.” She’s even had clients book her to impress their dates. “My first client was a co-worker, who then referred a friend, and then that friend referred another friend,” says Anderson. “Every single client I’ve had since then has been a referral too, which is awesome!” Many of her clients even confess to enjoying learning along while they watch Angel do her thing.
We caught up with the kitchen queen to find out how she turned her passion into profit and fulfillment, while helping to make other’s people's love lives a little better, one meal at a time.
ESSENCE.com: What do your clients love most about your service?
ANGEL ANDERSON: The best part is watching couples who have not really utilized their kitchen see me come in and use utensils, pots and pans they’ve never even used before. They get so excited to be using their nice dishes and things. I get to transform their kitchen into a restaurant for them. To have someone come into your private kitchen, is really a different level of intimacy for them. For most couples that are not rich and famous, this is something they’ve never experienced before. I come in and I cook for them, serve them at their table and then do the dishes and leave. When they’re done eating, they can go have fun, and there’s no fuss left behind in the kitchen. It’s the ultimate date night. I always leave them with leftovers and then email them a thank you note with a recipe later on.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your love affair with cooking.
ANDERSON: I’ve always loved to cook, even when I was a kid. When I was pregnant and in graduate school, I stopped cooking and started eating out a lot more. It made me feel so out of whack. When my son came, I was like, I’m going to commit to cooking like I used to do. Then I realized this wasn’t as easy to do once you become a mom. I had to find a balance. I started ordering groceries online and found things to make preparing meals easier and manageable. I would take pictures and post them on Instagram just for fun, because I love fashion and food. That’s when my best friend was like, ‘Angel, you need to cook for people!’
ESSENCE.com: Is that when DinnerDate was born?
ANDERSON: People kept commenting and asking when I could come over and cook, and friends would just come by and get food and we would all eat together. Talking to other moms, they were like, “How do you have time to do this? I want to eat good food at home with the ones I love, but I don’t have time to do this.” Everybody loves to eat, but not everyone loves to cook like I do.
ESSENCE.com: What obstacles did you face?
ANDERSON: Because I’m not a formally trained chef, I wondered if people would trust me to come into their homes and cook for them. When I began my business, I was interning with a group called Kitchen Cray and the chef put me through this sort of obstacle course in the kitchen to see if I really could cook anything. I passed. Now I’m the executive director for Kitchen Cray Kids and that’s where I’ve gotten a lot of my formal training in culinary arts.
ESSENCE.com: Isn't cooking for everyone exhausting?
ANDERSON: Nope, I love to cook! I experiment a lot with recipes and I’m super into healthy eating, farmer’s markets and fresh foods, so it’s really easy because I’m genuinely doing what I love to do and wanting to share that with other people.
ESSENCE.com: How do you juggle cooking for others and for your family too?
ANDERSON: That’s the hard part. I’m super into scheduling. I plan my meals for the week. However, I really prefer to cook kind of on the whim; I just have an idea in my head. Usually, on a Sunday I plan it out and I get home and I just kind of do it. I also try to find different ways for my son to help me in the kitchen. That way, he’s entertained while I work.
ESSENCE.com: What quick and easy dish do you recommend for beginner couples on the go?
ANDERSON: For an appetizer, I recommend bruschetta with shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s super easy and quick to prepare and it’s finger food. Plus, seafood is always kind of sexy to eat, and it’s a colorful appetizer too!
For more ideas or to contact Angel for bookings in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C., visit: Adinnerfor2.com