The who, what, when, and why of how I became a personal chef 

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The tagline for Jewels from The Roving Stove is “From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron.” Many of you knew of me when I was a model, married to the keyboard player of Duran Duran, marching on 10 Downing street with Parents for Safe Foods, while entertaining royalty in Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Julie Anne Rhodes for Elle Magazine 1990

Julie Anne Rhodes for Elle Magazine 1990

I’m good at putting forward my glamorous side, and I enjoy it immensely, but the title of that play actually came closer to the truth of who I am at heart. A midwestern girl raised with strong family values, and a driving need to nurture as well as create.

I’m so very grateful for the life I’ve been able to lead, but there was something terribly isolated and lonely about being perceived as someone who just galavants the world dressed to the nines, smiling for cameras. When I made the leap to personal chef, I found a profession that honored all of me. A career that gives me creative license to paint with flavor, and to help people enhance the quality of their own lives too

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Food is often synonymous with nurturing, but dinner time meant so much more to me as a child. Yes, food brought us to the table, but dinner allowed us to connect on so many important levels. Levels that left an indelible stamp on the adult I would become, and helped form my moral compass. That is why I find dinner time so important. At 6PM sharp we sat down to dinner as a family no matter how busy our various schedules stretched us in other directions. A tradition I tried to maintain with my own family later in life.

Finding time to sit down to dinner with family and friends is important

Finding time to sit down to dinner with family and friends is important

Sitting down to dinner together (and I don’t just mean families, I mean with any loved ones or friends) fosters a sense of well being, of caring about others, and being cared for. We weren’t built to be solitary creatures, we crave emotional and physical connections with others, so dinner is prime time to catch up on what’s going on in each others lives.

As educational, extracurricular activities, and careers started usurping more of our time – carving out time to sit down to dinner at all, let alone together, was one of the first casualties of our changing society. We don’t communicate the same way anymore – we constantly have new technology giving us the illusion of being connected, when in reality there’s a gulf of distance between us.

Family dinners of my youth gave me a strong sense of self, taught me social skills, and coaxed my interest in current events

Family dinners gave me a sense of self, taught me social skills, and coaxed  interest in current events

Those dinners of my youth gave me a strong sense of self, and the ability to care about others. They taught me invaluable social skills that have served me well through the years, coaxed my interest in current events, and inspired me to grow in ways school alone never could. They kept me from getting totally lost as I ventured out into the world on my own, and are what brought me back safely, instead of falling, every time I did climb out on a limb.

Initially through The Roving Stove, and then on a much wider scale with the Personal Chef Approach, my mission has been to enhance people’s quality of life through dinner again. To provide a method of nourishing their bodies in a healthier and more cost effective manner, while nourishing their souls through systematically carving out the time to connect with the people that matter most in their lives.

Cook once, enjoy homemade in minutes all week long

Cook once, enjoy homemade in minutes all week long

The ability to cook once, to enjoy homemade meals in minutes creates that time we need to connect over dinner again. Join the Personal Chef Approach today, and see for yourself why I’ve gone from VIP Entrances in Versace to Service Entrances in My Apron. I love helping you streamline getting dinner on the table nightly. Just to give you a taste of what you will enjoy…

Spinach & Cheese Cannelloni

Spinach & Cheese Cannelloni

Filling the cannelloni is a fun thing to do with your children, and they will be much happier about eating something with the “dreaded green”, if they feel pride in creating something delicious with you. You can also easily substitute or add mushrooms, shredded zucchini, or any cooked ground meat (I love Italian turkey sausage) for the spinach.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano chopped

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces fresh spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Assembly

  • 12 cannelloni tubes
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella thinly sliced or 1 package shredded
  • large baggie (for piping)

Directions

Spinach & Cheese Cannelloni

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F if planning to eat cannelloni right away, otherwise see heating instructions below.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add garlic slices and cook until softened and fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, stirring frequently, until wilted. Remove from pan, drain and cool.
  3. While spinach is cooling, heat the olive oil in the same pan, then add minced garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and wine, simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs. Season to taste and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor (you can finely chop the spinach with a knife, then mix ingredients together in a large bowl if you do not have a food processor) add the cooled spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, goats cheese, egg and nutmeg. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed together, but not completely processed. Adjust seasonings.
  5. Spread half of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a metal or ovenproof glass baking dish large enough to hold the cannelloni in a single layer, deep enough to cover with sauce and cheese.
  6. Fill the large baggie with the spinach and cheese mixture, snip off one end, and pipe the filling into each cannelloni tube, placing them in the baking dish as you go. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, then layer or sprinkle with mozzarella. If not eating right away, at this point cover and store until ready to eat.
  7. Bake in the preheated 350° F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and cheese on top is melted and beginning to brown around the edges.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Mixed Green Salad tossed in homemade Italian dressing.

Heat To Eat

Bake in the preheated 350° F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and cheese on top is melted and beginning to brown around the edges; or vent lid of container and heat in microwave on 50% power for 3-5 minutes.

 

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  • May 28, 2015
    4:03 pm

    I keep promising myself that I’ll make this! Putting the ingredients on my shopping list right now so I have no excuses. This should be enough for about 5-6 meals for me and I’ll add a nice green salad. Sounds amazing! I think I’ve got the finances almost set to buy that small freezer that I’ve been hoping for, so I’ll be able to pack away all these wonderful meals and be set for a month at a time after I do my cooking days. Thank you for all the wonderful meals Julie Anne! I’m finally getting my act together and organizing my flat to suit life in a wheelchair. Cooking is still a bit of a challenge, but if I do the prep work at the kitchen table, it makes things easier. So, I’ll make the process work for me with slight variations in how I proceed.