Long hours at the office making it hard for you to get a good meal on the table during the week? Stressed out because it’s your turn to host the dinner party and you absolutely have no time to plan a menu or shop, let alone prepare for what feels like an impossible task?
Meet Chef Lynn Lampe Lindquist, ‘Cook on Call.’
You might ask, really? Does this type of service actually exist? The answer is yes. With extensive experience at high end restaurants over the course of nearly fifteen years, professionally trained Lindquist now owns her own Personal Chef Service cooking meals around the Philadelphia region for anyone from busy professionals who want a good, healthy, home cooked meal in the comfort of their own kitchen, to moms balancing children’s hectic family schedules, single dads needing a home cooked meal while sharing time with their children, those looking for a more personal touch in a dinner party, and then, well then, any other among a diverse range of situations and food preparation requests of varying clients in between.
Lynn’s former repertoire includes having served as a pastry chef, (before the retirement of Georges Perrier) at Le Bec Fin, which was at the time, among the most highly acclaimed of restaurants in the country, as well as having worked in the kitchens of both Passarelle and Savona. While working in the upscale French Italian restaurant kitchen of Savona in Gulph Mills, Lynn shortly recognized that in the life timing stage of having entered the culinary field that she needed something extra to propel her forward quicker, a way to reach that higher caliber scale, so already with a culinary degree from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Lindquist then attended the Bakery and Pastry Program at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, and this experiential/education combination Lynn now shares was the catalyst to getting her highly prized position with Le Bec Fin, a very difficult job she now admits, but it opened the door for her in many ways and provided the ongoing discipline and experience while heightening her skill. Keeping up on friendships and connections through working in the restaurant industry over the course of years, Lindquist did a final stint, initially as the pastry chef at Gilmore’s, and later, as she began exploring her own potential business opportunities, continued on helping out as needed in this upstart restaurant of Pierre Gilmore, former colleague and Chef de Cuisine of Le Bec Fin. Training new pastry chefs, and filling in here and there as needed, then transitioned to occur so frequently at the restaurant that when she decided to open her own Personal Chef service, the name for her business became clearly apparent, she was the, ‘Cook on Call.’
Today, although Lindquist’s extensive professional culinary experience lends a natural skill preparing foods at very high caliber, the goal with Cook on Call is much less pretentious, more geared to healthy, nutritious meals, even with intended simplicities such as bringing a family together at the dinner table once a week.
Meeting Lynn some months back at the party of my shared backyard neighbor, her brother, Steve and his wife, Patie, of course, inspired immediate intrigue, followed by an eager inquiry on sharing Lynn’s story on Spiced Peach Blog. I recently had the opportunity to go out to the home of Chef Lynn Lampe Lindquist and interview her.
Deeply set sparkling eyes and a warm smile match her kind nature of hospitality while still maintaining that certain organized precision one lends towards in professional cooking. Lynn greeted me on the day of our meeting at the door adjoined to her small charming kitchen, whose sweet scent filled the air with assorted freshly prepared classic pastries lined along the counter each in various stages of glazing, icing, or awaiting more technical, decorative touches. Lynn began sauteing scallops to a perfect finish before simply setting these on top a colorful mound of mashed butternut squash sharing an example of the simple type preparations she provides on the tables of her customers, though this particular dish, according to Lindquist, was the special treat for an area couple that upon request, she literally prepared for them on a regular basis over the course of nearly a year. After our interview and photograph session Lynn and I sat down and shared this dish, and I’ve no doubt on this couples desire for continual repeat performances.
Keeping modern in presentation, Linquist’s intrinsic style forms around her commitment to the fundamentals as she continually instructs her students as a part-time Culinary Director of Baking and Pastry at Delaware County Community College, reminding them, in this age of culinary battles on food television programs, that they may branch forward creating anything inspired within them, once that is, that they have mastered the basics, the classic fundamentals, “foundation before expression,” as she says. Lynn’s commitment and enthusiasm toward her students is clear, a certain special excitement, her smile widening as she speaks about them even with an almost motherly instinct, one loving, but stern, insisting on a real- life strong work ethic, encouraging towards having the open willingness to always learn, and insistence to practice, practice, and practice, to perfect technique, and then, work ones way up, earning success.
Bits and pieces of whimsy share space in her older, original classic style kitchen equipped with treasured real wood cabinets and black matched iron work hardware all blended between the more serious elements of cooking spoons and heavy duty cooking and baking equipment that all combined provide a sort of airy aura to a visitor, this special feeling that life is embraced here with love, and to Lynn Lampe Lindquist, it was indeed the simple act of cooking and baking while growing up that was her way of telling others that she loved them in her own way, a means of showing others she cared.
Lynn credits her Mom, who besides the basic preparation of daily standard meals was not so much into cooking, but who graciously welcomed her daughter free reign over her kitchen always encouraging her toward any learning and food preparation creation of her desire. The only occasional caveat in a pinch being, if it was really good, Mom made it, if not, well, leave that to the obvious. Lindquists grandmother on her fathers side however, was presumably quite an accomplished cook serving as a private cook to the Dorrance family at the mansion which now serves as Cabrini College. But it was neither her Mother or Grandmother who first ignited the fire of passion in the kitchen for Lynn, it was Mrs. McCormick. Mrs McCormick, neighbor and local Girl Scout Troop leader who had five children, one of whom was a close friend of Lynn. “She was a fabulous cook, kind, generous, and very warm and huggy” according to Lindquist, who now recalls her most satisfying Girl Scout badge earned with Mrs. McCormick at the helm, the “Cooking Badge.”
Today Chef Lindquist is also a proud member of the Personal Chef Association, an organization where Lynn has had the opportunity to share current events in the industry, socialize with other colleagues, develop friendships, and also perform collaborative charity works such as cooking for Aid for Friends, the USO, and Gift of Life Donor Program, preparing meals for those families of loved ones in waiting for organ and tissue donation.
An admitted homebody well into adulthood, Lynn shared the path of college after high school, still not really knowing what she wanted to do with her life. With a continued passion in food, Lynn liked the dream of going to the Culinary Institute of America in New York but simply was not ready to leave her family to do so. Eventually, with lots of encouragement from friends, and later with the love and support of her husband, always observing that bright light shining both inside and out when Lynn ever spoke about food, she was able to reach within and make that leap of commitment. Lynn continued to grow in her work, and the exploration of what was always her passion since childhood, working in food, the culinary industry. As Chef Lindquist grew older and busier in her married life there was only that final link remaining for her to choose, one that would afford her more convenient, flexible hours, and a more ongoing reasonable proximity to home. The final answer was determined after taking a weekend course at the Culinary Business Academy in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the topic: How to Start a Personal Chef Business, and the rest is now history.
As I close out this Post, I sit and look at some of the testimonials about Lynn on the back of a green flyer, “Having Lynn cook in my house has given me back precious time to spend with my daughter.” “Cook on Call meals are delicious, easy to prepare and saves my family time and money.” “It is a joy to come home and have the wonderful aromas meet me at the door. Thanks Lynn”
As for me, I cannot help but reflect back on this interview with Chef Lynn Lampe Lindquist, one journey whose shared story, hospitality, and interesting conversation in one morning inspired me a deep appreciation for a very profound visit. One final glance at a kitchen counter, a decorative cannister set nestled behind small stacked plates, a wooden box, three boxes of jelly beans to be delivered to her nieces, the home of her brother and sister in law, our shared backyard neighbor. A family person, still a homebody, an accomplished one, years driven to practice, practice, practice, striving perfection in top restaurant kitchens, a journey of instructing and teaching others toward success, a business that makes a difference enabling others the sharing of even a delicious, simple meal together, all tied up from the beginning with love, a way to show others that she cared. A heart, a skill, a talent “always willing to fill in here and there.” After all, she is the ‘Cook on Call.’