Personal Chef Awards

2017 – Lisa Givens

Denver, CO,


Chef Lisa was born, raised, and steeped in the culture of a city with some of the best food: New Orleans, LA. With parents who threw down all the time, she learned from the best. When she got the food right, her mom always said, “It has the month's flavor.” Through her 12+ years in business, Chef Lisa has focused on making healthier food without sacrificing flavor.

Chef Lisa didn’t take the normal path to pursue a culinary career. She completed six years of undergraduate and postgraduate work in Mathematics and Computer Science. She worked in the telecommunications industry for 22 plus years before choosing a new path, which has allowed her to walk a way where the impact of her service is clear and rewarding.

As she began her chef training with the culinary business academy, she saw an opportunity to compete in a local contest called Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation’s “The Top Home Chef” in Denver. Her experiences in New Orleans and Denver led her to win the title and the $ 5,000 in Jenn Aire Appliances.

Chef Lisa served as President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the United States Personal Chef Association for three years and continues her membership as a mentor to other chefs.


2016 – Chef Paola Santagati

Orlando, Florida,

Paola Santagati

Born and raised in Sicily, Chef Paola lovingly prepares her clients’ meals just as her Nonna Mara taught her to do when Paola was a little girl. Paola has lived in the Orlando area since 1993 and has provided clients with her delizioso services since 2000.

Italian Cuisine Cois . Your home for Italian cooking, suitable for all occasions. Chef Paola offers a wide variety of services to fit your needs, all expertly prepared for you by your

Personal Chef Paola Santagati.

Services include:

  • Personal chef services
  • Romantic Dinner for Two
  • On-site catering for parties and dinner parties
  • Vacation home meals
  • Beautiful and delicious desserts
  • Pasta Party
  • Intimate Weddings and Showers
  • Boxed lunches

Your family can enjoy traditional Italian delicacies from Bruschetta to Pasta al Forno to Chicken Marsala and from Tiramisu to Cannoli to Almond Biscotti.

2015 – Chef Deb Cantrell

Ft. Worth, Texas,

Chef Deb Cantrell is an Executive Chef, Senior Certified Personal Chef, Dietary Consultant, sought-after public speaker, and mentor to culinary professionals focused on culinary medicine.

Specializing in helping those facing food allergies, food sensitivities, and specific dietary requirements due to disease or other medical diagnosis, she created a customized meal delivery business and facilitates food sensitivity testing through global online education as part of her Culinary Medicine offerings. Trained at the Culinary Business Academy, Fort Worth Culinary Institute, and the Culinary Institute of America, Deb is a senior certified personal chef (CPC®) and boutique caterer. Chef Deb is also the proprietor of her mentoring and coaching program for chefs focused on business growth.

A dynamic and informative presenter, appearing on CBS and various other shows, Chef Deb’s speaking engagements include these topics: “Your Bottom Line – How Your Food Choices Affect Your “Assets,” “How to Make Money in Your Sleep as a Chef,” and “Success Secrets Learned the Hard Way.”

Her articles on specialized diet topics have been featured in several publications, including Indulge Magazine, Applaud for Women Magazine, Metro Woman, and the Fort Worth Business Press, and she is actively involved in various charity events.

2014 – Chef Karen Docimo


Karen Docino

Chef Karen Docimo owns Karen’s Chef de Jour Personal Chef Service in Philadelphia. Her longstanding dedication to the culinary arts came to her naturally, growing up with the rich scents of her Italian mother’s and grandmother’s fine cooking. Indeed, many delicious Italian specialties Chef Karen cooks today are family recipes handed down through tradition and cooked in her Mother’s kitchen in Philadelphia. When  Karen decided to pursue her passion as a profession, she first joined Abruzzi’s Catering, preparing food for fine parties and events large and small.

In 2000, Chef Karen decided to strike out independently, training at the United States Personal Chef Institute and opening the doors of Karen’s Chef du Jour Personal Chef Service upon completion. She became a Certified Personal Chef in 2003. Chef Karen’s uncompromising dedication to her clients’ needs and her delicious meals quickly gained Karen’s Chef du Jour a loyal and broad-based clientele. The company’s service offerings were expanded to include cooking classes and custom gourmet catering to meet their requests for even more of her wonderful food.

With time, Chef Karen has broadened her experience to go beyond the service offerings of Karen’s Chef du Jour. Assignments as a food stylist with QVC and Bon Appetit Magazine have allowed her to work with the art of food presentation. In addition to cooking classes offered through Karen’s Chef du Jour, Chef Karen develops recipes and curricula and conducts culinary classes at local kitchen stores, including Williams Sonoma and Kitchen Kapers. Chef Karen was a founding instructor and a lead trainer for Inspired Chef/Inspired Teams, the cooking class division of Whirlpool. She has also served as a Culinary Specialist for KitchenAid, frequently conducting key product demonstrations for consumers and training for KitchenAid Product Specialists throughout the United States.

2013 – Chef Rosemary Rutland


During Chef Rosemary’s food packaging career, she visited over 30 countries, sparking a love of travel, foreign cultures, ingredients & local cuisines. Leaving the corporate world, she embarked on a culinary path that led first to the Art Institute of Atlanta. Rosemary graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2004, earning an associate's degree in Culinary Arts with an emphasis in baking and pastry (Certified Pastry Culinarian). While at the Art Institute, she had an original recipe published in Flavors Magazine, won the Fall 2004 Culinary Portfolio for her restaurant project, and was selected for a $ 1,500 Les Marmitons scholarship.

After a baking internship at the Ritz-Carlton Downtown Atlanta and a restaurant internship with Woodfire Grill, she started Chef’s Table Personal Chef Service in 2005. As a personal chef, she teaches cooking & baking classes, creates dining memories for special occasions, and makes multi-meal service for a broad range of clients. Rosemary earned the designation of Certified Personal Chef in 2007. She is certified in both Nutrition & ServSafe.

Rosemary teaches public and private classes at all Cooks Warehouse locations in Atlanta and has taught at Williams-Sonoma. Her articles & recipes have been featured in Personal Chef Magazine, Flavors Magazine, and She worked in the pastry kitchen of both Bold American Catering and the French restaurant Trois. Her professional affiliations include the American Culinary Federation, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA). She is an instructor for the Culinary Business Academy, teaching others how to realize their dream of being a personal chef. Rosemary is past President of the USPCA Atlanta Chapter and taught classes at their 2006, 2007 & 2009 annual conferences. She is an adjunct culinary instructor at The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta and is a corporate chef for Calphalon. Since 2008, she has been a featured presenter at the annual Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Atlanta.

2012 – Chef Monica Thomas

Washington, D.C.,

Monica Thomas

Chef Monica Thomas of Tailored Taste Personal Chef Service has been putting delicious, homemade meals on the tables of busy folks in the Washington, D.C., area for over ten years. Monica served as president of the Capital Chefs Chapter of USPCA (2009 Chapter of the Year) for four years and as a Local Exchange Coordinator for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) for six years. She was named the 2012 Personal Chef of the Year by USPCA.

Monica has published numerous articles in Personal Chef Magazine and produces a quarterly newsletter for clients and other interested folks. She teaches private cooking classes in clients’ homes and taught public cooking classes for Williams-Sonoma for five years. She has been a chef instructor at the Art Institute of Washington and Stratford University, teaching culinary students the fine art of becoming a personal chef and the practicalities of catering management.

Before opening her chef business, Monica worked with one of St. Louis, MO's largest and most prestigious caterers, Patty Long Catering. She spent many years in the event planning business, working with hotels, caterers, florists, and other service industry providers.

Monica adopted an elementary school in 2010 as part of the White House initiative, Chefs Move to School. She created a Chef’s Club after-school program for 4th-8th graders who meet twice a month during the school year to explore food and nutrition through hands-on cooking sessions. In its 5th year, 50 students, seven volunteers, and Monica are exploring healthy cooking as they lead up to the Final Feast in May, where 40 guests will be served a 7-course tasting meal created by the children! To date, Monica has not repeated a recipe for the club, keeping the students excited and guessing what’s coming next.

Monica has volunteered as a chef instructor for Operation Frontline (currently called Cooking Matters) and has actively supported Share Our Strength by volunteering with Taste of the Nation and conducting various educational culinary demonstrations at events in D.C. Monica also volunteers at the annual Ovarian Cancer National Alliance fundraiser, Turn Up the Heat with Women Chefs.

Monica has expanded her traditional personal chef business with the addition of Tailored Taste Coaching for new chefs. Via FaceTime, Skype, in person, or over the phone, Monica leads unique chefs one-on-one through the intricate details of starting their business or honing areas of concern for a current business.

2011 – Chef  Debbie Spangler


Debbie Spangler

Chef Debbie is a member of the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) and a graduate of the Culinary Business Academy. She started Yummy~issimo! in 2004 and earned her Certified Personal Chef (CPC) designation in August 2006. Debbie graduated from Miami University with a B.A. and M.A. in Communication.

Before becoming a Certified Personal Chef, Chef Debbie was the President of Deborah Spangler Communications, a full-service marketing, graphic design, and public relations firm. She was honored with several awards, including the prestigious “40 Under Forty” by the Cincinnati Business Courier and “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” by Leading Women (an organization of Cincinnati’s top women’s organizations).

Chef Debbie has won several prestigious local and national awards, including:

  • Voted “2012~2013 Best Chef” by the readers of CincyMagazine in the 01~13 “Best of the North” Issue
  • Voted “Best Caterer” by the readers of CityBeat Magazine in the 2011 and 2012 “Best of Cincinnati” Issue
  • In January 2010, Yummy~issimo! was named Sharonville Chamber 2009 Small Business of the Year
  • In 2007, Chef Debbie was named the USPCA Marketer of the Year

2010 – Chef Tim Stewart


Tim Stewart

Chef Chez You is owned by Tim Stewart of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Chef Chez You has been in business since May 2000, serving the Ottawa region, including Hull, Gatineau, Kanata, Nepean, Orleans, and surrounding areas. I am a member of the Canadian Personal Chef Association and the United States Personal Chef Association. I started this business out of my love for cooking.

I have cooked for family and friends for about 15 years. I believe that family is very important, and dinnertime is a great way for family to communicate and spend some good quality time together. My job would be complete if I could help you spend less time cooking and more time with the ones you love.

I have been working in the restaurant business for the last 20 years and have had the pleasure of being employed at Walt Disney World at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida. I learned the Disney Philosophy on how to treat customers as guests, and I try to run my business in the same manner. I cook the same food for you as guests coming into my home; a little extra hard work pays off in the long run.

I took professional cooking classes for my Hotel and Resort Management degree. I graduated from the Sommelier Program (Wine Connoisseur) at Algonquin College in Ottawa in February 2002. This allows me to recommend wine with each entrée I prepare for my clients. Just think of me as an extended member of your family and your trusted Personal Food Assistant, who will allow you to have more time and energy for yourself and your family.

2009 – Chef Robyn Goorevitch


Robyn Goorevitch

Named 2009 Personal Chef of the Year by the United States Personal Chef Association, Chef Robyn was the first Canadian to receive this award. Robyn began her culinary training under the tutelage of her Mother, who graduated as a nutritionist and raised her family on wholesome, well-balanced, nutritious home cooking. With this solid base on food balance and love for cooking, Robyn worked in several restaurants in Edmonton and Vancouver while attending University. In 1986, Robyn's restaurant became the guinea pig for her cakes, pies, and cheesecakes. The Edmonton Journal reviewed the restaurant and rated the apple pie as one of the best apple pies they had ever had. Soon, other places began courting Robyn for her desserts, and before she knew it, she had her first entrepreneurial company doing just desserts.

In 1990, after eleven years in Edmonton that included attending the University of Alberta and obtaining two diplomas from Grant MacEwan College, Robyn packed her bags and headed to Grand Cayman Island for what she thought would be a one-year sabbatical. Robyn remained in the Caribbean for eight years, learning new techniques from the German and Swiss Chefs she worked with and learning how to cook local Caribbean cuisine. It wasn’t long before Robyn created desserts for the restaurant she worked at and occasionally worked as the Chef on a sunset sailing cruise. In 1998, Robyn returned to Canada and settled in Toronto to be close to her Father.

In August of 1999, she opened Dining In Chez Vous, an in-home catering company that promises to turn your home into your favorite restaurant. It took a couple of years to get established, and the company was lucky enough to have several glowing articles appear in the Toronto Star, National Post, Ming Pao, and other publications. Robyn appeared on several TV shows, including Breakfast T.V. by 2001, it was time to grow the business by adding more Chefs. Robyn is also a certified National Food Safety Trainer Program trainer and a HACCP Auditor for HAACP Canada.

2008 – Chef Wendy Gauthier


Wendy Gauthier

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, I became a chef in Tucson and worked at Canyon Ranch Health Spa. I then went on to work as a Sous chef at the Flying V at Loews Ventana resort; as I continued to cook, I felt something was missing. I then saw an article about personal cheffing. I thought, “Wow, what a great idea!” Being a private chef in Tucson would allow me to see people’s reactions and know I am helping someone have more time with their family friends, or just more free time.

They would not have to rely on going out to eat every night or stopping at the store on the way home from work every day. I want to make it easier for people to eat better. I also want to help people realize that eating better does not mean losing taste or everything they love. I hope to cook for people for years, helping make their lives easier and less stressful.

2007 – Chef Rick Sost


Rick Sost

Born in Trenton, NJ, he grew up in Hamilton, resided in Tabernacle for 20 years, and most recently in Manahawkin. He was a graduate of Steinert High School in 1963. He then enlisted and spent four years in the United States Navy, from 1963 to 1967. Rick graduated from Rider College in 1970. He earned two Master’s Degrees from Trenton State College in 1972 and 1978. He began teaching at Shawnee High School in 1970. While at Shawnee, he led business, became a guidance counselor, and served as Supervisor of Student Personnel Services until 1990. In 1990, Rick became an Assistant Principal and Director of Athletics. He held this position for ten years until retiring in June 2000.

After retiring from education, Rick started his own Personal Chef business, “Dad Can Cook.” He was President of the South Jersey Chapter of the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA). He also served on the National USPCA board and the committee planning the USPCA’s annual conference in New Orleans. In August 2007, he was named Personal Chef of the Year.

In addition to spending time with his family and friends, he enjoyed traveling, cooking, and gardening. Chef Rick passed away in 2009 at the age of 63.

2006 – Chef Scott Wilson

Bowling Green

Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson, AAC, was a certified personal chef with the U.S. Personal Chefs Association and an inducted American Academy of Chefs member with the American Culinary Federation.

With a background as a restaurant/club chef for over 30+ years, he joined the personal Chef ranks in 1997. Scott was co-chair of the National Advisory Committee and was involved in many past USPCA conferences. He has published four cookbooks. His latest, The Legacy Garden, was published in October 2013, and his first printing sold out before Christmas. 2006, he received the USPCA “National Chef of the Year.” Scott passed away in 2014 at the age of 57.