A local personal chef service takes the madness out of mealtime, one fresh ingredient at a time.

Local personal chef service Farm to Fork takes the madness out of mealtime, one fresh ingredient at a time.
Chef Heather Hartman of Farm to Fork prepares meals for clients in their homes.

Heather Hartman is a matchmaker. As owner of Farm to Fork, a personal chef service, she believes it is her mission to develop lasting relationships between local, sustainable ingredients and families’ dinner plates. She relishes scouring the area for fresh ingredients. “I just love working with food and the people who grow it,” Hartman says. “They work so hard, but they are so passionate about it.”

Hartman is just as devoted to using those ingredients as the foundation for better nutritional lifestyles for clients. “We take it and turn it into wonderful and healthy food,” she says. “I know what we are doing is a good thing, and it just makes me happy to see how it all works.” According to Hartman, educating clients is just as important as feeding them, and her staff works to explain about local and sustainable produce, meat and seafood. “People want to know more about where their food comes from,” she says.

Farm to Fork offers a full menu of services. On the larger scale, clients are provided home-cooked meals, which are prepared in their home by a trained chef, who can spend up to a day cooking, preparing that night’s dinner and tucking it into the refrigerator, freezing future meals and cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen. The cost of the program varies and is dependent upon frequency and number of portions.

Hartman, who purchased the business just over a year ago from longtime owner Kristin Hamaker, says the goal is to ensure that all ingredients are organic, locally sourced and at their peak. A healthy amount of Farm to Fork’s ingredients are purchased from Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op at its West Seventh Street location in Saint Paul. “We trust their judgement as to where they’re getting their produce,” Hartman says.

Hartman explains that there’s no such thing as typical clients—they can be families with limited time to prepare meals, people interested in changing their diets, pregnant women, new parents or career professionals. “Sometimes it’s just busy families who want the kids to just eat more veggies,” Hartman says. “We’ve found that when the kids see a chef come in [and cook], the kids get more excited about it.” Those who must take special care with their health also can benefit from the service. On occasion, adult children of older parents, who aren’t able to shop for and prepare well-rounded meals, will arrange for Farm to Fork to provide healthy meals. Hartman says care is taken to research the ingredients best suited for the older clients, especially if there are health concerns.

Maintaining healthy eating habits while managing two careers and raising their 3-year-old and 8-month-old children was problematic for Dr. Beth Hart, an anesthesiology resident at the University of Minnesota, and her husband, Dr. Ashish Mahajan, a plastic surgeon at Regions Hospital. The couple turned to Farm to Fork more than two years ago to find a solution. “It’s healthy food, which is what we’re most concerned about,” Hart says.

Prior to a chef creating a menu for the family, Hart says Farm to Fork staff conducted an interview to gauge the family’s preferences and dislikes, adding that Farm to Fork takes great care in tailoring menus to clients’ preferences.

Hart understands that some people may balk at the notion of having a personal chef. “It’s surprisingly affordable,” she says. “It’s a nice way of staying healthy.”