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12.06 Cooked To Order by The Dinner Maker


Personal Chef Javier Fuertes Gives the Gift of Amazing Food…and Time
By Leeanne Griffin

For most working adults, the thought of having a personal chef is up there with having a personal chauffeur or stylist ~ a nice idea, but a luxury you’d need a movie star’s salary to afford.

But that’s the exact myth that personal chef Javier Fuertes of Fitchburg is trying to dispel.

Fuertes, or “Chef Jav,” is a former software engineer who traded computers for Johnson and Wales University’s culinary school and subsequently served as a banquet chef and sous chef for prestigious Boston eateries Top of the Hub and the Harvard Club. But a budding interest in the personal-chef side of the business ~ not to mention his growing family ~ led him to focus his cooking skills elsewhere. His personal chef service “The Dinner Maker” has now been in business for three years.

“It’s been such a blessing to be part of a growing industry,” he said. “The timing was perfect for me ~ I’d researched the business and I wanted to spend more time with my family, so it worked out really well.”

The Dinner Maker’s motto says it all: “We cook, so you don’t have to.” Here’s how it works: Fuertes goes to clients’ homes to do initial assessments during which they choose entrees from an extensive menu. Customization can be tailored to suit personal tastes or dietary restrictions. The next step is scheduling a cook date in the clients’ own kitchen.

“My clients come home and the house smells great, there’s a home-cooked meal waiting for them,” Fuertes said. “Good, real, healthy food.”

Among his clients’ favorites: All-American dry-rubbed ribs, apple meatloaf with a five-spice glaze, maple-thyme salmon and balsamic-strawberry marinated pork tenderloin. It’s simple fare, Fuertes said, familiar and comforting.

The Dinner Maker’s service prices vary, but the most popular package (five entrees with four servings apiece) goes for $375. The flat fee includes menu planning, grocery shopping (plus the cost of the food), meal preparation, kitchen cleanup, packaging and labeling. Fuertes does it all.

“My clients have found that this service really helps them with their food budget,” Fuertes said. “They have more control over what they spend on a monthly basis.”
That, and they’re not spending a ton of money on unhealthy restaurant food. Fuertes said that his biggest competition is not other personal chef services or upscale city eateries, but rather the family-friendly chains.

“Think about what you spend to go out to eat ~ the impulse buy of an appetizer, the entrée, maybe a dessert, tip, gas to get there, time,,” he said. “Once people realize what they’re paying for [with my service], they see that it’s a lot better.”

Beyond health and monetary concerns, Fuertes’ other motivation is to help people save time ~ so they can focus on more important things.

“It reintroduces the notion of the family eating together, around the dining room table,” he said.

A client from Southborough seconded this notion on The Dinner Maker’s website, saying Fuertes’ service allowed her and her husband to spend more time with their baby.

With many satisfied regular clients, Fuertes said he’s “very happy” with the way his business has been going and looks forward to the growth of the industry.

“I think personal chefs will become the next household service,” he said. “Wait and see, it’s going to be as normal to have a personal chef as it is to have a housekeeper.”

The Dinner Maker
34 Rockdale Ave., Fitchburg

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