Ever thought about chasing your dreams of becoming a culinary chef?! That’s exactly what local Chef Alekka Sweeney did, and what a success!! Chef Alekka is a personal chef that offers an array of services from meal delivery to personal cooking classes. As a chef, Alekka not only loves creating custom meals from old family recipes but also the interactive element that comes with cooking something special for a dinner party!
Chef Alekka’s story begins when she was just a little girl and was often tasked with starting dinner while her parents were at work. She and her sister would take turns preparing something for the family. While most kids might choose something easy and basic like grilled cheese and tomato soup or baked pasta, Alekka was inspired to try new recipes each time. Watching Julia Child on PBS was somewhat of an inspiration for Alekka, as she would try to recreate some of the dishes she saw on TV. As you could imagine, some turned out good and some….not so good. Thankfully, that never discouraged her. After really taking a liking to the culinary arts, Alekka decided that she did not want to go back to college, but instead enroll in culinary school!
Over the years, she has worked all over the country in places such as Atlanta and Chicago. She always had a passion for getting to interact with the people she was cooking for. In a typical restaurant setting, the chef doesn’t get to do much interacting with their guests, which is why Chef Alekka began teaching cooking classes. Currently, you can request private virtual cooking classes on her website. She will send you a list of items to purchase to make sure you are prepped and ready to go for the class!
Right now, Chef Alekka does not have a brick-and-mortar storefront in Pittsburgh, but the future’s looking bright. When she spent 16 years in Chicago, she taught classes from her storefront in Roscoe Village, and she is hoping to get back to something similar here in Pittsburgh. She plans on having a space to host small events and in-person cooking classes. It was a difficult decision for her to leave the space she had created in Chicago, but being close to family was a big factor in her decision. Since she’s been back in the city she calls home, she’s received overwhelming support from local food influencers and other people in the food community!
With the world of COVID, things have definitely shifted for this chef. The services she offers expanded when the world shut down and many restaurants were forced to close. At that time, Chef Alekka began offering an A la Carte menu as well as a subscription-based delivery service. The way she pivoted to these services was all because of a busy mom’s request, how funny. This friend of Alekka asked for an order of cinnamon rolls to get through the busy mornings with her kids. This was something Alekka was happy to do for her friend and before she knew it, her name was put out on a local mom group’s Facebook page. The orders started pouring in for baked goods and breakfast delivery to assist parents with keeping the balance of working from home and monitoring their kid’s schoolwork all while preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner! She cooks for several families weekly, and still offers her A la Carte menu for everyone else!
The A la Carte menu. Let’s take a minute to discuss this gem of a service that makes meals easier than you would believe! On the menu, you’ll find items such as coconut chicken tikka masala with brown rice, potato gnocchi with crispy zucchini and whipped goat cheese, and eggplant puttanesca with roasted tomato sauce. Check out her website for the other savory, sweet, and seasonal items Chef Alekka has available A la Carte. There is a $30 minimum and home delivery adds $10.
Since the beginning of COVID, Chef Alekka has expanded and added some of her favorite services which are in-home cooking classes and private events. In need of a chef for a private dinner party? Chef Alekka has you covered. Some of the items on her sample menu include charcuterie with stuffed mushrooms, fig spread, blue cheese crostini, and assorted meats and cheeses as an appetizer, grilled flank steak with chimichurri and shrimp as an entree, and deconstructed smores as a dessert. With Alekka, the possibilities are endless, just discuss with her the direction you’d like to go!
Chef Alekka brings that personal touch to any dinner party or special event because truthfully the interaction with her clients is what makes this job so special for her. She said, “My absolute favorite part of my job is getting to know the families I cook for. I know their kids’ names, birthdays, favorite colors, TV shows, and what they like to eat. I have cooked for family celebrations and birthdays.” As far as favorites go, we also asked her what her favorite dish to prepare is and she said the food from her childhood like her mom’s homemade bread, dad’s famous chili, and good old-fashioned pot roast are among her favorites. At the end of the day, all she wants is a meal that comforts her and reminds her of home.
Check out Chef Alekka’s website for a full list of services and meal options she provides. There is no time like the holidays to plan a meal pick-up or delivery!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.