Holly Verbeck and her company, HeyChef!, located in Lake Tahoe USA are the recipient of the 2021 Global Hospitality Award for Best Lake Tahoe Culinary Staffing Company. Each year, LUXlife selects business professionals and companies which demonstrate excellence in their market for the world’s most discerning clientele and the honor is well deserved.
In 1997 Holly and her husband, chefGrog Verbeckco-founded HeyChef! in Truckee, CA with their passion for providing in-home culinary services to vacationers and discerning homeowners. From the beginning their specialty was personal, distinctive and effortless entertaining.
When the two met, Chef Grog was a private chef for clients in Manhattan, NY who received his training at the CIA of Hyde Park near his home town. He pursued additional training at the famed Le Cordon Bleu and LaVarenne schools in Paris.
Originally from Southern California, Holly attended Central Washington University for a teaching degree then pursued a corporate career to deepen her expertise in human resources, insurance administration, risk management and corporate training. She holds a California Insurance Administrator’s certificate (CIA), is a Certified Workers’ Compensation Claims Administrator (CWCCA), and certified OSHA General Standards trainer, and an Associate of Risk Management (ARM). She started her first company, Employers Comp Management in Los Angeles, California in 1990 to help business owners and their insurance agents manage and minimize their losses until, in 1994, she was recruited by Northstar California Resort, a Vail Resorts property.
In her role at the resort, which boasts 11 food and beverage outlets, as well as retail, lodging and recreational operations, Holly was charged with the duties of risk management as well as employee training and development. She spent nine years working with management and their 1,500 employees until stepping away to start and build the business she operates today.
“We watched Truckee-Tahoe grow and saw that the people traveling here were accustomed to having in-home staff, so we felt confident they’d want the same level of custom culinary services when they are here on vacation. Holly saw a trend and used her corporate background to turn the talent of our area’s chefs into a premiere business” says Chef Grog.
To complement her business acumen, Holly earned a Certificate in Household & Estate Management (CHEM) from Starkey International Institute in Denver, Colorado which she utilizes to continually enrich the professionalism of the chefs, bartenders, baristas, servers and shoppers who are the backbone of HeyChef!
Holly articulates it this way: “It’s my greatest pleasure to share our area’s culinary talent with customers in their homes. The only thing that beats it is helping chefs do what they love and finally get paid what they’re worth!”
Recently, the word is spreading about HeyChef! in Lake Tahoe from the United Kingdom’s LUXlife Global Excellence Hospitality Award to chefs across the nation. Increasingly, local and regional chefs are approaching HeyChef! to ask Holly for help to build and scale their own private chef businesses; that’s when she knew the business model they used to make HeyChef! a success had to be accessible to chefs nationwide. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. On January 3, 2020 as the world was about to radically shift and consumers would begin to demand quality dining beyond the walls of traditional restaurant experiences in numbers never seen before, Holly launched her consulting company MakeYourBusinessCook!
Holly focuses on filling the gap left by traditional culinary schools which teach cooking but fail to address the practical aspects of running an independent chef business. The capstone course of most certificated programs only gives cooks a brief glimpse into running a restaurant. Most cooks will never own their own restaurant, but nearly all of them want to run their own business. Now, 2021 struggles under the burden of disruptions to the food and beverage industry and a great resignation making it the perfect opportunity for cooks to start and run their own businesses without the burdensome costs of restaurant ownership.
In 2020 Holly began to offer chefs fast, affordable training programs to call their own shots, do what they love and get paid what they’re worth. And no, she doesn’t cook.
She uses her skilled teaching methods and her depth of experience to show chefs the profitable methods she tested in her own company, making Holly the go-to Queen of Office Mise en Place for chef entrepreneurs across the nation. The Global Excellence Hospitality Award provides proof to chefs everywhere that the methods she teaches are valued by customers in the luxury space.
Holly Verbeck is a contributing editor for Food&Beverage Magazine, with a monthly column The Business of Chefs and lives in Truckee, California with her husband, their two nearly-grown kids and their dog, Lusa. She spends her free time hiking and paddling. To find out about upcoming Rapid Business Launch classes for chefs or to reach her, email holly@makeyourbusinesscook. Also, learn more about the joys and challenges of private and personal chef work on her blog or get free tips and training by subscribing to her YouTube channel.