Chef’s Corner – Deb Cantrell

About Chef Deb Cantrell

Chef Deb Cantrell is a chef who is truly making a difference in people’s lives.  She is vibrant, visionary, and a culinary virtuoso.   We love her and are so excited we got to interview her.   Read her amazing story and then read our exclusive interview with the amazing Chef Deb Cantrell!

Chef Deb

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. She owns and operates SAVOR Culinary Services, a boutique catering and dietary consulting/coaching service with focus on medically necessary and healthy diets.

Specializing in helping those facing food allergies, food sensitivities and/or 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 designed specifically 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.

Chef Cantrell recently received the prestigious award of USPCA Chef of the Year 2015, Chef Deb takes ‘Food with Purpose’ to a whole new level.

Our Interview with Chef Deb!

H2FAL:  How did you get your start in cooking?

MP: My grandparents always grew everything they ate. Seriously, their grocery bill was $250.00 a month for 2 people. My grandmother made her own bread and sometimes her own butter. To this day, it is my favorite place to date I have ever eaten. I grew up not knowing that they had canned vegetables in the grocery store until I was about 10. I thought everyone pulled vegetables from their garden, butchered their own cattle and baked their own bread. This is how my palette developed. My grandmother even made her own sourkraut in a kilm behind my grandfather’s favorite chair.

My uncle was an archeologist and we would travel when I was young through the jungles of Mexico studying Mayan ruins so we would eat at roadside stands or “abuelas” house in many places where they would milk the cow out back, pluck the banana from the tree in the front yard, create chocolate from cocao or pull something out of the garden to feed us.

Tasting what we call “food” today is a very far stretch from that experience. I have always cooked because we only had raw ingredients growing up so it was never an option not to. We ate together everyone night as a family and on Sundays we ate at my grandparent’s home. I never had a concept that people did not know how to cook or there was another way.

That is the story behind why I love food and cooking. But it is was my son who inspired me to become a personal chef. I was a physical therapist for many years and I started to notice a trend that that people were not healing as they should from their ailments. During that time, I read an article about becoming a personal chef while raising my infant son. When my son was four years old, he received a medical diagnosis that categorized him as high functioning autistic with severe ADHD among other things.

After extensive research on the autism spectrum and the effects of gluten on children, I changed his diet while starting a culinary business. I realized what a positive effect it was having on him and I became passionate about healing others through food. One client turned into five, then turned into a restaurant, then turned into five businesses. My son wound up as a starter on the football team and a member of the honor guard, had numerous friends and was a straight A student. Only one thing changed and it was food. I knew there were other families out there and I wanted to help. That’s when SAVOR, my personal chef company was born.

H2FAL:  Did you learn to cook at home, in addition to the Culinary Institute of America?

MP: I learned to cook from my mom and grandmother like I mentioned. I also took classes at the Culinary Business Academy and the Culinary School of Fort Worth.

H2FAL:  You are #1 Amazon Bestselling Author with your book “So You’re a Chef Now What?” – Can you tell us more about this step-by-step guide to build a successful culinary business?

MP:  My book includes things chefs didn’t learn in culinary school. It covers all aspects of running a culinary business from basic business principles to marketing techniques that will help your food business stand out in a very cutthroat industry.

In this book, I share the business methods that have helped me achieve a six-figure personal chef business. When I wrote this book I wanted to really provide valuable, specific steps that chefs could easily implement today if they wanted to!

Chefs can think of it as their culinary business blueprint for starting and exponentially growing their food business.

Some Key Takeaways:

– Basic business principles that will lay the foundation for a successful business

-How to create a business plan for your culinary business and plan for future growth

-How to streamline your business with specific systems to manage your finances and clients

–How to set your pricing and attract clients who will pay what you are worth

-How to properly brand your business and market yourself to rise above the competition

–How to make networking groups profitable for your business

-How to become a sought after speaker and make additional money for your business

– so much more!

H2FAL:  You were also recently named “Chef of the Year” from the United States Personal Chef Association. How does this accolade impact your day to day?

MP: Well on the business front it certainly helps my current and potential clients realize that I am really great at what I do as far as personal chef and helping to feed their family. From the Chef Deb business is lends credibility that the chefs in my program are learning and being mentored by someone deserving of an award. It sets me apart so to speak.

What it also did was give me more responsibility to assist those other chefs that might be struggling and to look at the areas of my life where I could do so much better because I became an instant role model. Everyone deserve a pat on the back for hard work and we have a tendency not to accept the praise maybe because of social norms but every one likes to be recognized for the sleepless nights, time and money investments and insanely hard work.

H2FAL:  You have helped many people in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area eat healthier and enjoy food despite having dietary restrictions.  Can you tell us more about how gone about this?

MP:  We have served over 5,000 families over the 15 years I’ve been in business and we have cooked meals for probably every dietary restriction you can think of.  We had one client who was battling multiple cancers and was losing her quality of life. All she wanted to do was be able to go on vacation with her husband but she was bedridden. After a few months of feeding her the right foods, she started to gain the weight back and doctors were able to reduce her cancer treatments by half! Needless to say she was able to start traveling with her husband again. Its clients like her who drive me to keep pushing and serving those who have special dietary restrictions.

Sadly, more and more families have some kind of food allergy or intolerance and they’re not sure how to fit it in their lives.

One of our clients is dairy and gluten free but he really wanted to eat marshmallows for Thanksgiving. So we whipped up a paleo recipe of marshmallows that he could actually eat without feeling sick. I want people to realize that they really can enjoy their favorite foods still, just in a different way.

H2FAL: Who has been your biggest influence in becoming the chef that you are today?

MP: Honestly it has been my husband. He picked me up when I thought I just wanted to give it all up at times and encouraged me to keep going. Since the day he met me, he always saw something bigger and greater in me. He encouraged me to grow my culinary business and my coaching business. Next would probably be my business coach who really showed me the path in business.

I have also learned something from many chefs, whether it is a garnishing technique or new flavor pairing.

H2FAL:   If you were on Iron Chef, what ingredient would you hope to be the themed ingredient for the cooking battle?

MP: That is a hard one. I love so many ingredients. I did an iron chef competition once with duck and Dr. Pepper. I am sure you are looking for something like pork rinds and Twizzlers but honestly I love to do unusual uses for common foods. I would love to do something with cocoa but very savory.

H2FAL:   What’s your indulgence food?

MP: Potatoes in any shape, form or fashion.

H2FAL:   Is there anything you won’t eat?

MP:  Ginger (tastes like soap)

H2FAL:   What’s an upcoming trend in food today?

MP: I feel like there are a few. I see a huge movement toward more plant-based eating, reduction of dairy across the board, and more of everything in a bowl (think Chipotle).

H2FAL:   What’s on the culinary horizon for Chef Deb?

MP: Developing a membership site specifically for people with special dietary needs to download menu plans for the week, recipes, shopping list, etc. and possibly licensing my Savor Culinary Services company. I’m looking for that next big opportunity that makes sense as we speak.

Other Chef Corner Interviews:

Jennifer Jasinski
Nicholas Elmi
Sue Zemanick
Stephen Pyles
Kevin Gillespie


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