Meet Hailey: She Can Help You Make New Meals from Your Leftovers
In 2019, time and convenience are everything. You see apps like Uber and Postmates thriving and while it seems like they’re selling rides and food delivery, they’re really not selling anything at all. All they do is save you time, which is our most valuable asset.
This concept is big among millennials where few, if any have the time to go shopping and prepare a home-cooked meal. That is where awesome people like Hailley Field come in.
Hailley is carving out her own niche in the food industry as a private chef who will come to your house and cook anything your little heart desires. We had the chance to sit down and talk with her to discuss how she got into the food industry, what inspired her to launched HomeCooked, how she comes up with her recipes and what she loves about LA food culture.
Food Tribe: Where did your love of cooking come from?
Hailley: I got into cooking through a well-worn copy of my mom’s The Joy of Cooking. It was the one that had the red ribbon page marker built into it with the weathered pages, broken spine and all that, kind of like it was out of a movie. That’s the recipe book that I cooked my first dishes out of. I started cooking at 10.
She made really good roast chicken. She made really interesting Mexican style casseroles and stuff. Both of my parents are native Angelenos but i was raised in Philadelphia with them. In the 80’s, Mexican food was nonexistent, there wasn’t even Taco Bell at that time in the Philly area. Being exposed to unique flavors that not everyone around me was eating at a young age paved the way for the adventurous palate.
FT: How did you get started as a personal chef?
Hailley: It was kind of a side project to something else i was working on. I had been in food and beverage for a really long time working in all different levels. I never really wanted to pursue running a restaurant or anything like that, cooking was always more of a passion. HomeCooked started as a side project to make a little extra cash just born out of my genuine love for creating with what’s around just because that’s how I cook every day. I got a lot of interest on it, people started to really believe in me and validate the concept, and i signed a big ad contract with Angeleno magazine which is leading to a big event called Live and Dine LA.
It’s about what’s around of course, but what’s seasonal, what’s on sale is really big, the kind of things I might be craving or haven’t made in a while. I take requests from friends, like I have this one friend who requests a mixed berry crisp every year from her birthday, so it comes from a lot of sources.
FT: Any difficult situations?
Hailley: There’s a few required questions before you book that make it very clear that I WILL be cooking with only what you have. But people still ask me, ‘what do you bring?’ and i’m like...a knife?
I definitely have people with very limited resources. One of my favorites was i had a guy with frozen bags of chicken breasts, chips and snacks. He had some canned goods, so i made something from my childhood that my mom used to make sometimes called potato chip chicken. You crush up the potato chips and treat them like the bread crumbs, and i used mustard as the binder. It keeps it really juicy and it’s a fun dish.
Canned vegetables, if you rinse them off and get some seasoning on there, roast them at a really high heat and you can try to coax as much flavor out of them as possible. This was one of my favorites because it allowed me to kind of blow his mind with a childhood favorite recipe that wasn’t obvious to him.
FT: What are the biggest hurdles in running your own business?
Hailley: Money. I will be very transparent. Money is the biggest hurdle. Digital advertising is so expensive, just getting your name out there is hard. Getting people to believe in and embrace a new concept is really difficult. I get a lot of positivity and support whenever i personally interact with people about HomeCooked, but it doesn’t always convert in sales. Being a one man band is a giant challenge and just learning as I go, I’m getting all different kinds of opportunities coming my way but you have to wade your way through them all and figure out what that looks like long term as well.
FT: What makes LA food culture special to you?
Hailley: I’ve been to 27 countries, and LA food culture is so special because it’s one of the only places where you can get so many different super hyper-specific cultural dishes that taste exactly like they taste in the country you’ve eaten them from. LA is the extreme version of a cultural melting pot because it houses the highest population of many different countries outside of that country. The authenticity factor is off the charts, the produce scene is unmatched and I think that really encourages a lot of these authentic dishes and a lot of these cultures putting down roots in LA because they can get and/or grow so many types of produce from their home country that don’t really exist in the US outside of LA.
There’s some Malaysian stuff, there’s a couple of restaurants that do Indonesian food. I found that in Borneo, the cuisine there is a little bit different than other parts such as the Bali area, but I found huge inconsistencies and variance in the limited amount of indonesian restaurants here. There’s not one place i love, i like bits and pieces of a couple different places that are here. Malaysian food is really hard to find, I spent some time in Malaysia back in 2008-09 *couchsurfing* and one of my best experiences was with this malaysian woman in the countryside area and she would take us around to all these different places and eat all these different dishes I’d never seen. The Malaysian version of satay is this weird hotpot type soup where you put whole cloves of garlic in it. Unique Southeast Asian foods outside of the greatest hits are sometimes hard to find here still.
FT: Did you pick up any methods of cooking on your travels?
Hailley: I like a lot of char on my food when I’m cooking. I can’t get it, but I really enjoy a good char from a skillet or pan. I would say to not be afraid to be super bold with flavor combinations. A lot of those cuisines outside america are sour, sweet, spicy and aggressively complementing each other and I think using bolder flavors and amping it up is something I’ve taken away for sure.
FT: What is the next country you want to knock off your list?
Hailley: I haven’t been back to Europe since 2011, but I think I want to do a Morocco trip. I met several people in Europe who love to vacation there since it’s so close.
FT: Do you have any favorite restaurants or hot spots we should know about?
Hailley: Catch 56 in East Hollywood is this little place that does fish and chips, but their whole thing is you pick one kind of fish, one preparation style, one side and they have a bunch of homemade sauces all for one base price. You can say I want half grilled shrimp, half fried cod, side salad and chips, and you’re good to go. It’s very affordable and fresh. They have a cute little interior having to do with the London underground. It has popped up in food media here and there but I genuinely believe that if it was in a different location in LA it would be booming.
The same can be said for Claudine, this cafe and bakery in Encino with incredible food, nice people, great execution and baked goods, but they’re stranded all the way over in Encino!
FT: What is the best thing you’ve eaten in the past month?
Hailley: I did a demo at the Hollywood farmer’s market, and among the different products I got Galpin farms, I love their peaches they’ve been a vendor of the farmer’s market for a long time. I used some of their peaches in the recipe that i was making at the demo, and when i was done their farmer handed me a whole flat of perfectly ripe, incredible yellow summer peaches. It was the best moment ever and i felt like i’d achieved the pinnacle of success. I ate like 3 peaches a day the whole week.
Adventurous, unique stories like Hailley’s are what make LA food culture so special. If you’re craving a sensational home-cooked meal, look nowhere else and hit her up for a reservation today. Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram as well.
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