Sunday 17 November 2019
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A new sanity-save for the long weekend By Mia Andrews, Founder & The Canadian Personal Chefs Association


The long weekend is looming.  Across the city people are scrambling to get their work done in time to get out of the city early, while eyeballing the checklist of more work to do for the cottage weekend.

And with a long weekend coming up there’s the added to-do list associated with extra family and guests.

The biggest issues?  Menu planning for three days, wondering what to cook.  For many, the time conflict between beating the traffic or shopping and packing.  For others, spending Saturday in town, grocery shopping instead of enjoying the sunshine on the dock.

This is a perennial summer get-away problem that Mia Andrews, co-founder and COO of is happy to solve.

“My first experience with a cottage hamper was as a young executive planning a retreat weekend for my board members.  I thought it would be a very relaxing way for us to connect and spend time discussing important issues.  That is, until I started planning and organizing food needed for a weekend for six people.  That’s when I panicked!”

After getting a tip from a colleague in the food industry, Mia found her way to a Personal Chef who turned the problem into a successful weekend, by taking over the work of planning and making the food.  On her way to the retreat, Mia picked up a cooler of fully-prepared meals, ready to serve to her colleagues.

“Not only did the chef save the weekend for me, she also inspired me to explore becoming a Personal Chef myself.  Now, years later, with the founding of, a platform that connects people who eat with people who cook…the cottage hamper is making a comeback.  It’s my turn to save people’s weekends!”

Tips from the Personal Chefs at  How to de-stress your food for the cottage.


  • Menu-planning ahead of time is the key.  A menu will keep you on track with your shopping and the time you spend making food at the cottage.
  • A shopping list based on the menu will keep you from buying impulse items while in a rush.
  • Create your shopping list ahead of time.
  • Pick up dry and canned items ahead of time and tuck them into a cottage grocery bin that you can take and go.  That way you only need to shop for your fresh items on the way or during the weekend.
  • Include dishes that can be made ahead of time (see a recipe below for Dilled Lentil Salad). Make sure you keep them cool on the way to the cottage.

Combine your efforts.

  • Early in your weekend, wash all your produce, dry and wrap in paper towels and store inside plastic bags.  Doing this once will save you time prepping subsequent meals.
  • Make rice or potatoes for the whole weekend at once.
  • Fry leftover rice, vegetables and meat together and toss in some spices.
  • Use the potatoes to make a cold potato salad.
  • Make two chickens instead of one.  Serve one hot and use the second for another meals, eg. Debone the chicken meat and add to a Caesar salad the next day. For a great way to prepare and cook a chicken, check out our blog post

Recipe for Dilled Lentil Salad

Makes 4  Servings

1          cup green or brown lentils, dried
1          teaspoon salt, divided into two 1/2 teaspoons
1          carrot, diced small
1/4     cup olive oil
1          lemon, juiced
2         teaspoons dill, fresh
1/4     teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
1          onion, diced
1          tomato, small, ripe
3         green onions
1          clove garlic, minced
1/2     teaspoon dill, dry

Simmer lentils in salted water to cover by 1 inch, approximately 15-20 minutes until almost done.  Add diced carrots and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Drain excess water, if needed.  Saute onion and garlic in 2 tbsp Olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add to lentils and carrots. Whisk juice of 1 lemon with 1/2 tsp salt; add pepper, dill and remaining olive oil.

Toss lentil mixture, green onions and dressing.  Store in refrigerator.  Store tomato at room temperature.  Dice tomato and add to salad when ready to serve.


Mia Andrews is the President of The Canadian Personal Chef Association and the COO of 

Mia Andrews went from the boardroom back into the kitchen in 2000 when she turned her love of good food and flair for cooking into a new business. The software company exec saw the increasing need of busy business professionals and businesses for a more formal Personal Chef service and created the Canadian Personal Chef Association.  Within a year, she turned her passion into a profit and was teaching and mentoring new Personal Chefs across Canada.  

As President of the Canadian Personal Chef Association, she has expanded the organization beyond its initial offerings and services; the Association has helped hundreds of people follow their dreams into owning their own cooking businesses, and has helped thousands of families save time and eat well. 

Now, as COO of she is making it easy for anyone to find and hire a personal chef for events, seasonal gatherings or customized dietary meal planning for those on the go. Through manjya’s easy, new platform, anyone can create a catering request, review bids and menus from local personal chefs, book their cooking service and then relax; let the chef take over.

When she’s not overseeing her two foodie ventures, you can find her tending to her community food garden and spending time with her family. 

To contact Mia or get recipes or food hacks, connect with her on Pintrest: mia88chef, twitter: @mia88chef or by email

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