Homegrown Business: Evan Elman of Vancouver Private Dining

We recently spoke with Evan Elman of Vancouver Private Dining to find out more about his local business that offers catering services in the Greater Vancouver Area.

Homegrown Business: Evan Elman of Vancouver Private Dining
Evan Elman

What is your business called and what does it do?

Vancouver Private Dining creates memorable experiences for groups of all sizes in the Greater Vancouver Area. Our experienced private chefs blend creativity and craft to provide visually stunning and delicious customized seasonal menus. We are available for both residential and corporate services.

What made you want to do this work?

One of my goals has always been to own my own business, have financial freedom and a proper work life balance. After working in the restaurant industry for my entire career, I decided it was time to explore a career as a private chef as a jumping off point to reaching my goals. My goal is to give a similar work life balance to my employees who have also worked for years in fine dining establishments.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

I wanted to elevate the realm of catering and dissolve the idea that catering is meant to be aluminum drop-off trays and overcooked chicken breast. Our goal is to bring a creative and entertaining fine dining experience to your home or event space.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Our goal is to deliver exquisite food and entertainment to create a truly unique experience for our clients’ most intimate celebrations. Our clientele are people who are foodies and love to entertain. They’ve chosen us to facilitate their group coming around the table and sharing an exquisite meal. We get a glimpse into our client’s most intimate moment’s in life, whether it be a wedding, birthday celebration, or a 30th anniversary. We’ve been brought to tears at events because of the beautiful moments we’ve seen; it’s pretty touching and gratifying even though we’re just providing the food.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We charge for our services per head. Anywhere from $60 to $210+ per person. We also offer corporate lunch drop-offs for offices which keeps us busy during the week. In addition, we offer private chef services for celebrities, musicians, and high-net-worth individuals who need a specific diet or don’t feel like cooking.

Where in Vancouver can we find your profession?

We’re predominantly online based on vancouverprivatedining.com, but we have a physical space in East Van, which is by appointment only.

Homegrown Business: Evan Elman of Vancouver Private Dining
Culinary Director Warren Chow

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? 

Question: You’re more expensive than the other caterer, why should we go with your service?

Answer: Because our team is composed of highly trained chefs who have worked in some of the world’s best restaurants. Not only do we bring an incredible culinary experience, but we also provide entertainment to you and your guests, and we can answer nearly any question you may have about food!

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part is the clients. We’re very grateful to be let into clients’ homes and share such intimate moments with them. In comparison, when you work as a chef in a restaurant, you are typically at the mercy of the guest, and the experience as a chef is very different.

I think the less favourable part is the unpredictability of the event. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to walk into a house that a client has rented for the night, and there are no pots and pans. Or another example is being hired as a chef on a yacht charter, and you wind up stuck on the ocean for 12 hours — not the worst, but it can be unpredictable and sometimes eat into other plans you may have had.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

When people ask what our / my specialty is. The life of a chef is a journey to learn as much as you possibly can about as many different cuisines to take different flavours and techniques and apply them to your skillset. It’s sort of like asking artists what their favourite colour is.

Where can we follow you?

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Also: @sunshinecoastcatering | @chefevanelman | @warren.chow

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Vancouver business that you love?

@theindianpantry They make incredible spice blends that are harvested sustainably in India and import to Canada. They then grind everything at their facility in East Van and seal it for freshness! They also make ready-to-reheat simmering sauces.