Cooking with heart

Andrew Peterson cooks not only because he enjoys seeing others enjoy his food but also to honor his late mother, Arlene. She passed away when Peterson was in eighth grade in the Parkway School District.

“Cooking was something that my mom found joy in, especially cooking for family,” said Peterson, 22, a senior at Missouri State University who celebrated his bar mitzvah at United Hebrew Congregation. “Especially with me going back and researching and finding new recipes that celebrate the Jewish heritage. I think that would be something she would have liked to see.”

Peterson now has a website, www.privatechefandrew.com, touting his passion for cooking and creating meals as an in-home chef. He has assisted a professional chef in the Springfield, Mo. area with private catering, and has begun to take on his own jobs in both Springfield and St. Louis. “I go back and forth a decent amount,” explained Peterson, who graduated from Parkway West High School in 2016.

The young culinary artist likes to cook with ingredients that are seasonal and locally sourced, not unlike many chefs who are fans of the farm-to-table movement. But Peterson’s special focus is on using fresh ingredients in new ways to revamp traditional Jewish recipes and foods and make them even more flavorful.

“There’s nothing better than homemade chicken noodle soup made with the best ingredients available, or brisket or rugelach,” said Peterson. “Of course, it depends on who I am serving and what they want. I want to create meals that fit my clients’ style and budget.”

Typically, he says, he likes to cater brunch or dinner parties for up to 10 people. “I do course-style dining, so that can be three to five courses, or even eight courses. If I am doing larger parties, then I like to do more tapas-based dining — heavy appetizers — rather than a sit-down meal.”

Peterson says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in cooking. “Both my parents liked to cook, so I remember being 5 years old and chopping vegetables,” he said. “Jewish people tend to be pretty food focused. It’s all about food and spending time with family.”

Although he considered ditching college for culinary school, he decided not to because he wanted a four-year university experience. 

“I had some friends going to Missouri State and decided to go with them,” said Peterson, who is majoring in hospitality leadership with an emphasis on food, beverage and lodging. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate making that decision because it’s been awesome.”

For more information, call Peterson at 314-445-4269 or email andrewprivatechef@gmail.com.