It’s hard to pin down what Anna Davis does. Most notably, she’s a personal chef, both for events and for smaller gatherings in homes. On top of that, she teaches piano lessons and sings. Whatever she’s doing at the moment, Davis brings a meticulous passion to it all.
417 Magazine: How do you approach your menus?
Anna Davis: Every single menu is different. I meet with a client beforehand to talk about a menu, so there’s a lot of pre-planning before to figure out what that person wants and creating it for their personal palate.
417: What made you think you could do this here?
A.D.: I’ve never really even thought about it; it just happened. When I decide I want to do something, I go after it 100 percent. I knew the food scene was developing, and I saw what Springfield didn’t have, and that’s what I want to give it. My specialty is Scandinavian cuisine, and now I’m focusing on South African as well.
417: What does your recipe development look like?
A.D.: All the menus that I create for the private events that I do, I develop all of those recipes. I’m constantly developing recipes. The one I’m working on right now is for a competition that I’m going to be doing. That’s kind of how I got into cooking was doing the recipe competitions.
417: What does a recipe competition look like?
A.D.: You submit recipes, and if you get on to the final, you go there and compete against people. I’ve done a few of them in the past. I like the intensity, but I have to wait awhile before I do another one.
417: What do you think about the Springfield food scene?
A.D.: I really love how it’s developing more and more and quickly. People are actually wanting to branch out and try more things. That’s been really recent; even three years ago I couldn’t do what I’m doing now and have enough clients.
417: Is it hard to adapt all the time?
A.D.: As a private chef, I’m in a different location for every single event. I only bring my knives; that’s all I bring. I go before the event into the kitchen and get an idea of it.
417: I imagine there’s a lot of timing involved when you’re cooking for large groups, so you have to know where everything is.
A.D.: It’s true; I go in and open up all the cabinets and figure out what they have.
417: Do you think it could feel maddening to be stuck in a restaurant kitchen?
A.D.: I’ve been in enough that I don’t want to do it for a living. I do go to different restaurants in the summer and go get more training, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time.
417: Do other people do that? Is that a thing in the industry?
A.D.: So, yeah, it’s called staging, and people in the higher-end restaurants do it.
417: Do you get paid?
A.D.: It’s trade. I’m working for them, and I’m learning as well.
417: Is it hard to travel for an event?
A.D.: I’ll get asked to do an event somewhere else, and I’ll bring a bag full of spices and odds and ends. I get stopped almost every single time I fly somewhere.
417: In addition to being a chef, you’re also a piano teacher. How often do you give lessons?
A.D.: I have 14 students now and do those on Monday, Tuesday [and] Wednesday.
417: Have you ever had an event where you’ve been hired as a chef and a singer?
A.D.: I haven’t yet done that. I have played piano for something before. It’s hard to serve it as well as do that. I love that idea.
417: So, is there anything I’m missing? Anything else you’re doing?
A.D.: I’ll be visiting Norway again this summer, so I’m taking Norwegian lessons and want to be able to connect more with the people and culture this time around as I study their cuisine more. So studying Norwegian is a normal day-to-day occurrence for me. I’m also currently taking an online course to get my gastronomy certification, and I do that every evening.
417: That sounds like plenty. How do you relax?
A.D.: I run every day.