Marina del Rey resident Deanna Francke isn’t just your average chef. She’s a private chef with 15 years of experience and has even worked for celebrities whose names she can’t disclose. Most important, she likes to cook “healthy.”
Francke is known as the “healthy chef” by many women, especially mothers, on the Westside.
Just over a year-and-a-half ago, after having a son, Francke put her work on hold to be a stay-at-home mom and this changed her career direction.
Francke had trouble finding cookbooks with recipes to prepare healthy meals for her son, so she decided to take action and started using her “creative talents to compile a series of healthy, natural, easy and tasty baked goods, snacks and entrÈe recipes for toddlers and the whole family,” she said.
“There are children’s cookbooks out there, but I wasn’t finding recipes in them that appealed to me and my whole family,” Francke said.
So in April of this year, Francke, who has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science, decided to start teaching cooking classes herself in local residences, with her own recipes. And it took off.
“Since I had my son, I’ve been focusing my talents toward creating quick, easy, healthy recipes,” Francke said.
Francke teaches private cooking classes all over the local area, including Marina del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Westwood, with recipes she said are “nutritionally dense and packed with essential nutrition.”
She wants to help moms help themselves and their own kids to avoid the “junk food rut,” Francke said.
She also does “happy, healthy” birthday parties, food coaching for weight loss and family fitness, and she even trains nannies and housekeepers to cook for the families they work for.
Putting herself at the top of her “healthy” cooking game, Francke even lost 35 pounds ten years ago by coupling healthy eating with excercise.
“The decisions you make each day about the foods you put into your body will affect how you look and feel today as well as your health in the years to come,” Francke says. “Eating natural, healthy foods made me feel so good that it inspired me to learn more about nutrition and help others feel as great as I felt.”
Usually, for one of Francke’s private cooking classes, ten to 15 moms will gather at one person’s house at about 7 p.m. Typically, it’s a group of friends and mothers, all interested in learning new, healthy recipes for their toddlers and entire family. Francke brings the food and the class usually sips on wine as they watch Francke putting her cooking skills to work.
“It’s kind of like a cooking show,” Francke said. “It’s a fun, functional mom’s night out.”
Jillian Yost, a Santa Monica resident, raves about Francke.
“She has done some personal consulting with [our family] and has helped me develop healthy, easy and quick menus, including ways to actually do less cooking during the week,” Yost said. “She has inspired me to cook a lot healthier.”
Susan Miller agrees.
“She was fantastic!” Miller said of Francke. “As a new mom, it was so helpful to learn how to cook some wonderful, easy, healthy toddler dishes. Deanna is so nice and educated on cooking healthy foods for the family.”
Francke’s private cooking classes last about an hour and Miller calls them “an informative, fun, delicious evening.”
As the class goes on and Francke prepares her recipes, she gives information about how to shop for the best produce, with tips, for example, on how to select the right melon.
“At the end of the class, they get to sample everything [I prepare],” Francke said.
Not only does Francke come with the food, she doesn’t leave without cleaning up, calling it a “low-stress evening” for the host of the class. Also, she always provides the recipes of the food she prepares.
Before Francke had her son and taught private classes, she was a personal chef for Bridges to Recovery, a residential recovery home in Pacific Palisades.
“My function there was to teach people how to take care of their bodies from the inside,” Francke said.
She taught classes, provided education and cooked all the meals.
She’s also planning on writing her own cookbook.
“Since I’ve been doing the class, I have been typing up my recipes,” Francke said. “My cookbook is on the way.”
In the meantime, Francke will keep cooking away for mothers and families, providing healthy meals and recipes — her passion.
Information on attending one of Francke’s classes, (310) 245-4095 or dfhealthychef@yahoo .com