In the Kitchen with Ivey
Westchester Parent 2004
By Linda Sclier
Someone's in the kitchen! That someone is Ivey Levy, wife, mother of two, and owner of Ivey's In My Kitchen, Inc. (IIMK), a business created to teach parents how to organize a kitchen and cook up a delicious meal. Levy has blended her passion for cooking with love for her children and created the perfect recipe: the ideal job in the ideal setting.
"Cooking was always my thing," Levy says, balancing 9-month-old Emmanuelle Josephine on her hip. There's a knock on the door, the telephone rings, the aroma of lemon cheesecake wafts through the air, 3-year-old Paul scoots out to a playdate. Raising a family, running a cooking business - Ivey Levy makes it look as easy as chocolate cake.
IIMK, based in Cortlandt Manor, provides personal and group cooking lessons conducted in the privacy of a customer's home. Courses range from Beginner ("How do I boil water") to Advanced ("Impress me, please!") and are tailored to an individual client's needs.
Sporting her trademark bubblegum pink apron, Ivey Levy describes her successful cooking business and how teaching meal preparation began. "It started 10 years ago with friends," she says. "This grew from friends to friends of friends. After moving to Westchester from Manhattan, I had difficulty adjusting to my new surroundings. I missed my friends. The move was like losing a limb and gaining a walk-in closet. That's when I decided it was time to branch out." With the help and support of her husband, Michael, Levy incorporated. "The rest is history," she says.
In addition to group and private cooking lessons, IIMK offers special occasion cooking lessons and, Levy's favorite, cooking parties, which involve teaching a crowd how to cook a meal while entertaining them. As she says, "There's nothing nicer than getting a bunch of friends together, cooking, laughing and eating." IIMK is also popular with newlyweds and stay-at-home moms.
Levy credits her success to family, and smiles when discussing her muses: "Michael takes the children evenings and weekends whenever I have a cooking engagement. He is always there with words of wisdom." She places a platter brimming with mozzarella cheese, soppressata and dried apricots on a coffee table and brags, "Even Paul helps out. Sometimes he will work alongside me. He has his own apron and rolling pin." Levy crunches a cucumber slice slathered in a spinach and artichoke dip - her recipe - and adds, "My mother-in-law, Gayle, is a fantastic business woman and she advises me on that aspect."
How to organize kitchen cabinets, eliminate counter clutter, utilize cutlery and what to do with the "wedding gifts" are additional courses offered through IIMK.
When asked about the best part of working from home, Levy plants a kiss on EJ's cheek and proclaims, "Being able to spend time with my children." She especially likes the freedom to plan a work schedule around family activities.
What she dislikes, she says, is "having to take time to document my recipes, writing out the many steps it takes to make a meal look easy." For Levy, this means more time in front of a computer and less time with the children.
Levy believes spending time in the kitchen should be fun. All cooking lessons are personalized and private. She says, "It is important for a woman to feel at home in her own kitchen, to learn to work with what she has. At cooking school, an individual will learn how to cook using fancy equipment, but when that person returns home, she doesn't know what to do."
When Levy receives a call for a job, she mails out a questionnaire for both parents to fill out: Who does the food shopping in your household? What is your favorite holiday meal? How many children in your family? Who prepares the meals? "By the time I arrive at the client's house for a kitchen consultation," she says, "I am loaded with information and know exactly what to teach."
Costs for IIMK's services vary as each lesson is tailored to the individual customer. Cooking parties average $75 per couple.
When not cooking, teaching and mothering her children, Levy also finds time to write. Her tasty recipes appear in her monthly column, 'Ivey's In My Kitchen', in Boating-On-The-Hudson & Beyond magazine.
Levy is proud to work in any kitchen. "I've found the one thing in life I love doing most and made it a job," she says. "It doesn't get better than that."