If you have any food content on your TikTok FYP, then you might have seen Maddy DeVita, also known as @handmethefork, an up-and-coming food content creator who shares her life as a private chef. In her videos, she takes us along her day-to-day routine as she cooks delicious meals for her clients — her main one being the founder of LoveShackFancy

Before DeVita was a private chef, she was a typical college student studying at Georgetown University who decided to follow her dreams and go to culinary school. She started sharing her days in culinary school, filming all of the tips, tricks, and techniques that she was learning. 

Spoon University chatted with DeVita to get the inside scoop on her life as a private chef. 

Spoon University: When did you first fall in love with food?

Maddy Devita: I grew up in a big Italian American family and always spent holidays with my dad’s side of the family. Sunday dinners, however, were always intimate with my immediate family, and I remember always waking up Sunday morning and going downstairs to plan for our dinner that night. That was always the first topic of conversation and usually my dad and I, and sometimes my two younger sisters, would be in the kitchen all day cooking a classic Italian American meal, like chicken parm with a bolognese sauce that would simmer on the stove pretty much all day. I was always food-obsessed and loved eating!

SU: When did you decide that food would be a part of your career?

MD: Only very, very recently. I always thought in the back of my head it would be cool to go to culinary school, but I never thought I was going to be a chef. I always knew cooking would be a part of my life, but I thought of it only as a hobby. I thought I was going to follow what a lot of my family members did and go to medical school, as I was pre-med at Georgetown for my undergraduate degree. A little over two years ago though, is when I made the switch to make food a part of my profession. So, I decided to quit my job and ended up following my passion and went to culinary school, and now here I am.

SU: How did you ease into working in the food industry?

MD: Even though I was scared to change into a completely different field, my first step was to talk to as many people as possible in the food industry to see what jobs were even out there. I didn’t know what to even expect. Everything scared me, but I followed what I wanted to do. I followed this small farm on Instagram in Italy, and I would always fantasize about going there and helping them out. So, I sent a direct message asking if they needed any sort of help in the kitchen or on the farm. To my surprise, they answered me and took me up on this offer, even though I had no real experience. I would soon be working on a beautiful farm, helping with a cookbook project for them, helping with Instagram content, and all the things. So, I quit my job that I had been working at and went to Italy for six weeks with no plan after. When I returned back home, I talked, again, to as many people as possible to form those connections, and I was saying yes to any opportunities presented to me. 

SU: Did you go to culinary school when you got back from Italy?

MD: I wasn’t sure at first if culinary school would be worth it, but eventually I made the decision to enroll. It worked out well because my apartment at the time was literally next door to one of the main culinary schools in New York, the Institute of Culinary Education. So, that was another little sign that made it all feel right. I was there for eight months in total and went Monday through Friday for four hours a day. I ended up getting connected to The Dinex Group, which is Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group, and he needed a part-time social media manager for his own personal account, which was exactly what I was looking for. So each day after school, I would go to one of his restaurants, and work with this insanely famous chef that I had seen on Instagram. I was pinching myself.

SU: When did you decide to start filming content and go on TikTok?

MD: As soon as I enrolled in culinary school, I thought it would be a cool project to document every day of culinary school, but I wasn’t sure if I was even allowed to film. I barely had any followers on Instagram at this point, but I decided to post these daily vlogs anyway. I also figured I would put these videos on TikTok as well. 

Then, one day in February, one of my videos went crazy viral. It was a day in school where we made many different types of eggs — scrambled, french omelets, all the things. What I've learned with social media is you can never predict what videos are going to do well, it’s always random. After that video, I gained 1,000 followers overnight, and then I ended up growing rapidly over the next year. I couldn’t conceptualize that now over 100,000 people were following along my journey, so I wanted to put more effort into my social media presence, which also created a lot of pressure.

SU: Switching gears into talking more about your job now as a private chef, what is that like. You work for the founder of LoveShackFancy, right?

MD: After finishing culinary school, I received a DM from this guy who runs a private chef placement agency, and that’s when I was given the opportunity to work as a full-time private chef. I was like, does this guy know that I literally just finished culinary school and that I’m not qualified for that? But I told him I would be interested down the line. It ended up being for the founder of LoveShackFancy, and they wanted someone younger, a female, and someone who would be comfortable in their house all the time with their two daughters. So, I got on a FaceTime call to meet them, and I had a cooking interview so that they could taste my food and see if they wanted to hire me for sure. It was definitely one of the most stressful interviews I’ve ever done. I ended up getting the job, and it’s been an amazing experience.

SU: LoveShackFancy is a brand that has a gorgeous and specific aesthetic, and with your client being the founder and Creative Director of the brand, are you inspired by the brand when catering for their dinner parties and such? Do you incorporate the brand into your food?

MD: One thousand percent. It’s part of the job honestly. That’s what’s so fun about private cheffing, is that you’re catering. You obviously have to make good food, but you’re cooking food for the taste of someone else. What I make for them isn’t always necessarily what I would make for myself. I am six months in and have a good idea of what they like to eat, and how they like it to look, and I can cater to their taste and be creative. I wouldn’t gravitate towards making all this pink food for myself, but it’s super fun and it’s what they want. Understanding what the client wants and delivering is a huge part of the role. I love the LoveShackFancy brand. It’s so pink and girly, so it’s fun to try to emulate that in the food. They actually recently launched fragrances at Sephora, and so for a dinner party I catered, they wanted me to come up with a menu that was inspired by the scents and notes of the perfume. It was so fun to incorporate these notes of vanilla and strawberry into the dinner. 

SU: Being a private chef and filming your days, are there any unexpected things about being a private chef that people don’t realize?

MD: I have a lot of downtime to really think about how I want a menu to look. I am really thoughtful about it and put in a ton of effort into creating these meals. There is so much responsibility. I’m choosing, planning, and shopping for the menu and it’s all on me — if I mess up there’s no one to blame but me, so there’s definitely a lot of pressure. That might be expected, but I definitely didn’t anticipate how intense that could be sometimes.

SU: How has your cooking evolved since you first started?

MD: I learned a lot in culinary school, and have improved dramatically. I’ve learned that I am much more capable than I thought I was and can do more than I ever knew I could. Being forced to cook things out of my comfort zone since being a private chef has also taught me new things to cook and techniques to cook as well, improving my cooking skills immensely.