BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
From re-imagined room service with spirits pairing in luxury apartment buildings to beauty services brought to your door, Danielle Drabkin has brought home essential services and become a start-up legend in Chicago.
Former Chief Revenue Officer for PrettyQuick.com, begun by Coco Meers and purchased by Groupon, and now as CEO and Founder of Pear Chef, Drabkin talked with us recently about what traits you need to be an entrepreneur with the freshest ideas and triumphant takeaways.
“My greatest talent? I’d say multi-tasking. I do think I am good with people and am a natural salesperson. I also have a background institutional real estate and still teach a course at DePaul. I also have a tech background.
“My biggest challenge? It is definitely the commitment. It takes 100% of your time, energy and resources to get something off the ground. You have to be committed and be willing to give your all.
“My biggest Satisfaction? It is in building an incredible team that shares your passion and commitment, while simultaneously creating a company that people truly enjoy.
“I am in my Fulton Market office from 9 am to 6:30 and then as our services go live at 6 pm I am available through the evening. At PrettyQuick, I learned to work on the sales side and that has been essential. I am running a 40-person labor pool of chefs, commissary workers, and administrators, and we are growing very fast. I don’t have a culinary background but I love food.”
Pear Chef’s name came from a clever word play because Drabkin wanted to add wine and spirits to the hot and seasonally inspired meals her team serves from onsite kitchens in some of Chicago’s most luxurious buildings. Pear Chef uses the kitchens at the Hyatt to prep the food, which is then delivered to the personal chef in each building’s kitchen by 4 pm.
“Forget plastic boxes and forks in bags, our food comes with a silver dome on top and the chef delivers it to your door. There’s no wait time for your order as with takeout food. It is meant to be a true amenity. We also offer private cooking classes and in-home dining experiences for clients and their guests. If a building hasn’t reached a critical mass of units participating, residents can pick up their order from their chef.”
Although she has not taken a day off since Pear Chef began, she tries not to miss a daily barre class to re-energize. Pear Chef shuts down over Thanksgiving and December holidays, deserved downtime for Drabkin.
Drabkin, who was born in Oakbrook, credits her high school—the Latin School of Chicago, with her continuous curiosity.
“Latin encouraged a ton of creativity and taught me to do what I loved.”
Now in around 20 apartment buildings in Chicago, such as The Sinclair, 72 West Madison, Eugenie Terrace, SoNo East, NEMA and other multi-resident locations, Pear Chef will soon expand to a second city, with the third and fourth cities on the horizon. Families with young children are the largest client group but all ages subscribe. Most clients order from Pear Chef two or three times a week.
“We have weekly specials, and comfort foods are definitely favorites,” Drabkin said. “Right now our homemade meatballs, Thai green curry bowl with jasmine, and hot chocolate chip cookie bites are trending.”
Drabkin shared recipes with Classic Chicago readers below:
Executive Chef Roland Calupe recently returned home to Chicago after spending the past four years in Boston. He has worked for award-winning restaurateurs, talented James Beard competition chefs and has trained at Michelin starred restaurants around the country for over a decade. He has lived in Italy, Colombia and the Philippines and enjoys using regional cooking techniques from his travels.
Chef Roland shared his meatballs recipe:
Notes: Always be sure to try a small sample to see how the seasoning is before cooking everything off.
Additionally, Head Commissary Chef Adam Quesenberry’s chocolate chip cookies make it to almost everyone’s order form. See recipe the below:
Notes: Be careful not to over mix your dough!