If you’ve ever flipped through a Whole30 or Primal Kitchen cookbook, you may have stumbled across one of Sarah Steffens’ photographs. As a recipe developer, food stylist and photographer, Steffens often shoots photos for food projects and her own droolworthy Instagram account (@sarahsteffens_personalchef). “Before living in Sacramento, I lived in Hollywood, so I got to be a part of some pretty interesting projects,” Steffens says.
Locally, clients can hire Steffens for recipe development and meal planning/personal chef services. She works primarily with clients who are trying to meet specific dietary goals—for example, a gluten-free, vegan, Whole30, paleo, keto or Mediterranean diet. “I always start by gathering information about my clients to understand their food preferences, lifestyle and how much time they want to spend in the kitchen,” Steffens says. “I grocery shop, cook and deliver my clients’ meals and follow up with them to make sure they are enjoying their meals.”
In many dishes, Steffens focuses on fresh veggies, sustainably sourced proteins and healthy fats such as olive oil, olives, avocados and nuts and seeds—foods she says play a notable role in supporting healthy moods, energy levels and digestion.
While Steffens has honed her craft over the years and narrowed in on the wellness aspect of cooking, her roots in the kitchen run deep. Her first foray into cooking came with an Easy-Bake Oven. As she got older, Steffens and her sister leaned into cooking as a hobby and even “hosted” a cooking show together at their home. Steffens recalls, “We’d always ask each other, ‘Did you do your best?’ when we would prepare a new recipe as a way to ensure that we were really keeping ourselves accountable in the kitchen.”
Steffens says she truly learned how to cook in her early 20s, mostly from cooking shows. She challenged herself to learn by cooking a new meal every night. “It included many delicious meals and, of course, some utter failures, but that’s what’s so great about cooking,” she says. “We’re always getting hungry again and we have this giant incentive to keep learning and trying new foods and cooking techniques.”