There’s a French chef stealing headlines by serving pets in his “dog only” eatery in San Francisco. Another chef did the same in Baltimore before landing time on television to create holistic meal plans for pups. Even in Australia, there’s a dog chef catering to canines, with some people subscribing for an entire year.
What’s behind the recent trend of pampering pets with gourmet food? While the reasons vary, ranging from pet prestige to medical concerns, the price points do not. Some plates are priced as high as $95, which leaves Las Vegas’ own dog chef scratching his head.
“Some of the price points make giving your dog fresh, holistic food seem more pretentious than it really needs to be,” says Adam Jacob, dog chef, and owner of Mozart’s Fabulous Treat Street. “The idea of treating your dogs to something special is much more grounded in a healthy experience for the pet and their owner.”
Chef Jacob should know. Rather than cooking culinary delights behind closed doors, he enjoys seeing excited pets and pet owners pass his tent at local farmer’s markets. He makes an assortment of treats, ranging from edible “dog poop” to beef bourguignon.
“It’s a lot of fun, and I love the looks,” says Chef Jacob. “If I’m cooking outside, all the dogs passing by seem to know — they stop, turn around, and look at me. ‘That guy has a cheeseburger … and it’s for me.”
Many of the dishes prepared by Chef Jacob for the markets are designed to be grab-and-go friendly. On any given day, this includes crunchy chicken feet, pup pops, stuffed bone pies, or gluten-free liver and cheese ravioli. He also sells bags of beef liver and cheese training nuggets, which gives some lucky dogs the benefit of enjoying treats for weeks.
“Everything is carefully researched, and sometimes I consult veterinarians on anything that might be considered a gray area like cheese or dairy; potatoes or cinnamon,” he said. “The simplest answer is dogs are mostly carnivores, but they’ve adapted to an omnivore diet living side-by-side with humans. So low-fat, no-fat, or lactose-free dairy in small quantities is usually fine.”
The real measure is in the taste tests, something his German shepherd, Zenyatta, and his wife’s doodle, Mozart, have grown to love. There’s always excitement when he works in the kitchen because both dogs know “Dad” is busy doing good things, largely reminiscent of his first creation.
“I originally had this silly idea to create a dog-friendly pizza. That’s how it started,” says Chef Jacob. “After perfecting the pizza, I started giving free samples. People loved it so much, I was able to establish a few regular customers and sell to dog walkers.”
Today, Chef Jacob has become every dog’s favorite farmer’s market stop and a celebrity chef of sorts by catering private events and birthday parties. One of his most recent parties included a birthday cake and goodies for ten lucky dogs.
“Every bag has one mummy cookie, one stuffed bone, one bacon and cheese donut, and one cheese and pumpkin cookie,” said Chef Jacob. “The birthday cake was a simple dog-friendly cheesecake recipe shaped like a bone. It wasn’t super fancy, but the dogs absolutely loved it!”
Chef Jacob is no stranger to catering larger events too. He recently took on his most ambitious event yet — serving a three-course meal to 150 dogs attending a Doodle Romp. Doodles following the romp were served beef bourguignon, beef and cheese ravioli, and peanut butter balls. Along with the meal, he also made waffles for AllAboutSpot.com to serve up the attendees’ favorite dog-friendly ice cream.
“Serving 150 three-course meals was a lesson in testing my limits, for sure,” laughs Chef Jacob. “But there was also a huge reward in seeing all these pets and pet owners so happy. It was a wildly successful event for our local Doodle Group.”
The event was another step in a new direction for Mozart’s Fabulous Treat Street. Long term, Chef Jacob hopes to transform his farmer’s market start into a full-fledged catering business with an emphasis on street food for fur babies, like dog treats, tapas, and food truck tacos.
“By catering full time, I’ll be able to enroll in culinary arts classes at the College of Southern Nevada and/or the University of Nevada, Las Vegas,” says Chef Jacob. “I’m very interested in learning more about cooking people food to push the envelope on culinary arts for canines and hosting fundraising events for dog shelters.”
Something tells us he’ll do it too. Chef Jacob has come a long way since retiring from the U.S. Air Force. From a technical sergeant to a rising star dog chef, Chef Jacob has found the perfect way to explore his passion for making people and pets happy without any pomp and pretension. It’s all about a good time and great food for anyone with four feet.