Personal chefs are on the rise nationally, and there are affordable, flexible options available.

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Lynda Dodd wonders what happened to all the hours in her day.

She’s a single mother who works as a legal secretary in Lynnwood till 4:30 p.m. most weekdays. By the time she retrieves her twin girls from after-school care at her aunt’s, dinnertime is calling.

And Lynda, 37, is running on fumes.

Because it’s a juggling act for Lynda to supervise the girls’ homework and chores while cooking dinner, she said she and her girls (and other family members) dine out two to three nights a week.

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“I feel like we used to eat at home more, but that may be in my head,” she says. “I just know I wish we could now.”

Purvi, also a working mother, feels her pain. Seeing a market niche, Purvi created KitchKarma, which provides a platform for eager customers to meet with an array of professional home chefs to create a win-win solution: the personal chefs get to practice their art for a whole new audience that is anxious for time not spent in food preparation.

“As a working mom I could not find enough time to make home-cooked meals for my family. So I started looking for someone to come home few times a week and just cook simple daily food for us,” she says. “Getting a reasonably priced chef seemed like a great idea. As I started looking for one, I realized so many people are just naturally good at cooking and willing to cook food, but there is no way for them to find customers.”

The professionals who register on KitchKarma.com cook a vast array of different cuisines and charge different rates. Some are trained professionals while others are experienced in their own kitchens. Some upload sample menus. They charge between $20 and $40 an hour and are background checked. KitchKarma doesn’t regulate the chefs or set hours. Customers browse the profiles and ratings by other users. They choose a chef like a diner ordering from a restaurant menu.

Personal chefs are on the rise nationally. They even have their own trade group, the United States Personal Chef Association, where membership has grown 56 percent in the past year, according to association president Lawrence J. Lynch.

“The world of dining has changed dramatically over the past several years with a clear drift toward eating at home more,” he says. “Still, many people either don’t like to cook or don’t know how, and are continuing to open the door for personal chefs to offer affordable alternatives to time-strapped families and individuals.”

Purvi says KitchKarma customers aren’t necessarily looking for a long-term option, and may need a personal chef only occasionally.

“Sometimes you just want to host a group of friends or family at home or have a date night at home without spending too much outside,” she says. “If you are hosting a group of friends, having a chef come and prepare food is very cost effective.”

Since launching KitchKarma in July, Purvi says she has been surprised to discover how many chefs are looking for jobs.

“I knew there are many of them, but the numbers are just much bigger than I thought. Lot of chefs who are working in restaurants, etc., who want to be personal chefs and are willing to work for a reasonable rate. Also, lot more people are interested in hiring personal chefs if they are reasonably priced. So it’s about making the two meet,” she says.

“The market is bigger than I thought.”

And it may soon include Lynda Dodd, who says she’d consider bringing in a chef to prepare a Dodd family favorite or two, “maybe on a heavy homework night.”

KitchKarma connects people who are looking for cooking jobs with people who are looking to enjoy food made in their own kitchen by talented cooks or trained chefs. It’s a convenient, affordable way to handle a busy schedule or try a new cuisine.