Culinary Hotline Helps Cooks In Crisis

What do you do when you've got the perfect recipe, but not the key ingredient? Or you've burned the roast beyond recognition?

One possibility is calling a new service, ChefsLine, a culinary hotline.

It was started by Jennifer Beisser, who says she loves cooking so much, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-time business.

As Tracy Smith reported on The Early Show Monday, Beisser's company connects home cooks with the pros, on the phone and online.

"They press a button," she explains, "and they're connected immediately to one of our 25 chefs located somewhere across the country."

Smith describes ChefsLine as being similar to "a cookbook that talks back to you."

ChefsLine chefs hear mostly from home cooks in distress, such as one man who said, "We have a turkey dilemma! … We put it back in the oven, but we don't know exactly what we're doing." One woman wanted to know how to cook a boneless prime rib. Or the man who was wondering, "My recipe says, 'Fold in the butter.' What do they mean by 'fold?' "

"What our chefs enjoy most," Beisser says, "is sharing their expertise and their personal insights with a home cook, and knowing that that person's going to become a better cook."

Smith says ChefsLine will even help you create a meal based on what you have in your fridge.

Smith did it. She called ChefsLine and got chef Jackie Lee, who spent 14 years working in restaurants and on private yachts before coming to ChefsLine.

Lee coached Smith through the preparation of a delicious chicken dish.

As Smith says, "You can't beat having your own personal chef to help with the cooking. Too bad they can't do anything about the dishes!"

ChefsLine also offers a sommelier to help with your wine choices, and chefs to help you stock your pantry or plan a party.

But Beisser says right now, most of the calls still come from cooks in crisis, including one woman who was hiding in her closet while her guests were waiting to eat!