It is hard to believe that California Chef has been providing healthy, customized meal delivery for 10 years! Because we’re a local, family-run business that takes the time and effort needed to focus on the personal touch, sometimes it still feels like we’re a start-up. And, as California Chef reaches this major milestone, so many thoughts come to mind.
Wow, we’ve come a long way! When I started California Chef, on August 1, 2005, I was subletting a small space in a bakery and shared half of a refrigerator. California Chef was just me, and I did everything: developed recipes, shopped, cooked, cleaned, delivered, billed, responded to all customer emails and phone calls, created and revised web-site content, and devised and implemented all marketing efforts. And I didn’t even pay myself (or, more accurately, couldn’t even pay myself). Now, 10 years later, I employ a cadre of chefs, an administrative team, and a delivery crew. We operate out of a full kitchen, with a full office, and have multiple walls of refrigerator space. We’ve gone from providing our service to a handful of close-by clients to offering our service throughout the greater Los Angeles area: from Thousand Oaks to Palos Verdes, from Malibu to Pasadena!
I am proud of our work! Yes, our food is delicious, but because California Chef specializes in providing healthy meals, we have also helped thousands of people lose weight and enhance their wellness. Clients have thanked us for helping them significantly improve their cholesterol readings, lower their blood pressure, stabilize their blood sugar, decrease inflammation, recover from surgery, eat properly during pregnancy, maintain their strength and appetite while undergoing cancer treatments—and even finally fit back into their little black dresses.
We have done some fun things! We’ve had the pleasure of cooking for iconic celebrities such as Dwayne Johnson and Billy Crystal, numerous other movie and TV stars, professional athletes, singers, song writers, fashion designers, producers, directors, video game creators, authors, . . . and the list goes on. We’ve cooked for a TV show, helped write a book, helped Dr. Phil get results for his book, taught nutrition to underprivileged youth, had an internet radio show, visited many companies in LA to talk about eating healthy, shopped farmers markets in many countries, and discovered delicious regional fare that inspired new recipes we use to make delicious, nutritious meals for our clients.
A lot of people helped us get here! When I started this business, I had lots of friends who donated their time to help me out in the kitchen. One of those friends, Lori Corbitt, became Employee Number 2. Shortly thereafter, my husband Michael took the plunge and became Employee Number 3. We have added many gifted employees since. It takes a certain type of person to work in an entrepreneurial food company, and I am grateful to the talented individuals who have taken on this challenge with me. I thank everyone who has been part of our team and has contributed to our success by working hard, adhering to the highest standards, improving our systems, being flexible, wearing numerous hats, and putting in many long hours. And I give thanks to every client who has ever ordered from California Chef, especially those who have stayed with us over many years!
At this time of reflection, I am also reminded of a special kindness shown to me by my mother-in-law, Halyna Macuk, 10 years ago. I didn’t ask for it, and we had never discussed a need for money, but out of the blue, she sent me a check that happened to be the exact amount I needed to finalize my start in this venture. That sweet, wonderful woman passed away last month, and in her memory, I will be making a donation to help some other woman with a dream start a business through KIVA.org.
To be continued . . .