The difficulties, social distancing, kindness, long lines and "new normal."
As a Personal Chef, a business not immune to the ongoing economic cuts of the Coronavirus, I regularly frequent my local grocery stores. Over the past few months, I have managed to slap together a new normal.
Before the global pandemic hit, business was on the ups! New inquiries were coming in and I was excited for the future and the prospect of growth. We have since had clients flee to their second homes, fearfully move their families to native countries, or change/end service all together. Now, for me at least, two clients remain. Both, for whom, I am so incredibly thankful for! They have offered me food, left tips, and been so accommodating to our new "business model."
I begin work by sitting down to personalize a menu for a client, type recipes and painstakingly write out my elaborate shopping list (organized by the layout of the grocery store, of course!). Next, on the day of service, I venture to the store! Side bar: Not going to lie here and say that I dislike grocery shopping. In fact, it both calms and excites me; there are so many possibilities for tasty combinations in there!! It was early March in Massachusetts, however, when I noticed the change.
I arrived at a Market Basket 20 minutes after they opened to find a completely full parking lot. Once inside, there were throngs of people literally running(?!) and some maneuvering two FULL shopping carts. It's really hard not to feel panicked when you see quickly emptying shelves and bulk buying at 7:30 in the morning. I couldn't find everything I needed for my client but decided to hop in the ever-growing check out line. I waited with my modest cart, people smooshed up next to me, for 30 minutes as I watched the crowds grow, thinking, "This store must be beyond its capacity right now" and "I am part of the problem!" This day really set my anxiety into high gear.
Now, a month or more after that first shocking, food panic experience, things have normalized a bit. Every time I calmly venture into a grocery store I am prepared: clip-board with shopping list at the ready, a too-tight mask adhered to my face, gloves stuck to sweaty hands, home-made sanitizer waiting in my car. There is an individual cleaning shopping carts and baskets, sneeze guards everywhere and little bubbles on the floor to keep us 6 feet from each other. Muffled by my mask, I faithfully say thank you to grocery store employees who are so essential.
Our business, as Personal Chefs, is so valuable. We are crafting curated meals to insure the health and wellness of our clients. There are immunocompromised individuals who would risk their health going to a grocery store and can no longer receive services like Instacart or Prime Delivery. Today, well once a week now, I am shopping for my clients and cooking from home. I take every available precaution to keep my clients safe: gloves, masks, Clorox, hand sanitizer, sterilized kitchen & equipment, proper food handling, etc.
Thank you to all the essential workers out there. Please don't forget to check on your neighbors, friends and family: and remember to give your pets an extra hug.
A Note on Personal Cheffing:
A Personal Chef is an individual who creates a personalized menu for a client, accounting for all of their dietary requirements (gluten free, low-sodium, no allium, keto, etc.), shops for this menu at a grocery store and prepares the menu in the client's home kitchen (prior to pandemic...). Food quantities are dependent upon the client's needs. The most popular service is something we call a 3 X 4: three main dishes and accompanying sides X four servings of each. An individual can request service weekly, bi-weekly, monthly.
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