May 29, 2020 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

The Homemade Chefs for Seniors Experience

By Keldine Hull

Chefs for Seniors offers a unique and tailored dining experience for senior citizens in the comfort of their own home. The service, which provides in- house personal chefs and custom made meals, has grown to nearly 50 locations throughout the United States in less than 3 years. Licensed chefs undergo background checks and are fully insured. 

Sonia Vissani Lesko is a new franchise owner for the West Los Angeles area which currently serves seniors in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Marina Del Rey and Venice. “I always loved to cook,” Lesko explained. “My background is in education. I was a preschool owner until last August, but I always had the passion for cooking. I’m Italian and growing up, we had very good food. After I sold my preschool, I started taking cooking classes. I decided to do something with it. I was looking for a purpose and wanted to follow my heart, cooking for people who appreciate the good food.” 

“You leave their house and you know you did something good. A friendship develops over time because we go every week. It becomes something very special. It goes beyond just the cooking.”

Her passion for food led her to Chefs for Seniors where she could use her love for food to help others. She was attracted to the business model and wanted to get involved. “The Chefs for Seniors idea is to provide good meals for seniors with the hope that they can live longer in their own home without moving to assisted living. Maybe they can’t cook for themselves anymore and they want something that is homemade for them.” 

The Chefs for Seniors service begins with a consultation where the chefs learn about their clients and the kinds of food they prefer. Leko continued, “Basically, it’s custom made food. First, we ask a lot of questions, what they like and dislike. When we cook, we cook specifically for them. Every week we decide the menu for the following week.” 

“You leave their house and you know you did something good. A friendship develops over time because we go every week. It becomes something very special. It goes beyond just the cooking.”

Sonia Vissani Lesko

Personal chefs take note of specific dietary restrictions and needs including low sodium, diabetic, gluten-free and vegetarian. Once a menu has been chosen, the chefs go shopping for the necessary ingredients. Lesko continued, “I shop at a local store close to their home. Then I go to their house. I have a cart with pots, pans and my tools, and I start cooking. I cook four menus with side dishes, and we divide them into about 12 portions. They can microwave the food in the containers we provide. They can refrigerate some or put it in the freezer. When I’m done cooking, I clean up the kitchen and then we decide the menu for the following week.”

Chefs for Seniors offers a wide range of menu items that include seasonal options like chicken and dumplings, pork loin with cranberry sauce, fall pasta salad, harvest pork stew, Mexican or classic meatloaf, citrus glazed or balsamic salmon and pistachio-crusted salmon. Other seasonal menu items include beef stroganoff, spinach and mushroom quiche, stuffed bell peppers, crab cakes, Thai coconut shrimp, chicken dijonnaise, chicken pot pie, veggie grain soup, lemon chicken, veggie frittata, spaghetti and meatballs and curry chicken salad. As chefs get to know their clients better week after weeks, adjustments can be made to the menu to further accommodate their needs. Beyond provid- ing healthy and affordable meals for senior citizens, personal chefs also offer much- need- ed companionship to many seniors who often live alone. Lesko explained, “They look forward to having someone come in their house and cook the food they like. And there is the companionship and relationship that develops over time. It’s fresh food with fresh ingredients cooked to their taste. It creates this good feeling.” 

As a new franchise owner, Lesko hopes to expand the franchise and eventually hire other trained chefs who share her passion for food and helping others in need. “My goal is to offer the service to as many senior citizens as I possibly can,” Lesko added. “You leave their house and you know you did something good. A friendship develops over time because we go every week. It becomes something very special. It goes beyond just the cooking.” 

To learn more about Chefs for Seniors, including service and menu options, visit https://chefsforseniors.com or follow on Facebook @ChefsForSeniors

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